A Singapore trip with family is surely on everyone’s travel wish list and it was no different in my case. Pulling off a foreign trip on a budget is never a mean feat. Here is how I planned and pulled off a budget trip to Singapore by investing some time and effort in laying the right groundwork for it.
Plan Your Own Trip
I began with a visit to the nearest travel operator which happened to be Thomas Cook to know the best deals for our upcoming budget trip to Singapore. They offered a package deal of Rs 68,586 per person plus taxes for a 4N/5D trip, which included a stay in a 4-star hotel, airport and hotel transfers plus sightseeing to top tourist destinations, which are always time bound in any package tour.
Now that I had some information on how to get started, the next task was to connect with people who had been to Singapore recently. I started getting tentative itineraries about the trip in my mailbox, and of course, tons of travel tips. Also, I found the Trip Advisor forum very helpful for planning this budget trip to Singapore down to the last detail. The only assistance I sought from a travel agent was for organising our visas, which cost us Rs 2,500 per person. As a pre-requisite, we had to book our return air tickets in advance, which felt a little risky. However, I found a return flight to Singapore for Rs 43,522 for three people on MakeMyTrip. It was simply an irresistible offer given my intent to pull off a budget trip to Singapore and I booked it without any delay.
Also, the tourist visa to Singapore has to be applied one month prior to the date of travel. There is no visa on arrival facility in Singapore, unlike most of the other South East Asian countries. We received our visas in five business days.
Book Cheap Hotels in Non-Tourist Locality
This is something you will never come across in any travel operator’s itinerary. They always tend to book you a stay in 3/4 star properties in the heart of the most highly-rated tourist destinations and neighbourhoods like Little India. I chose to go a different way for our budget trip to Singapore. With help of a cousin living in Singapore, I was able to zero in on locations that were not as popular yet well-connected and looked for budget hotels in these localities through Booking.com.
I, finally, zeroed in on Oxley Hotel 88 in an area named Geylang – a non-tourist locality. It was indeed a pocket-friendly deal since our cost of stay for four nights came to just Rs 12,832.
Explore the Best Airport in the World
Changi has been repeatedly named the ‘Best Airport in the World’, and for good reason. It is not just an airport but a destination unto itself. There is just so much to do here and you will not be charged exorbitantly for any of these services unlike at other airports. You can even book the entry tickets for important attractions such as Universal Studios and Night Safari right at the airport. For this budget trip to Singapore, I got a combo deal for entry tickets of Universal Studio and Night Safari for SGD 109 per person. I also purchased an EzLink card at the airport, which allows you to travel in local metros and buses. You can buy this card for SGD 5 and can top it up at any metro station.
Public Transport – A Lifeline
I would highly recommend using public transport if you are aiming for a budget trip to Singapore since cabs are expensive. Although you cannot avoid cabs altogether, you can cut back on this unnecessary expense considerably by going the public transport way. I did use cabs only on a few occasions such as airport pickup and drop, visit to the night safari or on instances when we were out until late in the night. A typical one-way trip in a cab costs around SGD 20, which can be spent well on food, shopping or other indulgences.
Remember to swipe your EzLink card before entering and leaving the metro station or you’d be charged for the entire route. Also, remember to tender the exact change to the bus driver in case the balance in your EzLink card runs out. I had a bad experience when the driver did not return the change during one of my rides. It is advisable to always top up your EzLink card with $10 or more using portals such as https://gothere.sg/maps.
These tips should help you plan your maiden budget trip to Singapore and I’m sure you will realize that it is always better to explore Singapore on your own rather than through a travel agent. Watch this space for my experience of exploring Singapore.