1. Taipei, Taiwan
Taipei offers a refreshing change of atmosphere during your short holiday from Singapore. Be awed by the cityscape from the top of Taipei 101 before exploring vibrant Ximending and the boutique offerings in the hip Red House. The city is surrounded by green hills, so fill your lungs with clean air and ride the gondola up to Maokong to relax in a tea house with a few glasses of Taiwan’s refreshing mountain oolong tea. You can’t come to Taipei without indulging in a bit of gluttony so spend an evening in the night markets of Shilin and Raohe feasting on local snacks such as fried chicken, pig’s blood cake and stinky tofu to satisfy your Taiwan culinary cravings.
Best time to visit: September to November for dry, warm days and good hotel deals. Find cheap flight deals to Taipei on Skyscanner.
2. Siem Reap, Cambodia
With the magnificent Angkor Wat temple complex just a short ride out of town, Siem Reap makes one of the best destinations for short holidays from Singapore. Be sure to wake up before daybreak for an unforgettable sunrise at Angkor Wat. You can also hire a bike to explore some of the more remote temples that are less likely to be overrun by busloads of tourists. Back in town, enjoy an evening watching the amazing acrobatics and skills exhibited at Phare the Cambodian Circus. Then head down to Marum to get your hands on some fantastic locally-inspired dishes including the famous crocodile burgers.
Best time to visit: December to February for cool days and quiet tourist attractions.
3. Darwin, Australia
Yes, you can actually get to Australia under $300! Darwin is located far north in Australia’s Northern Territory and the flight duration from Singapore is under five hours. Start your trip at Darwin’s Waterfront Precinct, then continue along the Heritage Trail to learn about the indigenous Larrakia people and the city’s maritime history. In the heart of the city centre, you can view Australia’s ferocious cold-blooded creatures – crocodiles – at Crocosaurus Cove. After the city adventures, make a break for Litchfield National Park to immerse yourself in the Australian outback.
Best time to visit: June to September for dry and cool weather.
Where to stay in Darwin: Bunk in Club Tropical Resort Darwin for highly-rated yet budget-friendly deluxe rooms. Or top up a little more to stay in Metro Advance Apartments & Hotel which has studios and apartments with cooking facilities.
4. Kochi, India
If you’ve never been to India, Kochi is a great place to start. Located by the coast in the heart of Kerala, this city has been a port since the mid-fourteenth century. Influences from the Arabs, British, Chinese, Dutch and Portuguese over the course of history has moulded the unique identity of Kochi. You could drop by cultural sites like Mattancherry Palace, Paradesi Synagogue and St. Francis Church for a glimpse of the past. Then head to the sea to observe the iconic Chinese fishing nets at work. Just don’t leave the city without shopping at Princess Street and catching the riveting Kathakali dance performance.
Best time to visit: October to February brings about the most pleasant weather.
5. Chiang Mai, Thailand
Calm Chiang Mai is quite a contrast to the whirling madness of Bangkok and is perfect for quiet retreats and short holidays from Singapore. Explore magical temples such as Wat Umong and Wat Chedi Luang, especially at sunset. The city has a burgeoning café scene so sit back with a cup of your favourite brew and watch the world go by. Outdoorsy types will want to head out of the city for great experiences. Feel the exhilarating Flight of the Gibbon Zipline and the many elephant sanctuaries that can be found dotting the cool, leafy hills that surround Chiang Mai.
Best time to visit: October to April for cool weather and light breezes.
6. Sanya, China
Also known as the Hawaii of the East, Sanya is located in China’s Hainan Island. Blessed with a tropical climate and a resplendent coastline, this city has witnessed a spurt of resorts that capitalise on the steady stream of beach-loving holidaymakers. Water activities like surfing and scuba diving are the obvious activities, but you’ll also find plenty of attractions deeper inland. The Yanoda Rainforest Cultural Tourism Zone is home to gorgeous valleys, waterfalls and springs. While Sanya Romance Park is a massive entertainment centre with ten themed zones. Finish the last evening of your trip at Luhuitou Park where spectacular sunset views await.
Best time to visit: Year-round for warm tropical weather.
This up-and-coming South Asian capital charms all first-time visitors. Colombo is a thriving, vibrant metropolis with shopping, food, and fun. Both historic and modern, this city has something for people of all stripes. In addition to being a destination in its own right, it also makes a fantastic staging area for points elsewhere in Sri Lanka, like the ancient playboy palace of Sigiriya and the verdant depths of Yala National Park. While you’re in the country, be sure to hop on the train from Kandy to Ella and be the judge of whether this really is one of the most scenic train rides in the world.
Best time to visit Colombo: Any time of the year outside of the monsoon season between June to September.
Where to stay in Colombo: Choose to have views of the lake, park or ocean from a spacious room when you stay at Cinnamon Red Colombo. If you’re determined to spoil yourself, don’t miss out on your chance to stay at one of the oldest hotels east of the Suez, Galle Face Hotel. Built in 1864, this is a colonial hotel with lots of old world charm.
Originally 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