Nostalgic tourists flock to Singapore’s last surviving village as Covid-19 keeps borders shut
- Kampong Lorong Buangkok has seen a boom in local visitors after borders shut due to the pandemic
- Tourists get a chance to wander around the kampong and chat with residents about what they are growing in their gardens
Most kampongs disappeared during Singapore’s rush to urbanise, but being stuck at home has left locals like 48-year old Jenn Lee, a day trader, craving for a bit of nostalgia to share with her son.
Tour operators argue there is plenty to discover in the country of only 724 square kilometres (280 square miles).
Kyanta Yap, a guide at Let’s Go Tour: Singapore, said their weekend visits to the kampong that cost S$200 (US$147) for a group of up to three people, or S$250 (US$183) for four-five, have been nearly fully booked since September.
Singapore’s last traditional village becomes local tourism hotspot amid coronavirus pandemic
“We try to reinvent ourselves, so most of the industry, we try to come out with domestic tourism packages,” said Yap.
Tourists get a chance to wander around the kampong, learn how to use a traditional coal-fired clothing iron and chat with residents about what they are growing in their gardens.
“Initially … we were very uncomfortable, because tourists would start to come and look at us,” said 52-year old resident Nassim, who now enjoys showing tourists around his yard.
The village also boasts some of the lowest rents in usually pricey Singapore. A landlord said some individual kampong rooms cost as little as S$6.50 (US$4.78) per month.
Average rental for a three-room state-subsidised flat in Hougang, where the kampong is located, was S$1,650 (US$1,212) earlier this year. Renting a room costs from around S$500 (US$367), websites show.