Our Honest Reactions To The Latest Singaporean Travel Trends
Did you know...
...Singaporeans have named food as the driving choice in their holiday destinations for 2024?
….30% of Singaporeans have booked a destination based on a specific restaurant they want to try?
….More than 8 in 10 Singaporeans travellers are inspired to travel to a destination they’ve seen on film or TV?
Singaporeans might have spent the last couple of years doing “revenge travel”, but now that COVID is long over, it looks like we’re seeking something other than just pure getaways in our travels. According to Skyscanner’s 2024 Travel Trends report, Singaporeans are prioritising cultural exploration: that means trying local food, chasing a “vibe” that can only be experienced abroad, and visiting places (including historical sites) from their favourite movies and TV shows.
As much as my colleague, Nicholas (who just came back from his two-week honeymoon in Europe!) can relate chasing magical vibes that exist only outside of a concrete jungle, we found ourselves a little befuddled by some of the stats. Our reactions below:
IMAGE: (FROM LEFT) DREAMS LINK POSTER, DIANE LAM
8 out of 10 Singaporeans decide on a travel destination based on a movie or TV show. From these, only 36% go on to book that trip inspired by the big or small screen.
Diane: This reminds me of the time I went on my honeymoon to Provence, France. When we asked our Airbnb host to recommend a lavender field, he told us to go to Valensole because a famous Chinese drama 一帘幽梦 was filmed there. (We couldn’t even be mad at him for stereotyping us because he was a cute old grandpa who helped us carry our baggage up 5 flights of mediaeval stairs.) As loath as I am to admit it, my husband and I did drive the extra hour to check out Valensole - because we didn’t know where else to go - so I guess you can include us in the 84%.
Nicholas: No choice, I understand the feeling. Was the detour worth it?
Diane: The fields were rife with lavender - and with Asian influencers - so honestly it felt less like France and more like the set of the aforementioned Chinese drama, with my husband and I as the unglamorous extras. Still, I’d definitely recommend it for some romantic feels!
Nicholas: Does anime count? It was my dream since I was young to make the trip to the Land of the Rising Sun to visit, and to this day I still keep wanting to go to Japan all the time because of giant robots… to my wife’s dismay.
Diane: People go to Mont St. Michel, Neuschwanstein, and Halstatt for Disney fairytale vibes, so yes, anime definitely counts.
60% of Singaporeans would go overseas to watch their favourite artist live in concert. 46% say yes to short haul flights to catch gigs, and 14% are willing to fly long haul. 28% of Singaporeans are planning to attend a gig or music concert overseas next year.
Nicholas: I actually know a couple of friends from Malaysia who are flying down here to watch Taylor Swift and Coldplay. Personally I’m not that hardcore, but I can see why. I’m definitely not among the 60%, but I hope my favourite artists come to Singapore then easier.
Diane: Truthfully, I’m a little too lazy to chase my favourite artistes around the world, and since Singapore is a concert hub, I trust that my must-see acts will come here eventually. But I have friends who travelled overseas for Coachella and the Ultra Music Festival, and I can understand why! It’s about the whole package: the atmosphere, the crowd, the venue, and those things can’t be replicated even if those same artistes were to perform on our shores.
54% of Singaporeans choose to try local authentic cuisine when they travel. 30% book a destination specifically to dine at a particular restaurant. Osaka tops Skyscanner’s worldwide list for foodies.
Nicholas: Eating is definitely among the top things my wife and I want to do when we travel. On our annual holidays, she really does her research on the best food places to dine in - somehow always got one place with Michelin Star in the itinerary too, that doesn’t break the bank.
Diane: My husband and I are definitely more of the “eat to live” and not “live to eat” kind. Firstly because we don’t have big appetites, secondly because we are somewhat prone to lao sai, and thirdly because we - or okay, maybe I - don’t like scheduling itineraries around restaurant reservations. So much so that we only made one reservation in France for our two-week trip. The rest of the time, we just whacked.
Nicholas: Lucky I got my wife who likes to schedule our trip down to the minute. But even if I travel alone I always try to eat local. Don’t lah go and eat Singaporean food overseas, for me that’s like a waste sia. If it’s an impromptu trip, I’ll search on Google for some highly rated makan spots. I even have a saved list on my phone for restaurants I want to go on future trips.
Diane: As a foodie, do you fall under the 30% who book a destination purely to visit a specific restaurant? And as someone who loves Japan, what do you make of Osaka as the top destination for foodies on a budget?
Nicholas: The truth is I go to Japan for the anime and Pokémon related stuff, the food is secondary, but in my recent trip to Tokyo I did go to a couple of pizza spots I bookmarked from the Netflix show Chef’s Table. Sedap!
23% of Singaporeans say their main activity on a trip is to snooze! This is higher than 22% who are searching for water sports, 19% who want to go wildlife spotting, and 18% who seek adventures in snow. 39% of Singaporeans say they enjoy better sleep on a holiday.
Nicholas: Aiyo travel all the way to another country, go through the hassle of flying, I want to go around and see see things! Sleeping ranks very low on my main activities. Sightseeing would be number one for me, then maybe finding good local food, and rounding up my top 3, shopping for my football jerseys.
Diane: I can’t relate with this one either! Travel so far to sleep for what. Might as well just take a staycation in Singapore. I will say that when I’m visiting countries where things close earlier (such as Australia), I get more sleep though because I end up going to bed at 10pm. Nothing else to do lor.
The top 3 factors for Singaporeans choosing a particular place for a holiday getaway is food (75%), attractions (70%), and weather (66%). As for popular activities on a trip, shopping ranks first (58%), then sampling local food (54%), followed by booking historical tours (46%).
Diane: I think we’ve established that while I’m not in the food camp (it probably isn’t even in my top 3 driving choices), you and your wife definitely are! The stat makes sense to me since Singapore is not only a nation of foodies, but that we have a lot of exposure to international cuisine thanks to our diverse population. Of course Singaporeans would want to try the authentic versions of their favourite dishes when they’re abroad!
Nicholas: You’re making me crave for Japanese food right now. Speaking of culture and historial tours, for my honeymoon my wife actually booked two mini tours; one was a wine tour in the Alsace region, and another to learn more about the Colmar region. The second tour was the best because it was just the two of us and the guide, driving us around and telling us more about the region. It was very insightful and super fun!
Diane: I visited Colmar and Alsace too! Major Howl’s Moving Castle vibes, and though that wasn’t the main reason we visited, it was still a nice bonus to feel like I was in one of my favourite films! Anyway, I’m not surprised that Singaporeans are so gung-for for good weather and historical tours. It’s pretty insane seeing thousand-year-old castles when you’re accustomed to living in a relatively young country with largely modern architecture. Also, fall/winter weather, anybody?
Nicholas: I miss the sweater weather, especially after coming home to endless sun and random rainfall.
64% of Singaporean holiday goers travel for a special occasion, like a birthday or anniversary. But 48% say that the biggest issue when planning a group holiday is finalising the costs, followed by 43% who want to know how or where to communicate with their group.
Nicholas: Thankfully when it comes to $$$ my wife has that covered, and she enjoys it. Every expense in my recent honeymoon trip to Europe, down to the McDonald’s supper because I wanted to see what exclusive menu items they had, were taken down and budgeted. I know I personally will go overboard, especially if I go to Japan where there just seems to be something I want to buy at every street…
Diane: Yeah, going with your spouse is one thing because at least you can be transparent with your finances, but it gets complicated when you go with friends or even with extended family members. To prevent any awkwardness on the trips, it’s imperative that you discuss budgets with everyone beforehand! Nothing more uncomfortable than when half the group wants to eat at Michelin starred restaurants and take cabs, while the other half of the group would rather dabao sandwiches from the konbini and take public transportation.
Nicholas: Now I am reminded about my last trip with a group of friends. That was exactly what happened. Suffice to say I never went on a trip with them again.
89% of Singaporeans know that they should disconnect from work, but 34% admit to checking their work emails, and 23% search for a new job while overseas.
Diane: Cannot relate. I’ve gone on holidays with friends who not only checked their work emails overseas, but they even brought their work laptops and skipped meals with the group to catch up on stuff! As much as I want to say “you do you”, it does kind of kill the vibe when someone in the group is doing work while you’re trying to soak up the sights and relax on vacay. My husband isn’t the type who brings work on holiday either, so I enjoy travelling with him because it truly feels like disconnecting from the grind. Thankfully our bosses don’t hound us while we’re on leave either!
Nicholas: Agreed on the bosses! In my previous job I still needed to be ready to answer messages, it was very annoying. Even on our honeymoon, my wife still got a random call or message about work, I can see she was very frustrated. She did ignore most of them.
19% of 18-to-24-year-old Singaporeans pack a Polaroid camera along for the holiday; 15% bring along a disposable camera; and 12% have a 35mm film camera.
Diane: Elder millennial here. It’s never even occurred to me to bring a film camera overseas! Who has time to take both film photos and iPhone photos?
Nicholas: For my recent trip, I decided to carry my sling bag. It held passports, money, an umbrella, and most importantly, a powerbank to charge our phones. I have no space to carry an additional camera with me, and my phone does a great job with that anyway. I guess I’m too old as well.
Diane: My husband (also a millennial) always brings his DSLR, but that’s still digital, so we’re clearly the wrong people to opine on this. Paging our Gen Z colleague, Kai!
Kai: I can agree with the film mania. A lot of Gen Zs have film accounts too. I used to have one; my girlfriend still has one. She also brings film cameras overseas - she brought one along with backup rolls to the US. Retro and vintage are still all the hype! I’ve also seen some Gen Zs ‘soft launch’ that they’re at iconic destinations by choosing to post everything except the landmark i.e. Eiffel Tower? Post a pic of the bright lights and night sky instead and subtly have the tower in some tiny corner
Diane: Wow. Well, Nic and I might be too boomer to relate, but if that means we count as ‘retro and vintage’, then we’ll take it!