Most Singaporeans' first trip to the United States has them visiting either New York, LA or both. Unfortunately, New York City is not only one of the most expensive destinations to fly to from Singapore on account of it being so darned far away, but the cost of accommodation there will also make you swoon, because you've finally found a place where it costs even more to keep yourself off the streets than good old Singapore.
Will a trip to NYC sentence you to 2 years of instant noodles upon your return, or is it possible to do this very expensive destination on a budget? We do the math.
Flying to NYC will have you travelling to the other end of the globe, so you're right to brace yourself for air ticket prices that exceed those of a trip to Europe.
It's not unusual to pay around $1,300 to get to New York.
However, thanks to Kayak, it's easy to check for sale fares that can knock the price of your flight down spectacularly.
Right now, the cheapest tickets in November are going for $924, and in December the cheapest tickets are $995.
There are also flights on sale almost every day for the rest of the year for $1,066 on China Southern Airlines.
If you're not picky about the airline you fly, you should be able to get away with paying under $1,100.
Budget travellers to NYC have it bad. Forget about staying at backpackers' hostels, as a dorm bed can cost $60 per night or more, while even the cheapest motels can easily cost over $120.
Thank God for Airbnb, which is hands down the cheapest way for travellers to stay in NYC. You can get a room in an apartment in cheaper neighbourhoods like Brooklyn and Queens for under $50 a night, so if you're travelling with a friend you'll be able to split the cost.
This room in Astoria costs $42 a night, while this room in Bedford-Stuyvesant costs $49 a night.
If you're really on a budget, rent out this room in Brooklyn for $35 a night.
All rooms accommodate two people, so you and a friend get to split the cost. Just try to avoid wandering into dark alleys in the middle of the night and you should be fine.
Cost: $30 a night / $180 for a week
While MRT apologists like to feel smug over the fact that there are little to no rats unlike the New York subway, you'll be pleased to find that the latter at least gets you to where you want to go without the need to take feeder buses. But all that comes at a price.
A single ride on the subway or a local bus costs 2.75 USD (S$3.74 ), or 3 USD (S$4.08) if you don't buy a MetroCard. Ouch! So yeah, make sure you buy a MetroCard. It costs just 1 USD (S$1.36) and you pay 11 per cent less so long as you top it up with 5.50 USD (S$7.48) or more.
It's probably a good idea to get a 7-day pass for 31 USD (S$42.17), considering how much individual rides costs. These passes give you unlimited subway and local bus rides for a week.
There are several ways to get from JFK Airport to the city, the cheapest being a bus ride, which will take you to Queens, Brooklyn and finally Manhattan, and with your MetroCard will cost you 2.75 USD (S$3.74).
A much faster and easier option is to take the JFK AirTrain, which costs 5 USD (S$6.80) with your MetroCard and will link up you up with the subway network.
Cost: 31 USD + 5 USD x 2 = 41 USD (S$55.77)
NYC is chock full of sights, so be prepared to spend your holiday on the go. Here's what some of the best-known sights cost
Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island - 18 USD (S$24.49)
Empire State Building Main Observation Deck - 32 USD (S$43.53)
Central Park - Free
Metropolitan Museum of Art - Pay what you want
Museum of Modern Art - 25 USD (S$34), free every Friday evening from 1600 - 2000.
American Museum of Natural History - 22 USD (S$29.93)
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum - 25 USD (S$34 SGD)
Rockefeller Center - Free
Cost: 180 USD (S$244.85) to keep you occupied for a week
The good thing about eating out in the United States is the fact that portions are so large, 80 per cent of the time you'll be doggy bagging the remains of your lunch and having them for dinner.
A meal at an inexpensive restaurant, such as an "ethnic" joint, will set you back about 9 USD (S$12.24) to 18 USD (S$24.49). A McDonald's meal will cost about 8 USD (S$10.88).
For those who are broke, there are plenty of budget options. You can get a big fat slice of American pizza for 3 USD (S$4.08) or a large sandwich for 4 USD (S$5.44) to 5 USD (S$6.90).
Cost: 20 USD per day / 140 USD (S$190.44) for a week
Total cost of a week-long holiday to New York City: $1,771.06
* Obviously, the above estimation does not include going on a rampage at the Woodbury Commons Premium Outlets, where most Singaporeans end up.
The article first appeared on MoneySmart.
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