Budget Singapore 3-night itinerary – 7 Top Tips

There’s a lot to do in Singapore, so use our Singapore 3-night itinerary to help create your own experience. Singapore is a very popular stopover destination for flying travelers and also host to the second busiest shipping port in the world. It has more rules than I’ve got grey hairs, which makes it a very unique travelling experience. Our family, and especially the kids, absolutely enjoyed! It’s super clean, very safe, the hawker malls are a lot of fun and the Singapore Zoo is one of the best in the world.

But alas it’s also very expensive. We really had to maximize the budget for this stopover. I would say on reflection that there’s not much we feel like we missed out on. It’s a very compact city and you don’t actually need a lot of time to make the most of Singapore.

How much to budget for a family stopover in Singapore?

Our Singapore 3-night itinerary budget for a family of 6 (in USD):

  • Food $80/day. We spent $140/day. We really underestimated the cost of food at the tourist traps (looking as you, Gardens at the Bay and Singapore Zoo!). However, food is cheap at the Hawker malls and a real experience ($4 – $6 for a main meal).
  • Transport $20/day. We spent $25/day. The Singapore MRT and bus network is just fantastic – clean, reliable and easy to use. However, you have to pre purchase the MRT cards that you can only top up with cash and they don’t give change – hard to get right over 3 nights. If you are solo/couple you can simply tap on and off with your credit card. It’s a strict “one card, one person” rule so this doesn’t work for a family of 6.
  • Activities $60/day. We spent $60/day – nailed it.
  • Extras $10/day. We spent $10/day – this was things like band aids and data. We use Airalo for our eSIM and set it up before we flew in from Bali. Easier than buying a sim card when you get there and a similar cost.
  • Accommodation $140/night. You could do this a lot cheaper for a smaller family, but we did get a great deal through Agoda. We booked a really cool 1 room, box like apartment with bunk beds in Chinatown. The kids really enjoyed it – a unique experience and the lack of space doesn’t really matter when you’re out and about all day. Totally manageable for only 3 nights.

Overall, for 3 nights, we overran the budget by $195, spending $1,125. If we were to do it again, I’d pack a lot more snacks for the touristy spots to avoid getting caught out with hangry children and buying overpriced tourist food.

Our Singapore 3-night itinerary – Day 1

Get an early flight so you have some time upon arrival to explore “The Jewel” at Changi Airport (Singapore’s airport). We arrived at 9.30am and spent 4 hours exploring, including the must-see world’s biggest indoor waterfall, the rain vortex. Catch the MRT from terminal 1 or 2, this will take you to most central city locations for around SG$2 pp (our capsule hotel was a 3min walk from the Chinatown stop). Grab dinner at your local Hawker Mall (ours was the Maxwell Centre which we loved), then get an early night as your next two days will have a high step count. Ours was 24,000 (!) but could have easily made better use of the airconditioned MRT.

Our Singapore 3-night itinerary – Day 2

Most shops don’t open until 10-11am so we ended up at Starbucks nice and early to caffeine up and feed the kids. If you are on a budget like us, spend the day making the most of all the free attractions. Our top pick is Gardens by the Bay and the waterfront Promenade out the front of the Marina Bay Sands (grab a great snap of the impressive city skyline). The bulk of our time was enjoyed at Gardens by the bay and the kids particularly enjoyed the epic splashpad where we spent a couple of hours.

There are so many different walking routes taking you through manicured gardens and of course the famous SuperTree’s Grove. If you had more time, you could easily visit more than once. My favorite was the “Last March” display which is a line of real life-sized bronze statues of various animals near extinction inspired by David Attenborough – really moving! You might even spot some local wildlife; we saw a monitor lizard.

Spend time exploring the massive Marina Bay Mall which was decked out for Christmas when we were there. From here I would recommend Chinatown which really comes to life later in the day and during the evening, before grabbing dinner at a Hawker Mall – we did La Pa Sat.

Then head back on foot or on the MRT to see the famous light show at Gardens of the Bay, show times are 7.45pm & 8.45pm. This also allows you to see the city at night which is even more spectacular than during the day. There is also a water and light show out the front of Mariana Bay Sands on the hour starting at 8pm if you have the time – our kids were done by this stage!

Our Singapore 3-night itinerary – Day 3

We chose one paid activity and really enjoyed it! You could easily burn a hole in your pocket if you tried to tick off too many activities given the entrance fees. Work out what your top pick is whether it’s Universal Studies on Sentosa Island, a Harbour cruise or The Cloud and Flower Dome, choose your top pick and take your time. We had several friends recommend the Singapore Zoo and it did not disappoint. We spent the full day there arriving back in the city for a final meal at Maxwell Hawker Centre. It was pretty straight forward to navigate the MRT and then switch to a bus to get there and back to Chinatown.

Our top 3 kid’s activities for your Singapore 3-night itinerary

  • Singapore Zoo – rated as one of the top zoos in the world, we easily spent a day here and if you pick up a ticket for the neighboring River Wonders and Night Safari you could easily fill in 2 days. Bring your togs for the splash pad for a welcome heat break.
  • Jewel Changi Airport – it sounds counter intuitive that you’d want to spend any more time than necessary at an airport, however, this place has to be seen to be believed! It’s the real deal and we could have spent more time here, but we tired of carting around our luggage. The lockers were really expensive (around US$20 for a small locker and we had 6 large packs). The kids picked up Jibbitz for their Crocs, and a few trinkets from the genuine Pokémon store while I marveled at the length queue for the pop-up Mario store.
  • Gardens by the Bay – this enormous, free entry garden has a splash pad, multiple attractions you can pay to enter, and a free light show in the evening.
Singapore MRT
Singapore MRT

Our top travel tips for a Singapore 3-night itinerary

  1. Pick your activities wisely – for a large family the cost really adds up. Gardens at the Bay is free entry and you could easily spend a day here. The entry fees at some of the activities are high such as Flower Dome, Cloud Forest and Tree Top Walks which we skipped, but take your togs and towels for the free splash pad which was a really cool afternoon.
  2. You can stock up on snacks from the many mini supermarket style outlets (e.g. 7-Eleven) to avoid getting caught out with expensive tourist food.
  3. Pack a poncho! When it rains, it really pours – it’s a tropical climate and often has downpours in the afternoon.
  4. Use the MRT. It is just so good. We started out walking a lot and quickly regretted it as the heat can be intense. Also, MRT to and from the airport – it’s really easy.
  5. Allow at least half a day at the Changi Jewel Airport. It sounds like a place you want to exit from as quick as possible, but it really is a marvel to behold.
  6. If you’re flying Singapore Airlines, you get significant discounts on a multitude of attractions around Singapore well worth factoring into the cost of your flights.
  7. To crossover to Malaysia for Legoland, follow our Singapore Malaysia land border crossing guide here.


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