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9 short weekend getaways from Singapore

Make use of your long weekends and precious leaves!

Bangkok is one of the quick weekend getaways you can embark on to refresh your mind and soul. (Photo: Gettyimages)
Bangkok is one of the quick weekend getaways you can embark on to refresh your mind and soul. (Photo: Gettyimages)

People often say, “New year, new beginnings.” But if you’re not the kind who lives to work and yearns to scale new career heights, and would very much prefer to work to live, making full use of your precious leave entitlement, weekends and public holidays is a must.

This year, we have four long weekends with public holidays falling on either Monday or Friday: Chinese New Year in February, Good Friday in March, Hari Raya Haji in June and National Day in August. But suppose you can afford to take a day or two off. In that case, you’ll have another five long weekends with public holidays falling on either Wednesday or Thursday: Hari Raya Puasa in April, Labour Day and Vesak Day in May, Deepavali in October and of course, Christmas Day in December.

If you’re ready to book your leaves, here are 9 quick weekend getaways you can embark on to refresh your mind and soul!

1. Batam, Indonesia

Located about an hour’s ferry ride from Singapore, the Indonesian island Batam is easily one of the best destinations for those who want a quick and relatively cheaper escape from their mundane life. Even if you don’t have any more leaves or public holidays, you can take the ferry after work on a Friday night and return on a Sunday night—just in time for work the next day, as if you’ve never left Singapore.

Pros of Batam

Batam offers a variety of activities, including water sports, golf, spa treatments, and cultural experiences like temples and traditional villages. It is generally more affordable than Singapore – an attractive option for those looking for budget-friendly travel. Batam is also known for its fresh seafood and its local street food provides a taste of Indonesian flavours.

Cons of Batam

Some areas of Batam have seen rapid urban development, which may not appeal to those seeking natural attractions and a more pristine or secluded environment. While there are entertainment options, Batam’s nightlife may not be as vibrant as some other nearby destinations. Communication may also be a challenge for those who don’t speak Bahasa Indonesia as English may not be as widely spoken.

Batam - Singapore Ferry by Majestic Fast

From S$76 (was S$76.50)

Batam - Singapore Ferry by Majestic Fast. (Photo: Klook SG)
Batam - Singapore Ferry by Majestic Fast. (Photo: Klook SG)

1-Day Batam Premium City Tour

From S$150

1-Day Batam Premium City Tour. (Photo: Klook SG)
1-Day Batam Premium City Tour. (Photo: Klook SG)

2. Bintan, Indonesia

Also an island of Indonesia, Bintan is located slightly more than an hour by ferry from Singapore. Unlike the city life in Batam, Bintan offers a more serene escape with pristine beaches, lush landscapes, and luxury resorts.

Pros of Bintan

Bintan boasts pristine beaches with white sand and clear blue waters, providing a picturesque setting for relaxation and water activities. It is also home to upscale resorts and hotels, offering high-quality accommodations, spa facilities, world-class amenities, internationally acclaimed golf courses, and adventure sports like ATV rides, off-road tours, and zip-lining.

Cons of Bintan

Bintan is not known for a vibrant nightlife, so entertainment options may be more subdued. The range of local cuisine may be somewhat limited too, compared to more urbanised areas. Especially in more resort-focused areas, Bintan may also offer fewer opportunities for deep cultural immersion.

Singapore - Bintan Resorts Lagoi Ferry

From S$57 (was S$58)

Singapore - Bintan Resorts Lagoi Ferry. (Photo: Klook SG)
Singapore - Bintan Resorts Lagoi Ferry. (Photo: Klook SG)

Chill Cove Ticket in Treasure Bay Bintan

From S$68.19 (was S$85.20)

Chill Cove Ticket in Treasure Bay Bintan. (Photo: Klook SG)
Chill Cove Ticket in Treasure Bay Bintan. (Photo: Klook SG)

3. Bali, Indonesia

Compared to Batam and Bintan, which are accessible by ferry from Singapore, Bali is accessible by plane from Singapore and the journey takes almost three hours. As Indonesia's famed “Island of the Gods,” Bali is renowned for its stunning landscapes, vibrant culture, and warm hospitality, making it a sought-after destination for relaxation and exploration alike.

Pros of Bali

Bali is undoubtedly a paradise for nature lovers with lush rice terraces, volcanic mountains, and pristine beaches. Steeped in Balinese culture, the island provides a rich cultural experience with vibrant ceremonies, traditional dance performances, and ancient temples. Bali is also known for its spiritual energy, attracting those seeking yoga retreats, meditation, and holistic wellness experiences. For those who enjoy arts and crafts, Bali has interesting markets offering handmade textiles, woodcarvings, and traditional Balinese artwork.

Cons of Bali

Popular tourist areas in Bali, such as Kuta and Ubud, can be crowded, especially during peak seasons. This may lead to traffic congestion, particularly in densely populated areas. Bali faces environmental issues as well, including waste management and water pollution, impacting the sustainability of the island's ecosystems. As Bali is home to active volcanoes like Mount Agung and Mount Batur, there is the potential risk of a volcanic eruption.

Waterbom Bali Ticket

From S$25.35 (was S$29.85)

Waterbom Bali Ticket. (Photo: Klook SG)
Waterbom Bali Ticket. (Photo: Klook SG)

Mount Batur Sunrise Trekking Experience

From S$45.69 (was S$51.15)

Mount Batur Sunrise Trekking Experience. (Photo: Klook SG)
Mount Batur Sunrise Trekking Experience. (Photo: Klook SG)

Read more on things to do in the other parts of Bali: Canggu, Seminyak and Ubud.

4. Penang, Malaysia

About one and a half hours by plane from Singapore, Penang is a captivating island off the northwest coast of Malaysia. It is a cultural and culinary gem known for its historic charm, diverse architecture, and delectable street food, and is home to George Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Pros of Penang

George Town, the capital of Penang, is a UNESCO World Heritage site with well-preserved colonial architecture, historic buildings, and vibrant street art. The streets of George Town are also adorned with colourful murals and street art, contributing to the city’s vibrant and artistic atmosphere. Home to numerous museums, heritage sites, and historical landmarks, Penang allows visitors to delve into its rich past.

Cons of Penang

Public transportation options are somewhat limited, and visitors may need to rely on taxis or ride-sharing services to explore the island. During peak seasons, popular tourist areas can be crowded, causing traffic congestion and beach pollution.

ESCAPE Penang Ticket

S$52.79

ESCAPE Penang Ticket. (Photo: Klook SG)
ESCAPE Penang Ticket. (Photo: Klook SG)

Explore Georgetown Half-Day City Tour

S$31.80

Explore Georgetown Half-Day City Tour. (Photo: Klook SG)
Explore Georgetown Half-Day City Tour. (Photo: Klook SG)

5. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, is about an hour’s flight from Singapore. It stands as a modern metropolis adorned with architectural marvels, cultural richness, and a dynamic blend of tradition and progress. Owing to its diverse culinary scene and bustling markets, it makes a captivating destination for those seeking a harmonious fusion of old-world charm and contemporary allure.

Pros of Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur is a shopping haven, offering a variety of shopping malls, markets, and street vendors, catering to a range of preferences and budgets. Known for its diverse and delicious food, Kuala Lumpur has a wide range of local and international cuisines available in street food stalls and upscale restaurants. The city also comes alive at night with a vibrant nightlife, offering bars, clubs, and entertainment options for those seeking evening activities.

Cons of Kuala Lumpur

Some areas in Kuala Lumpur may lack pedestrian-friendly infrastructure, making it less convenient for those who prefer to explore on foot. The urban environment may also lead to traffic congestion, air pollution and higher noise levels. While English is widely spoken, language barriers may arise in more remote or non-touristy areas.

Aquaria KLCC Ticket in Kuala Lumpur

From S$12.69 (was S$14.69)

Aquaria KLCC Ticket in Kuala Lumpur. (Photo: Klook SG)
Aquaria KLCC Ticket in Kuala Lumpur. (Photo: Klook SG)

Zoo Negara Ticket in Malaysia

From S$10.50 (was S$12.75)

Zoo Negara Ticket in Malaysia. (Photo: Klook SG)
Zoo Negara Ticket in Malaysia. (Photo: Klook SG)

6. Bangkok, Thailand

Located about two and a half hours by plane from Singapore, the capital of the land of smiles is definitely one of the favourite destinations for Singaporeans. From glittering temples and serene canals to bustling street markets and vibrant nightlife, Bangkok offers a sensory feast for travellers. What’s more, who can get enough of the delicious street food and shopping till you drop? Pro tip: go for a leg massage and start shopping again!

Pros of Bangkok

Bangkok is home to numerous cultural landmarks, including the Grand Palace, Wat Arun, and Wat Pho, showcasing the city's rich history and architecture. The city's bustling street markets, such as Chatuchak Weekend Market and Khao San Road, offer a vibrant atmosphere and diverse shopping experiences, in contrast to modern shopping malls like Siam Paragon and MBK Center, which have a mix of international and local brands. If you’re seeking relaxation and rejuvenation, Bangkok is also a hub for traditional Thai massage and wellness services.

Cons of Bangkok

Bangkok can experience heavy traffic, especially during peak hours, and faces air pollution. There may also be a language barrier in more remote or non-touristy places. Once, I went to a night market more popular among the locals and had to rely on translation apps because everything was in Thai. During the monsoon season, Bangkok is also harder to navigate around with heavy rainfall and potential floods.

Bangkok Day Tour: Wat Pho, Wat Arun, Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha

From S$74.65

Bangkok Day Tour: Wat Pho, Wat Arun, Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha. (Photo: Klook SG)
Bangkok Day Tour: Wat Pho, Wat Arun, Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha. (Photo: Klook SG)

Floating Markets Day Tour: Damnoen Saduak, Maeklong and Amphawa

From S$50.85 (was S$67.49)

Floating Markets Day Tour: Damnoen Saduak, Maeklong and Amphawa. (Photo: Klook SG)
Floating Markets Day Tour: Damnoen Saduak, Maeklong and Amphawa. (Photo: Klook SG)

7. Phuket, Thailand

Taking almost two hours by plane from Singapore, Phuket is Thailand’s largest island, a tropical paradise known for its stunning beaches, vibrant nightlife, and diverse attractions. From the bustling Patong Beach to the serene Phi Phi Islands, Phuket entices visitors with its diverse activities, delicious cuisine, and warm hospitality.

Pros of Phuket

Phuket boasts a lively nightlife scene, particularly in areas like Patong, with numerous bars, clubs, and entertainment options. Serving as a gateway to nearby islands like Phi Phi, James Bond Island, and Similan Islands, Phuket provides opportunities for island-hopping adventures. There are also a variety of activities in store, including snorkelling, scuba diving, zip-lining, and exploring cultural attractions like Big Buddha and Wat Chalong.

Cons of Phuket

The monsoon season (May to October) brings heavy rainfall and rough seas, limiting some water activities and potentially causing flooding in certain areas. Phuket is also facing environmental challenges, including coral reef degradation and waste management issues.

Phi Phi, Maya Area, Khai & Bamboo Island Day Trip from Phuket

From S$62.49

Phi Phi, Maya Area, Khai & Bamboo Island Day Trip from Phuket. (Photo: Klook SG)
Phi Phi, Maya Area, Khai & Bamboo Island Day Trip from Phuket. (Photo: Klook SG)

Simon Cabaret Show Ticket in Patong Phuket

From S$29.99

Simon Cabaret Show Ticket in Patong Phuket. (Photo: Klook SG)
Simon Cabaret Show Ticket in Patong Phuket. (Photo: Klook SG)

8. Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is about three and a half hours’ flight from Singapore. Nestled along the banks of the Red River, Hanoi is steeped in history, culture, and charm with its blend of French colonial architecture, ancient temples, and vibrant street life. From the bustling Old Quarter to the tranquil Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi offers a delightful mix of tradition and modernity.

Pros of Hanoi

Hanoi’s Old Quarter is a bustling maze of narrow streets, offering a vibrant atmosphere with traditional markets, street vendors, and colonial-era architecture. A treasure trove of history and culture, Hanoi features ancient temples, pagodas, and historical landmarks that showcase Vietnam's rich heritage.

Cons of Hanoi

Like most Southeast Asian destinations, there may be a language barrier in more remote or non-touristy locations of Hanoi. But unlike most Southeast Asian destinations, Hanoi has distinct seasons, with hot and humid summers and cool winters—you should plan accordingly based on your preferred weather. Compared to some other Asian capitals, Hanoi’s nightlife scene is also more subdued, with fewer options for late-night entertainment.

[Route 1] Small Group Halong Bay Day Tour by Dragonfly Cruise

From S$39.05

[Route 1] Small Group Halong Bay Day Tour by Dragonfly Cruise. (Photo: Klook SG)
[Route 1] Small Group Halong Bay Day Tour by Dragonfly Cruise. (Photo: Klook SG)

Hoa Lu - Tam Coc Day Trip

S$43.25 (was S$46.85)

Hoa Lu - Tam Coc Day Trip. (Photo: Klook SG)
Hoa Lu - Tam Coc Day Trip. (Photo: Klook SG)

Find out what else you can do in Hanoi.

9. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Slightly more than two hours by plane from Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, is the vibrant and dynamic economic hub in the southern part of Vietnam. It is characterised by a harmonious blend of colonial-era architecture and modern skyscrapers and captivates visitors with its lively street markets, historic landmarks, and a thriving culinary scene. From the iconic Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon to the bustling Ben Thanh Market, the city offers a compelling mix of tradition and progress.

Pros of Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City is steeped in history, with various landmarks such as the War Remnants Museum, Notre-Dame Cathedral, and Reunification Palace reflecting its cultural heritage. The bustling markets such as Ben Thanh Market is where you can shop for local goods and handicrafts, and experience the vibrant atmosphere. Ho Chi Minh City also offers traditional Vietnamese performances, water puppet shows, and a lively nightlife with a variety of bars, clubs, and entertainment venues catering to different tastes.

Cons of Ho Chi Minh City

Similar to Hanoi, there may be language barriers in more remote or non-touristy locations. There may also be traffic congestion during peak hours and the city faces air pollution, particularly due to vehicular emissions, and higher noise levels in central areas. Like Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City has distinct wet and dry seasons.

Full-Day Excursion To Mekong Delta from Ho Chi Minh City

From S$29.05

Full-Day Excursion To Mekong Delta from Ho Chi Minh City. (Photo: Klook SG)
Full-Day Excursion To Mekong Delta from Ho Chi Minh City. (Photo: Klook SG)

Cu Chi Tunnels Half-Day Tour

From S$24.09

Cu Chi Tunnels Half-Day Tour. (Photo: Klook SG)
Cu Chi Tunnels Half-Day Tour. (Photo: Klook SG)

Check out these other things you can do in Ho Chi Minh City.

Which country is the best for a quick weekend getaway?

The best country for a quick weekend getaway is largely dependent on your budget and the amount of time you can dedicate to travel. For those pressed for time and money, Batam may be a good choice. For those who have the luxury of time and money, perhaps you can consider Hanoi or Bali.

How should I decide where to go?

First, find out how many days of holiday you can have. This may be affected by the availability of your leaves or any other personal commitments. Next, if you haven’t already set aside a travel budget, see how much money you can fork out for a well-deserved trip. By combining these two limitations, you can narrow down your available getaway destinations using sites like Skyscanner and Trip.com. If you don’t want to take a long holiday to a single faraway destination, you can also consider taking multiple trips to relatively nearer destinations.

Which ASEAN country takes the longest to reach by plane from Singapore?

The furthest ASEAN country from Singapore in terms of flight time is typically Myanmar. Flights from Singapore to cities like Naypyidaw and Myitkyina in Myanmar can take more than seven hours due to the lack of direct flights. Yangon, the largest city in Myanmar, however, takes about three hours by plane from Singapore.

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Yahoo Shopping Southeast Asia