Travel

Singapore Public Holidays in 2020 — How to Maximise All 7 Long Weekends

public holidays singapore 2020

Did you know that the minimum annual leave required by MOM is only 7 days, if you’re in your first year of service at your company?

The longer you’ve been in the company, the higher the minimum annual leave is, but it’s still really low. Although many employers give us more than the bare minimum (thankfully), chances are, you find your annual leave allotment way too little still.

So I totally understand the need to come up with an annual leave strategy that would put early-season Lord Varys to shame.

Fortunately, 2020 is shaping up to be a very good year, public holidays-wise. We’re getting 7 long weekends next year, which totally makes up for the pathetic 3 long weekends we got in 2019.

Not only that, but it’s also possible to squeeze out at least 3 or 4 few week-long breaks with minimal use of your annual leave. Let’s dive into the complete list of Singapore public holidays in 2020, and how to maximise them.

 

Singapore public holidays in 2020 (7 long weekends!)

Public holiday Date Long weekend?
New Year’s Day  1 Jan 2020 (Wed) No
Chinese New Year 25 Jan 2020 (Sat) + 27 Jan 2020* (Mon) YES
Good Friday 10 Apr 2020 (Fri) YES
Labour Day 1 May 2020 (Fri) YES
Vesak Day 7 May 2020 (Thu) No
Hari Raya Puasa 25 May 2020* (Mon) YES
Hari Raya Haji 31 July 2020 (Fri) YES
National Day 10 Aug 2020* (Mon) YES
Deepavali 14 Nov 2020 (Sat) Possible
Christmas Day 25 Dec 2020 (Fri) YES

* CNY day 2, Hari Raya Puasa and National Day are all gazetted holidays. The actual public holiday falls on Sunday, but we get the Monday off.

Also, note that 2 out of the 11 PHs fall on Saturdays. Don’t worry though, your employer should give you a day off-in-lieu for those.

 

How to maximise annual leave in 2020?

So what does all this mean for your travel plans!? Well, apart from the 7 long weekends, there are also 4 key periods that are best for taking “long” leave (at least a week)…

Public holidays Holiday period Annual leave needed
Chinese New Year Sat 25 Jan — Sun 2 Feb 2020 (9 days) 3 days + 1 off-in-lieu
Labour Day + Vesak Day Fri 1 May — Sun 10 May 2020 (10 days) 4 days
Hari Raya Haji + National Day Fri 31 Jul — Mon 10 Aug 2020 (11 days) 5 days
Christmas + New Year’s Day Fri 25 Dec 2020 — Sun 3 Jan 2021 (10 days) 4 days
TOTAL 40 days 16 days 

… So that’s 4 decently long breaks with 16 days of annual leave. Not too bad at all.

If you don’t have enough annual leave, you can still enjoy 3 long breaks with 11 or 12 days. Even if you have the bare minimum of 7 days, it’s possible to finagle 2 long breaks. Hooray!!!

 

Dec 2019: Christmas + New Year’s Day (8 days with annual leave)

OK, so this is not really counted as part of the 2020 holiday allotment, but since New Year’s Day falls on 1 Jan 2020, I’ll cover it.

As everybody knows, the Christmas and New Year’s Day public holidays fall exactly on the same day, 1 week apart. In 2019, Christmas falls on a Wednesday, and so does New Year’s 2020:

Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
23 Dec 24 Dec 25 Dec (PH) 26 Dec 27 Dec 28 Dec 29 Dec
30 Dec 31 Dec 1 Jan (PH) 2 Jan 3 Jan 4 Jan 5 Jan

There are no long weekends here, so to make both public holidays vacation-worthy, take 4 days’ leave on:

  • Thu 26 Dec
  • Fri 27 Dec
  • Mon 30 Dec
  • Tue 31 Dec

This gives you 8 uninterrupted days of leave, which is enough for a nice overseas trip.

Bear in mind that travelling tends to be pretty expensive during this period, since it’s peak holiday season in Singapore. However, I’ve noticed that air fares on 31 Dec / 1 Jan are sometimes unusually low, perhaps because no one wants to count down in mid-air. (How do you even know what the time is?)

 

Jan 2020: Chinese New Year (9 days with annual leave)

Thanks to Chinese privilege, CNY is the only holiday in Singapore that gets not 1 but 2 public holidays.

In 2020, Chinese New Year day 1 falls on Saturday 25 Jan, which makes that the public holiday. Since CNY day 2 falls on a Sunday, the following Monday is a gazetted make-up public holiday, resulting in a 3-day long weekend:

Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
20 Jan 21 Jan 22 Jan 23 Jan 24 Jan 25 Jan (PH) 26 Jan
27 Jan (PH) 28 Jan 29 Jan 30 Jan 31 Jan 1 Feb 2 Feb

But wait! Like that we rugi the Saturday, right??

Don’t panic if you work in a typical Monday to Friday job. Actually, it’s an MOM requirement for employers to “return” you the public holiday if Saturday is a non-working day for you.

MOM requires employers to either give you extra day’s pay (hah, fat chance of that) or a day off-in-lieu, sometimes abbreviated as “OIL”, which you can take after the holiday.

If you want to take a long holiday this Chinese New Year, you can totally use your OIL the following day and take the next 3 days off.

  • (OIL: Tue 28 Jan)
  • Wed 29 Jan
  • Thu 30 Jan
  • Fri 31 Jan 

That’s 9 days of no work for the low, low price of 3 annual leave days! Worth it right? So actually, public holiday on a Saturday is a good thing.

 

Apr 2020: Good Friday (long weekend)

The Christian holiday Good Friday always falls on the Friday (duh) before Easter Sunday, which varies from year to year but is usually in April. (There is no PH for Easter, only for Good Friday.)

This time round, Good Friday public holiday falls on Fri 10 Apr 2020, making it the 2nd long weekend of the year.

Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
6 Apr 7 Apr 8 Apr 9 Apr 10 Apr (PH) 11 Apr 12 Apr

 

May 2020: Labour Day + Vesak Day (10 days with annual leave)

After Chinese New Year, the next “public holiday season” falls in May, thanks to Labour Day (1 May) and Vesak Day (7 May) being mere days apart in 2020:

Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
27 Apr 28 Apr 29 Apr 30 Apr 1 May (PH) 2 May 3 May
4 May 5 May 6 May 7 May (PH) 8 May 9 May 10 May

Labour Day falls on a Friday, while Vesak Day is on the following Thursday. Although slightly disappointing that we can’t get 2 long weekends back-to-back, we predict that tons of Singaporeans will be taking the entire Vesak Day week off unless they have religious commitments.

To get a whopping 10 days’ break, you need only take 4 days’ annual leave on:

  • Mon 4 May
  • Tue 5 May
  • Wed 6 May
  • Fri 8 May

The best part is that the May break comes before the (local) June school holidays and (international) summer break, so travelling should be quite affordable during this time compared to peak periods like Chinese New Year and Christmas — as well as more peaceful.

However, note that this period falls smack in the middle of Ramadan (23 Apr to 23 May).

 

May 2020: Hari Raya Puasa (long weekend)

I am already looking forward to May 2020, because there are not 2, but 3(!!) public holidays in the same month. Yes, right after the killer Labour Day + Vesak Day combo comes another long weekend thanks to Hari Raya Puasa.

Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
18 May 19 May 20 May 21 May 22 May 23 May 24 May
25 May (PH) 26 May 27 May 28 May 29 May 30 May 31 May

In 2020, Hari Raya Puasa falls on a Sunday, so we get the following Monday off.

 

Aug 2020: Hari Raya Haji + National Day (11 days with annual leave)

After Hari Raya Puasa, there’s sadly going to be a dry spell from June all the way to July. The next holiday season is in August, with Hari Raya Haji (31 Jul) and National Day (9 Aug, make-up PH is on 10 Aug) only about a week apart from one another:

Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
27 Jul 28 Jul 29 Jul 30 Jul 31 Jul (PH) 1 Aug 2 Aug
3 Aug 4 Aug 5 Aug 6 Aug 7 Aug 8 Aug 9 Aug
10 Aug (PH) 11 Aug 12 Aug 13 Aug 14 Aug 15 Aug 16 Aug

Yes, that’s 2 long weekends back-to-back!

If you’re not celebrating either holiday, you could also take the week between the 2 public holidays off to block out a super-long 11 days of travelling.

  • Mon 3 Aug
  • Tue 4 Aug
  • Wed 5 Aug
  • Thu 6 Aug
  • Fri 7 Aug

But since it “costs” 5 annual leave days, it’s the most expensive of the possible long breaks in 2020.

 

Nov 2020: Deepavali (long weekend with off-in-lieu)

After August 2020, we have to contend with another dry spell from September through October. In November, we will finally get relief in the form of Deepavali, which falls on a Saturday…

Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
9 Nov 10 Nov 11 Nov 12 Nov 13 Nov 14 Nov (PH) 15 Nov

Again, as with the Chinese New Year public holiday, don’t worry about “losing out” on your public holiday entitlement. If you don’t work on Saturdays, your employer is supposed to give you a day off-in-lieu.

If you use your OIL day on the following Monday, you can make it a long weekend.

 

 

Dec 2020: Christmas + New Year’s Day (10 days with annual leave)

Finally, we come full circle back to Christmas 2020 and New Year 2021. In 2020, both public holidays fall on Fridays. You know what this means — 2 back-to-back long weekends.

Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
21 Dec 22 Dec 23 Dec 24 Dec 25 Dec (PH) 26 Dec 27 Dec
28 Dec 29 Dec 30 Dec 31 Dec 1 Jan (PH) 2 Jan 3 Jan

If you’re planning a year-end trip, the 2020 Christmas break is actually better than the 2019 one. That’s because 4 days’ leave will net you 10 whole days of travel:

  • Mon 28 Dec
  • Tue 29 Dec
  • Wed 30 Dec
  • Thu 31 Dec

That’s super worth it, considering that doing the same in 2019 will get you only 8 days of leave (because no long weekends).

Again, the same caveats for travelling during the year-end peak period apply — it’s just an expensive time to travel in general. But if you plan and book early, you might be able to benefit from early bird fares.

Which holidays are you looking forward to in 2020? Tell us in the comments.

 

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