Singapore is not the first city coming to mind when planning a budget trip through Asia. But when I found myself in Bangkok with open possibilities to my travels, I decided to take the plunge. I was so close geographically, I couldn’t say no. “If not now, when?”
I found a cheap flight, so why not?
I once had a friend tell me to “just buy the ticket”. When it comes to taking the plunge into the next adventure, you just need to decide to make it happen. Finding flights throughout Asia was easy. Websites like Ctrip and booking directly through airlines like Air Asia can find you really inexpensive one-way tickets. While travelling via bus was my method of choice in Central America (you can check out my post about chicken buses here), solo travel on buses is not always a wise option, especially when it comes to crossing more controlled borders. Since travelling through Asia on a United States passport requires many visas to be pre-applied or pre-approved, I stuck with the planes to keep it simple.
Many free activities.
Singapore pleasantly surprised me with a great number of free things to do. Simply googling “free things to do in [insert city here]” is something I do for every new place I am about to visit. I am also easily amused by interesting buildings and architecture, and Singapore was FULL of them! Truth be told, I found Singapore’s gorgeous and famed Gardens By The Bay on Instagram about 3 years ago, and it has been on my List ever since.
Visiting the Gardens was free (win!), but going into the conservatories did come with a small price tag. Since I am a big nerd for plants, flowers and learning, I would have paid almost anything to go inside. Good thing I didn’t have to! It only cost me about $20 for the two together, and I spent pretty much all day exploring them. At night, the Super Trees light up with an exciting and magical, musical light show (again, totally free!).
You can pick and choose where to spend your budget.
I really was careful to choose my meals wisely, opting to eat many cheapie microwave meals in my hostel. This helped me cut my expenses to a minimum while visiting one of Asia’s most expensive cities. Of course I couldn’t eat ALL my meals from a convenient store while I was there, but being careful with your budget is crucial especially in more expensive cities. Finding a hostel that included breakfast was a huge help too!
Singapore has many cultural neighborhoods to explore. Whether it is food you are looking for, interesting architecture, or a wide calendar of festivals and events, you can find it in Singapore. I happened to visit during the end of Deepavali and wandered through the streets of Singapore’s Little India. The festival was winding down but still thousands of people strolled through the streets shopping, talking and eating. I grabbed a bite to eat in Chinatown, explored a free museum of Malay Heritage, and even cruised through a few fabric shops on Arab street. And guess what? Checking out the diversity and culture of Singapore was all free!
I left a few stones un-turned.
I never consider it a good sign if you can leave a city feeling like you have seen it all. I like to leave with a good taste in my mouth (maybe literally!), a few good stories to take with me, and an even longer list of things to see and do. My first trip to Singapore checked a few places and activities off my bucket list, but left even more to add!
Ever take the plunge on a trip you thought was beyond your reach?