Singaporeans can now travel to Hong Kong for leisure under the Singapore-Hong Kong Air Travel Bubble (ATB). However, just because you can...should you? Here's why I won't be travelling just yet.

From 22 November 2020 onwards, Singaporeans can now travel to Hong Kong for leisure, and vice-versa. But before you rejoice and start booking your travel tickets, here's what you should take note of.

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1. You'll need to pay ~$500 in COVID-19 tests.

There are a total of 4 tests that you'll have to pay for - a pre-departure and post-arrival PCR test, both ways. 

Before you leave Singapore, you'll need to have first taken a PCR test showing that you do not have COVID-19. Once you arrive at Hong Kong, you will need to take another COVID-19 test again.

To travel back from Hong Kong to Singapore, you'll need to repeat the process again. With each PCR test costing S$200 in Singapore and ~S$100 in Hong Kong, expect to pay at least S$600 in total, if not more.

Unless the government(s) find a way to reduce the cost of COVID-19 tests, you can be sure that I won't be travelling anytime soon. Anything more than S$100 in total for required tests will be a no-no for me.

2. You cannot enter / leave the airport until your tests are clear.

Costs aside, you'll also have to schedule time to do your COVID-19 test and get your results within 72 hours of your scheduled departure flights. Before you get on that plane, there's also all that hassle of having to book your post-arrival PCR test in Hong Kong. 

Upon arrival at the Hong Kong airport, expect to wait ~4 hours for your test results to be out. You won't be able to leave the airport until you've been cleared negative of COVID-19.

Again, unless the government(s) find and implement tests that have been proven fairly accurate with results out within minutes, I won't be keen on spending so much time waiting around for results.

3. There are no discounted / budget air tickets available.

At this moment, you will only be able to travel via the designated flights - there will be 4 operated by Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines.

Flights are about ~S$500+ each way, and economy class tickets on Singapore Airlines are in huge demand, so you can expect to set aside around S$1,100 for just your air tickets alone.

4. You can't get insurance.

If you were hoping to get insurance to protect you financially against the costs of COVID-19 treatments, there aren't any such options at this moment. A quick look at the clauses of several travel insurance plans show that COVID-19 has been explicitly excluded from it (examples here and here).

Good news, travel insurance is now available when you book with Singapore Airlines. I'm only aware of AIG travel insurance that currently covers for COVID-19, but if anyone else finds other insurers covering for the same, let me know in the comments below and I'll add it in!

5. You're liable to pay for your own medical treatments if you get COVID-19.

In the unfortunate event that you contract COVID-19 due to your travel, note that the government will not foot your medical bills. 

All in all, that's not a very promising sign. 

Total cost to travel and take tests: ~$1,600

Total cost on your health / medical bills if you get COVID-19: unknown

Given how my previous trips to Hong Kong mostly cost me under S$300 on a budget airline, coupled with all the hassle of having to pay for multiple COVID-19 tests, you can be sure I won't be travelling anytime soon - ATB or not.

I'll be heading to Hilton for their Foodie Staycation offer instead, where I'll be getting steak and 2-hours of free flow wine to accompany my hotel stay. Count it as part of my #supportlocaltourism contributions, although I actually booked it for a birthday celebration.

If you asked me, I'd choose health over travel anytime. But if you have a different opinion and will be heading to Hong Kong soon under the ATB, here's a good video that shows what you can expect. 

As for me, I feel overseas travel can wait until it is safer and cheaper once more. 

With love,

Budget Babe


  1. it is not true, Singapore does not require post-arrival test from people coming back from Hong Kong. so 3 tests in total

    1. Oh! There were a few tests saying there's 4 in total. Can link me to the source so I can correct the mistake? Thank you!