You may love the city that you live in but we all need a relaxing break now and then. If you live in Singapore, you have no shortage of mini-breaks that are just a hop, skip and a jump away. Let’s take a look at the best ways to spend your much-cherished weekends.
Bintan Island, Indonesia
This is one of the closest islands to Singapore and is a mere 45 minute boat ride away. Bintan is like something out of a travel brochure. From silky-smooth beaches to crystalline waters, where you can lay back on a sun-lounger as you soak in the sun. Bintan perfectly encapsulates the laid-back vibe of Singapore’s neighbour, Indonesia but manages to keep floods of tourists at bay.
Due to it’s proximity to Singapore, there are no shortage of beachside resorts in which to stay. However, that is not to say that the island does not have it’s own unique culture. You can take a day trip to Penyengat, another small island, which was the seat of a 19th century sultanate. A monumental mosque stands to commemorate this, as well as several other artefacts of Islamic architecture.
Tanjung Pinang is the largest town on the island and houses a bustling port. You can also connect to here from Singapore, which is what many native Singaporeans do. The shopping is decidedly cheaper than in Singapore and despite it´s more touristic nature, the town is incredibly relaxed.
For a touch of culture, visit the Banyan Tree Temple. This is in Senggarang town and is a Chinese pagoda, where many Chinese citizens come to pay their respects. The inside has some beautiful paintings and wood carvings, as well a clear view out to sea.
However you decide to spend your weekend in Bintan, you will return relaxed, refreshed and eager for the next trip.
Cameron Highlands, Malaysia
The name may sound Scottish but the Highlands are actually a hill station, located in Singapore’s neighbour, Malaysia. Many people come here to escape the pollution and to enjoy the natural scenery.
The hills themselves are home to several plantations, all of which you can visit. The most famous of these is Boh Plantation, which has three distinct tea gardens. The entire plantation is covered in tea plants, as far as the eye can see and is worth visiting to understand the cultivation of tea alone. There are tour options which can explain the process of growing, picking and then processing tea.
Another natural beauty of the Cameron Highlands are the Lavender Gardens. These are impeccably landscaped gardens, full to the brim with lavender plants. The gardens themselves are walkable and have strategic pathways by which you can see the entire vista. It is the perfect place to disconnect and forget city life.
On your mini-break, you may also want to check out the Mossy Forest hike. This is a trail that leads through the higher hills of the Highlands and are packed with dense forests. The flora and fauna on this hike is remarkable and you will soon forget that you are actually only a stone´s throw away from home. This is a perfect route to take to get some exercise and to enjoy nature, whilst revelling in the beauty of the natural world.
It may sound obvious as Thailand is one of the more popular places to visit from Singapore, but Krabi is ideal for a mini break. The island itself is much more relaxed than it’s counterparts, the Phi Phi islands and it perfectly resembles the photos of Thailand you may have seen in travel guides. From immaculate beaches to jungle, Krabi is your port of call if you need to unwind.
If you really want to go off the beaten track, take a boat to Railay beach. The beach itself has no road access and is cut off from the mainland by cliffs. The beach is the closest place to paradise than you can find and you will find that you may want to spend the entire weekend here.
If not, you can take in the wildlife at Thung Teao National Park. The park has a wealth of plant and animal life, as well as a majestic Crystal Lagoon. Alongside the Emerald Pool, you can swim for hours in warm, clear water as waterfalls cascade around you. It is also worthwhile keeping an eye open for some bird species that are extinct in other parts of the world. If swimming in a natural pool, with bird calls as your soundtrack, isn’t paradise, then what could be?