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Singapore Hong Kong Travel Bubble: What's the Buzz and Where to Visit?



In Singapore this week, a look at 5 top rising searches related to Hong Kong tells us several interesting things about post-pandemic traveler behavior, the return of certain travel trends, and the acceptance of a new, and perhaps permanent normal. We analyzed the search behavior of Singaporeans in the past week to understand traveler motives and intentions, and here’s what we found...


VERIFYING A NEWER NORMAL


We see that searches for “CAAS Singapore” increased by a whopping 3250% this week. The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore is Singapore’s national aviation authority and a statutory board under the Ministry of Transport of the Government of Singapore. We reckon this is a top search because people are likely turning to this site as a source of credible authority for official confirmation on the travel bubble and to read up on related, relevant information to know.


This search behavior is signals to us cautionary joy: an understanding that travel restrictions to Hong Kong may have been lifted by the Singaporean government, but also the need to verify the information. As some may say in Singlish, just making sure it's “Confirm plus chop”!



ROUTINES OF DREAMING


We also noticed an increase in the number of specific flight searches. Search terms such as “SQ 890” and “SQ 891” were up 550% and 2200% respectively in the past week, and these are flights from Singapore to Hong Kong and back. This rise in searches for flights suggest that people really are entertaining the prospect of travelling to Hong Kong, checking flight details and not just googling generic things about what to do in the country. This depicts ‘final stage of decision’ search behaviour, even though there is a small chance that it may just be a spot of window shopping, motivated by the longing for travel.


Similarly, searches for the term “PCR test cost” have also surged by 1450%. The PCR is a COVID-19 testing kit which is a prerequisite for travel into Hong Kong, and highlights the fact that people are perhaps entertaining the possibility of travel to the country. Culturally, this is search behavior that is motivated by the wishfulness for travel because it is only when one dreams of travel that the urge to execute on the fantasy arises.



EXERCISING RESTRAINT


Our most interesting search behavior finding is that of the term “Hong Kong weather January”, which spiked by 150% in the last 7 days. We see that travelers are still dreaming and fantasizing about visiting the destination at a slightly later date than right now. This tells us that the Singaporean desire to travel is one that can best be described as measured impulse (paradoxical as that sounds).


Singaporeans are willing to wait for things to settle down and make a decision based on the future situation, despite not having traveled for the entire year. The new year may bring upon a different set of circumstances which would need to be evaluated later, even though the taste of geographic freedom is tempting most travelers...



If we were to spend 36 hours in Hong Kong, these activities would be top of our list...


For Scenic Serenity, Be Greeted by Smiling Buddhas Atop a Hill


We'd kickstart our journey in Hong Kong by paying tribute at the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery that is located in the foothills of the Po Fook Hills. Consisting of 5 temples, nine-story pagodas, and hoards of life-sized golden Buddha statues welcoming visitors, climbing up to the monastery is no easy feat. Interestingly, there are also no monks present here. (p.s. We’d watch out for macaque monkeys on our way up.)



Experience Some More Culture With A Sky Full of Gods and Buddhas


Embark on some spiritual exploration by visiting a unique hillside at the bottom of a flight of stairs, home to hundreds of abandoned household deities. Most residents of Hong Kong believe that discarding a deity, no matter how damaged it may be, can bring upon bad luck and fortune. This has led to the creation of a miniature natural temple of sorts where people walking by often pray to these Buddhist and Taoist deities. This site is one of many present in the country.




A Little Taste of the Wild Side: Devour Snake Soup for Lunch


Take a pitstop for lunch at Se Wong Yee, a tiny yet delicious eatery located at Causeway Bay. Limited menu options do not stop hundreds of daily visitors because they are all going in with the intention of indulging in the popular Asian delicacy- Snake soup! This bizarre yet popular dish contains the meats of about two to three different types of snakes covered in a delicious broth. Many consider the dish to be an ideal health supplement.




Discover the Treasure of Pirates on an Island


According to Cantonese legend, the son of a local fisherman was once said to have commanded a large fleet of pirate ships after being kidnapped by certain pirates. It is said that today, his hidden treasure can be found at Cheung Po Tsai Pirate Cave, which is located at an island a few miles off the coast of Hong Kong. Visitors can enter this cave to try and search for the lost riches!


For a Spiritual Journey, Burn Incenses at Wong Tai Sin Temple


Not to be missed is a beautifully embellished temple that is dedicated to the original Taoist deity, Wong Tai Sin. Legend holds that this figure had the power to make wishes come true, which is why people at the temple practice the art of Kau Cim, a traditional form of fortune telling. The most unique occurrence here is the burning of incense to fulfil worshippers wishes. Fortune sticks are shaken a few times until one falls out, and this is then exchanged for a piece of paper which holds the secret number used for interpretation by fortune tellers.



Enjoy Sunset on a Traditional Chinese Junk Boat to Unwind


Get set to relax and experience the beautiful Hong skyline as you sail down Victoria Harbour in a traditional Chinese junk boat. The iconic red sails will take you back in time and are a reminder of the country’s strong culture and heritage.



For a Local Culinary Experience, Try the Street Food at Tai O Fishing Village


Get a glimpse of the Hong Kong street food culture as you devour some delicious street eats at Tai O Fishing Village. What a culinary dream it is to savour barbeque squid jerky, a fresh and chewy treat that is a specialty of the region. Another popular option is the ‘Husband roll’, which is a mix of shrimp paste, pork, and lettuce wrapped inside a piece of bread. And to end the day on a sweet note, maybe indulge in the charcoal egg pancakes?



Engage With the Outdoors Through an Urban Hike


Voted by TIME Magazine as Asia’s best urban hike, Dragon’s Back is a treat for nature-lovers. The path not only goes through mountain ridges and forests, but will also pass through some breathtaking beaches. Adventure enthusiasts also have the opportunity to go surfing amongst other water sports. A hike where you get to experience every possible landscape...could it really get better than that?


We’re excited about this travel bubble, and what this may mean for the future of travel in Asia in Covid times. Will more travel bubbles slowly begin popping up, and how will traveller’s documentation of their experience look like?

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