Level up your TGIF with these weekend getaways, from a nature retreat in a treehouse to tropical escapes to heritage-filled cities.
Ipoh is home to tons of heritage. Take it in on a heritage walk around the Old Town, where interesting sites like the Town Hall sit. Hungry? Tuck into delicacies that the city calls its own, including the Ipoh Hor Fun (Chinese wide noodles in a wet gravy), Prawn Noodles and more. Then, wash it down with a cuppa (or rather, a bag) from Sin Yoon Long, a coffee stop which serves the oldest traditional White Coffee in town.
NEXT: Krabi, Thailand →
Psst! Studies have shown that tropical getaways in particular increases happiness levels for up to a month after your vacay. Krabi might just top that – we’re still dreaming of its pristine beaches and clear horizons even today. Venture inwards to find dense rainforests juxtaposed against a compact, busy town bustling with restaurants and shops largely catering to tourists.
NEXT: Luang Prabang, Laos →
This remote, UNESCO World Heritage Town is still relatively untouched by modernisation and tourist activity, which makes it all the more reposeful. Nature abounds, and the cascading Kuang Si Waterfalls is a definite must-see. In town, tradition is richly preserved, with colonial mansions and Buddhist temples dotting the map, along with stilt houses along peaceful lanes.
NEXT: Perak, Malaysia →
Bet you never knew! The Banjaran Retreat is a natural hot spring retreat in an ancient part of Perak, Malaysia, nestled amidst a lush 17-acre valley amidst verdant, 260 million-year-old nature, including cascading waterfalls, towering limestone and mysterious caves. 3 million litres of water billow up daily from the ground below for a detoxifying, delightful dip.
NEXT: Mount Kelimutu, Indonesia →
Ok, let us explain what you’re looking at. This tri-coloured lake lies within the summit of the craters of Kelimutu, a volcano in the island of Flores in Malaysia. The three crater lakes vary in colour from each other and also at different times – a hauntingly beautiful discovery awaits after a challenging yet refreshing trek 1690 metres up.
NEXT: Vigan, Philippines →
Established in the 16th century, the facade of this quaint Spanish colonial town is still decidedly reminiscent its former identity – cobbled streets are lined with elegant European-style merchant houses, while the clitter-clatter of horse-drawn carriages trotting by feels somehow therapeutic. History junkies will love the line of antique shops and pottery studios lining Calle Crisologo, near the centre of town.
NEXT: Phnom Penh, Cambodia →
Don’t get us wrong, we don’t mean you can cover the wealth of sights and sounds of Cambodia’s capital city in a single weekend – you most certainly can’t – but a weekend trip would satisfy you with a hearty fill of street eats as well as contemporary fine dining. Which is what we love about Phnom Penh: the seamless blend of old and new, traditional and modern.
Not just with its food, but also its architecture, entertainment options, and more. There’s even an entire edutainment complex, Kids City, with indoor wall climbing, go-karts and bumper cars, laser tag and more. Definitely mum-approved!
NEXT: Saraii Village, Sri Lanka →
Let nature play host to your getaway as you fulfill your childhood dream in this rustic paradise. We’re talking about the Saraii Village treehouses, the luxury suburban ecolodge sat in the rustic nature paradise of Sri Lanka. Tons of nature-inspired activities await, from breakfast by the river to a visit to the leopard safari to a deep tissue massage. Did we also mention you’ll be living in a treehouse?
NEXT: Ipoh, Malaysia →
Want to escape to a private island? Well, you can! Located 3 hours away from Singapore, this tiny island offers a plethora of activities for all to enjoy. And, its beach palaces are constructed from salvaged driftwood pieces: eco- and environmentally-friendly!
Journey to Cambodia and visit the Preah Vihear Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site (a great nature getaway, too!). This rural spot and centre of pilgrimage is perched on the edge of a 525-metre tall cliff, which looks out to abundant blankets of green. Fun fact: The temple is even said to predate Angkor Wat by 100 years!
If there’s one thing you need to do next year, is make full use of the seven long weekends and book yourself a trip to Yogyakarta! The cultural heart of Indonesia has plenty of traditional activities to do and multiple sites to see, like Borobudur – a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist temple (see above).
Tip: Head early to see the gorgeous sunrise over the stupas!
Visit the capital of Vietnam and feast on bowls of pho, summer rolls, a strong cuppa of joe and much more. Be sure to explore its Old Quarter, too: Lined with bars and restaurants, the area is closed off to vehicles at night – perfect for the wandering its streets with a beer in hand!
Calling all foodies! George Town, the capital of Penang off the west coast of Malaysia, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its well-preserved colonial-era mansions, shophouses, temples and ethnic enclaves. It’s also known for its delicious range of food, from hipster cafes to local delights.
And, the city’s street art is perfect for that Instagrammable shot!
This coastal city is a surfer’s paradise. Even if you don’t surf, there are plenty of restaurants that dot the city’s beaches, giving you a great view of the sunset on the horizon. Plus, its proximity to the UNESCO Heritage town of Hoi An less than 45 minutes away makes this city the perfect place to plan a family vay-cay to.
By Pinky Chng, Updated by Melodi Ghui, September 2019
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