Despite a shocker run of lockdowns and Delta outbreaks, vaccination rates are ramping up across the country, and Aussies are getting pretty excited about the thought of international travel returning to normal.
Just last week, national carrier Qantas defiantly announced plans to kickstart international travel as soon as Christmas, with CEO Alan Joyce describing trading as “diabolical”.
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First on the struggling airline’s hit-list are countries with high COVID-19 vaccination rates, with Singapore leading the short tally of eligible nations.
So far, Australia has only been able to successfully open a travel bubble with neighbouring New Zealand, although borders remain closed at the time of writing due to concerns over growing COVID-19 cases at home.
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But with Singapore likely to be the next bubble on the cards, what will a travel pact with the sovereign nation look like?
Here’s everything you need to know about planning a trip to Singapore, and how the travel bubble will work when it opens.
When will Singapore be open to Australians?
Qantas is looking to open up travel by mid-December, 2021.
The Australian government is currently in talks to open up a travel bubble between Australia and Singapore, though there is no official date set yet. This bubble would allow residents from both countries to travel between the two without any mandatory quarantine.
Singapore has now vaccinated 80 per cent of the population against COVID-19, according to recent figures, making them a prime candidate once Australia can match their efforts on the jab front.
What countries are in the Singapore travel bubble?
Australia is currently deemed a ‘category two’ nation by the Singapore government, which means that you can at least, in theory, enter if you commit to undergoing a seven-day stay-home notice at your accommodation of choice.
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Of course, Australia will be looking to upgrade to a ‘category one’ once an acceptable level of vaccinations has been achieved, joining the likes of Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mainland China (excluding Jiangsu province), Macao, New Zealand and Taiwan. These nations currently aren’t required to quarantine, but do need to complete an on-arrival COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test. If the test is negative, travellers are free to holiday and go where they please.
While it’s unlikely our government will open the floodgates to all of the destinations listed above in one hit, they could all form part of our bubble in the later stages of reopening international travel.
Do I have to be vaccinated to enter Singapore?
Yes. There’s no doubt about it now. The privilege of international travel will demand you get the jab prior to boarding a flight, with many local carriers taking a hardline stance on the matter.
Many countries’ governments will be introducing their own version of a travel passport, to ensure only the vaccinated get through.
Under this brave new world of reduced border measures, Singapore is instituting a Vaccinated Travel Pass (VTP), and requiring holidaymakers or temporary visitors apply seven to 30 days before entering, with applications available from September 1, 2021.
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Is it safe to travel to Singapore?
Singapore, along with Australia and New Zealand, is one of the countries that has done a great job of minimising the spread of COVID-19.
Thanks to their speedy vaccine rollout, they took first place on Bloomberg’s monthly COVID Resilience Training index back in April, and currently retain an impressive eighth-place spot and a resilience score of 73.3 at the time of writing. (In contrast, Australia currently ranks 31 in the list of 48 countries).
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The chances of contracting the coronavirus in Singapore are low compared to other destinations –– though the Delta strain has proven problematic for recovery, with a recent surge in outbreaks impacting a return to normalcy.
How long does it take to fly from Australia to Singapore?
A direct flight from Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne to Singapore takes eight hours. From Perth, it’s five-and-a-half hours.
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Where to travel in Singapore
A trip to Singapore might be the easiest, low-stress holiday you’ve ever planned. The entire country is smaller than Canberra, so it’s pretty easy to get around. Here are some key things to do.
Singapore has an epic foodie scene, from hawker-style street food to fine dining restaurants. The country is a melting pot of cultures, which have influenced Singaporean cuisine to make it something truly unique –– a combo of Malay, Chinese, and Indian, with overtones of British food.
Take a walking food tour to get a great introduction to the cuisine, and find the flavours and dishes you’re most drawn to. You can’t leave without visiting at least one hawker centre for cheap-and-cheerful food that you’ll be dreaming about for years to come. The Makansutra app will help you find the best stalls, though be sure to try chilli crab somewhere. It’s the country’s national dish –– the version at Red House in Prinsep Street is a local favourite.
Take the 10-minute ferry ride out to Pulau Ubin off the country’s east coast. It’s a beautiful national park, where you can hike, bird-watch, mountain bike, kayak, visit fruit orchards, or take a tour with a guide who’ll tell you more about the history of the island.
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Hiking fans should also check out the 10km Southern Ridge walking path that connects five parks, or climb the peak at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. Fort Canning Park is an excellent picnic spot. Of course, there’s also the Singapore Botanic Gardens which is a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Orchard Road is one of the world’s most famous shopping strips. It’s a bustling series of shopping centres, all connected by underground tunnels. There’s a mix of high-end and regular stuff, as well as bars and food courts to keep you going.
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Tourists love the colourful buildings of Kampong Glam, the city’s Muslim quarter that dates back to the 1800s. But it’s more than just aesthetics. Today it’s a vibrant and busy neighbourhood with trendy cafes, museums, boutiques, eateries, and craft shops. Here you’ll find Sultan Mosque, the Vintage Camera Museum, and the famous Rich & Good Cake Shop where you absolutely have to try the kaya swiss roll.
Thian Hock Keng Temple, Singapore’s oldest Buddhist temple, is also worth a visit. It was constructed in the traditional southern Chinese style, without using a single nail.
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