We all have that friend who’s never around when you call them on weekends because they’re constantly on overseas getaways. These people don’t even need to take leave—a 2-day holiday weekend is as good an excuse as any to nip off to Bangkok, Penang or Bali.
Now we know why—by 2025, Singaporean households are expected to spend $44.9 billion on travel per year, which will make Singapore the world’s seventh highest-spending country on overseas travel. And that’s based on total spending, not per capita spending, which is pretty amazing considering how small our population is compared to other nations.
There’s no doubt that travel is one of Singapore’s favourite past-times—in fact, for some Singaporeans, the only reason they’re willing to slog away at work all year is so they can afford to take that long year-end holiday to Europe, and spend their weekends in Phuket or KL.
But why exactly are Singaporeans such inveterate travellers? Here are four big reasons:
1. Singapore is small, so it’s easy to get out
Part of the reason Singaporeans seemingly spend so much money on overseas trips is the simple fact the country is so small that it’s easy to get out.
Some Singaporeans head to Malaysia just to do their groceries and get a cheap massage, and that’s technically considered going overseas. Some aunties and uncles go to Batam every weekend so they can board floating casinos, which is technically an overseas trip, too. Conversely, if you live in the middle of China or America’s Midwest, it’s a lot harder to get out.
Budget airlines, which let you get out of the country for $50 and an hour of flying, make it even easier for us to leave, even if it’s just for the weekend.
2. There are limited things to do in Singapore, so people prefer to spend their vacations abroad
When clearing leave, virtually every Singaporean heads overseas. If you tell someone you’ve decided to spend two weeks of leave gaming in your bedroom, people think you’re nuts.
As a tiny, crowded city state, there are only so many environments and recreational activities Singapore can offer. Sure, we’ve got the massive shopping malls, the hipster cafes and the cocktail bars (and those we do very well)—but little else. And then there’s the weather.
Singaporeans who want to spend their holidays somewhere they don’t have to jostle with crowds and hope to enjoy nature, laze by beautiful natural beaches at resorts they can actually afford and check out small, quaint towns have no choice but to leave the country.
3. You get a lot overseas with those Singapore dollars
In case you haven’t noticed, the rest of the world is getting cheaper and cheaper relative to Singapore. A staycation in a four star resort in Bali now costs the same price as a room at Hotel 81 in Geylang. An hour-long Thai massage will set you back the equivalent of 8 Singapore dollars, which can buy you pretty much nothing in our own country.
Even developed countries now look very affordable thanks to the strong Sing dollar and economic stagnation in Europe and the US. Singaporeans flock to Prada and Louis Vuitton stores in Italy and France because their goods are cheaper than they are back home, and buy fast fashion in bulk in Bangkok and Seoul when the exact same items are being sold at Far East Plaza for five times the price.
Heck, many Singaporeans are even heading across the Causeway to cafe-hop and take Instagram photos at hipster cafes in Johor Bahru.
4. Some Singaporeans routinely go overseas for their necessities
Many frequent travellers in Singapore routinely head overseas to get their necessities done and buy items that cost more at home.
Bangkok is a favourite destination for Singaporeans because it’s close by, modern and so much cheaper. Singaporeans buy everything from contact lenses, lens solution and birth control pills to underwear and groceries in Thailand, and they still make it back in time for work on Monday.
Hair stylists in destinations like Bangkok, Seoul and Tokyo are getting quite popular amongst Singaporeans. Many people also head to cheaper neighbouring cities like Johor Bahru, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok to enjoy spa and nail services.
Ultimately, many Singaporeans feel they can get more and better quality goods and services for their cash overseas. Thanks to the internet, it’s easier and easier to find information on what you’re looking for, even if you don’t speak the local language.
How often do you go on overseas holidays and why? Tell us in the comments!