Singapore is a perfect jumping-off point for quick trips around the region and short weekend breaks.
Dozens of destinations around the region can easily be reached in a few hours by air, by ferry, by bus, or by train.
Here’s a quick rundown of short trip destinations from Singapore. Some can be done as a day trip or overnight trip, others are better done over three to four days.
Need more ideas? Check out our recommended selection of tours and activities in Singapore
- Siem Reap is the gateway to Cambodia’s marvellous complex of temples, centered around Angkor Wat. Angkor Archeological Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site stretching over about 400 square kilometers – nearly two-thirds the size of Singapore! In addition to the impressive temples, visit for the Khmer food – it’s cheap and delicious. Siem Reap can be reached by plane from Singapore; plan at least 4 days.
- Southeast Asia’s newest independent nation is now more accessible following AustAsia‘s launch of Singapore-Dili direct flights in 2007. East Timor is a former Portuguese enclave and boasts great coffee, delicious food, quiet beaches and pristine dive sites. The high airfare costs and memories of political unrest in 2006 may keep the less-adventurous away, but if you’re looking for somewhere off the beaten path, visit Dili before everyone else discovers it. Singapore-Dili flights take approximately 4 hours.
Check it out before you go: Timor-Leste (East Timor): Country Guide (Lonely Planet Country Guides)
- Bali is famous for beaches, surfing, clubs, and temples. You can book a flight from Singapore to Bali’s Denpasar airport; the flight takes about 2.5 hours. Depending on your tastes and your budget, there are several different areas of the island to choose from. Jimbaran Bay, Seminyak and Nusa Dua host upscale beach resorts. Kuta is backpacker central and is a good place to find cheap, lively lodging. Ubud is up in the hills, great for a quiet relaxing trip. If you’re travelling with friends, you can get a good deal by booking villas that can fit 4 to 8 people.
- Batam is a short ferry ride from Singapore. More industrial than family favorite Bintan, Batam is popular for massages, golf, and watersports such as wakeboarding at the local cable ski park. Day packages under S$100 include round trip ferry transfers between Singapore and Batam, land transfers, lunch, and a full day of wakeboard instruction.
- Hit the beach resorts at Bintan. This family-friendly destination can be reached via a 90-minute ferry trip. It’s a convenient weekend getaway for beaches, massages, and water sports. Most resorts on Bintan cater to Singapore tourists and often quote prices in Singapore dollars. For a cheap deal, visit on weekdays; many resorts offer special mid-week prices. On the luxury end, Banyan Tree Bintan offers a 5-star experience and private villas.
- Johor Bahru, usually known as “JB”, is an easy day-trip or weekend shopping destination. It’s also popular for golf. There are several options for getting to JB by bus; the trip takes about an hour, longer during rush hour. You can also book a cab from Singapore via Johor Taxi Service (+65 6296-7054) for $45, or take a shared taxi from Queen Street bus station for about $8 per person. Normal Singapore cabs are not allowed to cross over to Malaysia.
- Kuala Lumpur is about 5 hours by bus from Singapore. Shopping is good here, and don’t miss the twin Petronas towers. Nearby Genting Highlands is a popular destination for families driving over from Singapore.
- Kuching is the capital of Sarawak. It’s known for museums, wildlife, and cats. Be aware that Sarawak manages its own immigration policies even though it’s part of Malaysia. According to the Wikitravel entry on Sarawak, visitors who don’t need visas for Malaysia will get a 90-day visa-free entry stamp upon entering; but if you need a visa for Malaysia, then you’ll need to get a special visa specifically for Sarawak. If you’re a kayak enthusiast, try the river and ocean day trips organized by Kuching Kayak. Kuching can be reached via the budget airlines flying from Singapore.
- Mount Kinabalu is the fourth-highest mountain in Southeast Asia, standing 4095.2m above sea level. Often billed as a “beginner” or “accessible” hike, Mount Kinabalu receives many visitors and does not require specialized mountain climbing skills or long expeditions (the mountain is often climbed with a 4-day visit from Singapore). It is a strenuous activity, however, and requires a good level of fitness. Despite its reputation for accessibility, climbing Mount Kinabalu is more akin to a marathon stair climb than a walk in the park. The Wikitravel guide to Mount Kinabalu provides plenty of tips for organizing a climb.
- Malacca is a doable day trip if you’re driving, or a weekend destination if going by bus. Go for the history, enjoy the food, and don’t miss bringing home freshly-made pineapple tarts. You can get there by bus in about 6 hours, or much faster by car.
- Penang is known for food, historical sites, and jungle trekking. Golf is also an option. Try the flavorful Penang Char Kway Teow (stir-fried flat noodles). The Wikitravel article on Penang is full of yummy food suggestions. Penang is 10-12 hours from Singapore by bus or a short hop by plane.
Looking for a guidebook? Malaysia Singapore and Brunei (Lonely Planet Country Guides)
- Check out the historical sights in Cebu city or enjoy the beaches on the rest of Cebu island. Cebu is a popular jumping off point for trips around the Visayas region of the Philippines.
- Looking for a change from Singapore’s relentless efficiency and neatness? Manila is a vibrant swirl of chaos, with street vendors, posh dance clubs, cheap shopping, historical Spanish cathedrals, and fine dining… all within a few kilometers of each other. The latest Hollywood blockbusters open a few weeks earlier here than in Singapore, at ticket prices that are a steal compared to Orchard Road theatres. When booking budget flights to Manila, you should know that JetStar and Cebu Pacific, both land at the main international terminal in the city; Tiger Airways is cheaper but flies to a different airport (Clark Airport in a nearby proviince, two hours north of Manila).
- Davao is home to the Philippine Eagle and to Mt. Apo, the tallest mountain in the Philippines. The white sand beaches of Pearl Farm and Paradise Island are about 40 minutes outside of the city, by boat. Davao is known for its laidback lifestyle, and for good fruits – particularly durian and pomelo. Davao can be reached by plane from Singapore, via SilkAir and Cebu Pacific.
- Bangkok is an explosion of flavor, color, and pampering. Enjoy the wide range of Thai flavors and relax with cheap massages. Shopping your way through Bangkok’s Jatujak (or Chatuchak) market is more than enough to fill a weekend morning (and fill a couple of suitcases, too). Budget airlines often offer cheap fares to Bangkok, and packages from travel agencies can also offer pretty good deals. Shop around.
- Chiang Mai is known for elephant parks, hill tribes, and Buddhist temples.
- Krabi is a popular landing point for tourists on their way to the beaches at Ao Nang, Rai Leh (Railay), and Ko Phi Phi. Explore the islands on longtail boats, or just hang out on the beach and enjoy the delicious Thai food. Tiger Airways flies direct to Krabi from Singapore.
- Phuket offers several beaches, with options ranging from wild Patong to upmarket resorts. It’s recovered well from the 2004 tsunami and barely shows any sign of the damage. For a fun outdoor experience, take John Gray’s Sea Canoe kayak tours of the bay. They’ll take you through limestone cave tunnels into hidden island lagoons; the twilight tour is the best. Budget flights to Phuket are relatively easy to get, as it’s a popular destination from Singapore.
- Hanoi is a pleasant, relaxing destination; quite a contrast to bustling Ho Chi Minh City. Art is a good buy in Vietnam, particularly paintings and lacquerware. Hanoi is also the usual jumping off point for cruises on Halong Bay, but it takes about 3.5 hours to drive to Hanoi to Halong Bay – so plan your trip appropriately.
- Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) is the place to go if you feel your street-crossing skills have atrophied in Singapore’s disciplined atmosphere. The surest way to wake up in the morning is to try and cross the street – braving a swarm of hundreds of motorbikes is guaranteed to get your adrenaline going. Don’t miss the rich Vietnamese drip coffee, the yummy spring rolls, or the flavorful pho (noodle soup).
Looking for more ideas, or want to get a feel for a few possible destinations? Sometimes there’s just no substitute for a good travel book.
Here are a few travelogues and guides to areas around the region. You can check out the book summaries by clicking on the links below, and if you like, place an online order at Amazon.
- Finding George Orwell in Burma
- Lonely Planet Indonesia (Country Guide) (Country Travel Guide)
- Malaysia Singapore and Brunei (Lonely Planet Country Guides)
- Southeast Asia on a Shoestring (Lonely Planet Shoestring Guide)
- Thailand (Lonely Planet Country Guides)
- Thailand’s Islands and Beaches (Lonely Planet Regional Guides)
For the most up-to-date and comprehensive information check out The Ultimate Guide to Living in Singapore
Once you’ve chosen your destination, you can get tips on cheap flights, and check out airlines and other options for getting there, on our Travel page.
Staying in Singapore for the weekend?