What are the best budget destinations for short trips from Singapore?
1. Hua Hin, Thailand
The resort city of Hua Hin has been popular with Thai royalty since the 1920s for its long beach, crisp air and cosmopolitan vibes. Grab goodies at Cicada Market, take a day trip out to the beautiful Hua Hin Hills Vineyard for an afternoon of wine tasting or spend some time checking out the amazing art at Baan Silapin, also known as Artists’ Home. Hua Hin is renowned throughout Thailand for its seafood so after dark, be sure to head to Naresdamri Road for a bargain feast and romantic sea views. If you’re up for it, you could even take a leisurely four-hour train ride from Hua Hin to dive into the delights of Bangkok!
Best time to visit: For cooler days and great deals on flights and rooms, visit Hua Hin between June to October.
2. Yangon, Myanmar
Yangon is changing like the wind, so grab a budget airfare now to see the city in its full splendour for your next short trip from Singapore. Malls are popping up all over the place, but in the heart of the city, gorgeous colonial architecture sits alongside crowded roadside tea houses packed with punters snacking on delectable Burmese treats. Shwedagon Pagoda, one of Southeast Asia’s must-sees, is a beguiling and awe-inspiring testament to faith. To get up close and personal with the locals and for a fascinating glimpse into city life, take a train ride on the Circle Line. Burmese food takes time to understand; influenced by its neighbouring countries and yet totally unique, a local meal is guaranteed to get your taste buds working OT. A good place for a crash course is Feel Myanmar.
Best time to visit: Head to Yangon in the cool season running from November to March to get the best out of your visit.
3. Hong Kong
With its buzzing energy, Hong Kong makes one of the top weekend getaways from Singapore. Have your fortune told at a temple or head deep into the atmospheric backstreets of Kowloon to tuck into delectable dim sum and bowls of steaming wonton noodles before being dazzled by neon and tempting bargains in the night markets around Mong Kok. Soak in the Hong Kong street culture in Sham Shui Po. Take the Star Ferry over to Hong Kong Island and climb the Peak for incredible city views followed by an afternoon chilling out at beautiful Shek O beach, where you might strike gold and catch a Cantopop video being made.
Best time to visit: Embrace Hong Kong’s sunny days and cool evenings between October to December.
Where to stay: There are plenty of unique boutique hotels and just as many no-frills budget accommodations in Hong Kong. The charmingly retro Brighton Hotel has great value rooms close to eating and shopping options, while Check Inn HK has tidy air-conditioned rooms for those on a budget.
4. Padang, Malaysia
With a short layover in Kuala Lumpur, Singaporeans can reach Padang, the capital of Indonesia’s West Sumatra province, in less than five hours via AirAsia. What can you do there? Explore the gorgeously cool highlands and traditional houses around Bukitinggi, home of the Minangkabau people. Don’t forget to pick up some of the silverware produced by the artisans at Kota Gadang. A short boat ride from the city of Padang lies a number of resorts on islands and in isolated coves where you can channel your inner Crusoe before heading back into town and tucking into some of the best nasi padang on earth at Lamun Ombak – the rendang and sambal hijau here will blow your mind!
Best time to visit: Sitting on the equator, Padang is warm and wet all year round. For cooler climes head to Bukitinggi, which is best visited from May to October.
5. Manila, The Philippines
Often overlooked, Manila is a jewel to explore with its fascinating art galleries, vast shopping malls, lively night scene, and its Spanish colonial architecture and cobblestone streets in photogenic Intramuros. You can be guaranteed one of the best weekend getaways from Singapore in this soulful city. Once you’ve explored the amazing displays and caught a gig at the Ayala Museum, head to Binondo, the city’s Chinatown, and check out the street food scene where you can savour well-loved Filipino snacks including balut, kwek kwek and kalingking.
Best time to visit: Fly to Manila between January to early March for dry days and cool weather.
6. Hanoi, Vietnam
If you’re in Hanoi, you have to go local when it comes to food. The city is a foodie paradise, so start your explorations with a visit to Bun Cha 34, celebrated for its grilled pork noodles. Feel free to snack your way around the city as you do a circuit of Hoan Kiem Lake, pop into the beautiful Temple of Literature and take a tour of Hoa La Prison, known as the ‘Hanoi Hilton’ during the war. After dark, catch some jazz with drinks at Binh Minh Jazz Club or listen to some traditional Vietnamese folk music at Thang Long Ca Tru Theatre.
Best time to visit: Experience a chilly winter under 10ºC from December to February. The shoulder seasons of autumn and spring offer generally pleasant weather too.
7. Kalibo (Boracay), The Philippines
Kalibo is the starting point for getaways to the postcard-perfect island of Boracay. This world-famous tourist hotspot was ordered to close down for rehabilitation in 2018 and has since re-opened its doors again. Only 19,000 tourists are allowed to be in Boracay on any given day. If you are one of them, fill up your tummy at Manobo Grill where you’ll sample delicious Filipino dishes such as bulalo, a beef shank soup. If you can summon the energy for some activity, head to Bulabog Beach to take part in every conceivable water sport imaginable. Otherwise, bliss out at White Beach on a deckchair with a chilled cocktail during sunset. Just remember to be a responsible tourist as a way to support the island’s push for sustainable tourism.
Best time to visit: Steer clear of the rain by visiting Boracay between November to May.
8. Cebu, The Philippines
Be transported to paradise in less than four hours when you fly to Cebu, an island province of the Philippines. Enjoy a leisurely stroll by the beach and jump into the azure blue waters around Mactan Island. Then, take some time to explore Cebu City’s historical spots such as Fort San Pedro, Temple of Leah and Basilica Minore del Santo Niño before getting your senses assaulted at Carbon Market. If you have more time, venture out of Cebu City to swim in Tumalog Falls, hike up Osmeña Peak, or try activities like canyoneering, rappelling and spelunking.
Best time to visit: Cebu is best visited from November to February when the weather is cool, dry and sunny.
Where to stay: For a homely stay on Mactan Island, look into Amaris Bed and Breakfast. Prefer to stay in Cebu City? Go economical at Murals Hostel and Cafe or get comfortable at the very central ABC Hotel Cebu.
Published in April 2017 and updated in February 2019. Any prices are lowest estimated prices only at the time of publication and are subject to change and/or availability
Published in April 2017 and updated in February 2019. Any prices are lowest estimated prices only at the time of publication and are subject to change and/or availability.