Penang Insights

On budget in Singapore

An overnight stay in Singapore doesn’t have to be expensive if you have a connecting flight the next morning. It depends on how much time you have before your next flight. If you have less than 12 hours between your flights, you may want to stay inside Changi airport at one of the transit hotels or airport lounges for less than $100 SGD (Singapore dollar), or at one of the airport hotels outside, which is a lot more expensive. 

However, if you have more than 12 hours stopover in Singapore, you have better choices of staying somewhere nearby. It depends on your budget and number of luggage you’re carrying. In my case, I arrived at Changi T2 at 5:30 pm with an international connecting flight the next morning at 11:20 am. This means I need to get back to the airport no later than 9:20 am to give me enough time to check-in and go through the immigration checks. I have several hours during the night and a couple of hours in the early morning to do something interesting rather than getting stuck at the airport. I don’t have any big luggage except a backpack and a small sling bag to carry. Hence, my decision to look for a hotel somewhere outside, not too far from Changi and within the proximity of an MRT station so I can take the train to and from the airport. 

This was what I did and I had a nice time walking the local streets and eating the local food with an added bonus of 6 hours good sleep costing less than $100 SGD. Yes, you heard me right. It was better than staying at Changi, which would probably cost more and won’t be as interesting as what I did for the few hours that I had in Singapore. 

My suggestion is to see Singapore beyond the touristy side of the city. Explore and experience the local life in one of the nearby neighbourhood. I have been to Singapore a few times in the past and has seen and done the touristy side of things. There is nothing cultural or interesting except another big city. However, step outside the touristy spots, you will experience the local culture with some amazingly preserved local food. 

On a previous overnight trip in 2014, I had a most memorable experience and stay that I never imagined still existed in Singapore. I stayed at the Katong district, with a rich tapestry of Peranakan culture and heritage shop terraces. I had such a wonderful time then and it was a no brainer that I have decided to stay in the same area 5 years later. 

The hotel which I stayed on this trip is called “Venue Hotel” located on 305 Joo Chiak Road. There is nothing fancy about this hotel but it is cheap and it is clean and in a location that I wanted so I could walk and explore the area. You can read my review on TripAdvisor. The room cost me only $72 SGD. There is a bus stop diagonally across the road within less than 5 minutes walk. The bus ride cost $1.50 SGD to the nearest MRT station, Dakota, with a one-way fare $2.40 to Changi airport. My total on-ground transport cost me $6.30 SGD (I walked from the Paya Lebar MRT station on the way in).

I had a late supper of local food near the hotel costing $11 SGD for a plate of “e-fu mee” noodle and a plate of stir fry vegetable “kai lan”. The next morning I had two of the best local breakfast within 2-3 minutes walk from the hotel at a food court – wanton noodle costing $3.50 SGD and chicken porridge costing $3 SGD.

In total, I have only spent $84.80 SGD. It seems impossible especially Singapore is ranked one of the most expensive cities to live in the world ahead of New York, London and Los Angeles. I suppose if you have to live there, it would be expensive in terms of housing (rent or mortgage) and petrol (if you own a car). But for a visitor who wants to travel on a budget and yet experience something local in Singapore, it is quite possible as I have done it myself on this trip. Mind you, I don’t always travel cheap. It is by choice on this trip since I don’t see the value of paying more than I had to for a short visit and just to sleep in.

Experience the local Hindu culture
Singapore ,

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