We don’t travel to escape, we travel to experience life in all its vivid colour. And Singapore is the perfect springboard for a long weekend taking in the beauty (or the thrill) of the unknown. If you want to travel as a family, couple or prefer your own company, here are our top picks:
On The Doorstep - Malaysia
Just across the causeway, Johor Bahru is good for a change of scene, cool places to eat, and is great for shoppers who like lower prices. Barely an hour from here, kids will have a great time at Legoland.
The Petronas Towers in Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur have amazing views and there’s buzzing nightlife in Bangsar. For nature lovers, nearby Batu Caves are worth a visit.
If you are a beach lover, Langkawi, Perhentian and Redang islands are beautiful and affordable. For seclusion Juara Beach is nestled along the east coast of Pulau Tioman, directly across the island from Tekek. This peaceful village has lush greenery, spacious beaches and a warm sea teeming with coral reefs at its deeper end. The hotels here offer mostly budget accommodation in traditional chalets, erected along the 2km beachfront or nestled within gardens.
Penang, Malacca and the famous Cameron Highlands tea plantations are perfect for history lovers.
“For a more adventurous holiday, choose Kuching: lots of jungle, wildlife, and local longhouses. With plenty of flights and short travel time it’s perfect for a long weekend getaway.” expatliving.com
Islands in the Sun – Indonesia
There are over 17,000 islands in Indonesia, just over a third of which are inhabited. The most popular places to visit are Sumatra, Sulawesi Kalimantan, Irian Jaya and of course Java, which is home to 70 percent of Indonesia’s population.
For all things beach, the islands of Bintan and Batam are very close to Singapore, as is the quieter Telunasor Nikoi, prefect for a long weekend trip. Bali has beaches plus temples, ruins, terraced rice paddies and jungle walks. Luxury villas can be rented for a good price, especially if you travel with a group. If it’s a volcano you are after, Manado is the place for you. Lombok and the nearby Gili Islands are perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving and snorkeling enthusiasts, surfers should head to Sumba Island.
The Centre of It All - Thailand
Thailand is smack dab in the centre of everything - a quick hop from Singapore, Hong Kong or Bali and half way between Europe and Australia.
There’s the ultimate holiday photo - the floating market - with ancient wooden boats brimming with local flavour and colour. Damnoen Saduak, Ratchaburi is the most famous, 100km south-west of Bangkok towards Hua Hin/Cha-am. Taling Chan Weekend Floating Market, Bangkok is a recent tourist favourite, very authentic and loved by the city’s residents.
For a beach holiday less than two hours by plane, visit Koh Samui Phuket or Krabi. The vast beauty of Railay Bay at Krabi is also picture perfect and is rock climbing heaven.
Nature lovers head to Doi Inthanon National Park, home to Thailand’s highest mountain peak (elevation 2,565 m), or and take a boat around the spectacular Ao Phang Nga National Park. Want refreshing waterfalls, hidden caves and diverse animals? Sai Yok National Park is just for you.
Step back in time and explore the 12th-century Khmer ruins at Phimai Historical Park or Phanom Rung Historical Park, set on the rim of an extinct volcano.
“I love Koh Lipe. It’s a short flight to Langkawi and then a boat to the island – short enough for a three-day trip, but it’s less developed than other touristy islands. Even though you enter via Malaysia, Koh Lipe is actually part of Thailand, so you get great Thai food. The island itself is small and relatively simple, but that suits me for a quick relaxing trip. The beaches are beautiful, with clear water and white sand.” expatliving.com
Dizzying and Delicious - Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is Vietnam at high-octane. A city pulsating with culture and commerce, it’s a dizzying, delicious whirl. Want a super-cool way to get your bearings? Explore the famous streets on the back seat of a Vespa, fast. For day tours try xotours.vn with an emphasis on the sights, food or shopping, or build your own special tour. For longer excursions there’s also vietnamvespaadventures.com. Motorbike helmets are compulsory in Vietnam.
Coffee shops are a huge in HCMC, prices from 33 cents from a street vendor, to $3 or more at the top-notch places. The most popular local brand is Deep-roasted Trung Nguyen
The Vietnam War is recent history that won't – and can't – be ignored. The War Remnants Museum sheds light on the harshness of the War.
Take a boat or express water taxi for a refreshing break from the city. Vung Tau, the Mekong Delta, Phu Quoc Island, Phan Thiet, Can Tho and Mui Ne are all accessible. HCMC is also a great launch pad for travelling through quieter, rural southern Vietnam.