Chinese tourists not enamored of pricey Singapore

By Hoang Vu   March 7, 2024 | 05:09 pm PT
Chinese tourists not enamored of pricey Singapore
Chinese tourists pose for photos with the Merlion statue at Marina Bay in Singapore, May 3, 2023. Photo by Reuters
Many Chinese tourists have been complaining that Singapore is too expensive, sparking a heated debate on social media whether it is worth visiting the city-state despite its visa-free policy.

Singapore started offering 30-day visa-free entry to Chinese tourists on Feb. 9 expecting to attract tourists from the world’s largest outbound market, but its high costs and other issues are a constant topic of discussion on Chinese social media.

A netizen, Yanyi Elaine of China’s Anhui Province, wrote on his Weibo account with over 11,000 followers: "The city is known as the capital of fines. Why would I go there? Traveling should be carefree and not be a constantly worry about what not to do."

His post quickly drew attention.

The hashtag "visa-free travel to Singapore could result in visitors becoming poor if not careful" became the most searched-for topic on Weibo, according to Singaporean newspaper Strait Times.

It has attracted 310 million views and sparked more than 9,000 discussion threads.

Singapore has the dubious distinction of having been the world’s most expensive city nine times in the last 11 years.

According to Numbeo, the world's largest database of user-contributed data about cities and countries worldwide, the average single person’s estimated monthly expenses in Singapore are S$1,506 (US$1,121).

But some Chinese netizens are saying though Singapore is very expensive it is a safe destination.

One wrote on Weibo: "Singapore cannot be treated like Thailand. Really expensive. And the food, in summary, is just average. But the place is still quite fun, safe and secure, and not as weird as Thailand."

Another said: "The experience in Singapore is better than in Thailand."

A third wrote: "Yes, it is very expensive. My friends all went to Thailand, but I said I wasn’t interested in that place."

Some Chinese nationals based in Singapore offer tips on how to save money while visiting the city state.

On social media channel Xiaohongshu, they advised Chinese tourists to eat at hawker centers and shop at suburban malls such as Changi City Point, which is known for its outlet stores.

An American YouTuber "Grif" said he was shocked to find delicious cheap eats under US$5 at Singapore’s Tiong Bahru Market.

China was Singapore’s second biggest source of visitors last year with 1.4 million people behind only Indonesia.

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