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5 Affordable No-Flight Weekend Getaways That Aren’t Johor Bahru Or Batam

affordable no flight weekend getaways

Joanne Poh

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We all love those long trips to faraway lands. But most of us only have the money and annual leave to take big holidays occasionally. The rest of the time, we’re more likely to be nipping away on weekend getaways to nearby destinations.

But travelling all the way to Changi Airport and waiting in line at the check-in counter can quickly get old, especially if your travelling time from home to the airport is longer than your actual flight. What’s more, packing all your bath and body products into tiny bottles so you don’t get them confiscated during the security check is usually necessary if you’re taking a budget flight without a check-in baggage allowance.

Here are five no-flight weekend getaways that aren’t Johor Bahru or Batam to fill your weekends with.

Desaru

Desaru - MoneySmart

Forget about Batam and Bintan, which have become the playgrounds of Singaporean tourists, as reflected in the prices. Desaru is a Malaysian beachside paradise located in nearby Johor that is appropriately rustic and has retained affordable prices thanks to a mostly local clientele.

Other than enjoying the beach and hanging out at your resort, you can also go on a river cruise on which you’ll catch sight of fireflies, visit the surrounding fruit farms or check out a fishing village.

How to get there: You can take a 45-minute ferry ride from Changi Ferry Terminal to Tanjung Belungkor Ferry Terminal, a return ticket for which costs about $29.

Cameron Highlands

Cameron Highlands - MoneySmart

Instead of complaining about Singapore’s hot and humid weather, take a bus ride up to the Cameron Highlands, a hilly region in Malaysia where temperatures can fall to as low as 12 degrees celcius.

The area is swathed in tea plantations and farms. If you’re travelling as a family, the kids will enjoy a strawberry picking excursion at one of the many strawberry farms. Adventure seekers might like to participate in a guided trek, where you might spot the infamous, stinky Rafflesia Flower.

How to get there: An overnight coachride from Singapore to the Cameron Highlands takes about 9 hours, and a return ticket costs about $80.

Tioman Island

Tioman Island - MoneySmart

You don’t have to fly to Bali or Phuket to enjoy an island getaway. Tioman Island off the East Coast of Malaysia feels secluded enough to have you feel like you’ve escaped civilisation over the weekend.

Not only can you enjoy snorkelling, scuba diving and surfing in relatively clean waters, you can also visit and volunteer at the Juara Turtle Project, an initiative promoting the conservation of sea turtles.

How to get there: The most popular way is to take a 5-hour coach to Mersing, and then catch a ferry to Tioman Island. The coach ride is about $40 to $60 for a return ticket, while the 1.5-hour ferry ride to Tioman costs about 35 MYR (12 SGD).

Sibu Island

Sibu Island - MoneySmart

Sibu Island is lesser-known than Tioman and more difficult to get to, but has nonetheless become popular with scuba divers and snorkellers.

Many Singaporeans head to Sibu on diving tours, but it’s possible to do the trip independently. It forms part of the magnificent Mersing Marine Park which includes other popular divers’ destinations like Pulau Rawa. Tourist infrastructure is limited to the few resorts and diving facilities on the island.

How to get there: Cross the Causeway and then take a taxi from Johor Bahru to Tanjung Leman, which should cost approximately 180 MYR (61 SGD). Your resort will pick you up by boat, the average price of which is about 70 MYR (24 SGD) for a return ticket. Check with your resort if they provide transfers directly from Singapore, as these will likely be cheaper.

Endau Rompin National Park

Endau Rompin National Park - MoneySmart

Outdoorsy types will enjoy a trek through this national park’s tropical rainforest. For regular city folks who weren’t raised by wolves, a guided tour is highly recommended. Visit an orang asli village, swim in waterfalls or go fishing and water rafting.

If you want to stay overnight in the park itself, there is a chalet, campsite and dorm. Otherwise, you can find hotels in the nearby towns.

How to get there: If you’re on a package tour, you’re likely to be picked up from Kluang. A return coach ticket from Singapore to the Kluang bus terminal costs about $30 to $40 and takes about 3 hours.

Don’t forget to get travel insurance!

Buying travel insurance for weekend getaways might initially feel like an unnecessary additional cost to an already budget-conscious trip. And yes, travel insurance does cover non-flight travel too! The best part is, it shouldn’t cost you more than $15 per person. It’s a small price to pay to ensure you have enough coverage to enjoy your weekend adventure. Compare the best travel insurance prices before heading for your holiday.

What’s your favourite destination for a weekend getaway? Share your recommendations in the comments!

Image credits: ArtisIvanChew, Ken Marshall, _paVan_, kwc909, Ronald Tagra

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.