After my first day in Singapore, and Ben and I spending over 200 bucks, I thought there’s no way I could have made it here as a backpacker. It isn’t a joke when people say it’s “so expensive!” The prices really are extremely high, and if someone asked me, “is Singapore expensive for backpackers?” I would have to say yes, it truly is.
I did find a few places that had great deals and thanks to staying with a Singaporean girl, I got some inside tips that I’m going to share on where to get boozy in Singapore without breaking the bank. Although it might be expensive overall, it is doable on a backpacking budget! You just might not have as much fun. The most important thing is to not stress about the money while you’re there. It will ruin your trip. Just mentally prepare and know that it’ll be a little more than your usually daily spending.
Singapore Skyline, photo credit: flickr
Stay in Little India, Chill at Esplanade
First off, if you’re on a tight budget you’ll want to stay in Little India. The lodging is cheapest here and there are bars nearby. Here you will pay about 7-8 SD for a beer at bars like Prince of Wales.
view of esplande, photo credit: flickr
Prince of Wales in Little India, photo credit: Cho
Alcohol is the most expensive part of Singapore. It’s not a place to skip out on the nightlife– that was my favorite part! So the “cool” place for backpackers to hang out is Esplanade. Grab a few beers from 7-11 and head here, just north of the mouth of the Singapore River. You’ll have a great view of the skyline while you pregame with other people as poor as us backpackers! There are also open bandstands. The cheapest decent beer you can get at 7-11 is 6 small Tiger’s for 16 SD. One of the best beer deals I saw out was: Bucket of 5 beers for 40 SD, which doesn’t seem like that much of a deal.
Look for Specials on Booze
Singapore nightlife photo credit: Cho
If you want cheap booze but don’t want to be socially awkward drinking Tiger on a bridge, then I suggest doing to the bars during happy hour. They’ll be signs up outside bars where the locals will go after work at 5.
Most cover charges are at least 18 bucks, but some are upwards of 100. Some clubs will make you buy a drink to get in. For 4 of us, it was cheaper to by a bottle of vodka at 200 SD than multiple drinks and entry fees at China One. Try to find a “Ladies Night” (if you’re a lady) like Le Baroque and Bubbles and Heels where from 8-9 ladies drink for free on Wednesday.
Insomnia in CHJIMES, and old churchyard with a restaurant in Robertson Quay Square offers 20-dollar free flow from 9-11 for both men and women. Other places with Free flow offers: Wine BOS and Vivo Mexico.
Five Izakaya Bar in Collyer Quay next to Raffles in the financial district has 5 dollar specials all day. Bartini on Club Street has 5 dollar bellini’s.
There are bars that are known “backpacker” destinations, they may not have set discounts, but people know they can get cheap booze.
- The previously mentioned Five Izakaya, Insomnia, and Prince of Wales are all well known backpacker bars.
- Cuscaden Patio off Orchard Road has deals on Tuesday
- dbLO on Queen Street near Bugis (there are hostels nearby) offers deals for ladies on Thursday
- Crazy Elephant on Clark Quay
- Café Iguana (Mexican Food, yum!) has 5 dollar magaritas from 11-3.
- Saint James near Vivo City
- New Harbor Café in Duxton
- China One is known as cheap. A bottle of vodka goes for 200 SD. We got two. It was a VERY fun bar/club! The first place I’ve actually gotten Ben to dance to hip/hop and rap!
More Money Saving Tips
-To miss cover charges, you can also go somewhere early for dinner when they aren’t charging covers, then stay there throughout the night.
Come to places like Robertson Quay during the evening to skip cover charges! photo credit: flickr
-Skip cabs and take the MRT! It’s one of the easiest metros I’ve used and is very reasonably priced.
-Eat the street food, but skip the touristy Hawkers. We paid 80 bucks for satay for 4 people near Lau Pa Sat and apparently Lau Pa Sat’s prices are gone way up. Try the local food courts. Ben and I got more food at a local food court than Lau Pa Sat for only 13 SD. Hawkers are not always the cheapest option.
-Check your bill for added service charge of 10% and you don’t have to tip further than that. According to locals, you shouldn’t tip at Hawkers either.
-Stay away from the malls: Vivo City, Sim Lim, Orchard Road, and Marina Bay. You can get this stuff at home with your trip is over! It’s just more to carry around. I talk in my other posts about shopping in Singapore at these very same malls, but I now live abroad and can get away with it- I never would have as a backpacker.
-If you get to Sentosa (only 4 dollars by metro) have drinks at Bikini Bar on Silosa Beach who offers specials from 4-7.
-It still wouldn’t be that cheap, but if you’re looking for a fancy bar with a deal, New Asia Bar on the 71st floor of Swissotel, offers 8-dollar beers and 12 dollar cocktails from 3-9.
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