Nov 29 2012
“How to save money in Singapore: part 1” covered the essentials of sleeping, eating and drinking. Now I’ll share some tips on saving money on transportation, sightseeing, shopping and keeping in touch with your friends and family back home while in Singapore.
Unlike other Southeast Asian cities, Singapore does not have cheap tuk tuks or motorcycle taxis. Thankfully the city’s public transit system is extremely efficient, with buses and subways running roughly from 06:00 till midnight every day. After midnight you can take advantage of the NightRider and NiteOwl bus services. If you’re going to be in Singapore for more than three days we highly recommend getting an EZ-Link card (sold at MRT stations) so you can take advantage of lower fares and transfer discounts.
Singapore’s big attractions all have similarly big price tags – S$22 for the Singapore Zoo, S$30 for the Singapore Flyer – so it’s worth asking if your hotel or hostel offers discounted tickets as most can pre-sell you tickets for 10-20% less than full price. You can also try websites like Groupon.sg for discounted admission to local attractions (be sure to read the fine print – some offers are only valid for Singapore residents). Alternatively, there are plenty of fun free things to do in Singapore ranging from cultural sites like the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple to parks and nature reserves like the Singapore Botanic Gardens.
Shopping in Singapore doesn’t have to leave you penniless either. If you’re in the market for cheap souvenirs, the place to go is the Chinatown Street Market where you can buy fridge magnets, “Singapore is a Fine City” T-shirts and miniature Merlions for just a few dollars apiece. If you’re heading to the malls of Orchard Road there’s good reason to bring your passport: present it to the customer service desk to collect your “tourist privilege card” for discounts at most stores and restaurants. Finally, remember that if you spend more than S$100 at a single store to get a receipt so you can claim the tourist tax refund – it’s equal to about 7% of the total price.
For keeping in touch with family and friends back home, hopefully your accommodation includes internet access (have we mentioned how much we hate it when hotels charge extra for WiFi?), but if they don’t you can take advantage of Singapore’s free public WiFi service. It’s called Wireless@SG and is available in most shopping malls, libraries and McDonalds. It’s not fast enough to Skype, but is sufficient for sending a few emails or updating your Facebook status.
If you need to make some phone calls don’t roam – get a Singapore SIM card instead. They’re available at convenience stores like 7-eleven for as little as S$8 including credit. International calls start from S$0.16 cents per minute, which is certainly a lot lower than using the phone in your hotel room.
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