If you have not started planning your long public holiday vacations, it is time for you to do so! Barely a third into the new year and we’re looking at only four long weekends remaining this year.
We have put together an itinerary of travel ideas to highly accessible, nearby countries for a quick vacay, whether you might be a nature lover or a city-loving urbanite. So, stop fantasising at your desk and start planning your trip now! You are welcome!
FOR NATURE LOVERS
If you have daydreamed of strolling along the beach or taking a splash in crystal-clear waters at some point of time in your mundane life, Bali and Phuket is your remedy!
Bali – Lovina
Bali is one of the most sought-after places to visit even though tourism has swept over its many beautiful shores. Friendly locals, cheap food and booze, art shopping and an abundance of nature are just some of its many charms. There are lovely beaches galore, breathtaking waterfalls, majestic mountains and the most picturesque landscapes.
Escape from the main hubbub of central Bali and move further up the north coast to get to the quieter Lovina Beach. The laidback vibe here is reminiscent of the old Bali, with fishing boats dotting the shoreline and plenty of nondescript cheap warungs around.
Winning hearts for its black sand beaches and calmer waters, Dolphin Watching tours at Lovina beach remain one of the main nature attractions here. Be ready to get up before sunrise as these friendly cetaceans are commonly spotted in the early hours of the day. Diving is also a popular activity and dive enthusiasts can explore the clear waters of nearby Menjangan Island, Tulamben and Amed, as well as from the local beaches.
Another not-to-be-missed activity that travellers can enjoy is to do a daytrip to several incredible waterfalls nearby, namely the Singsing Waterfall, the Aling-Aling Waterfall, the popular Gitgit Waterfall and the imposing Banyumala Twin Waterfalls. Take your cameras along, you will not be disappointed. And, do squeeze in a visit to the sacred Banjar Hot Springs within the vicinity for a unique local experience. With its natural sulphur pools at a therapeutic temperature of approximately 38 degrees, a healing soak here will leave weary bodies feeling rejuvenated.
Phuket – Rawai Beach
Do not be fooled by its rowdy façade. When you get away from the drunk tourists, bustling streets and incessant street vendors, Phuket is actually home to some of the most incredible natural beauty.
Avoid the main towns and skip over to Rawai Beach, a hidden gem just a mere 35mins drive away from crazy Patong district. Lined with casuarina trees, Rawai is ideal for people who prefer a more relaxed environment and a more authentic local experience.
Promthep Cape is one of the island’s more well-known locations because every evening, nature puts on the most dazzling sunset show to wow eager spectators. Just slightly further up is another tremendous viewpoint that leaves visitors spellbound. Characterised by several huge and tall white windmills seemingly looking out wistfully to sea, the Windmill Viewpoint is a great place to watch the sea traffic go by and ponder upon the wonders of nature.
Being a major point of departure for longtail boats, travellers can also easily hop on a longtail boat from Rawai and explore the surrounding idyllic islands of Coral Island, Racha Island, Ko Lon. For the more adventurous, daytrips to the famous Phi Phi Islands and Phang Nga Bay promise plenty of fun!
If you prefer some quiet time, one of the best activities to do here is to basically laze around on its peaceful beaches and watch the local children frolic in the shallow waters against the silhouette of traditional longtail boats moored along the shoreline.
FOR CITY-LOVING URBANITES
And there are those who cannot get enough of a vibrant city’s pulsating heartbeat. From day to night, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur provides all the action you want!
Hong Kong – Sheung Wan
A glitzy metropolis that shares space with remnants of its British colonial past and its traditional Chinese roots, the noise and sights in Hong Kong constantly awake your senses with never a dull moment.
Instead of the usual shopping, discover an interesting traditional-meets-artistic side of Hong Kong at Sheung Wan. An eagerly-rising neighbourhood for the trendy and arty, stumble upon art galleries, quaint cafes, indie shops featuring local designers and chic drinking holes nestled among temples and shabby walkways.
Spend an entire blissful day at the PMQ, a heritage-listed building that has been repurposed as a local creative hub. In this 8-storey wonderland, stroll through art galleries, take part in hands-on art workshops, shop for local designer wear and handicrafts, and buy the most interesting curios. The alleys of Upper Station Street and Sai Street are also where you can find the best street art in the city, featuring photo-worthy graffiti works by renowned local and foreign artists.
The quaint PoHo enclave in Sheung Wan is another treasure trove of unique finds. Besides eclectic shopping spots, this charming area is home to some of the best hipster cafes for a totally indulgent café-hopping experience. What is wonderful is that these cafes are situated within a stone’s throw from each other – Brew Bros Coffee, The Cupping Room and Why 50 are just few of many.
When night falls, steer away from cliché Lang Kwai Fong and strut over to a network of some of the best Speakeasy Bars at Central. 001 Speakeasy, Fox Glove and Le Boudoir are some highly-reviewed and popular joints where you can mingle with the locals and party the night away.
KUALA LUMPUR – BANGSAR
Image source: APW Bangsar
KL is probably one of the most visited places for short getaways. Sick of Bukit Bintang and the KLCC area? Chill out at one of KL’s coolest new neighbourhoods – Bangsar!
Known for its roaring night life and affluent residences, Bangsar now has transformed into an extensive haven of designer boutiques, swanky shopping malls, highly-raved restaurants, artisanal cafes and more.
Shop to your heart’s delight at the popular Bangsar Village that houses more than seventy specialty shops catering to every whim and fancy. Hop over to the vibrant streets of Jalan Telawi and amuse yourself with quirky retail offerings from local brands such as Never Follow Suit, House Of Doll and Snackfood. Travellers can also enjoy a fun-filled day at APW Bangsar, a creative event space that sees regular exciting activities such as weekend flea markets, art exhibitions by local artists and youth networking events.
As expected from its hipster reputation, the Coffee Culture in Bangsar is very strong. From big coffee brands to independent gourmet brews, the plethora of cafes in Bangsar area are roasting up a storm. Join the city’s young urbanites in enjoying a brew or two and remember to snap plenty of pictures to flood your social media feed.
Of course, how can a trip to KL be complete without feasting yourself crazy at the thriving Bangsar Sunday Market! From mid-afternoon until 11pm at night, local and foreign shoppers alike throng the market excitedly in search of the most mouthwatering local dishes and sweets.
Those who want more action can head down to the countless nightlife spots concentrated around Jalan Telawi, Bangsar Baru and Bangsar South. The choices are mind-boggling; unwind to live jazz music at Atelier On Telawi, romance your loved one from panoramic Mantra Rooftop Bar or sip delicious Peranakan-influenced cocktails at Shelly Yu’s Bar.
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