The Real Cost Of Chinese New Year In Singapore

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Chinese New Year (CNY) calls for a celebration indeed, but just how much of your money are you spending on the occasion in Singapore? From the cost of your OOTDs to pineapple tarts and red packets, here’s a look at the math behind CNY.

The Year of the Ox is upon us, though in a much more socially-distanced form (bye for now to large family gatherings). However, that doesn’t mean that our CNY shopping habits change — CNY celebrants in Singapore will feverishly continue to queue for bakkwa (barbequed meat) and buy the reddest CNY ornaments they come across in Chinatown . 

Between giving out red packets, buying new clothes and sinful containers of hae bee hiam (crispy prawn rolls), the festive season seems to be getting more extravagant (and expensive) as time passes.

So, if you’ve ever wondered just how much you’re spending during CNY, you’ve come to the right article.

Here’s the breakdown:

Last updated on 18 January 2021.

Apparel

Before all the festivities happen, the first thing you always do is buy new clothes. Why? Simply because the Chinese believe that new clothes symbolise new beginnings and fresh hopes for the new year! 

Clothes

ItemBrandPrice
Sadie Padded Tie Back Puff Sleeve DressLove, Bonito$46.90
ZALORA OCCASION Cross Front Maxi DressZalora$49.90
Mango ManSlim Fit Gingham Check ShirtZalora$59.90
MEN EZY Ankle Pants (2Way Stretch) WindowpaneUniqlo$49.90

Average cost of outfit for women: $48.40

Average cost of outfit for men: $54.90

Shoes

ItemBrandPrice
Asymmetric Strap Chrome Heel MulesCharles and Keith$49.90
Mango Patent Finish PumpsZalora$45.90
RS 2.0 Japanorama TrainersPuma$159
Nike Air Force 1 ’07 CraftNike$199

Average cost of shoes for women: $47.90

Average cost of shoes for men: $179

Bags

ItemBrandPrice
Chain Strap Push-Lock Shoulder BagCharles and Keith$69.90
Love MoschinoHeart Logo Shoulder BagZalora$279.90
Jade Large Tri-Color Leather Crossbody BagMicheal Kors$179

Average cost of bag for women: $176.26

Average cost for one days’ worth of OOTD for visiting for women: $272.56

Average cost for one days’ worth of OOTD for visiting for men: $233.90

This works out to $465.16 for women (considering you only buy one new bag) and $701.70 for men for three days’ worth of new apparel. Shocked? We are too. And we’re just starting out.

Since you are spending that much money on outfit shopping, get the most out of it with the best shopping credit cards out there.

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Reunion Dinner

For the purpose of this exercise, let’s assume that you have six family members attending your reunion dinner and that you choose to eat out this year. 

Hotel

EstablishmentHotelCoursesPrice per person
Wan Hao Chinese RestaurantSingapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel8-course$108.80++
PortaPark Hotel Clarke Quay8-course$108++
15 Stamford by Alvin LeungThe Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore6-course$168++

Average cost of meal per person: $128++

Restaurant

EstablishmentCoursesPrice per person
Jumbo Seafood7-course$66.33++
Tung Lok Signatures8-course$97++
Empress8-course$108++

Average cost of meal per person: $90++

Tzi Char Eatery

EstablishmentMeal typePrice per person
Ban Leong Wah Hoe Seafood Restaurant7-course$39.66
Keng Eng Kee Seafood 8-course$61.33
Lam’s Garden7-course$48 

Average cost of meal per person: $49.66

Average cost of meal across every type of establishment

Type of establishmentAverage cost per pax
Hotel$128++
Restaurant$90++
Tzi Char Eatery$49.66

Yup, prices can range from below $50 to over $100, so take your pick. Based on the average rate alone, we’d rather choose to have an intimate gathering at a humble tzi char place, because after all, it’s not what or where you eat but who you’re eating with.

But if you insist on eating at a restaurant but don’t want to pay sky-high prices, check out 8 Reunion Dinners For Under $50 Per Person. Make sure you pay for the reunion dinner with the best dining credit card to enjoy the benefits and rewards that come with it.

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Amount of ang bao (red packet) money you’ll give out

ReceiverAverage ang bao amount
Parents$188
Grandparents and in-laws$150
Your children$120
Cousins$20
Nieces and nephews$20
Friend’s children$10
Others$8

Assuming you are married and need to give red packets to: 

  • Your parents ($188 x 2 = $376)
  • In-laws ($150 x 2 = $300)
  • Grandparents ($150 x 2 = $300)
  • Your own children ($120 x 2 = $240)
  • Others ($300)

Total amount of ang bao money you’ll give out: $1,516

Married couples have the option to either give red packets as an individual or as a couple. Some issue the ang bao individually to their parents, in-laws, grandparents and children, but do it as a couple for the rest. Others combine all red packets regardless of recipient — which makes total financial sense if you ask us. 

Since Chinese New Year is a time when superstitions reign supreme, make a note to never give red packets with amounts starting or ending with the number 4. In Chinese and in some dialects, it sounds similar to ‘death’ (死, si).

Whenever in doubt, always go with lucky number 8 and refer to our cheatsheet for this year’s CNY Ang Bao Rates. 

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Snacks and drinks

Snacks

SnackQuantityCost
Pineapple tarts1 bottle$20
Bak Kwa1kg $50
Hae Bee Hiam (Crispy prawn rolls)1 bottle$15
Love Letters1 bottle$10
Oranges1 carton of 30$12
Kueh Bangkit (tapioca cookies)1 bottle$20

Total cost of all snacks: $127

Assuming you buy two of each type of snack (and only one carton of oranges), the total cost of snacks works up to $242. 

Drinks

Of course, how can you leave your guests thirsty? 

DrinksQuantityCost
Coke24 cans x 250ml$13.75
Sprite24 cans x 320ml$15.40
Seasons Ice Lemon Tea24 cans x 320ml$11.80
Yeo’s Chrysanthemum Tea24 packets x 250ml$8.95
Tiger Lager Beer24 cans x 320ml$45.50
Heineken Premium Lager Can Beer20 cans x 320ml$52.50

Average cost of drinks: $147.90

Total average cost for snacks and drinks: $264.90

Pro tip: To get your snacks and drinks at a cheaper rate, opt to buy in bulk online on Shopee. You will get a better cost per unit price from a bulk purchase, and to top it off, the amount you spend is substantial enough to get more rewards from your credit card spend.

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Transport for visiting

To go visiting, you’ll need transportation for the entire family. Listed below are the average costs for three options:

  • Own car
  • Car sharing/rental
  • Ride-hailing services

Own car

ItemsAverage cost
Petrol$100 (full tank)
Parking fee$12 (10-hour HDB parking)
Car wash (basic cleaning, polish and wax)$150

Average cost of driving your own car: $262

The bulk of the costs come from cleaning your car, so if you are able to do-it-yourself, you’ll save a pretty penny. 

Car sharing/rental

*Car sharing options, prices and promotions are subject to change without prior notice.

CompanyVehicle typeDaily rate
TribecarStandard sedan$112.35
AvisEconomic Sedan (Chevrolet Sonic or Similar)$170
EuropcarToyota Prius 1.8 or similar$233.10

Average cost of renting a car/car sharing per day: $171.81

While price is the primary factor that most people consider when using car sharing services, it isn’t the only one. There are other things such as the driver’s age, membership fees, petrol top-up costs and many other miscellaneous fees that need to be considered before renting a car. To understand more about car sharing costs, you can refer to our detailed guide to car sharing options In Singapore

Ride-hailing services

CompanyAverage cost
Grab$20 per trip
Comfort-del-gro$20 per trip
Ryde$20 per trip

Average cost of ride-hailing services: $20 per trip

Again, the cost of these ride-hailing services may vary depending on the surge and traffic conditions. Assuming that you visit five houses a day, that’s $100 per day spent on private-hire vehicles. Visiting over three days, and it’s a whopping $300. 

Type of transportAverage cost
Own car$262 throughout CNY (and more)
Car sharing/rental$171.81 per day
Ride-hailing services$100 per day

As it turns out, opting for ride-hailing services isn’t that bad at all — but only if you have a family of five or less. Not only is the stress from driving lifted from your shoulders, you can also make merry with your relatives and drink without worrying about driving back home.

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Conclusion

CNY needsAverage cost
OOTD (Outfit Of The Day)$250 for three days’ worth of visiting
Reunion dinnerAround $130 per person per meal
Amount of ang bao money you’ll give outAround $1,500
Snacks and drinksAround $265
Transport for visitingAround $170 for three days’ worth of visiting

Total average cost of CNY expenditure: $2,315.

A grand average total of $2,315 may come as a shock, but since it’s the festive season, it’s alright to spend once in a while. And if you use the correct credit card, you can get the most out of your spending too!

Read these next: 
2021 CNY Decorations For As Low As $5
CNY: How You Can Use Ang Baos To Teach Kids Financial Literacy?
CNY Ang Bao Rates and Rules No One Tells You About (2021)
2021 Li Chun: Best Times On 4 February To Deposit Money
6 Outstanding Yu Sheng Platters for Chinese New Year 2021


By Kendra Tan
Avid promo code hunter and haggler. Kendra doesn’t like paying full price for anything. She’s the best person to bring along if you’re travelling on a budget.