We go a little green with envy when travellers based in Europe have the luxury of flying cheap and quickly to nearby picturesque destinations that have such varied terrain. However, frown not! Being in Singapore gives us access to many gems across Asia. And just to make it a little easier, we’ve narrowed it down to destinations that are between one to three hours away. With such a short travel time, you’ll have an excuse to getaway to a different paradise almost every weekend!
Source: happycampersblog and Flickr - Faizal Riza
An archipelago of 99 islands in the Andaman Sea, and once a sanctuary for pirates, Langkawi is a gorgeous getaway option boasting lush rain forests, mystical lakes, and white sandy beaches set against crystal clear waters. When you’re there, be sure to visit the Kilim Karst Geoforest Park which features the Setul Formation – Langkawi’s oldest limestone formation. If the park isn’t enough, take a guided kayak tour around the mangroves and witness the ancient stalactite and stalagmite formations within the caves as you paddle through. During the tour, you may even be treated to the sight of wild eagles being fed by the fishermen on the boats right on the water.'
If you’re into the stories of folklore and legends, a short boat ride away from Langkawi’s main shopping district, Kuah Town, is Tasik Dayang Bunting, also known as ‘Lake of the Pregnant Maiden’. Surrounded by hills and dense rain forests, this tranquil freshwater lake was formed when a large cave collapsed and its surface filled with water. Legend has it that the lake has mystical powers that heal infertility for those who decide to take a dip! Staying at the Bayview Hotel Langkawi will put you at the heart of everything, making it convenient to get to most attractions.
Source: Flickr - Tuomas A. Lehtinen Photography and Flickr - Andrew Codrington
Krabi, a province on southern Thailand’s Andaman coast, is a delightful mix of islands and isolated beaches accessible by boats. Made up of a multitude of bays and coves with exciting attractions such as coral reefs and wildlife sanctuaries, Krabi is a destination that strikes that happy balance between relaxation and fun activity. One of the most popular group of islands close by to Krabi, are the Hong Islands. Accessible by speedboat, tours will take you to Hong Island, Daeng, Lading, and Pakbia Islands. Be enchanted while you swim and snorkel in the beautiful Hong Island Bay, snorkel above the coral reefs at Daeng, admire the magnificent rock formations and caves at Lading, and look at the labyrinth of caves at Pakbia.
Temples are a thing of worship and beauty, and Wat Tham Suea (Tiger Cave Temple) is no exception. Built in 1975, this temple complex still serves as a religious place for the residing monks. Aside from the stunning architecture, the temple is made unique through its cluster of caves located in the dense overgrown jungle valley nearby. Within the temple, keen climbers can make their way to a peak offering a magnificent view of the karst mountains. But be warned, to get to the top, you’ll have to climb a total of 1237 steps! If you can’t get enough of the views, enjoy panoramic mountain views at Aonang Phu Petra Resort along Aonang beach – a great place to start and end your day as you wind down.
3. Ho Chi Minh
Source: Flickr – Michael and Flickr – Charlievdb
Once known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is the most populated city in Vietnam. The bustling city is a stark contrast of old-meets-new with modern skyscrapers dotting the landscape and traditional food stalls lining the streets, as a rush of bicycles and scooters fill the dusty roads. One of the must-see attractions would have to be Ben Thanh Market, a bustling market with over 3000 stalls filled with assorted food and trinkets. Lose yourself at the bazaar and be amazed at the local handicrafts, textiles, branded goods and Vietnamese cuisine. To live and breathe the thriving city, stay at New World Saigon Hotel where the city’s icons are well within walking distances.
When you’re in Vietnam, paying a visit to the Mekong Delta should be at the top of your to-do list. Accessible via a range of boat options, the Mekong Delta’s 39,000-square-kilometre labyrinth of waterways, is populated by markets, orchards, and paddy fields, with the Cai Be Floating Market a star attraction. Be an observer and watch buyers haggle for produce. If you’re feeling game and see something you like, give it a go as well!
Source: Flickr – Stefan Fussan and Flickr – Exotissimo Travel
As the former capital of Burma, Yangon is a melting pot of British, Burmese, Chinese and Indian influences. Once you land and settle in, book yourself into a city tour to explore Yangon’s various cultural influences in the buildings and art. Crumbling buildings dot the streets, and be sure to stop by the former Myanmar Railways Headquarters, the Immigration Building, and the High Court Building that was built in 1914 with British influence to the liking of Queen Anne’s style. The Armenian Apostolic Church of St. John the Baptist is also a prominent structure with a unique design and Armenian touch. Completed in 1862, it is located on Bo Aung Kyaw Road, close to the historical Secretariat Building where General Aung San was assassinated in 1947. If you’re after a break and need a breath of fresh air, feel free to take a stroll through the lush parks and picturesque lakes - after all, Yangon is dubbed ‘The Garden City of the East’. It’s worth checking out Chatrium Hotel Royal Lake, perfectly located right opposite the Kandawgyi Natural Park when you’re looking for a place to stay with a great view and location.
Attracting people globally, the popular pagoda, Shwedagon Pagoda, is one of Buddhism's most sacred sites. According to local legend, the Shwedagon Pagoda was built during the time of the Buddha. The structure is covered in genuine gold plates and topped with diamonds and rubies. The diamond bud – top of the stupa is also tipped with a 76 carat diamond. The pagoda contains relics from the past four Buddhas: the staff of Kakusandha, the water filter of Konagamana, a piece of Kassapa's robe, and eight strands of Guatama's hair. Being a focal part of the city, it’s easy to see why the Shwedagon Paya is the pride of Vietnam.
Source: Flickr – Jasper Arends and Flickr – Berry
Surabaya is the capital of East Java and the second largest city in Indonesia and one of the most historically interesting. The city is dotted with old Dutch buildings from its past inhabitants. Check into the JW Marriott Surabaya for some rest and relaxation upon arrival. It is also conveniently located close to various shopping malls if you’re in for a shopping spree. If you’re after a bit of adventure during your getaway, head 4 hours out of the city to Mount Bromo, undoubtedly Indonesia’s most famous volcano which is located amidst lush green valleys. Visitors can hike the volcano at the crack of dawn to watch the beautiful sunrise against the volcano and mountain ranges.
Another natural wonder in Surabaya is the Coban Rondo Waterfall, also known as the Widow’s Waterfall. As you watch the waters plunge down the pool amidst the green landscape, keep a keen eye out for the local grey monkeys which are common in the area. Besides enjoying the beauty of the falls, there are other facilities and activities nearby such as jungle trekking, rafting, and even a camping ground to set up camp!
With such interesting destinations so close to Singapore, there’s really no reason not to pack your bags and head off for a well-deserved short trip! If you’re an OCBC card member and book between now and 21 June through ZUJI, you’ll stand a chance to get up to $1000 worth of rebates available each day and enjoy a 13% hotel coupon code. Check out the ZUJI OCBC Flash Sale now for further details!