1. Seoul, Korea
A trendy destination, Seoul is certainly not just for K-pop and K-drama fans. Culture vultures will have a field day exploring the alleys of Bukchon Hanok Village, the streets of Insadong, and the compounds of Gyeongbukgung Palace. The shopping options are endless, from the famous districts of Myeongdong and Dongdaemun to massive departmental stores and underground shopping malls. Whenever you get peckish, look out for food carts that are piled with tasty goodies like hotteok (sweet pancakes) and tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes). Capture panoramic views of Seoul from the lofty N Seoul Tower before concluding your visit.
Best time to visit Seoul: As summers can be sweltering and winters can be too cold, spring and autumn are the two best seasons to visit Seoul.
Where to stay in Seoul: For spacious and immaculate rooms in the city centre, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a rival for ENA Suite Hotel Namdaemun. Those looking for budget options can consider Crossroad Backpackers Hongdae or Xeromine Guesthouse Itaewon, both of which have comfortable dorm rooms and private rooms.
2. Sapporo, Japan
With its rich natural setting and world-famous ramen, Sapporo is a great holiday destination from Singapore. While many travellers would time their trip to coincide with the Sapporo Snow Festival, there’s also much to see during other seasons. No matter the time of the year, travellers should tuck into some of the freshest seafood in the world and then wash it down with an ice-cold Sapporo beer. Nearby Otaru is a charming town with plenty of history, and the island of Hokkaido itself is known for its hot springs, volcanoes, lakes and gorgeous gardens.
Best time to visit Sapporo: Sapporo is a year-round destination. Those averse to crowds should avoid the city when the Sapporo Snow Festival is in full swing.
Where to stay in Sapporo: Overlooking Nakajima Park and just two kilometres from the iconic Sapporo Clock Tower, Sapporo Park Hotel is a sleek place to stay. For something more lavish, go for Mercure Hotel Sapporo which is right next to Tanukikoji Shopping Street.
3. Koh Samui, Thailand
For your next beach holiday in Thailand, forget Krabi and Phuket. Instead, fly directly to Koh Samui, an island paradise in the Gulf of Thailand. Koh Samui is just the kind of place you’d want to book a beachfront resort and spend hours lazing by the sea. After a good dose of Vitamin D, score some bargains at the Fisherman’s Village, marvel at the 12-metre-tall Big Buddha, and go on the hunt for strange rock formations. Don’t forget to sink your teeth into fresh tiger prawns in a beachside restaurant too!
Best time to visit Koh Samui: Avoid the wet months of October to December.
Where to stay in Koh Samui: Located along Chaweng Beach, Ozo Chaweng Samui boasts a gorgeous pool area and rooms that are designed for a good night’s sleep. Higher up on a hill, Silavadee Pool Spa Resort wins the hearts of travellers with its rustic vibes, hot tubs, private pools and breathtaking views.
4. Lahore, Pakistan
Not many travellers consider Pakistan when thinking of holiday destinations. If you go against the crowds, however, you will be duly rewarded by an unforgettable trip. Top of the list of reasons to visit Lahore is the warm embrace of Pakistani hospitality. Next up would be the stunning architecture that can be witnessed in places like Badshahi Mosque and Lahore Fort. Shop ‘til you drop at Anarkali Bazaar and Liberty Market, and then pop by Lahore Museum to appreciate its red-brick facade and walk through history.
Best time to visit Lahore: The months of November to March have the most pleasant weather. Note that in Ramadan, which normally falls in May or June, travellers might have limited food options on the streets.
Where to stay in Lahore: The centrally-located Luxus Grand Hotel seeps with luxury but comes at a reasonable price tag. An option for more budget-conscious travellers would be Mairona Hotels Gulberg which has well-equipped rooms and polite staff.
5. Manado, Indonesia
The capital city of North Sulawesi, Manado is the hop-off point to Bunaken Marine Park, a world-class diving destination. After a day of discovering the wealth of life underwater, Manado invites travellers to shop and dine from the comforts of the Boulevard, a tourist area dotted with malls. For a laid-back afternoon, retreat to Malalayang Beach and swim alongside the locals. Adventurers should also make their way to Tunan Waterfall, a hidden gem that can be reached by a four- to five-hour trek from the city.
Best time to visit Manado: If you’re planning to dive, come between May to October for the best water visibility. The weather is mostly sunny throughout the year with the exception of some rainy days between November to April.
Where to stay in Manado: With its modern decor and photo-worthy rooms, S Loft Manado makes a charming stay. Its no-plastic policy is a bonus too. Have cash to spare? Then treat yourself to a suite with sea views in Four Points by Sheraton Manado.
Published in May 2017 and updated in March 2019. Any prices are lowest estimated prices only at the time of publication and are subject to change and/or availability.