Singapore and Hong Kong have been Asia’s top economic powerhouses for the longest time. In terms of attracting tourists, both cosmopolitan cities are alluring in their own rights, which make it a tough choice to decide where to visit in Asia. If you are planning for your next destination in Asia and not sure where to go, fret not. This article will guide you on how each city fares in various aspects such as budget, weather, environment and safety, so you can make an informed decision for your trip.
One of the most vibrant cities in the world... Singapore 🇸🇬Posted by LENSbible on Wednesday, 30 August 2017
Uncertain as to whether you wish to visit Singapore or Hong Kong? Read on to find out about the differences between the 2 cities with this guide of Singapore vs. Hong Kong.
More often than not, you would have set aside a certain budget for your next trip before you begin planning. Is Singapore or Hong Kong more expensive? What is the expected expenditure in both cities?
Singapore is a sovereign city-state that has achieved a lot economically over the past five decades. Simply put, this means the cost of living in Singapore is high, like most other highly urbanised cities in the world. With a population of over 5.7 million occupying a total land area of only 716.1 square kilometres (276.4 sq miles), you can imagine how densely populated the city is. Cheap and good stays are harder to find, especially within the CBD. Hotel prices range from 154.50 to 384.80 SGD (114 to 284 USD) per night on average in the city centre, while hostel dorm beds are more affordable from 20 SGD (14.80 USD) per night.
Travelling around is easier if you get the Singapore Tourist Pass that offers tourists unlimited travel on public buses, MRT and LRT trains in one, two or three days from 10 to 20 SGD (7.40 to 14.80 USD). Food wise, there are plenty of options ranging from economical local eats in hawker centres to mid-range options and high-end restaurants, as eating out is one of the favourite pastimes of Singaporeans. Therefore, if you are a cost-conscious traveller, do your homework before the trip and you will be fine!
Hong Kong: 5/10
While Hong Kong is almost four times bigger than Singapore at 2,754 sq kilometres (1063.3 sq miles), it is also a highly urbanised and densely populated city. Accommodation price range is similar to that of Singapore too, but the average size of a room is a tad smaller than in Singapore. In terms of travelling, public transport prices are slightly lower than what you pay as a Singapore tourist, with the tourist day pass at 55 HKD (7 USD). Although there are a myriad of dining options in the vibrant city to choose from, prices tend to be a bit higher than in Singapore, even if you opt for cheap local market food, which average around 50 HKD (6.40 USD) per meal. Overall, expect to spend about 10% more in Hong Kong compared to Singapore.
Despite being only 2,560 kilometres (988.4 miles) apart, Hong Kong and Singapore experience relatively different climates because of their distinct latitudinal locations in Asia. Read on to find out which city offers a more favourable weather condition for a great trip.
Located 137 kilometres (52.9 miles) north of the Equator, Singapore enjoys a tropical climate all year round, characterised by two monsoon seasons. Between November and early March, the northeast monsoon season brings strong winds and heavy rainfall, while the southwest monsoon from June to September brings about occasional showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon. Temperatures in Singapore vary little throughout the year. The average temperature is between 26 (during the cooler months in December and January) and 28 (during the hottest months in May and June) degrees Celsius (78.8 and 82.4 degrees Fahrenheit). So if you prefer a coastal tropical climate all year round where you can lounge by the sunny beach or wear light clothes, Singapore is the place for you.
Hong Kong: 7/10
Unlike Singapore, Hong Kong has four distinct seasons: summer from June to August - which can be uncomfortably hot and very humid, winter from December to February - pleasant cool weather, and spring and autumn with unpredictable weather. Typhoons prevail from July to September so it is best to avoid travelling to the city during this period. The ideal travel season to Hong Kong is late autumn, from October to around Christmas when the weather is relatively drier with lower temperatures from 15 to 28 degrees Celsius (59 to 82.4 degrees Fahrenheit). Eventually, it boils down to the weather you prefer as both offer favourable weather in different ways.
3. Environment & safety
For many of you residing outside Asia, you may be curious about the environment and safety in this fast-developing region. How do these two compare when it comes to this category? Find out more in this section.
Known to be a city with one of the lowest crime rates in the world, travelling in Singapore is very safe, including walking alone on the streets late at night. Furthermore, the island nation is also reputed as a garden city, well-managed and clean with plenty of lush greenery all around. In addition, the air quality is better in Singapore compared to Hong Kong. With English widely spoken, most will find it easy to navigate around on your own with minimal language barrier in Singapore. Compared to many other metropolitan cities, Singapore certainly ranks high as a well-organised and safe environment.
Hong Kong: 7/10
Generally, Hong Kong boasts an equally safe environment for all to roam in just like Singapore. However, given the landscape in the former is less orderly than the latter, sometimes you may feel a bit worried when walking along rundown and sketchy-looking streets. Air quality has been deteriorating in recent years too. Hence, Hong Kong scores a point lower in this category. Nonetheless, because of the less well-maintained sights and buildings, Hong Kong may appear more authentic if you are looking beyond the typical city layout.
Now that you have determined your budget, set the right expectations for the environment, safety and weather, it’s important to consider the available transport options too.
As mentioned in the first section, you can get the Singapore Tourist Pass to move around conveniently in the city. Public transport cost is relatively affordable, and with an extensive network of buses, MRT and LRT trains, it is easy to get around on your own. Furthermore, the entire network is air-conditioned, so that spares you from the sweltering heat when travelling outdoors.
Hong Kong: 9/10
Like Singapore, Hong Kong has an extensive network of buses, mini-buses, ferries, MTR trains and tramways. However, Hong Kong fares better in this category because of its slightly lower prices, as well as higher train frequencies and reliability. To add to the fun in taking public transport in Hong Kong Island, you must board one of the city’s nostalgic trams operating since 1904! Each tram ride costs only a flat fare of 2.30 HKD (0.30 USD) regardless of distance travelled, passing through bustling districts such as Wan Chai, Happy Valley and Causeway Bay.
Bet you must be asking now, so what’s interesting to check out in these two cities?
There is a great range of sightseeing to do in Singapore, such as the world’s first Night Safari, Universal Studios on Sentosa Island, Gardens By The Bay and the list goes on. Besides all the modern man-made attractions, in recent years, tremendous efforts have been made to promote cultural and natural sights. Noteworthy cultural spots include Little India and Kampong Glam. You can also explore numerous parks in the city, including Singapore Botanic Gardens, the only tropical garden honoured as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
To learn more, read our article on the best things to do in Singapore.
Hong Kong: 8/10
In terms of sightseeing, Hong Kong scores a notch above Singapore, because of the varied activities it offers. Families with little ones in tow can head to Ocean Park and Disneyland, while those keen on modern sights can check out the multifarious skyscrapers, Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade and Avenue of Stars. Those looking for a more local experience will love Tai O Fishing Village and Stanley Market. There are also several outlying islands waiting for hikers and those yearning to escape from the hectic city life. Overall, Hong Kong feels less artificial and more authentic without excessive urban planning.
If you’re planning on your trip with your partner, here are our recommendations on the most romantic things to do in Hong Kong.
6. Food & drink
Both Singapore and Hong Kong offer a wide range of mouth-watering cuisines to whet your appetite, but which is the city that is a real food paradise?
Many say that because there is not much to do in Singapore, so one of the local’s favourite pastimes is to go hunting for good food. That probably explains why there is such a diverse range of tantalising food options in Singapore. You can enjoy a tasty local meal from around 4 SGD (2.95 USD) in the local hawker centres, you can even check out hawker stalls that’ve been awarded the bib-gourmand.
You can also dine in comfort in air-conditioned mid-tier restaurants averaging 20 SGD (14.75 USD) per meal or high-end classy restaurants from 100 SGD (73.70 USD). In addition, in a cosmopolitan city like Singapore, you get to enjoy delightful Asian cuisines alongside an assortment of international cuisines. Thanks to Singapore’s multiculturalism, the city-state also caters to Muslim travelers - here are our picks on the best halal-certified restaurants. Definitely not easy to go hungry when in Singapore!
Hong Kong: 9/10
Hong Kong is not known as a gourmet paradise for nothing. Similar to Singapore, it is a melting pot for mouth-watering cuisines from all over the world. In fact, there are far more Michelin-starred and Bib Gourmand food establishments here than in Singapore. Craving for local fare such as dim sum (bite-sized portions of food served in small steamer baskets), roast meat and wanton noodles? Or feel like going Japanese, Western for your next meal? You are bound to find a restaurant that will suit your palate nearby. The only setback about dining in Hong Kong is, prices are a little higher than what you would pay in Singapore, hence both cities are rated with the same score in this category.
Wondering what you can do in the two cities after dark? Here’s what you can expect.
In Singapore, shops and attractions typically close around 9 or 10 pm at night. In the past decade or so, the nightlife scene has grown to be more vibrant than before, mainly concentrated around the central Clarke Quay area where most hippy bars and pubs can be found. Since 1 April 2015, drinking is banned in all public places and retail shops are also not allowed to sell takeaway alcohol from 10.30 pm to 7 am daily. So if you are a late night owl, do take note of the operation hours and regulations to avoid disappointment.
Hong Kong: 9/10
Unlike Singapore, shop opening hours are longer in Hong Kong, with many closing as late as 11 pm or beyond. Head to notable nightspots at Lan Kwai Fong and SoHo to party your night away alongside trendy locals. If that sounds too much for you, catch a contemporary art performance by the Hong Kong Dance Company or the Chinese Orchestra. There is also the famous Symphony of Lights to check out at Victoria Harbour at 8 pm every night. No surprises for guessing the winner in this category, given Hong Kong has much more to offer for everyone at night.
Learn more about Hong Kong’s nightlife here.
Shopping can be a therapeutic activity for some. Find out how wonderful the shopping scene is in Singapore vs Hong Kong below.
Shopping malls can be found everywhere in Singapore, be it in the suburbs or city centre, but most of them carry the usual brand names. Big international brand names such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton have set up stores here beside fast fashion labels like Zara, H&M and Forever 21. Local designer shops are not as recognised or widespread here compared to other cities in the world. In addition, while foreigners are able to claim a refund on the 7% Goods & Services Tax (GST), only purchases of over 100 SGD (73.75 USD) including GST at participating shops are eligible under the scheme. In a way, this results in a less unique shopping experience where prices may not be necessarily cheaper for the tourist.
Hong Kong: 9/10
Just like its night scene, Hong Kong’s shopping is more exciting compared to Singapore. Besides shopping malls where you can shop to your heart’s content, you can also check out indie designer boutiques, wholesale markets and even night markets sprawled across the city. There is a wide array of products available, offering more designs from international brand names than you can find in Singapore. To sweeten the deal, shopping is tax free in Hong Kong. That saves travellers the hassle of claiming for tax refunds. Hong Kong definitely wins hands down for shopping!
And the highest overall score goes to……
Hong Kong: 63/80
It is a bitter match between these two Asian cities, with Hong Kong scoring higher in terms of transport, sightseeing, nightlife, and shopping. While I have no qualms for my love of Singapore my homeland, it is undeniable that Hong Kong is exciting in these aspects, although Singapore is making great efforts in catching up. Nonetheless, deciding on which city to visit eventually is dependent on your personal preference. Both cities have their fair share of cool offerings that you should not miss. Mark them both on your plans soon!
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