There’s something about the word ‘weekend’ that makes the strongest of people weak at the knees, the most polished slump into a day dream, and the workaholics close their eyes knowing that after every five days of hardship, two days of bliss ensue. Following 2014’s poor show of only 4 long weekends, the Year of the Goat has brought with it the good fortune of 10, offering hope to Singapore’s weekend-loving, work-drained population.
With Labour Day falling on 1 May, we’re in for a 3-day weekend treat. And you can take it from us, there really isn’t any better way to celebrate it than overseas, away from the day-to-day chaos – sleeping, eating, drinking and sight-seeing the time away.
If this is whetting your adventurous, wander-lusting palate, read on for our top 5 destinations and activities guaranteed to clear 2015’s cobwebs and get you back refreshed, renewed and excited for your next getaway…
1. Hong Kong – For the adventurer
Source: Flickr (Riccardo Landi)
Fancy hopping onto a plane to visit a city filled with a mix of urban and rural sites? Hong Kong offers more than just the world renowned dim sum. A short distance away from the city is the Dragon’s Back Hiking trail in Shek O Country Park. This 8.5km-long hike takes place at the top of a high mountain ridge – which looks like a dragon’s spiked spine – so you can expect nothing short of breath-taking views of the beach, the South China Sea and beyond to outlying islands. Once you’ve had your fill of nature, head down the trail to the foot of the Dragon's Back where you’ll find Shek O Village and Big Wave beach. Dip your toes in the cool waters by the sandy beach and refuel at one of the many alfresco restaurants that dish up fresh-off-the-boat seafood treats.
Source: Flickr (ser_is_snarkish)
Another lesser-known area worth exploring is Yuen Long, situated in the northwest of the New Territories of Hong Kong. Home to many ex-Gurkha Nepalese, Yuen Long offers tourists a more traditional Chinese ambiance with a multi-cultural food experience ranging from Nepalese food, famous traditional Chinese cakes, dim sum, and even new-style Japanese food. Take a stroll through Yuen Long’s old wet market to see the locals haggling for fresh fish and vegetables. While you’re there, stop by for some delicious authentic dim sum at some of the popular restaurants such as Tai Wing Wah. If you’re interested to see more of the old Hong Kong, walk off the calories at the Ping Shan Heritage Trail known for its old villages, ancestral walls and temples.
2. Bangkok – For the bargain hunter
Bangkok – the land of smiles, cheap relaxing massages, non-stop shopping and amazing food. This city is a favourite for many and its sights like Chatuchak Market which keeps travellers coming back for more and more. The popular outdoor market with endless rows of stalls, sells everything from home décor items, clothing, food, souvenirs, hand-crafted products, pets and much more! As you battle Bangkok’s heat, make sure to get your hands on the market’s famous and refreshing coconut ice cream that travellers all over the world rave about.
When you’re done with your market shopping and have worked up an appetite, make a beeline for Asiatique The Riverfront which boasts countless cafes and restaurants specialising in Thai, seafood and Western cuisine. The scene around Asiatique with its lights and renovated shop houses by the water, creates a warm and inviting glow – definitely worth a photo or 20.
3. Bali – For the spiritual
Source: Flickr (Fabio Gismondi)
It’s no secret that Bali is a great place to relax and de-stress – especially after a crazy work-week. For those after some quiet reflection, take a trip to the pilgrimage temple Pura Tanah Lot. The ancient shrine perched on a large rock amidst crashing waves, is an incredibly contemplative sight. During low tides, visitors can walk across the water to the base of the temple and sip on the ‘holy’ water.
Another must-see is the Tegallalang Rice Terrace, north of the Bali culture-capital, Ubud. The greenery and terrace arrangement is enough to take your breath away, while small shops are peppered around the patties, selling Balinese coffee and traditional wood carvings. If you’ve driven a long way to Ubud, hang around for a little longer by visiting the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, which is home to over 600 long-tailed macaques and 3 temples. Watch your belongings when wandering the grounds as the monkeys have been known to grab things – especially any snacks you’ve brought along!
4. Koh Samui – For the nature lover
If you’re after sun, sand and pristine waters, then Koh Samui is your go-to getaway. Head to Fisherman's Village in Bophut for the most tranquil beach setting where rows of small guest houses, restaurants, and shops scatter the shoreline.
If you’re after some sight-seeing amidst all the sunbathing, visit the Ang Thong National Marine Park.
Famed for its utopian beach society role in the movie ‘The Beach’, the marine park is made up of roughly 40 small islands. With limestone cliffs, hidden lagoons and majestic beaches, visitors are spoiled with the postcard perfect scenery. Day trip operators often stop at Koh Wua Talab, the park’s largest island which has a steep climb to the central peak where travelers can get their fair share of panoramic snaps of the crystal clear water and islands afar.
5. Seoul – For the shopaholic
Source: Flickr (Doug Sun Beams)
Korean drama fanatics and tech-lovers alike will love Seoul’s funky contemporary atmosphere. If you’re in for a credit card blowout after the past week’s stress, grab your wallet and go straight to Myeong-dong. Teeming with interesting personalities and the latest fashion and beauty brands, ladies are guaranteed to score a bargain with clothes and cosmetics priced more affordably than on Singapore’s shores. If tech and gadgets are your cup of tea, head over to Techno Mart – Korea’s largest electronics mall housing 2,000 stores packed with high-tech products.
There’s no better way to calm the post-credit card guilt than to soothe the stomach. Seoul is famed for its street food, and the best delicacies to try while you’re there are dried squid and Tteokbokki – which are soft rice and fish cakes drenched in sweet red chili sauce.
After a day on your feet, take a trip to the jjimjilbang, or public bath houses for a spa, sauna, dip in the soaking pools, or massage.
Have we ignited your travel spark yet? Make the most out of your long weekend with these sweet destinations and start planning now! To help you on your way, ZUJI will soon be offering rewards and rebates of up to $60 for flights and packages and $150 for hotels. To find out more, be sure to check here beginning April for all the rewards!