— travel inspiration for small budgets and big dreams —

travel inspiration for small budgets and big dreams

Bloopers in my Singapore article (shame shame shame)

SGMT Food Laksa

If you read my Rappler article on Singapore, you may or may not have noticed that one line had a horrendous bit of math in it:

Budget for food:
S$5 (₱175/meal) x 2 meals/day x 5 days = ₱1,400

Short story

That line should have read:

Budget for food:
S$4 (₱140/meal) x 2 meals/day x 5 days = ₱1,400

I was careless and now I’ve put all my Math teachers to shame.

* hides under blanket and never comes out *

Long story

For quite a while, I debated with myself on whether to set a budget of S$4 or S$5 per meal. It’s not a very big difference (just around ₱35) but if you’re a budget traveler, amounts like that matter, especially over several days. I went back and forth between “S$5 (₱175/meal) x 2 meals/day x 5 days = ₱1,750” and “S$4 (₱140/meal) x 2 meals/day x 5 days = ₱1,400” and eventually managed to muck up the equation upon submission to Rappler.

Sorry. 🙁

Why did I eventually go with a budget of S$4 per meal — or a total of ₱1,400 for 5 days?

First of all, S$1 goes to drinks, so that leaves S$3 for the food itself.

The Singapore Ministry of Trade and Industry has this nifty online directory of budget hawker food. The list contains all the hawker center stalls that sell a particular dish (such as chicken rice) for a price at or below the 30th percentile price of that particular food. I shan’t go into a detailed explanation of what percentiles are but, roughly, the 30th percentile price of chicken rice means that 30% of hawker stalls would be selling chicken rice below that price.

In other words, it’s the price that us budget travelers would be interested in.

As of the second quarter of 2015, these were the 30th percentile prices of popular dishes in Singapore (this is according to the SG government, so you know it’s legit):

  • Roti Prata – S$0.80
  • Nasi Lemak – S$2.00
  • Vegetarian Bee Hoon – S$2.00
  • Char Siew Rice – S$2.50
  • Chicken Rice – S$2.50
  • Fishball Noodles – S$2.50
  • Lontong – S$2.50
  • Mee Rebus – S$2.50
  • Mee Siam – S$2.50
  • Minced Pork Noodle – S$2.50
  • Porridge – S$2.50
  • Wanton Mee – S$2.50
  • Economical Rice – S$2.70
  • Ban Mian – S$2.80
  • Duck Rice – S$3.00
  • Fried Kway Teow – S$3.00
  • Horfun – S$3.00
  • Laksa – S$3.00
  • Malay Chicken Rice – S$3.00
  • Mee Goreng – S$3.00
  • Nasi Padang – S$3.50
  • Nasi Biryani – S$4.50

As you can see, all dishes but two have a price of S$3 or less, including favorites such as chicken rice, duck rice, laksa, nasi lemak, and mee goreng.

That’s why I eventually decided on a budget per meal of S$4 including drinks. I figured it would make more sense to set a base budget of S$4 — anyway, that’s what most budget meals will cost — and then if someone can afford to buy more expensive food then yay!

Of course, that doesn’t take away from the fact that I did mess up the numbers in my actual article so…

Mea culpa!

I’m very sorry for the confusion. It’s still quite possible to go on a 5-day trip to Singapore for ₱9,500 — just fix the budget for food. 🙂

6 Responses

  1. I think $5 would be a more realistic figure based on current AVERAGE prices at hawker centres. $4 is really scrapping the bottom of the barrel and you may not be able to find places that sell at that price all the time. A basic bowl of noodles or chicken rice is around $3-3.50 now. A canned drink is around $1.20-$1.50.

  2. Budgets are important to travelers but I think now I am older I wish sometimes I just ignored the budget and keep in mind the lifetime memories of the trip.

    1. Very true, the memories are more important than the few cents you save here and there (although it has to be said that not everyone can afford to ignore the budget). I think of budgets like this as a baseline, and if I can afford to spend more, bully for me. 🙂

Share your thoughts!