Make Your Dreams Come True: How to Visit Your Dream Destinations on a Budget

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Dream destinations for Singaporeans

What would you give up for a trip to your dream destination? Your entire year of annual leave? All the other trips for the year? 50% of your lifelong savings? Fret not! We want to share with you how to get to your dream destinations without forking out beyond your means.

According to Skyscanner’s survey, Singaporeans ranked London, New York, Santorini, Tokyo, and Seoul as their top 5 dream destinations. While they gain in popularity, these cities do not come cheap when it comes to a getaway there.

5. Seoul, South Korea

#5 on the list for Singaporeans’ top dream destinations is the capital of South Korea, Seoul. Made popular by dramas and the Hallyu Wave, Seoul is a mixture of traditional culture and modern sophistication.

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Dream destination

National Folk Museum of Korea
Photo courtesy of @berryaltaire

Explore the history-rich Korea peninsula with a visit to these museums for free:

  • National Folk Museum of Korea
  • National Palace Museum of Korea
  • National Museum of Korea
  • National Hangul Museum
  • War Memorial of Korea.

You can even get more out of your money with the “Combination Ticket for Palaces” where you can tour the grounds of Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung, Changgyeonggung, Deoksugung, and Gyeonghuigung at only 10,000 won (approximately SG$12.25).

Read: 5 Best Ski Resorts Around the World and When to Go

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Do not miss out on the food and shopping in the university districts, Hongdae, Sinchon and Ehwa, where you can get the same things at 10-20% cheaper than Myeongdong, and at least 30% cheaper than in Gangnam and Apkujong.

Dream destination

Hongdae street market
Editorial credit: hwanchul/Shutterstock.com

Tip: It might be tempting to skip the famous Myeongdong district – don’t! Only get your Korean skincare products at Myeongdong because just an entrance to any of the cosmetics shops warrants you a gift, usually a face mask or a box of cotton pads.

Related: 10 Markets Across Asia You Must Visit For Budget Shopping

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Dream destination

Hotel Skypark 1 Myeongdong
Source: Skypark Hotel website

Spending a week in your dream location need not break your bank. Possibly the most convenient hotel for any first-timers, a stay at Hotel Skypark 1 Myeongdong will set you back SG$111 a night for two but put you right in the middle of the Myeongdong shopping street! Worry not if your shopping drags late into the night, or if you are looking for a nearby spot for some authentic Korean cuisine; you have everything at your convenience right at the doorstep!

Check out: 5 Best Korean Fried Chicken in Singapore

Looking for somewhere quieter? ibis Ambassador Insadong is the ideal hotel for two, at SG$86 a night. While it is located near the subway, it is relatively quiet in terms of what is around it. Being at Insadong also put the hotel in relatively close distances from Gwangjang Market, a traditional market famous for delicious street food, and various historical sites such as the Jogyesa Temple and Changdeokgung.

4. Tokyo, Japan

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If a trip to Tokyo is on your bucket list, head there during the low-peak periods of May, July, September, and October! While these months skipped the popular Sakura season, discover the beauty of roses and tulips in full bloom right in Tokyo, or head to Mount Fuji for a beautiful bloom of Shibazakura in hues of pink and red during the month of May!

Read: 5 Often Overlooked Ways to be Smart About Money While Travelling Abroad

Be treated to especially picturesque colours of autumn by heading to Tokyo in late October where trees transform into bright golden and fiery orange hues. Your photos will definitely be more unique than the usual cherry blossom ones.

A quick guide on the popular neighbourhoods in Tokyo:

Shibuya – Fashion mecca, the famous intersection outside Shibuya station where the must-see Shibuya crossing takes place.

Dream destinations

The Shibuya crossing

Tip: The Starbucks in Tsutaya across the subway, or the second floor of the Tokyu Toyoko Department Store.

Shinjuku – A huge hub of shopping, entertainment, and business where a Godzilla sits atop the Toho Cinemas there.

Dream destinations

Source: Experience Tokyo website

Tip: Walk to Shin-Okubo, the capital’s mini Korea for some authentic Korean cuisine, and explore Kabukicho at night for neon lights and cheap drinks.

Harajuku – The city’s teenage culture and fashion hub. Takeshita Dori is more of the youth fashion, and going south from it brings you to Omotesando, the high-end stylish fashion hub, similar to Paris’s Champs-Elysees.

Asakusa – Traditional meets modern, the site where the popular Sensoji Temple stands. The Nakamise Shopping Street leading to the temple is a popular place for affordable souvenirs.

Dream destinations

Asakusa Sensoji Temple
Photo courtesy of @justinpaolo

Related: A Guide to 5 of Tokyo’s Coolest Neighbourhoods

Save on Accommodation

When it comes to accommodation, as long as you are staying on the Yamanote Line, you are a train ride away from most of the must-go destinations in Tokyo for a first-timer. Hotel Mystays Nippori, walking distance from Nippori station, offers a clean and safe stay at SG$97 a night for two, which is a steal for its location.

Dream destinations

Source: HOTEL MYSTAYS Nippori website

Tip: Skip the stays near Shibuya, Shinjuku and Tokyo stations, as they are not only expensive but also very crowded, making the daily train rides less appealing than if you are heading out from elsewhere.

Read also: 12 Best Matcha Desserts in Singapore That Will Instantly Transport Your Taste Buds to Japan

3. Santorini, Greece

Dream destinations

Santorini, Greece
Photo courtesy of @_roxana_rusu_

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As far as a trip to Santorini is concerned, planning ahead is the key; 20-24 weeks before your planned vacation is the best time for you to book that flight to your dream location!

Related: How to Book Cheap Flight Tickets for Your Vacations

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It is also good to know food and services are more expensive in the tourist-rich areas such as Fira, Oia, and Imerovigli, as compared to towns such as Akrotiri and Kamari. If you are there for the caldera-edge cliff-tops views, then you got to pay for the inflated prices of food in the restaurants there.

Dream destinations

Source: Aeolos Tavern website

A pro-tip: Check out the family-run taverns on the outskirts of the major towns for reasonably priced Greek cuisine and then pay for a drink and light snacks at the restaurants in Fira and Oia. Aeolos Tavern near Akrotiri is one of such taverns, widely praised for their affordable and mouth-watering dishes. You can use the K-Tel public bus to get around places —going from Akrotiri to Fira will cost approximately 2 euros and take 25 minutes.

Read: 6 Top Destinations to Travel from Singapore between Nov and Jan

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Dream destinations

Source: Hotel Thireas website

With all that said, a night in Santorini can easily cost you SG$400 or more, and hence, it is no doubt that the next big chunk of your savings will go into booking the right accommodation. Caldera view hotels or rooms are typically 50% more than rooms without such views, and Hotel Thireas in Fira, an excellent boutique hotel close to restaurants, bars, and shopping, might be one of the cheapest to offer a room for two with caldera view at only SG$183 a night.

Check out: 10 Beautiful Cities in Europe You Must Visit at Least Once

2. New York, USA

Dream destination

Times Square, NYC
Photo courtesy of @timessquarenyc

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Do you know flights from Singapore to New York are 14% cheaper in October, and 11% cheaper in November, as compared to the rest of the year? Escape the heat and embrace the cooler New York as you plan your dream holiday around these months, and your dream vacation will no longer be just a faraway plan. Thank us later when you get to free up cash for a better accommodation for your trip with the former tip; a weeklong stay in New York can easily cost more than your air tickets to the Upper East Side.

Related: Guide to the Best Miles Credit Cards in Singapore + When to Use Which Cards

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Dream destinations

Source: The Pod Hotels website

Speaking of hotels, allocating SG$350 a night in New York isn’t much, especially if you are looking to stay in the safer and better districts. Score a night at any of The Pod hotels, Pod 39, Pod 51, Pod Times Square and Pod Brooklyn, for an affordable and risk-free stay. The rooms average from SG$130 – SG$160 a night, however, they are on the smaller side and might not suit everyone.

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We have all seen the famous New York yellow-top taxis in movies and while it is tempting to hop into one, the fares and the conventional tip of 15% is enough to steer you towards using the MTA. The metro system is the most convenient and cost-efficient way of travel in New York, and while the map might look like a mess of spider webs at first glance, it is a no-brainer after you spend some time to map out your destinations. There is even a trip planner on the MTA’s homepage which can help you map out your routes for your dream vacation.

Read also: 8 Handy Travel Apps for the Financially Savvy Traveller

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Dream destinations

Statue of Liberty
Photo courtesy of @statueelisnps

While it does not come cheap, grab yourself a New York Pass to save as much as 40% on your vacation. Hit all the major sightseeing spots such as Empire State Building, Ellis Island, Top of the Rock, 9/11 Museum, and gain access to New York Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour, The RIDE, The TOUR, and New York Water Taxi tour, with this all-inclusive pass.

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1. London, UK

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Dream destinations

Photo courtesy of @london

Last but not least, the #1 on Singaporeans’ dream destination is London, the capital of England! It is no secret that London is an expensive city, and a weeklong trip to check out the Big Ben and explore all that London offers will easily cost you somewhere between five to eight grand. With that said, there is nothing more important than planning when it comes to long-haul dream destinations like London; it is 17% cheaper to fly in February, and 11% cheaper in March than the rest of the year. The chilly weather in February gives you a break from the heat in Singapore, and you get to experience London without the hordes of tourists that flock to the city in springtime.

Related: The Top VIP Airport Lounges in the World and How You Can Get Access

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A night in London can easily set you back SG$350 or more, but with a little research and prior booking, it is not impossible for you to find a decently priced hotel that is not too far in the suburbs or inconveniently located.

Dream destinations

Source: Accor Hotels website

Conveniently located just 5 minutes from the Shepherd’s Bush Tube Station in West London, ibis London Shepherds Bush Hotel is priced at an affordable SG$113 a night for two. You can also check out the Premier Inn London Docklands ExCel, a stone’s throw away from the popular River Thames, Brick Lane, and Tower Of London, at just $131 a night.

Check out: 6 Travel Experiences That Every Family Must Try

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Dream destinations

Kensington Palace
Photo courtesy of @suelen_csousa

After booking your hotels for London, getting the London Pass is the next step. An easy method for you to navigate around your dream city on a budget, a 6-Day pass will cost you approximately SG$275, but it gives you an all-access to St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Tower of London, Kensington Palace, Chelsea, Arsenal and Wembley Stadium Tours, Thames River Boat Cruise, and more! Remember to check the site regularly after you confirm your trip as they have sales where you can get the pass at 20-30% cheaper than the usual price.

Read also: 5 Reasons Why Not Getting Travel Insurance Could Really Ruin Your Vacation

Save on F&B

Dream destinations

Source: Cafe Rouge website

Another problem that Singaporeans face when going overseas, especially to the Western countries, is the need to tip. In London, it is customary to leave a 10-15% tip, and that goes a long way when you dine out for every meal while you are on a vacation there.

Pro tip: Be sure to check that your bill does not already include a service charge to prevent double tipping. The same tipping rule applies to a taxi, so it is best to just ride the Tube or take one of London’s buses.

Read: 5 Tips to Travel on a Budget to Your Favourite European Destinations

For affordable food in London, check out chain restaurants such as the Spaghetti House and Café Rouge, or get pre-made sandwiches from the supermarkets and dine alfresco in one of London’s beautiful parks. The best dining experience on your dream vacation does not have to be in the high-end restaurants; food trucks offer some of the best dishes in London — Mother Clucker, offering halal fried chicken paired with French fries, Ima, where you can enjoy sushi-style vegan burritos, or Mother Flippers, serving up the familiar Western burgers and bacon.

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Find that budget flight from Singapore to London or wherever your dream destination may be with Skyscanner. Download the Skyscanner app for fast, easy, and free flight, car rental and hotel comparison.

Prices in this article were estimated at the time of writing and are subject to change and/or availability.

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