Singapore – on a budget

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Art Science Museum

Short stay – 5 nights

When: 19 January to 24 January

Accommodation: Hostel with family room in Bugis, East of Orchard Road.

Singapore is a hustling, futuristic shiny clean city. One of the easiest and safest Asian cities to visit and a perfect way to begin a 12 month World trip. It is easy to get around and the market sellers are friendly. We chose cheap central accommodation, walked as much as possible to see the sights and ate mostly at hawker food stalls for lunch and dinner. Breakfast was included but we needed to supplement it with vegemite because it was bread, no butter and lemon biscuits which were too sweet.

Toured:

  • Sentosa Island – walk across the bridge to save money, its only 670 metres (more than half of it is travelators) and it  only costs $1 entry per person.
  • Boat Quay – on the Singapore River, lined with seafood restaurants and expat bars.
  • Marina Bay – grand and expensive. Great for a voyeuristic visit but way beyond our budget.
  • Gardens by the Bay – the best free outdoor entertainment option.
  • Raffles – one drink is enough; expensive but historic and interesting.
  • Chinatown – good atmosphere in every direction. Friendly market staff and great food but not the cheapest.
  • Little India – great shopping, nice people, – don’t go past Mustafa Centre (North) and you will pass the Sri-Veerama-Kaliamman Temple
  • Kampong Glam (Muslim Quarter) – hip bars and modern wares in the lanes and trinkets from the markets in the Middle East on Bagdad Street.
Street art Kampong Glam, Singapore.

Street art Kampong Glam, Singapore.

Top picks when eating out:

  • Chicken satay skewers – cheapest and best quality we found was at Satay by the Bay, in the North East corner of Gardens by the Bay, it is a long walk but the food is authentic and excellently priced.
  • Guangzhou rice – fried rice with shrimp and bbq pork pieces – best was in Chinatown, although the prices were a little bit higher than Bugis, it was fresh and tasty.
  • BBQ pork wonton noodles – either dry or wet they are everywhere – cheapest in Bugis, found a local place that sold a small bowl for $3.40AUD.
Summers birthday drink at Raffles, Singapore.

Summers birthday drink at Raffles, Singapore.

Eating cheap in Singapore means you end up in an outdoor eatery with simple seating, wooden chopsticks and sometimes even napkins. If you can handle that, you can save your money and maybe splurge on some shopping. While the shopping prices are almost the same as Sydney prices, when looking to eat cheaper you will loose quality. For example; in Sydney you will pay $6-8 for a cheap bbq pork wonton noodle soup and the pork pieces will be about the size of an Australian 50 cent piece with a little 10c piece of fat attached: however, in Singapore the pork piece will be about 10c with an equal sized piece of fat.

Shopping:

Our first shopping trip was to Little India. Best purchase was a pair of quality sandals for our 13yr old from ‘Little India Footwear’. They had some really lovely shoes and the shop assistant fell in love with our 8yr old and asked her to come back in 10 years to work in the shop.

Best experience as voted by the entire family:

  • Gardens by the Bay in the Supergrove Trees

Worst experience as voted by the entire family:

  • Our last dinner in the ridiculously cheap food court in Bugis was not great. The meat was all over cooked and the place still hadn’t recovered from the busy lunch crowd and was quite messy and smelly.

Broken rules:

We caught a taxi to Woodlands train station in the North of Singapore so that we didn’t miss our connecting train from Jahor Baru in Malaysia, then missed the train.

Would we go back?

Both the girls said they will go back as soon as they could but us adults have been there plenty of times and would only take a night or two during a transfer/stop over in future.

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