Singapore most expensive Asian city to spend a night for travellers

A night's stay for two costs nearly $500, survey finds

SINGAPORE is still the most expensive Asian city to spend a night in, according to a new survey.

An evening for two is said to cost $495.79 in the Republic, which took 14th spot globally - just edging out Tokyo in 15th place, where an overnight stay will cost travellers the equivalent of $495.64.

Travel website TripAdvisor's survey, called TripIndex Cities 2013, was based on an overnight stay for two people that would include a return taxi trip, a night's stay at a four-star hotel, a two- course dinner and cocktails.

Some 49 cities were included in the list, now in its third successive year.

Prices of the four-star hotels in each destination were derived from average costs found on the TripAdvisor website for June to August this year.

The cost of cocktails was based on the average prices for two dry Martinis in a top-rated five-star hotel, and taxi fares were calculated based on two journeys of about 3.2km each.

Singapore dropped four places from 10th in the 2012 ranking of most expensive destinations but remained the priciest Asian city this year.

Oslo in Norway came out tops for the most expensive city, costing $717.41, with Bulgarian capital Sofia the cheapest at $196.06. Regional neighbours Hanoi, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur were also among the 10 cheapest cities to visit worldwide.

Ngee Ann Polytechnic senior lecturer in tourism Michael Chiam said that while Singapore was high on the list, it offers "good value for money" in terms of quality restaurants and "upmarket" services such as the integrated resorts.

He said tourists have different preferences when searching for a destination. A first-time visitor to Singapore, for instance, might be willing to pay more, whereas tourists looking for a more "rustic" environment might find other countries in Asia more appealing.

"At the end of the day, it all depends on what you're looking for. If you want a modern city in Asia, Singapore has a lot to offer," Dr Chiam said.

Korean-American engineer Hans Yum, 39, said the survey may not be representative. "Savvy budget travellers and backpackers can still find Singapore one of the cheapest destinations in the world," said Mr Yum, who paid $2 for chicken rice and stayed in $16-a-night hostels on a 2011 visit.

Last December, a TripAdvisor survey found the Republic had the second-best taxi service out of 40 cities, which included Tokyo, Dubai and Zurich.

maryamm@sph.com.sg