Image: Alena Ozerova / 123rf
Every time you log onto Facebook, you’re forced to look at pictures of yet another friend’s trip to Iceland / Paris / New York / Tokyo. Singaporeans took an average of 5.2 overseas trips in the last year, so if those holiday photos are making you salty it’s time to unfollow all the Singaporeans on your friends list.
But you don’t need a ton of money to feel like you’re on vacation. Here are four cheap ways to take a break without spending more than $50.
1. Go to one of Singapore’s other islands
Being in Singapore, it’s easy to start feeling like you’re trapped on an island that only your passport can get you out of. But Singapore is actually made up of 63 islands, some of which you can actually visit.
St John’s Island and Lazarus Island have become a bit of a favourite amongst yoga-practising ukulele-playing types, and it’s easy to see the appeal—this is not a place for kiasu people with a checklist of things to do. Pitch a tent, string up a hammock and you’ll start feeling like you’re in Malaysia. The two islands are connected by a bridge and a return ferry ticket costs $18.
There’s also Kusu Island, which is famous for its Chinese temple, Malay shrines and tortoise sanctuary. Pick this over St John’s Island if you don’t like to just sit around when you’re on holiday.
Then there’s Pulau Ubin, where you can rent a bicycle and ride to the many scenic lookout points by the sea. The bumboat ride costs something like $2.50.
2. Hop across the Causeway to Johor Bahru
The easiest way to get out of Singapore is to go to Johor Bahru. If you’re on a budget, just take Bus 170 and you’ll find yourself at the check point.
Those who never go to JB tend to think of it as a ghetto where everyone is out to rob you. Those who do head over regularly know that they’ve got everything we have, at half the price and with more personality.
The hipster cafe scene in JB is booming, but the difference is that nobody will try to charge you 20 SGD for poached eggs, because that’s friggin’ 62 ringgit.
Hawker food in JB also generally tastes a lot better than ours does as flavours have not been lost to outsourcing and a dying hawker trade. Fans of pig’s blood or lok lok will be happy to find it in JB.
Finally, JB is a great place to do everything you wanted to do in Singapore but didn’t because it was too expensive. Watch a movie, go for a massage, go to a karaoke lounge and drink alcohol in the knowledge that you’re paying way less than you would in Singapore.
3. Airbnb staycation
Everyone knows hotels cost a bomb in Singapore. But on Airbnb, it’s a different story. If you need a break from screaming family members, your best bet for a quick getaway is to grab a friend and rent some guy’s apartment on Airbnb.
You can find entire apartments being rented out for $50 to $80, all with a full suite of luxurious condo facilities including swimming pool, gym and whatnot. Maybe it’s because renting out condo units on Airbnb isn’t legal yet, but the value you get for what you pay is astonishing.
4. Explore a neighbourhood you’re unfamiliar with
It used to be that the only places of interest in Singapore were the usual tourist spots in the city centre. But these days, people are paying more and more attention to suburban neighbourhoods, some of which have been hipster-ised and gentrified (cough, Tiong Bahru).
You don’t have to go overseas to enjoy the feeling of exploring a new place. Just pick a neighbourhood you are unfamiliar with or have never visited, arm yourself with Google Maps and go explore.
So check out Singapore’s last kampung in Buangkok, visit Haw Par Villa in Pasir Panjang, check out the hipster cafes at Jalan Besar or investigate why there’s a reputation for bad news in Yishun. And don’t forget to create an album for it on Facebook to make everyone else jealous.
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