Here are some tips to help you save while on a trip here.
1. Save on getting around
Singapore's got a great well-connected transportation system so you can get to almost anywhere by the MRT (subway) or public buses. If you are travelling round the island extensively, you can get a 1, 2 or 3-day Singapore Tourist Pass for $10, $16 and $20 respectively (there's a refundable $10 deposit on the card in addition, which must be claimed within 5 days from the date of the pass purchase). It allows you take unlimited rides on the buses (except for special services like the express and night owl buses). It might be worth it, since there is a non-refundable $5 fee on the alternative ez-link card (which the locals use and pay as they go).
A regular MRT ride would cost about $0.80 to $1.80 depending on the distance between stations. (To calculate fares between stations, click here.) The ride between each station takes between 2 to 3 minutes. If you won't be moving from place to place that much, getting the regular ez-link card might be more worth it. If you have additional funds in the card, you may use it to pay for items when you shop at places like 7-eleven.
- Present your passport at participating "Tax Free" stores when you are making payment for your purchases. The store's staff will issue you an Electronic Tourist Refund Scheme (eTRS) ticket. Do note that you will need to spend S$100 or more a day (accumulated from a maximum of 3 receipts per day).
- While at the airport before you check-in, you will need to head to the GST refund kiosks at the departure area to scan your eTRS tickets. Your bags may be checked for the purchased items at these kiosks.
- After checking in, proceed to the GST Cash Refund Counter located at the departure lounge. Please note that the refund amount will be slightly lower due to handling fees.
For details, visit the Tourist Refund Scheme website.
4. Tipping is not a standard practice... but you may do so if you wish to
The bill at most restaurants include a 10% service charge. You will find a tip box at the counter when you leave so you may leave a tip if you wish to. If you take a taxi, tipping is entirely up to you too, though the rationale that most locals justify not tipping by is that there are already surcharges on taxis fares. Nobody gives a tip if they eat at coffeeshops or hawker centres.
5. Get better deals on food and more attractions
Group buying coupon offers are common and legitimate here. You can visit Groupon.sg or Deal.com.sg and find many deals ranging from Sentosa attraction tickets to restaurant deals (including those serving chilli crabs) to short getaways to neighbouring Malaysia and Indonesia. Just take note of the fine print when you purchase and you will be able to save a great deal.
6. Prepaid SIM card
There are 3 main telcos in Singapore - Singtel, Starhub and M1. Check out the prepaid SIM card deals for each of them.
7. Local vacation periods
School vacation gets everything going on a high, especially prices and human traffic. There are 2 main vacation periods - entire month of June and mid-November to end of December. There's also the 1-week vacation period in the second week of March and September. Expect tourist attractions such as Sentosa to be packed. Prices of air tickets escalate during these periods. Unless you are in town to celebrate certain festivities with Singapore and soak in the human traffic, it'd be good to avoid the queues and crowd. Check out the calendar of events in Singapore.
8. Tourists' shopping discounts
Some shopping malls in Singapore offer tourist discounts on shopping. No harm heading to the reception/information counter to ask if they're having any tourist promotions going on.