Backpacking in Singapore is not the most common destination that comes to mind for a traveller on a budget as it’s one of the most expensive countries in the area and, to be honest, it has never been part of my bucket list tops as I’m not really that interested in high rises of mainly banks and hotels.
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However, when planning my year of adventures I was just looking for the cheapest flight tickets and Singapore came up first.
Initially I just thought of landing and moving straight away to Malaysia, but then I decided not to judge the entire country by its cover and decided to look into what it has to show that is of my interest.
As usual, I landed with no bookings but had seen that there were a few hostels in Chinatown, so I got the MRT from the airport towards the area. As soon as you get off the station in Pagoda Street, I found Royal Lodge Hostel.
Now, I prefer not to book rooms because normally you can negotiate the price down if there are rooms available, on this case the lady from the hostel itself told me to go online as it may be cheaper that way (???).
I went to booking.com and it actually came to $9 cheaper (any prices on this post are written in Singaporean Dollars). No idea what happened there… (x2 nights came to $40 inc. breakfast)
Day 1 Chinatown – Downtown Core – General stroll around
I landed at 7am from Spain via London and didn’t sleep at all so I was a bit knackered… as I arrived before check in time I started my adventures backpacking in Singapore straight away.
I went for a walk around Chinatown and to my surprise, without really looking for it, I quickly found Hawker Chan which is one of the things I wanted to do in Singapore!
I couldn’t think of a better way to start my days in Singapore than eating the cheapest (globally?) Michelin Star food! for just under $4 you get the starred Soy Sauce Chicken Rice and $2 for a refreshingly cold Roselle Tea.
While walking in Chinatown you will see typical architecture, the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and of course, lots of restaurants.
Once it was finally time to check in I went straight to the hostel for a desperately needed nap!
A few hours later I started walking towards the Merlion / Marina Bay Area, I’m not too fussed about the skyscrapers but it was still nice to walk around a get a feel of the city.
As you may have heard, Singapore is super clean and there’s lots of green even in the buildings so that makes the stroll even nicer! by 8pm I was around The Float @ Marina Bay area to watch the light show in the bay.
Day 2 MacRichtie Trail and the search of the unfindable gas canister!
Much more refreshed after a good night sleep, I took the bus from Chinatown to the MacRichtie Trail, it took about 30min to get there and you get to see a bit more of the city on the double decker bus.
The Nature Reservoir area where the trail is located is very well marked and you have the option to do a number of hikes ranging from 3km to 11km. Surely I did the largest one and added an extra bit!
The walk goes around the reservoir and then into the secondary forest which highlights the Tree Top Walk, a suspension bridge with great views! you’ll be able to spot monkeys, monitors (lizards) and a number of birds. Apparently there are snakes but I didn’t see any.
It was a pretty hot and humid day but totally worth it. The walk is not technical at all and it’s a great training ground if you feel like going for a run.
Best of all, it was pretty empty, no crowds at all, just an occasional jogger and quite a few army guys as I think they train there. Going with no rush it took me just under 3 hours to finish the loop.
For the second part of the day I had to prepare the last couple of things that I needed to go camping on the following day.
The trickiest bit was to find camping gas canisters, I walked probably more than in the trail and couldn’t find them, at last, I went to Golden Mile hawker centre and was suggested by a very friendly guy to get an adaptor of the easily available canisters that are used at homes for my stove, this ended up being pretty much the same price as finding the “right” canisters and hopefully I’ll use it a lot!
Day 3-4 Camping in Pulau Ubin
I had read that the island of Pulau Ubin is considered to be what Singapore was in the 60’s.
I was not really sure what to take of that, but I knew there were x3 free camping sites and the word “island” just resonates with me!
To get there I had to take a bus from Chinatown to Changi Village, it’s possible to combine MRT + Bus for a faster route but as I was not in a rush I took the slowest option to see more of the city.
Once there you walk 2min to the “ferry” terminal and take a 10min boat to the Island ($3 each way)
As soon as I got there and started walking, I felt in a different country already. More of what you expect on the less developed countries of SE Asia.
I headed to the Mamam Campsite and prepared myself for 2 days of complete relax! there are a few trails to walk in the Island, I really enjoyed the Chek Jawa Wetlands, there are restaurants in the village if you cannot be bother to cook or to carry to much water.
MY CAMPING ESSENTIALS
Both days I happily succeded lighting a bonfire (even that both days the wood was damp/wet from the rains) and met some lovely locals that go to the island to disconnect from the accelerated pace in town.
I highly recommend going to Pulau Ubin as part of your backpacking in Singapore trip as it’s still a bit of a hidden gem frequented mainly by locals (camping) or just a few tourist that rent a bike for the day and leave in the evening.
If you wanna find out more about Pulau Ubin, I have written more in detail my 2 Days Camping in Pulau Ubin here!
After I spent x2 nights camping, the following morning left Singapore towards Malaysia by bus.
All in all, my budget for the x4 days was of $110 which is pretty good when you see the prices! I did avoid the attractions such as the Gardens by the Bay as I got told in the hostel that it was not worth the price.
Always eat at Hawkers Centres which are cheaper and possibly more authentic but this is not for everyone.
The Royal Lodge hostel was OK, one of the cheapest out there, the bed was comfy, breakfast included and there was AC in the dorm.
My days backpacking in Singapore left me with a much better impression than I had stereotypically thought before arriving. It’s a country of contrasts and it’s up to you how you want to shape your stay, the options are there!
I hope you enjoyed and feel free to drop any comments/questions if you’re planning to go backpacking in Singapore!!
Have a look at my post backpacking in Malacca, where I went by bus from Singapore and continued my adventures!