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5 Travel Destinations Singaporeans Think Are Expensive But Can Be Surprisingly Cheap

Joanne Poh

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Most Singaporeans think of Bangkok, KL, Phuket or Penang when they want an inexpensive vacation. Everything else, by default, is expensive—people balk at the cost of hotels in Tokyo and the cost of a meal in Australia.

If you’re sick of always going to the same few destinations (after all, there are only so many outfits you can buy at Chatuchak Market), you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that there are some destinations within a few hours’ flight of Singapore that are more affordable than they sound.

 

Seoul

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Many Singaporeans assume that going to Korea costs about the same as it does to go to Japan, and then are pleasantly surprised to find that you can stay in a comfortable, clean guesthouse or hotel room for less than $50, to be split between two people.

Once there, Singaporeans are amazed to find that the imported Korean dresses that sell at Far East Plaza for over $100 are a fifth of the price in Seoul. Between shopping for clothing, stuffing their suitcases with facial products and enjoying $10 Korean barbecue meals, Seoul allows Singaporeans to do what they love best at a bargain.

  • Cost of air tickets: $460 to $500 if you book in advance and at the right time
  • Cost of accommodation: $45 for a double room at Khaoson Seoul Insadong Guesthouse if you book now on Agoda.

 

Shanghai

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China’s financial and commercial capital is futuristic, fast-paced and fun if you know where to go. It’s also pleasantly inexpensive for Singaporean travellers. Whether you’re there to party, shop or get a first taste of Mainland China, you’ll soon find that you can spend as little—or as much—as you want.

The prices of food and drinks can vary wildly depending on where you are. You can slurp on a $2 bowl of noodles or splash out on a pricey hotel buffet. The choice is yours.

  • Cost of air tickets: About $500 if you book in advance and at the right time
  • Cost of accommodation: Stay in a room for two at FX Hotel Shanghai Liuying Road for only $40 a night when you book on Agoda while the deal’s still on.

 

Bali

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Most Singaporeans think of Rock Bar, Potato Head and Ku De Ta when they go to Bali, checking in to pricey resorts in Seminyak at the end of the night. But if you’re on a budget, you can still live in a picturesque resort or guesthouse in the Ubud area at a very affordable price.

Avoid the hip cafes and bars and head to warungs where you can enjoy a spread of dishes for a few dollars.

  • Cost of air ticket: About $200, although you pay less if you catch one of the budget airlines’ sales.
  • Cost of accommodation: Stay in a bungalow for two in a beautiful, cosy resort and guesthouse in the heart of Ubud for just 300,000 (30 SGD) to 390,000 IDR (40 SGD) a night at Pariliana Guesthouse. Confession time: I stayed there last month and highly recommend it.

 

Sri Lanka

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If you’re looking for an exotic backpacking destination but aren’t ready to pay for an air ticket to Peru and think India is too dangerous, look no further than Sri Lanka, which has become quite popular amongst Singaporeans in recent years.

In the ever-popular Kandy, a stay in a guesthouse with a pool can be had for under $40. Food is inexpensive and you’ll probably spend most of your money on transport, especially if you intend to travel from city to city.

  • Cost of flight: About $400+.
  • Cost of accommodation: Agoda is having an offer on Kandy River Breeze Hotel, where you can stay in a double room for about $40 a night right now.

 

Hong Kong

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Hong Kong is rarely thought of as a budget destination. In fact, the first time I went there alone, I found myself in a cockroach-infested, windowless room in the dilapidated Mirador Mansions because it was the only thing I could afford.

But as it turns out, there is some very inexpensive, if shabby, accommodation to be found in Hong Kong. A better tactic is to book expensive hotels at a deep discount on Agoda. Add to that dim sum that costs less than it does in Singapore and you’ve got a winner.

  • Cost: Budget airlines fly to Hong Kong for $200+.
  • Cost of accommodation: The trick to avoiding less-than-pleasant accommodation is to check on Agoda for more expensive hotels at discounted prices. Right now, you can stay at Best Western Hotel Harbour View for $58.88 for a superior room with a mountain view—down from a whopping $405.37.

Do you have any other travel destinations to recommend? Tell us in the comments!

Image Credits:
Bridget Coila

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.