One of the greatest things about living in Singapore is how smack dab in the middle of Southeast Asia we are, which makes it super easy to plan a spur-of-the-moment vacay to the likes of Vietnam, Bali, Thailand, Malaysia and more. When you can take off on a Friday and be back by Sunday evening, it’d be rude not to spend most weekends exploring another country, dontcha think? Whether you’re in search of sun, sea, and sandy toes, adventurous activities, scuba diving, culture, a jungly hideaway or vibrant city getaway, Asia has got you covered. The best part? You can reach all of these places within just two hours or less by plane from Singapore. Grab your passport, it’s time to travel.
Just a short ferry ride away from Singapore, the Indonesian island of Bintan is wildly popular with couples, families and solo travellers looking for an easy island escape. There are plenty of white sand beaches to chill out and tons of activities for adventurous types including scuba diving, snorkelling, golfing, go-karting and trekking. For food you have your pick of restaurants serving up everything from BBQ seafood to sushi, satay and fresh salads.
Get there: There are three different ferries that leave from Tanah Merah to Bintan. The trip takes about 50 minutes.
Where to stay: Get back to nature at Banyan Tree Bintan where each of the stilted villas is surrounded by greenery and overlooking the South China Sea. The resort also has a beautiful free-form pool just steps from the private beach, a championship golf course, luxury spa and a number of dining venues that are destinations in themselves.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is a bustling metropolis that is steeped in history and culture. Sights you don’t want to miss here include the colourful Ben Thanh Market, the Reunification Palace, the quaint Emperor Jade Temple, and the Saigon Skydeck on the 49th floor of the Bitexco Financial Tower for bird’s eye views over the city. And of course, a trip to Saigon wouldn’t be complete without sampling some of the delicious and ubiquitous Vietnamese street food.
Get There: Tiger Airways, JetStar, Singapore Airlines, Vietjet Air, and Vietnam Airlines all offer daily direct flights from Singapore to Ho Chi Minh City, and the flight time is about 2 hours.
Where to Stay: If you want comfortable and classy digs right in the centre of the city, the Park Hyatt Saigon is the way to go. The rooms here feature charming touches like French wooden shutters and marble bathtubs, and some even have direct access to the 20-metre outdoor pool.
Krabi is one of the most picturesque provinces in Thailand as it has stunning beaches, limestone karsts, waterfalls, caves, and coral reefs. Beachcombers can head to Had Yao for sun, sea and sand, rock climbers will love the walls at Rai Leh, and scuba divers can take day trips to amazing underwater worlds. There are also plenty of intriguing islands just a boat ride away.
Get There: Tiger Airways and AirAsia have daily direct flights from Singapore to Krabi, and the flight time is approximately 2 hours.
Where to Stay: Sleek and chic Deevana Plaza Krabi Aonang is an oasis of calm just minutes from great beaches, markets and restaurants. Each room here has its own private balcony, and there is a fab pool with an adjoining pool bar plus an elegant Thai restaurant on site.
Fancy a city break for a change of scenery? Kuala Lumpur is just a hop, skip and a jump away and a pretty cool place to spend a few days. Like Singapore, the city is a real melting pot of cultures so you’ll find cool mosques and temples, bustling markets, modern shopping malls and a plethora of food stalls, cafes and restaurants where you can snack on pretty much any cuisine you can think of.
Get there: There are numerous airlines that offer direct flights from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur. The flight takes about an hour.
Where to stay: We love boutique hotels for their unique characters, and The Kuala Lumpur Journal offers plenty of charm with artsy rooms decked out in modern amenities, a rooftop infinity pool with skyline views and welcoming social spaces where you can eat, work and socialise. Plus it’s right in the heart of Bukit Bintang and within walking distance of some of the city’s best shopping malls and Kuala Lumpur’s famous food street.
Kuching, Borneo, Malaysia
Much like Singapore, Kuching is a multicultural mishmash of Chinese, Malay, Indonesian, and Indian influences, which means it is packed with interesting temples, mosques, markets and museums. Its waterfront location also makes for some great scenery. Spend your holiday here strolling the streets to find great little cafes and restaurants serving up authentic Sarawak cuisine, or get out and experience the incredible nature and tribes in the jungles and mountains nearby.
Get There: Malaysia Airlines, SilkAir, and AirAsia all offer direct flights from Singapore to Kuching, and the flight takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Where to Stay: Situated on the top of a hill in the middle of the city, Pullman Kuching offers incredible views of the city’s landmarks and the river, and it makes for a convenient base to explore Kuching. The rooms here are spacious and modern with all the amenities you need to feel right at home, and there are five different drinking and dining venues on site.
Langkawi Island, Malaysia
You can pretty much do it all on Langkawi Island where there are great beaches, duty-free shopping malls, lush rainforests, and a slew of seafood restaurants situated along the sand. Take a trip to Telaga Tujuh to swim in the waterfall pools, rent a kayak and float through the mangrove forests, take the cable car to the top of a mountain for panoramic views, or just hang out by your hotel pool with a cocktail in hand.
Get There: AirAsia, SilkAir and Tiger Airways all offer direct flights from Singapore to Langkawi, and the flight takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Where to Stay: The Danna Langkawi is a luxurious retreat overlooking a private white sandy beach. Standout features here include the three-tiered infinity swimming pool, serene Danna Spa, gourmet cafe, restaurant, cigar lounge and stylish rooms and suites with views of the rolling hills, rainforest, or marina.
Penang has pretty much everything you could ask for in a holiday destination: awesome architecture, interesting history, fantastic food and beautiful beaches. Stay in the capital of Georgetown to be surrounded by Chinese shophouses and temples, cool street art and enticing hawker stalls. If it’s a bit of sun, sea and sand you’re after, base yourself along the golden coastline of Batu Ferringhi.
Get there: JetStar, Air Asia, Scoot and Malaysia Airlines have direct flights from Singapore to Penang. The flight takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes.
Where to Stay: The Blue Mansion was originally built in the 1880s by Hakka businessman Cheong Fatt Tze for his seventh wife and today it is one of the city’s most beloved boutique heritage hotels. Each of the spacious rooms has old world charm with intricately carved woodwork, antique furniture and original fittings.
Phuket is the quintessential beach vacay spot. Take your pick of golden stretches of sand from buzzing Patong Beach with its plentiful sun loungers and seafood restaurants to peaceful Kamala Beach. Spend your days swimming in the warm turquoise waters, sunbathing on the sand or exploring the national parks and Buddhist temples. After dark there are loads of restaurants, bars and nightclubs where you can grab tasty Thai food and party until dawn.
Get there: JetStar, Scoot, Air Asia, Singapore Airlines and Bangkok Airways have direct flights from Singapore to Phuket. The flight takes about 1 hour and 50 minutes.
Where to Stay: Nestled on a lush peninsula overlooking the white sands of Bangtao Beach, Amanpuri is a favourite with celebrities and those seeking a secluded seaside escape. The stand-alone villas are absolutely stunning with soaring ceilings, rich wood and custom crafted furniture and the communal areas like the black-tiled swimming pool and open-air restaurants and bars are stylish spots to while away the hours.
With great restaurants, shops, art galleries and museums, Yogyakarta (or Jogja as the locals call it) is a great place to get a taste of Indonesian culture. Spend one day exploring the Kraton (Sultan’s Palace) and the shops along Malioboro Street, and another day visiting the ancient temples of Borobudur and Prambanan nearby. From certain vantage points in the city you can also catch glimpses of the volcanic peak of Mount Merapi in the distance.
Get There: SilkAir and AirAsia have direct flights from Singapore to Yogyakarta, and the flight time is approximately 1 hour and 50 minutes.
Where to Stay: Located in the heart of Yogyakarta just minutes from Malioboro Street, The Phoenix Hotel offers gorgeous suites, each with its own balcony, in a historic colonial building. Start the day with a dip in the pool, grab a bite to eat at the inviting restaurant, and end the day with a glass of vino at the charming wine bar.