For some of us, National Day weekend means finding a good spot to watch the parade, performances, and fireworks display. Who knows? You might even find yourself singing along to this year’s NDP song. But you’re not going to do that are you?
You deserve a break from the demands of work, school, or home. If you’re looking to celebrate National Day weekend away from Singapore, and perhaps as far away from other Singaporeans as possible, here are 3 relaxing destinations under $400 per person:
Pulau Langkawi – Kedah, Malaysia
Located in the Malaysian state of Kedah, Pulau Langkawi is part of the Langkawi island chain in the Andaman Sea near the Malaysia/Thailand border. It’s a sleepy archipelago that offers plenty of fun activities. Just keep in mind that there’s no public transportation system here, so you’ll need to hail a taxi wherever you go.
What’s To Like?
They don’t call Langkawi the “Jewel of Kedah” for nothing. It’s a nature lover’s paradise filled with jungle-covered hills and white beaches surrounded by an emerald-colored sea – earning UNESCO World Geopark status.
It’s also a duty-free island with a relaxing night life and numerous spa facilities – making it a good place for unwinding after a day full of activity (or inactivity if leisure is what you’re after). Here’s a list of places worth seeing on Pulau Langkawi:
- Nightlife: Many of Pulau Langkawi’s pubs, clubs, bars, and restaurants can be found on Pantai Cenang and Pantai Kok, offering a diverse range of establishments for all tastes (including an Irish pub and beachside bistros).
- Spa Destinations: Pulau Langkawi offers spa option for every budget, from 88RM for a 1-hour full body massages to 700RM for indulgent packages. Check here for a detailed spa guide.
- Local Sights: You can visit the cable car or Langkawi Skybridge if you’re not too scared of heights, sing “I Believe I Can Fly” with the Dataran Lang eagle, take a dinner cruise, or visit their underwater world (not to be confused with Waterworld).
- Outdoors Activities: Give your camera a workout by taking an island hopping tour, get your feet wet snorkeling at Pulau Payar Marine Park. You can also trek through Langkawi’s jungles/mangroves, or go paragliding/parasailing.
What’s The Damage?
To make the most of your money, it’s recommended to purchase a travel package that covers your return trip (via flight from Langkawi to Sigapore), but you’ll still need to pay for your trip to reach Langkawi. Here’s a step by step guide on paying your way:
- Search Tripzilla (or Skyscanner) for a travel package that fits your needs/budget. There are several 3D2N packages ranging from $98 to $208 that include your return flight back to Singapore.
- Purchase bus tickets for you and your passenger from Singapore to Atar Selor, Kedah. This will cost you about $42 per pax.
- Once you arrive at Atar Selor, you’ll need to take a taxi to the Kuala Kedah jetty terminal, which costs no more than $20RM ($8).
- Take the ferry from Kuala Kedah jetty terminal to Langkawi. It will cost 23RM ($9) per pax. The ferry arrives every 45 minutes and runs from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
If we select the $118 package that includes a 3D2N stay with daily breakfast and the return flight home, you’ll pay a total of $177 for all of your travel/lodging expenses.
Leaving you with $223 to spend on holiday activities!
Note: make sure you bring your umbrella as August is right in the middle of rainy season there.
Kota Kinabalu – Sabah, Malaysia
Located in Sabah, Malaysia’s second largest state, Kota Kinabalu is a modern city with a population of about 400,000. It’s a location with a unique balance of urban amenities and natural attractions. And unlike Pulau Langkawi, it has a good public transportation system, making it easier to save on taxi fare.
What’s To Like?
Kota Kinabalu has cultural, historical, leisure and outdoor activities that’ll satisfy just about every kind of vacationer. Whether you enjoy the comforts of the city or the sights and sounds of nature, you’ll definitely find what you’re looking for. There are way too many attractions to list, but here’s a brief overview of places worth seeing at Kota Kinabalu:
- Cultural Attactions: There are several museums and art galleries worth visiting, such as the Sabah State Museum and the Borneo Art Gallery. But the “real” cultural attractions to see are the city’s kampong villages, where locals continue to live a traditional lifestyle unchanged for generations.
- Historical Attractions: There are war memorials dedicated to those who died during World War 2 including the Kundasang War Memorial and the Petangas War Memorial. There are also some beautiful mosques, churches and temples to visit as well.
- Leisure Activities: There’s nothing like watching a beautiful sunset while sipping your favorite drink. You can do that, enjoy a good meal, and even hop over to a dance club at The Waterfront. The city also has numerous spa destinations and markets where you can buy food, gifts and unique handcrafts.
- Nature Activities: Kota Kinabalu is LOADED with outdoor activities! If you love trekking, you must visit Bukit Gemok, Kinabalu Park, and Tawau Hills Park. You can also visit scenic waterfalls, wildlife sanctuaries, and dive at one of the world’s best diving spots, Sipadan Island.
*Note: It would be a shame not to include Mt. Kinabalu, Malaysia’s tallest mountain, on this list. But it’s not a hike for the faint of heart, and it’s costly, with packages starting at a pricey $120 for a 1-day hike.
What’s The Damage?
Booking a flight to Kota Kinabalu will probably give you a heart attack, as flight prices for a two-way flight are already near or way above your $400 dollar budget. Thankfully, you can visit Tripzilla or Skyscanner (I love these sites!) to find the perfect package for your budget, with some including a two-way flight ticket!
Packages available start from $128, but the package we recommend is the $229 3D2N package that includes accommodation and a two-way flight ticket.
Leaving you with $171 dollars to spend on holiday activities!
Lake Toba – Sumatra, Indonesia
Located in the northern part of Sumatra, Lake Toba has several interesting distinctions: it’s the largest volcanic lake in the world, it’s a supervolcano, it’s the world’s deepest lake, and it’s the site of the largest volcanic eruption in the last 25 million years (no need to worry, it was only 70,000 years ago), making it responsible for the last ice age. But aside from its status as a bringer of untold death and destruction, it’s also one of the most relaxing and scenic places you’ll ever visit. There’s no real taxi service here, so you’re better off renting a motorbike for $10 a day.
What’s To Like?
This is the place to be if you’re looking for nothing but good food, rest, and relaxation. Lake Toba is for travellers who aren’t really looking for nightlife activities, but peace and quiet. You’ll also find numerous opportunities to take great pictures of the breathtaking lakeside scenery, as well as the local historical sites.
- Water Activities: You can’t visit a lake the size of Singapore and not at least take a swim in its volcanically-heated waters. You can also go boating on the lake, water ski, go canoeing, and even spend a few hours fishing.
- The Island: In the middle of Lake Toba is the island of Samosir, where you can visit the ruins of an ancient Batak village, see the hot springs, trek through the island’s hilly terrain, or visit one of the island’s two scenic lakes (how often do you see a lake within a lake anyway?).
- Traditional Experience: At Tomok village on Samosir, you can learn about Batak culture, visit the grave of the Batak King, Sidabutar, and purchase some unique handcrafts that you won’t find anywhere else. You can also visit Jangga village, where you can observe the weaving of complex ulos cloth. Check out the video below to learn more about Tomok village.
What’s The Damage?
There are different ways to get to Lake Toba. One way involves taking the $31 ferry to Batam, and then taking another 18-hour long ferry ride to Medan. The quicker alternative is to take a flight from Singapore to Medan’s Polonia Airport, which costs around $100 per pax.
Once there, you’ll have to pay a whopping 30,000 rupiah ($3.70) to take a 6-hour bus ride to Parapat. But if you’re a hi-roller, you can pay 65,000 rupiah ($8.03) to hire a taxi there. If you’re staying on Samosir Island, you’ll also have to pay for a ferry, which will drop you off at either Tuk Tuk or Tomok for 10,000 rupiah ($1.23).
You know the drill – go to Tripzilla or Skyscanner and search for an affordable package right? Wrong! This time, we’re using LOKOPOKO for a great $169 3D2N package that includes accommodation, daily breakfast, and your trip to the airport/return flight! So your package with your flight ticket, ferry, and taxi fare totals to $278.26.
Leaving you with $121.74 to spend on holiday activities!
Ready to Start Planning Your Escape?
We hope you enjoyed this little list of relaxing holiday destinations to visit this National Day weekend. But before you go, here’s some more helpful information for making your tourism dollars go farther – Read this to find out how to save money on your long holiday weekend, and here are 5 websites that can make your holiday cheaper.
And most importantly, START PLANNING NOW! Because the longer you wait, the greater the odds that your package prices/travel expenses will increase.
Do you know of any other reclusive and affordable holiday destinations to visit this National Day weekend? Share them with us on Facebook!
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