What's a better way to spend a long weekend than having a short break from our hectic work life and going on a trip to a neighbouring country? The great thing about Southeast Asia is that we have access to lots of budget flights that bring us to our neighbouring countries for a relatively cheap price.
GET.com has listed here 6 awesome travel destinations that are less than 5 hours away from Singapore, so that you can optimise your weekends, pack a small bag and go!
Being our nearest neighbour, it is not surprising that Singaporeans travel to Malaysia at the drop of a hat. We are not just talking about Johor Bahru, where it is common to hear the familiar Singlish being spoken somewhere as we walk along City Square. Of course, there's Legoland there as well, near enough to bring the kids over for a day tour.
If you prefer somewhere you can totally relax and get away from all the traffic and crowds, try Langkawi, Port Dickson, Rawa Islands and Perhentian Islands. While you can reach Langkawi by a short 1.5-hour ride, the other places can be reached in less than 4 hours by bus. Simply grab some friends and look for a bus operator that takes you there!
For others who want to go shopping or indulge their inner foodie, Penang, Malacca and Kuala Lumpur will not need any introduction.
Bali, which remains one of my favourite getaways, is slightly less than 3-hours away. You probably want to avoid the crowded Kuta but do take time to explore other parts of Bali. If you are looking for a place to rejuvenate your body, head to Ubud where you'll find a serene place that places a big emphasis on health and fitness. The place is littered with raw food cuisines, healthy juices, yoga retreats and detox centres.
Extreme surfers would love to spend their days surfing at Uluwatu where some of the best waves can be found. Set amidst limestone cliff walls, quiet hidden beaches and beautiful bars with sunset views, it's the perfect place for you to rest and relax and give thanks for the simple things in life.
If Bali is too mainstream for you, try out Lombok, Gili Islands and Komodo Islands for a breath of fresh air.
If beaches sound boring to you and you prefer something more active, Yogyakarta has a lot of offer in terms of a spiritual and cultural destination. Visit the temples of Borobudur and Prambanan or go on one of the most dangerous volcano treks at Mount Merapi to challenge the daredevil in you.
Culture vultures will love Vietnam; being one of the oldest cultures in Southeast Asia, the country has had many years of influence by Chinese rule in its early days, following some Cambodian and French influence during its periods under the rule of various governments.
While Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi often come to mind first, there's also the ancient town of Hoi An that makes for good explorations. The town is recognised as a World Heritage UNESCO site and its quaint buildings reflect the influences from both local and foreign traders who populated the area from the 17th to the 18th century. The place is famous as a destination where you can tailor your suits and dresses and it's also well-known for its fusion cuisine.
Another up-and-coming tourist destination in Vietnam is Da Nang, which is just 30 minutes away from Hoi An. The area is known for its beautiful beach front and luxury resorts.
Who can forget the land of smiles, shopping, spicy food and cheap massages? Singaporeans might have been to Bangkok countless times in their lives, but what about other less explored areas?
We are not talking about the very touristic Phuket, Koh Samui, Koh PhiPhi or Krabi, either. For an off-beaten track in Thailand, explore other quieter islands up north or island-hop around the smaller ones nearby these popular islands.
Alternatively, try out Chiang Mai to visit some of the most beautiful Buddhist temples in Thailand. One of the temples that you shouldn't miss is the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep situated in the Doi Suthep National Park. The majestic golden exterior and the calming serenity of the place is a far cry from the touristy traffic jams of Bangkok.
Doi Suthep National Park houses the eighth largest mountain in Thailand (1685 metres), it comes with an accessible waterfall and has various stalls selling souvenirs from local hill tribes.
Most other Australian cities such as Sydney and Melbourne are at least 7 hours away from Singapore. On the contrary, a direct flight on SilkAir or Jetstar to the Northern Territory of Darwin will take you around 4 hours and 40 minutes. Over there, you'll find a different Australia – a place packed with adventure, wildernesses and Aboriginal culture.
In Darwin, you can explore the Territory Wildlife Park in Berry Springs, take a boat ride on the Adelaide River at the Litchfield National Park and visit the Mindil Beach Market for some shopping.
Myanmar has emerged as a place that Singaporeans are increasingly exploring. With flight time just 3 hours away, the country that is surrounded by much mysticism comes to life with its shiny stupas and complex history that is bound to its neighbouring countries.
Like its nearby neighbours Thailand and China, expect great street food that is cheap and tasty, and spend half a day at its bustling markets like the Thiri Mingalar Market.
A ride along Myanmar's largest river – Irrawaddy River – is mandatory if you want to appreciate the great temple city with countless beautiful temples from Mandalay down to Bagan.
Travel Saving Tips
If you're planning on going on a weekend getaway, one of the first things that cross your mind is probably how much you're going to be spending. The two biggest expenses of any trip are usually accommodation and plane tickets. To help you save, we've put together these 6 hacks to finding cheap hotels and these 11 tips and tricks to finding cheap flights in Singapore.
Another easy way to save money on travelling is by using the right credit card to book your trip. Shoot for a cashback credit card or a travel credit card that lets you earn rebates, points or miles on your bookings and on overseas purchases. Here's our pick of the best credit cards for budget travellers.