Singapore Budget Travel Guide 1D 1N
What to do in Singapore if you only have 1 day? I’ve read many questions in Facebook and other forums asking what are the things to do in Singapore if you have a 7 hours layover or just one night before you head to your next destination.
In our 23 days backpacking trip around SouthEast Asia, the first country to visit in our itinerary is Singapore. We all know SG is the most expensive country in South East Asia so we just allotted 1 day and 1 night of stay before heading to Malaysia as suggested by my wife who explored Singapore before during a layover. Actually, we stayed there for 2 nights. We slept in Changi airport for the first night since our arrival time is 12AM.
Our main goal is not to spend a lot and just go to the landmarks, market and eat. We didn’t go to places that have entrance fees except for tickets to go up the OCBC skyway. We only ate at Chinatown, hawker stalls and bought some bread from a nearby bakery. We spent our night in the airport and at a private fan room hosted in Airbnb.
In this post, I will show you the breakdown of expenses, itinerary, places we visited, food we ate and our accommodations.
Day 0 (March 26)
8:15PM – Depart Manila to SG
11:55PM – Arrive Changi Airport
Sleep at the Airport (Entertainment deck – Movie house)
Day 1 (March 27)
7AM – Raffles Place/Fullerton Hotel vicinity
Marina Bay Sands Hotel vicinity
9AM – Gardens by the Bay
10AM – Chinatown
1130AM – Sri Mariamman Temple
12PM – Lunch
230PM – Airbnb stay at Yishun area
6PM – Dinner at Hawker stalls in Yishun
Day 2 (March 28)
7AM – Travel to Kuala Lumpur
Sleeping at Changi Airport
As mentioned above, we slept at the airport at the Entertainment deck (movie house) at Terminal 2. In preparation to this, we didn’t check in our backpacks but brought them as carry-on luggage instead. The reason is, If you have check-in luggage, then you either…
- Enter and pass the immigration and get your luggage. By doing this, you’ll be in the landside (pass security)… meaning, you cannot enter at the airside anymore and enjoy the services and facilities of Changi Airport.
- Stay airside and sleep at the airport but don’t pass immigration yet. The only drawback is, you have to get your luggage in the Lost and Found baggage claim area after immigration.
Aside from the movie house, there are comfy chairs, lounges and even a transit hotel inside the airport where you can take a good night rest. You have to pay for the lounges and hotel though.
All of Singapore can be reached by train. No need to ride a taxi unless you really need it. The MRT starts to operate at 5:30AM so by 6AM we are already aboard the train going to Merlion Park.
We purchased an EZ Link card for 12SGD (inclusive of a 5SGD non-refundable card cost and a 7SGD credit) which I think was not a good idea since we are just spending a day and a night in SG and we’re not frequent travelers to Singapore. Yes, it added convenience as we didn’t have to buy tickets from the machine but we wouldn’t mind that. So if you are just in SG for a short time, I would suggest that you buy your standard tickets from the ticketing machine instead to minimize your costs.
Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Since we stayed in Yishun, we opted to go to Kranji station which is in the same line and 5 stops away.
So go to Kranji station, board the purple orange buses SBS 170. It will drop you at the immigration to exit SG. Fare 1.75 SGD.
Once your passport is stamped, board a bus going to Johor Bahru (SBS 170 or the Yellow bus). Fare 1.5 SGD. Enter Malaysia immigration.
Board SBS 170 again to go to Larkin Terminal to ride a bus to KL or other parts of Malaysia. Fare 1.80 SGD.
In Larkin Terminal, there are lots of buses going to KL. Just choose the cheapest. We paid 30RM each from Larkin to TBS Terminal in KL. Don’t worry, cheaper here doesn’t mean your bus is a hellhole. We rode a nice air-conditioned bus with ample legroom and the driver’s not a speed maniac either.
If there’s a need for you to be connected always, check these internet data offers from Klook:
Before our trip, I checked several hostels in Singapore. Some are cheap but I really doubt if it’s good. Some have good reviews but are not within our budget. It ranges from 800 to 1000 per person for a dorm bed. Then I checked Airbnb for some bang for the buck private rooms and saw one ad that is offering P958 (all-in including airbnb fee) for a private fan room with good reviews! That’s fine since we’ll just be staying for one night in SG.
You can check the listing here:
The room and the toilet are clean. Understandably, Singapore’s very hot and humid at our time of travel so apart from the ceiling fan, an extra stand fan is provided to us. Wifi is strong and you can fill up water from their fridge. The host is kind and they even offer a box of essentials where you can take some for free like lotion, toothpaste and other toiletries.
Here are some recommended accommodations you might want to check:
Or you can search and compare prices of accommodations in Singapore here
Places to see
There are lots of places to visit in Singapore even just for a day. It all depends on what you want to see and do and how much energy you have. As budget travelers, we chose to visit places that has cheap or no entrance fees. We also plan out our Itinerary well so we travel to places that are near to each other and wouldn’t require us to spend much on transportation. It’s alright to be spontaneous but If you like to save time and money, then wisely plan your IT.
Fullerton Hotel, Merlion Park, Esplanade, Singapore Flyer, The Helix, Marina Bay Sands, Gardens by the Bay
To go here: Alight at Raffles Place Station
If you haven’t been to Singapore, make the Merlion Park the first in your Itinerary. From there, you can just walk through Esplanade Drive going to the Helix bridge and stopover at the Singapore Flyer if you want to see it up close or ride it for a bird’s eye view of SG. Continue walking to Marina Bay sands then from here you can enter Gardens by the Bay.
Gardens by the Bay is so huge that to see all of it would require lots of walking, time and energy. We only explored a part of it and went up to the OCBC Skyway for 5 SGD each. It was a nice view above but if you’re afraid of heights like my wife, maybe you should think about it? But nah, it’s not frightening up there. Go ahead, conquer it.
You can also buy your tickets here.
Chinatown and other areas
At this point, it’s up to you if you want to see more places or not. Based on the map, the nearest ones from Merlion Park are the Chinatown area and City Hall area. If you’re hungry (you definitely are) and want to do some budget shopping, then go to Chinatown area for food in hawker stalls and cheap merchandise. While doing this, you can visit the Buddha Tooth relic and Sri Mariamman Temple.
Other points of interests are Bugis Street, Little India, Clarke Quay, Orchard Road (high end shopping if that’s your cup of tea but you can window shop anyway) and many other places. Just check them in google maps and see their distances from each other so you won’t waste time and money going back and forth the train.
Again, if budget is your concern and knowing the true culture of a place is your thing, then you should shy away from big commercial touristy places with hefty entrance fees. If you’ll ask me, I’ll spend that money on food. Foods that are sold in the streets or in hawker stalls.
Explore more tours and activities in Singapore here.
Discounted tickets that may interest you:
Now speaking of food, I’ll show you what and where we ate in Singapore. We only have a day to explore SG and because we are on a budget, we didn’t eat that much. Just enough to satisfy our crumbling stomachs. Compared to other ASEAN countries, Singapore is a little expensive but that doesn’t mean you can’t find affordable food here.
We went to Chinatown for lunch and looked for a place where there are lots of people eating. Found an eatery where they offer, well, Chinese food.
It’s your usual Chinese food and nothing fancy about it. We ordered a bowl of Pork with vegetable and rice (4 SGD), Cuttlefish Congee (3.5 SGD) and egg tart (1.5 SGD).
Pork and rice
Good enough to fill our stomachs but I think there are better options out there.
For dinner, fortunately, there are hawker stalls just 3 minutes walk from our Airbnb accommodation in Yishun. We had a very delicious Char Siew Noodle (4 SGD), Roasted chicken rice (3 SGD) and sesame balls (.70 SGD)
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Oh yes, this is why we love traveling! Eat delicious food! This Char Siew noodle in an unknown hawker stall in Yishun, Singapore is the best! #thetraveldebugger #hawker #singapore #cheapeats #igfood #foodstagram #travelstoke #travelawesome #eats #foodie #charsiew #food #asian #southeastasia #passionpassport #yummy #traveling #delicious
Hawker stalls are definitely the place to eat in Singapore. Lots of choices and very affordable. We would love to eat more but we have to be strict with our budget.
Here is our detailed SG expenses in PHP currency. Airport food is really a pain in the pocket.
For our budget tips in S.East Asia, click here!
|Day 0||Per Pax||Total 2 Pax||Remarks|
|McDo Chicken Burger Airport||69.30||138.61|
|OCBC Skyway ticket||173.26||346.52|
|Chinatown Lunch||178.46||356.92||Pork and Veggie Rice ($4), egg tart ($1.5), congee cuttlefish ($3.5), water ($1.3)|
|Hawker Dinner||150.73||301.47||Char Siew Noodle ($4), Roasted Chicken rice ($3), Softdrink ($1), Sesame butchi ($.70)|
|Yishun to Kranji||86.63||173.26|
|SBS 170 Bus to Immigration exit||60.64||121.28||1.75 SGD per pax|
|SBS 170 Bus to Johor Bahru||51.97||103.95||1.5 SGD per pax|
|SBS 170 Bus to Larkin terminal||62.37||124.74||1.80 SGD per pax|
Please note that the total of 1816.58 per pax didn’t include our one way ticket to SG from Manila (via Cebu Pacific) since Singapore was just our entry point in our 23 days backpacking trip in S.East Asia. But if you want to know, we spent 3199.5 each for the airfare from Manila to SG.
Yes, a day may not be enough if you want to explore more of SG but it is very much doable if you just like to go to the key places/landmarks and do a food trip while you’re just in for a short visit. Alternatively, Singapore also provides a free 2 hour city tour. Just visit the Free Singapore tour booths located at terminal 2 and 3.
Hope you enjoyed reading! Stay tuned for more guides and leave a comment if you have any questions!