SINGAPORE, April 20 — Malaysia’s “next door” neighbour is the one place Malaysians always find themselves in — even if it’s expensive. But why?
Over the years, Singapore has gained a reputation for being South-east Asia’s leading financial and business hub, and also the place to be (albeit a small land mass), not only for expats and entrepreneurs, but also for fashionistas, tourists, foodies and many other individuals.
It was also chosen as Lonely Planet’s Top Country to Visit in 2015. With challenging economic conditions, however, travelling to Singapore is now a luxury for many.
We asked our fellow Malaysians who visited Singapore whether they’d come back to the Lion City again — despite its high lifestyle — and whilst this may be surprising to those who are always on a tight budget, here are seven reasons why travelling to Singapore is still appealing for many Malaysians.
Reason #1: Hungry Malaysians can still eat cheaply in Singapore
You don’t always have to spend a fortune when eating in Singapore. Malaysians who are used to eating out can still find reasonably-priced food in many corners of Singapore. We found some great dining places — where one can enjoy good food at good prices — for any time of the day, whether for breakfast, lunch, light snacking or dinner.
At Saveur, you can enjoy a plate of light, non-halal pasta, tossed in chili oil, chopped kombu, pork sauce and Sakura ebi — and it only costs S$4.90 (RM14.11)!
Cheap halal eateries are also available. For example, Cahaya Murni Halal Muslim Food serves halal Chinese food such as rice and noodle dishes — priced around S$9. Their Beef Claypot Noodles is a must-try!
For café goers who want to satisfy their sweet tooth, Arbite’s pancakes with banana, caramel sauce, sea salt, walnuts and vanilla ice cream is priced at only S$12.
For shoppers on the go, perhaps Fill-a-Pita would suit them best. It offers Mediterranean bites at no higher than S$8 in a coffee shop. Try their sandwiches that come with Falafel and Tahina sauce, or a pita bread with a side of hummus.
Reason #2: It’s much easier to find cheap flights these days
With the convenience of booking tickets online, Malaysians can book flight tickets easily, whether from their desktops or phones. Mobile apps such as Traveloka makes it easier for travellers to find cheap flights, anytime and anywhere. Traveloka is an online platform where travellers can easily book flights and hotels.
We did a price comparison for departure at 11.35am on April 25, 2016, between Traveloka, two budget airlines, Tiger Airways and AirAsia, and Skyscanner — and we found the cheapest ticket on Traveloka. With a one-way ticket priced for as low as RM60.46, it’s not surprising that Malaysians can fly to Singapore more often than ever!
Reason #3: Come on, Singapore is a great getaway
Now we know that there are cheap flights to grab, cheap places to crash in, and good food sold at fairly reasonable prices in Singapore, what’s stopping us Malaysians from coming back? With all these in mind, spending what we earn to spend some time off with our loved ones is not really an issue.
This trading hub of South-east Asia is not just about serious business but also a great escapade for its neighbouring countries especially. For those residing in Peninsular Malaysia, it is just a couple of hours away!
There is so much to see in Singapore, from sightseeing around the city to a fun, thrilling time on a rollercoaster. Resorts World Sentosa is a great place where one can play golf or lay down on sandy beaches, Universal Studios Singapore is where all our favourite characters come to life, Underwater World Singapore is where one can witness more than 2,500 marine animals of 250 species from different regions of the world swimming right before our eyes, the Singapore Night Safari is the world’s first nocturnal zoo that lets you take a close look at wild animals during their most active time — Gardens by The Bay is perfect for those who wish to escape from the city for a while and enjoy its vibrant botanical life — and much more.
Reason #4: We have a home in Singapore
There’s a funny saying about Ikea — that almost all newly-bought homes have at least an item coming from Ikea — which is a scenario we’d like to compare to how almost all Malaysians have at least a friend or a family member working or living in Singapore.
It is not surprising that Malaysians have more than one reason to come back to Singapore, be it for shopping or its world-class theme park, but also for the sake of visiting friends and relatives. Whilst many Malaysians may also have their loved ones working or studying in countries like Australia and New Zealand, they can visit their Singapore relatives or friends more often as access to Singapore from Malaysia, whether by air or land, is much easier.
Reason #5: There are such things as cheap hotels in Singapore
Who says one has to spend a fortune on accommodation in Singapore? To book hotels at cheap prices, use Traveloka, because not only does it offer cheap flights, but also cheap hotels for the convenience of both local and foreign visitors.
Likewise, we went looking for some of the cheapest hotels we could find for a night’s stay from April 2-3, 2016 — on several hotel booking platforms such as Traveloka, Agoda, Booking.com and Hotels.com — and again, we found out that the cheapest hotel we could find is available on Traveloka! In terms of quality, all of these 1-star hotels are positively rated by guests.
Reason #6: Singapore is one of the best places to do business
People travel around the world to find opportunities, whether for career advancement or personal growth. For many Malaysians, we only need to drive five hours down or take an hour’s flight. Working in Singapore — why not? An opportunity paradise, it is one of the best countries to do business, after all, according to Forbes in 2015.
When it comes to innovation, Singapore ranks at number 9 — and the country’s GDP as of 2015 is reported to be S$308 billion. With Singapore’s corruption-free environment with very stable prices, it is indeed an ideal place for young entrepreneurs to grow their business. Since this is also a country that relies a lot on exports, there are certainly opportunities for aspiring Malaysian entrepreneurs to leverage on.
Reason #7: Singapore drives. Shoppers. Mad.
Another reason why Malaysians love coming back to Singapore even if it’s expensive is its shopping. Singapore is a shopping haven for shopaholics! Some people may tell you that you have not really been to Singapore if you have not shopped!
Orchard Road, Chinatown and Bugis are where most shoppers shop till they drop! Orchard Road is a street where many premier international brands can be found and for parents shopping with little children, they can simply drop them off at Vivocity, which has a specially-designed sky park and playground. Malaysians appreciate good bargains; Singaporeans too. Oh, and the best place to get good bargains is Little India.
So really, removing all the bias of Malaysia and Singapore’s love-hate relationship, we still see many Malaysians here for all the reasons above. We hope you’re one of them, because, Singapore — why not?