So you’re thinking of visiting Singapore, but you can’t help but cringe at the prices, which look astronomical next to those in neighbouring countries like Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.
With the price of a bunk in a hostel room costing as much as a decent hotel room in other Southeast Asian countries, many travellers might be tempted to skip the island nation altogether.
But there actually are several ways to get free accommodation in Singapore, such as the following.
Trade your skills for free accommodation
You may not be able to work on a farm in the mountains in exchange for free accommodation in Singapore, but websites that enable you trade your skills for a place to stay do occasionally contain Singapore listings.
Workaway, HelpX and Volunteers Base have a smattering of Singapore-based listings. Quite a few of these listings are for baby-sitting jobs, but you might also be able to get free accommodation by helping out with garden plots or helping families’ businesses with your digital skills.
Of the three sites, only Volunteers Base is free, but both Workaway and HelpX allow you to browse ads for free and pay only when you want to apply for a position. A Workaway membership costs 32 euro a year, while HelpX costs 20 euro for two years.
Singapore has an active Couchsurfing community, and if you’re lucky and are skilled at sending out convincing requests, you might be able to find a host who’ll let you stay with them for free.
A caveat though: the demand for couchsurfing hosts far outstrips supply, and this is not helped by the fact that unmarried Singaporean adults generally live with their parents, while many young foreigners working in Singapore share their accommodation with multiple flatmates, and thus cannot host.
That being said, 99% of the requests hosts receive are cut-and-paste messages from people who have not read their profile, or students looking for a place to stay before they get to move into their residences. That means that, as a legitimate tourist writing a thoughtful message, you can easily put your request in the top 1%.
Housesit for a family based in Singapore
If you intend to be in Singapore for more than a weekend and are willing to plan ahead, you might be able to snag a gig as a housesitter.
These jobs are few and are between, with just a few becoming available per year, but if you’re determined to visit Singapore and are on a flexible schedule, you can watch the sites until a suitable listing appears.
Of the two sites, only Nomador can be used to get housesitting jobs without paying an annual subscription. TrustedHouseSitters costs 119 USD a year.
Go camping on Pulau Ubin
As much as you might complain about Singapore’s sweltering weather, one benefit is that without winter you can technically camp any time of year, although you might want to avoid monsoon season at the end and beginning of the year when it pours pretty much daily.
Just like everything else in Singapore, camping is regulated. So campers technically need to apply for camping permits before pitching their tents. Here’s the bad news: only Singapore citizens and residences are allowed to apply for the permit.
But there is one place where you’re allowed to camp without a permit—Pulau Ubin, which is an island off Singapore’s East Coast that is also quite a popular tourist attraction and one of Singapore’s few rural areas.
You do not need a permit to camp at Pulau Ubin’s Jelutong Campsite and Mamam Beach. Toilet facilities are available, although you should come armed with bottled water as there is no drinking water.
Are you visiting Singapore soon? Tell us about your travel plans in the comments!
Personal finance tips delivered to your inbox!
Receive news, subscriber-exclusive promotions and guides on how to become smarter with money.
We promise never to spam you!