Short Trips From Singapore For Long Weekends

Nearby destinations that are well suited for both adventure and rest.

By Therese Tay        27 April 2023

Unlike a typical weeks-long annual vacay where detailed advance planning is required, long three- or four-day weekends (pro-tip: tag a day’s leave onto a public holiday weekend) provide a nice break that’s low on commitment, yet can be as relaxing or active as you desire.

One way to maximise your enjoyment is to make the journey to the destination an experience in itself – road trips up north are ideal – or as quick and direct as possible if you’re flying or sailing. Here are some options that will appeal to almost every personality. SAFRA members can look forward to special discounts at some locations as well!

Ipoh, Malaysia

The capital city of Perak, Ipoh is a charming, low-key town that’s known as a gateway to cooling Cameron Highlands, just a two-hour drive away. That’s not to say Ipoh doesn’t have charms of its own. The former mining town has found its second wind as a foodie haven – must-tries include chicken with beansprouts (Restoran Tauge Ayam Ong Kee, No. 48/51, 53, Jalan Yau Tet Shin, Taman Jubilee, 30300 Ipoh), white coffee (Kedai Makanan Nam Heong, 2, Jalan Bandar Timah, 30000 Ipoh) and baked salted chicken (Aun Kheng Lim Salted Chicken, 24, Jalan Theatre, Taman Jubilee, 30300 Ipoh). Besides eating, drop by Kellie’s Castle, an unfinished mansion which was built in 1915 by Scottish planter, William Kellie-Smith. Some say it’s haunted… If you’re in the mood for some slow relaxation, buy a day pass to the Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat, where you can soak in geothermal hot spring pools and meditate in crystal-filled caves.

SAFRA members get a free 90-Day Tripbeat Premium Membership where you’ll receive up to 60% off stays at over 600,000 hotels worldwide, among other privileges, till 30 June 2023. Find out more at safra.sg/promotions/tripbeat

Driving time from Singapore: 7.5 hours (non-stop)
Flight time from Singapore: 1 hour 10 mins

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The capital of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur has a modern skyline that’s dominated by the 451m-tall Petronas Twin Towers, a pair of glass-and-steel-clad skyscrapers. There’s a public skybridge and observation deck, which you should visit for expansive views of the city. For equally inspiring views, a visit to the FRIM (Forest Research Institute of Malaysia) Forest Skywalk at the Kepong Botanic Gardens is in order. Comprising eight bridges and 11 towers, with its highest point at 141m above sea level, it’s a unique way to get to know the local flora and fauna. Those with children may also want to consider a visit to interactive city, KidZania Kuala Lumpur, which is probably the nearest of the brand’s branches to Singapore.

SAFRA members enjoy 25% off best available rates at the Oasia Suites Kuala Lumpur till 23 June 2023. Find out more at safra.sg/promotions/oasia-suites-kuala-lumpur-malaysia

Driving from Singapore: 4.5 hours (non-stop)
Flight time from Singapore: 1 hour 6 mins

Penang, Malaysia

Famed for its cultural and historical landmarks – the capital, George Town, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and delicious food offerings, Penang island has everything you need for a long weekend getaway. Take a walk or hire a trishaw to explore the compact town and discover its famed murals and street art. When you’re feeling peckish, use the chance to sample delicacies such as Penang Char Kway Teow, Cendol, Penang Assam Laksa and Pasembur (Indian rojak). George Town also plays host to one Michelin-starred Auntie Gaik Lean’s Old School Eatery, which offers traditional Nonya cooking – think curry Kapitan, nasi ulam and kueh pie tee – served in a dining hall with retro memorabilia and vintage ceiling fans.

SAFRA members enjoy 15% off Rockin’ Internet and Room Only deals at Hard Rock Hotel Penang till 30 November 2023. Find out more at safra.sg/promotions/hard-rock-hotel-penang

Driving time from Singapore: 9 hours (non-stop)
Flight time from Singapore: 1 hour 25 mins

Bangkok, Thailand

Eating, sightseeing, partying, playing and praying – there’s lots to do in the vibrant Thai capital that never sleeps. Michelin-starred restaurants dot the city, from the one Michelin-starred Jay Fai, a relatively inexpensive street-food icon known for its signature crab omelette (be prepared to wait up to 2 hours!), to two Michelin-starred Sorn, which serves modern Southern Thai cuisine. The Chatuchak Market is still a firm favourite with visitors, where you can check off street food and shopping at one go. With over 8,000 vendors selling almost every kind of item imaginable, the market is the largest of its kind in the world. For a more local vibe, head across the Chao Phraya River to the Wang Lang Market for plenty of authentic Thai food and desserts. At the other end of the spectrum, head to Wat Pho, with its huge golden reclining Buddha statue, for some peace and calm.

SAFRA members enjoy 8% off accommodations worldwide for bookings on Agoda till 31 December 2024. Find out more at www.safra.sg/promotions/agoda

Flight time from Singapore: 2.5 hours (non-stop)

Bintan, Indonesia

Part of Indonesia’s Riau Archipelago, Bintan is known as a resort island and that basically means rest and relaxation galore. But if you’re done with chilling out poolside or at your hotel spa, consider taking a mangrove or fireflies tour. The latter takes place at night – be prepared to be enchanted as you cruise into a cloud of glowing fireflies. For dinner, seafood meals are popular and having one at The Kelong Seafood Restaurant, an eatery on stilts offering cool sea views and breeze, fits the bill.

SAFRA members enjoy 15% off best available rates, and more, at The Residence Bintan till 30 June 2024. Find out more at safra.sg/promotions/the-residence-bintan

Sailing (ferry) time from Singapore: 70 minutes (non-stop)

Driving tips

1. Make sure to have your driving licence, passport, vehicle registration and insurance documents with you. There’s no need to apply for an International Driving Permit (IDP) if you’re driving into Malaysia as Singapore’s driving licence is recognised there.

2. Familiarise yourself with the driving rules and road signs of your destination. For instance, does the country practise a right- or left-side driving system? In roads where the speed limit is not indicated, what’s the default limit?

3. Consider registering as a member of the Automobile Association of Singapore (AAS). The AAS provides various motoring services to members including roadside assistance, including in 140 countries, through its network of affiliated partners.

4. Activate data roaming on your mobile plan, or get a local data SIM card or travel eSIM. This not only ensures that you have reliable access to the Internet for the latest traffic updates along your route, but also gives some peace of mind in case of any emergency.

Stay in touch no matter where you travel with AIRSIM, a prepaid travel data SIM card that can be used in more than 130 countries outside of Singapore. SAFRA members get 15% off till 31 December 2023; more info at safra.sg/promotions/airsim

5. A driver’s physical state plays a big part in driving safety. Be sure to get enough sleep and rest, and don’t drink and drive.

NSmen, sign up for your complimentary 1-year SAFRA membership and enjoy discounts on dining and shopping purchases at over 2,000 merchant outlets islandwide, as well as members’ rates at more than 45 sports facilities at SAFRA clubs! What’s more, your family can enjoy the privileges too – your 1st dependent pays $10/year, and it’s free for your 2nd dependent onwards. Click here for more details.

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