The Big Apple: concrete jungle where dreams are made of. Unless you’re made of cash, a holiday in this ‘concrete jungle’ will easily set you back by the thousands. So if you’re looking to tour New York city on a budget, here’s a guide on how to have your cake and eat it.
How to Get There
While there may be numerous flight comparison websites these days, we reckon your best bet would be cheapoair.com and tripadvisor.com. Needless to say, if you’re planning a trip to The Big Apple on a budget, book your trip in advance.
The general rule of thumb is the earlier you book your flight, the cheaper they’ll cost you. Booking a year in advance may even save you up to SGD900. Tip: a flight to LaGuardia Airport (LGA) tends to cost less than one to John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), a mere 15-minute drive apart—a distance small enough to justify the discrepancy in airfare.
Where to Stay in New York
Accommodation in New York City doesn’t come cheap. One way to overcome exorbitant accommodation is through Airbnb—a great way to experience the city the way the locals do, make new friends, and save some cash while you’re at it.
A decent private room starts from USD30 a night for places out of the city (Queens, Bronx and Brooklyn) and USD40 for within (Manhattan). If you’re looking to experience New York City in a Sex And The City way, the Upper East Side (Manhattan) is where the magic happens. A comfortable private room will set you back an estimated USD85.
How to Get Around in New York
If you’re traveling around without a local, the best way to get around (without losing your way) is by the Metro (train). Single fares start from USD2.50 per trip, taking you as far as Manhattan to Brooklyn. If you’re planning to stay for more than four days, be sure to get the seven-day pass (USD30) that gives you unlimited rides on the Met.
As train exits may be confusing for newcomers, trust us when we say, an unlimited pass would end up costing you less than paying single-trip fares. Tip: download the free MTA Weekender app that will alert you of real time disruptions or train breakdowns—you’ll thank us for it later.
Iconic Attractions to Visit in New York
If you’ve done your homework, you’ll know that museums and parks are a must-see in New York City. That however, can mean spending a hefty wad of cash tickets.
So here’s the lowdown on how to avoid entry fees: Bronx Zoo (pay as you wish on Wednesdays—a.k.a free if you’re gutsy enough), Brooklyn Botanic Garden (free on Tuesdays, 10am to noon on Saturdays and weekdays in winter; November to February), Brooklyn Museum (free every first Saturday of the month), Museum of Modern Art (free 4pm to 8pm on Fridays), New York Aquarium (pay as you wish from 3pm on Fridays; 4pm in summer), and New York Botanical Garden (free on Wednesdays, 9am to 10am on Saturdays). Other all-day free icons attractions include Brooklyn Bridge, Central Park and Times Square.
A plethora of good food awaits—whatever your budget. Most gastropubs offer value-for-money lunch deals with incredibly generous portions—we’re talking to share (in terms of Asian portions). Lillie’s is such. A three-course lunch set starts from $12 (valid 11am to 2pm on weekdays) and even comes with a beer! Opt for the Lillie’s seasonal—a dark full-bodied beer with a refreshingly hoppy finish.
Not to be missed is the iconic burger joint Shake Shack. For a full Shake Shack experience, visit their original location at Madison Square Park. Queues form as early as noon (even during the winter!) so be sure to head down early. Stuffed with 100% all-natural Angus beef on a soft burger bun, you’ll be hooked at the first bite. An original ShackBurger with homemade ShackSauce costs USD4.75, or make it a double (USD7.35)—it’s just too good to share.
Where to Shop in New York
Now that we’ve settled accommodation and getting around, it’s time to get down to the fun part—where to shop. For designer goods at a fraction of the price, vintage is the way to go. One of the best places in the world for vintage designer goods, flea markets and vintage stores are abound in New York City—you just need to know where to look.
One of the most well-known ones is the Brooklyn Flea with up to eight different locations (depending on the season). Expect to find vintage designer goods—we nabbed ourselves a leather Coach bag (USD70) and an old school Dooney & Bourke leather satchel (USD90). Also available are artisan food products, handmade jewelry, antique furniture and more. There’s even a food section where you can sample delicacies by gourmet purveyors. Showcasing almost 200 vendors, set aside a full afternoon for this flea—it’s time well spent.
About the writer
Mandy Lynn is a former I-S Magazine nightlife writer and current editor of Nookmag; her dining and nightlife features have been published in Appetite Asia and Catalog Magazine. For on-the-go food recommendations, follow her on Instagram and Facebook, or join her on a Gourmet Adventure.