Under $100: Langkawi
Don’t mistake Langkawi to be a boring destination. The truth is far from that. Apart from gorgeous beaches like Cenang Beach and Tanjung Rhu Beach, Langkawi is also home to the Langkawi Sky Bridge which can be reached via a cable car ride. After soaking in the sweet views from high above, hop on a boat for a mangrove tour of Kilim Geopark or take a peek into the marine life at Underwater World Langkawi. There are also waterfalls, hot springs, museums and markets to fill your getaway.
Best time to visit Langkawi: The dry season which is popular with travellers runs from November to April. September and October tend to be rainy.
Under $150: Medan
Travellers who come to Medan usually have their eyes set on Lake Toba, a breathtaking volcanic lake some four hours away from the city. Even so, Medan has its share of allure too. Taking the top spot would be Medanese food. Try bihun bebek (rice noodles with duck) or kwetiau goreng (stir-fry noodles with meat), and finish the meal by snacking on bika ambon, a sweet and chewy yeast cake. For sightseeing, pop by Tjong A Fie Mansion to glimpse into the living space of a Hakka merchant back in the 1900s, and step into Istana Maimun to have a quick royal history lesson.
Best time to visit Medan: Medan is ideal to visit all year round, but the months of September to December typically see heavier rainfall.
Where to stay in Medan: Peer into the life of locals and bask in warm hospitality at K77 Guest House Medan or Griya 24 Homestay. Alternatively, treat yourself to a stay in JW Marriott Hotel Medan for all the modern comforts you’d expect from a five-star hotel.
Under $200: Cebu
An up-and-coming destination in the Philippines, Cebu is a paradise for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts. Make a beeline for the trail leading to Sirao Peak and reward yourself with a dip in Kabang Falls. Can’t get enough of waterfalls? Then check out the turquoise waters of Kawasan Falls and the rock formations at Aguinid Falls. Cebu City, with its shopping malls and cultural spots, make a great base for your explorations. If you have more time to spare, consider a jaunt to the offshore islands like Bantayan and Malapascua.
Best time to visit Cebu: Cebu is best enjoyed in the winter months. The period of March to May tends to be hot and humid, while June and August welcome rain and possibly typhoons.
Where to stay in Cebu: If you’re looking for a budget-friendly stay in a central location in Cebu City, go for ABC Hotel Cebu or Hamersons Hotel. A beachside hotel like Mövenpick Hotel Mactan Island Cebu in Mactan Island, near Cebu City, is ideal for those seeking a quieter vibe.
Under $250: Siem Reap
Explore one of Southeast’s Asia’s most venerable sights – the stunning Angkor Wat temple complex – on your short break at Siem Reap. Arrive at dawn to witness a majestic sunrise before venturing to some of the lesser-known temples where you’ll need to clamber over roots and ancient stones to bring out your inner Indiana Jones. However, it’s not all about temples in Siem Reap; be thrilled at Phare The Cambodian Circus, and feed your soul with a Siem Reap food tour before getting an insight into the local artisan industry at Artisans Angkor.
Best time to visit Siem Reap: The cool and dry months of November to April are best for outdoor explorations.
Under $300: Kaohsiung
Taiwan’s southernmost metropolis is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered by intrepid travellers whose curiosity will be rewarded with rich local culture, amazing local food, and world-class local hospitality. Peek into Kaohsiung’s flourishing art scene at the Pier 2 Art Centre and wander around the Formosa Boulevard MTR station to see the Dome of Light, a marvellous piece of public art installation. The city’s harbour offers gorgeous sunset cityscapes, and the wild regions of the country’s east coast are a short jaunt away.
Best time to visit Kaohsiung: Springtime and the months between October and December often bring about the best weather.
Where to stay in Kaohsiung: Close to Formosa Boulevard Station and Liuhe Night Market, The Tree House is a wonderful option for first-time visitors. The nearby Wuhoo House with its stylish industrial design and spacious rooms is an alternative. You could also check into a five-star hotel with a reasonable price tag at Howard Plaza Hotel Kaohsiung.
Originally published in March 2016 and updated in March 2017. Any prices are lowest estimated prices only at the time of publication and are subject to change and/or availability.