Let’s be reasonable. If you’re looking for a quiet, relaxing, and inexpensive holiday by the beach – Sentosa is NOT the place to go. It’s expensive (actually, it’s the region’s MOST expensive island), it’s touristy (and I mean that with every negative connotation associated with the word), and the beach view is perfect… if you have a cargo ship fetish.
I don’t know about you, but when I sit on a beach, I want to see a vast, unobstructed view of the horizon and not feel like I’m on a beachhead waiting for D-Day to start.
I want to spare you from putting yourself through unnecessary expense of paying $500 a night at some overpriced hotel when that same amount can get you so much more at destinations that are only a few hours away.
Here are 3 exotic and MUCH MORE AFFORDABLE beach destinations you must see:
Bali (Uluwatu), Indonesia
You’re damn right I’m putting Bali at the top of this list! But let me start off by saying that I’m not talking about Kuta. While it’s a beautiful place, it’s definitely not for you if you’re looking for peace and quiet. That’s because it’s the “touristy” part of Bali that’s filled with merchants hawking their 100% marked-up items and loud tourists from every country.
Uluwatu on the other hand is where you want to go if serenity and breathtaking scenery is what you’re after. For my money, there’s no better beach in Bali to throw your towel on and relax than Suluban beach… just make sure you wake up before the tide rises!
As for the cost of visiting Uluwatu, here’s a quick peek (all prices in SGD):
- Travel Cost: Tickets on AirAsia are ridiculously cheap. Depending on the dates you want to fly out, a round trip ticket will be in the $120-$200 range. After landing, you’ll need to take a cab to Uluwatu, a 90-minute journey that will set you back another 30+.
- Lodging Cost: The cost of lodging can vary from $26 for the smaller places to $300+ for the famous Anantara Bali Uluwatu Resort & Spa (pictured above). The Mamo Hotel Uluwatu for $70+ a night is a great choice with free breakfast, comfortable rooms, and it’s only a short walk away from Suluban beach.
- Food Cost: Costs can vary depending on where you dine (hotel or local café). But generally, food here is quite affordable at around $10+ for lunch/dinner (choose a place with free breakfast to make the most of it!). Visiting Finn’s Beach Club is a must if you want great food with an incredible sunset view.
- Activities Available: You can take surfing lessons, golf lessons, or get a spa treatment. Of course, if you don’t want to pay anything, you can spend your days swimming along Suluban beach.
If you’re not that keen on seeing a holiday destination that’s rural, but you still want a measure of peace and quiet, Penang’s the place to visit. It has a reputation as being a food lover’s paradise and if you haven’t visited it yet, you’ll see why world famous foodies like Anthony Bourdain love this place!
But aside from just eating… and eating, Penang is a great place to relax too. But you’ve got to pick the right lodging if you want to have the best of both worlds – a holiday with the opportunity to get both Zen-like tranquility, and a deep cultural experience that brings tourists from all over the globe.
As for the cost of visiting Penang, here’s a quick peek (all prices in SGD):
- Travel Cost: Tickets on AirAsia are fairly reasonable. Depending on the dates you want to fly out, a round trip ticket will be in the $129-$200 range. After landing, you’ll need to take a cab to Batu Ferringhi, which will set you back about $30-$35 (cab drivers will try asking for more, make sure you’re steady on paying NO MORE than $35!)
- Lodging Cost: If you want to enjoy the nicer beaches of Penang, you’ll have to pay a little more in terms of lodging because many hotels have “private” beaches for occupants. Lodging along the beach will range from $200-$300. My pick is the Lone Pine Hotel, which will set you back about $260 a night, but that’s a steal for a 5-Star place like this!
- Food Cost: Food is not only cheap, but VERY good in Penang! I’m not even going to mention how expensive food is at the hotels, and if you’re staying at Batu Ferringhi, the food is much cheaper at the $8-$16 range. Seriously though, you’ll find yourself traveling to Gurney Drive to eat most of the time anyway (don’t forget to try Nasi Kandar!)
- Activities Available: Eating, eating, and more eating (hey, it’s Penang!). Of course, you can also relax by the beach and partake in activities like riding a banana boat or jet skiing. And don’t forget to visit Georgetown!
Pulau Tioman, Malaysia
If you’ve ever had thoughts of just abandoning the modern world – the industrialization, the urbanization, the alienation that you feel working at a cubicle for 10 hours a day, then Tioman is the place to find peace. Compared to larger, more “commercialized” islands like Phuket, Tioman is so small, natural, and remote that you’ll start to feel like Tom Hanks in Castaway – minus the whole survival and imaginary friend thing…
Seriously, depending on what part of the island you choose to stay at, you’ll probably never see more than 100 new faces during the course of your holiday (especially when it’s not peak season). In short, it’s the ultimate island getaway if you’re looking for the anti-Sentosa getaway.
As for the cost of visiting Tioman, here’s a quick peek (all prices in SGD):
- Travel Cost: If you’re travelling to this tiny paradise in the Andaman Sea, there’s the long way, and the short way. Long way – pay for a coach from Singapore to Tanjong Gemok for about $60, and then pay another $12+ for a ferry ticket. Short way – take a flight from Changi airport to Tioman via Berjaya Air, which will set you back about $120+ both ways.
- Lodging Cost: Lodging varies depending on which part of the island you’re on. So expect to pay anywhere from $50-$150+ for lodging. Paya Beach Spa & Dive Resort is a popular place to stay that’s fairly relaxing. But if you want something a bit more upscale, try the Berjaya Tioman Resort.
- Food Cost: Food can be a bit pricey here, especially if you’re eating at the hotel. Expect to pay about $15-20+ for lunch/dinner. The smaller cafés run by the locals offer a cheaper alternative with local favorites like the *drools* Ramli burger!
- Activities Cost: Pretty much any water activity you can think of from snorkeling and diving, to fishing. At the very least, take the snorkeling tour if the island’s a bit too peaceful for you.
One Last Thing
Bear in mind as well that there are plenty of credit cards with cash back and discount offers for various airlines, so depending on what sort of benefits you are looking for, you should make sure that you utilise the right credit card for your booking. Also, don’t forget you can get FREE travel insurance with some cards as well (read the article on the best cards for this here).
If you’re stuck on how to find out which card works best, you can just head to SmartCredit.sg and compare the different perks!
So will you take our advice, or will you be watching container ships on Sentosa? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook!
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