Singapore is close to so many amazing destinations. Here, EL readers and staff share some of their recent getaway spots.
Super short breaks in the region
I went to Chiang Mai earlier this year with my family – including my brother and sister-in-law who live in Bangkok. Getting there was easy; we took a direct three-hour flight via Scoot from Singapore. To travel within the city, we rented a car, but you can also book Grab cars using your app, which is the locals’ preferred mode of transport as it’s cheaper than regular taxis.
We stayed in a small boutique B&B with an intriguing name: Arch 39.17 The Camp Nimman, which is located along a quiet stretch of shophouses on Nimmanhaemin Road. It was cosy and affordable, plus there are family rooms available for those travelling with kids. The location is ideal as it’s a short drive to the mall, night market and airport.
Chiang Mai is a relaxed and laid-back town with many quaint cafés to discover. The best way to explore is to rent a car for a couple of days, which we did. The prettiest spots are always the most out-of-the-way ones, but they’re definitely worth the travel time! I highly recommend Chic 39 Bed, Bar and Bakery, a rustic, vintage-themed café with delicious desserts (try the affogato) and an amazing view of a plantation to match. – ANTHIA CHNG, SINGAPOREAN
I travelled to Kuching in the Malaysian state of Sarawak on the island of Borneo. The Village House is a hidden gem not far from the Sarawak Cultural Village and the bigger hotels that surround the village. You can splurge and get the nicest room in the place and still pay less than the price of dinner on a typical Friday night in Singapore!
The boutique hotel is built in the local vernacular architectural style, with an inviting pool stretching through the middle. There are 12 rooms in total, with an onsite restaurant offering cocktails and a weekend feast aptly named “A Taste of Borneo”, plus a library, tropical gardens and hammocks.
The hotel provides shuttles to the Sarawak Cultural Village, but you can also hike at Bako National Park, summit Mount Santubong, take a morning or sunset cruise through Kuching Wetlands National Park, take a trip to see the orangutans, play golf and collect seashells at the nearby beach. I highly recommend timing your trip for the annual Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) – we saw musical acts from around the globe ranging from Bulgarian folk singers to a Burkina Faso music and dance troupe.
The hotel doesn’t accept kids under 12; I think the area itself is best for older kids and teens. The RWMF would be a perfect introduction for teens to music festivals as crowds aren’t too large and people are generally pleasant and courteous.
I especially enjoyed bike riding through the local village during the evening adhan (Muslim call to prayer) with kids chasing after us wanting to chat and play. – MONICA PITRELLI, AMERICAN
After getting caught in heavy rain during our first visit to Hoi An in 2014, my husband and I decided it was time to go back for this year’s Hari Raya long weekend.
It’s easy to get there from Singapore: a direct flight to Da Nang airport followed by a 45-minute ride to town. A friend recommended a small hotel outside the centre called Serene River Villa. Owned by a lovely local family and in a quiet location, it offers great service (a special mention to the delicious breakfast served alongside the river) and is only a 15-minute cycle from the city centre (free bike service provided!).
Hoi An is one of the most charming old towns I’ve seen. It’s designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and you feel like you’ve stumbled into some ancient Asian fairy-tale as you walk along its small streets full of shops, galleries, temples and cosy cafés, surrounded by beautiful silk lanterns. I loved wandering around Central Market and I have no words to explain how yummy the Vietnamese food was! Try the banh xeo (savoury pancake) from Bale Well, the banh mi (baguette) from Hai Café and the coffee from Hoi An Roastery.
We also explored the Hoi An surrounds – the best way to do so is undoubtedly by bike. We enjoyed the paddy fields, visiting Tra Que village to learn more about small farming in Vietnam, and ending our trip at An Bang beach for a relaxing drink at Soul Kitchen. – SORAYA ZARAIN ALONSO, SPANISH
My friends and I decided to celebrate our graduation in Bali. We stayed in an Airbnb – a two-storey, three-bedroom villa in Central Seminyak. This place was a great choice because there were three different convenience stores around the corner and it was a sevenminute walk to Seminyak beach. The villa is spacious and quiet and has a pool for chilling in and enjoying our homemade cocktails.
Getting around Bali was time-consuming because the traffic is so bad. It also didn’t help that the places we wanted to visit weren’t anywhere near our villa, so we spent most of our time on the road. We visited Tegalalang Rice Terrace in Ubud, and we weren’t disappointed. The terraces are so well-maintained and there are so many vantage points for photos. It did take a lot of effort to get around though, due to the uneven steps and footpaths, so a good pair of walking shoes is recommended. We also checked out Taco Beach Grill, a resto known for serving great Mexican food in Bali. I ordered the steak taco and was thoroughly satisfied.
On our last night, we headed to Jimbaran Bay Seafood Restaurant for dinner. We got a table that was located on the beach itself. The view of the sea and the planes flying in the distance was breathtaking. We caught a glorious sunset too – something Bali’s renowned for, and one of the best I’ve seen! – JAYME CHONG, SINGAPOREAN
We were looking to take advantage of the mid-term break and go away for three nights, but weren’t keen on getting on a plane. We’d heard good things about Telunas Resorts in the Riau Islands through friends, and thought we’d give it a whirl. It’s a two-boat trip to get there, 45 minutes to Bintan and another one-hour boat ride to the island.
We’d opted to stay at the more expensive Telunas Private Island, which has the swimming pool, kids’ club and spa. The beach resort is just across from where we stayed – we visited the low ropes course there on day three.
Each stilted over-water villa has a master bedroom downstairs and another upstairs. There’s also a living area, balcony and well-equipped bathroom. The food, included in the accommodation costs, was really very good, with plenty of choice for the children. There’s a well-stocked bar on the island, but you can also bring your own alcohol with no corkage fee.
Our ten- and seven-year-old daughters had a ball during their stay, and we did too. The staff are amazing with children, whisking them away to fish off the jetty and toast marshmallows in the evening. Many hours were spent jumping off the jetty into the water (just beware of the current). There’s also an alfresco games area with table tennis, darts and a cornhole game on the lawn. We also tried out the spa, which was a huge hit in my books, and I can honestly say that three nights’ stay was just not long enough. – AMY BROOK-PARTRIDGE, BRITISH
There is never enough time – especially when travelling in such a mysterious, beautiful and culturally rich place as Myanmar. For this family trip with our two children (four and nine years), we focused on Mandalay, Bagan and Inle Lake. Our 14-day round trip in April started around Mandalay, exploring local markets, watching gold leaf production and visiting stunning temples. An overnight trip led to Pyin-oo-lwin, where we took a local train north over the shaky Gokteik Viaduct.
On day six, we reached ancient Bagan via water taxi. The whole area is covered by bushes, trees and a mind-blowing ensemble of more than 2,200 temples, pagodas and monasteries. We explored the area on electric bikes, the only allowed transportation. The children enjoyed the day we spent on a longboat, getting a glimpse into local life around Inle Lake – markets, dancing fisherman and stilt houses; they also tried their hands at lotus weaving.
We opted for a private tour with Backyard Travel as we felt this would give us the best experience for the family. We saw as much as possible without the children getting bored or too tired; the level of personal involvement of our guides was impressive, particularly the one in Mandalay who took us to celebrate the water festival with his friends.
On my daughter’s birthday morning, we took a hot-air balloon over Bagan and enjoyed breathtaking views of the dawn. – MERTEN FOERSTER, GERMAN