One day in S'pore: Tourists 'surprised' by what they did with $135 in world's most expensive city

The New Paper
Aug 17, 2023

Singapore is often regarded as one of the most expensive cities in the world. 

Two Canadian tourists – Nicole and Mico – decided to put that claim to the test during their stay here recently, documenting their travels and experiences in a YouTube video.

They decided to set themselves a budget of US$100 (S$135) a day, per person.

While that seems doable to most Singaporeans, you’ll nonetheless be surprised just how far the pair managed to stretch their dollar, especially considering where they went.

Identifying themselves as “seasoned travellers” who have spent the last two years on the road, Nicole and Mico stayed at a pod hotel during their time here – a snug space with just enough sleeping room for two./p>

To start the day, they did some sightseeing at Kampong Glam and Haji Lane, stopping at a curious little coffee joint along the way called Selfie Coffee, where customers can snap a selfie, and the coffee will have their picture reflected in the foam.

After a biryani and murtabak lunch at Zam Zam restaurant, they headed to Marina Bay Sands (MBS), and bought tickets to the Skypark observation deck.

Next up was Gardens by the Bay and two domed exhibits – Cloud Forest and Flower Dome, Oh, and they found time for a cuppa at Starbucks in the middle of all that.

For dinner, it was trusty ol’ McDonald's.

Though they felt "a bit embarrassed to be eating Macs in Singapore", the couple admitted that they were in a rush, and needed something cheap, quick and convenient. 

After dinner, they rushed off to catch a free lightshow at the nearby Supertree Grove exhibit.

In the end, here's a breakdown of what they spent, per person:

  • Pod Hostel w/breakfast (US$22)

  • Selfie Coffee at Haji Lane (US$3)

  • Lunch at Zam Zam (US$5)

  • MRT ride (US$0.75)

  • Skypark Observation Deck (US$17)

  • Starbucks (US$6)

  • Cloud Forest and Flower Dome (US$39)

  • Dinner at McDonald's (US$6.50)

Total: US$99.25

Not bad for a full day of activities at pricey tourist spots. 

In the video's comments, some Singaporeans poured in with suggestions on how to see and experience Singapore on an even leaner budget.

For example, visiting the free Botanic Gardens and the award-winning National Orchid Garden (S$10 per ticket), instead of Gardens by the Bay.

Or going for hikes in places like Mount Faber or Bukit Timah, which are free.

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