“Visitors can become impoverished”: Chinese internet users discuss if traveling to Singapore is too expensive

Over the course of his day-long journey to Singapore over the New Year weekend, marketing planner Johnnie Zhu, 28, went over budget by thirty percent due to unexpected increases in food and transportation expenses. During his one day in Singapore, Mr. Zhu, who was traveling to Mount Bromo in East Java, Indonesia, spent almost 1,500 yuan (S$280). He spent between 500 and 600 yuan a day in Indonesia. He told The Straits Times, “I thought the airport gifts were really pricey. For roughly 100 yuan, Mr. Zhu purchased three little Merlion plushes, each about the size of a half-palm, together with a 50 yuan keychain.

 

He reduced his expenses by reserving a less expensive accommodation at the Little India hotel he had visited on his first visit to Singapore in 2019. Mr. Zhu, a resident of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province in southwest China, said, “I booked a cheaper option this time because the price difference was about 300 yuan more for the same room.” With the implementation of a visa waiver program on February 9, the high expense of entering Singapore has gained significant attention in Chinese media. Now that ordinary passport holders from China and Singapore can visit each other’s countries for up to 30 days without a visa, travel bookings have increased.

 

Two days after the new visa policy was announced on January 25, the hashtag “visa-free travel to Singapore could result in visitors becoming poor if not careful” became the most searched-for topic on the microblogging site Weibo. More than nine thousand conversation threads and 310 million views were generated by the hashtag. Some even questioned whether Lion City was unnecessarily costly due to Singapore’s fines, which include $500 for eating on the MRT and $1,000 for smoking, spitting, and littering in public areas. “Visas are no longer required for travel to Singapore, but it is still not “mianfei” (free). The city is referred to be the penalties capital. Why would I travel to that location? Traveling ought to be carefree and free from continual worry about doing the wrong thing.

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