EXAMS ARE OVER!
There is always a rainbow after the storm. That’s probably too extreme, but as a student, before I could actually enjoy the summer holidays (even though it’s summer all year in Singapore), I have to strive for the final exams. After being stuck in the library and at home for hours, a short adventure out of Singapore would be nice to celebrate the end of EXAMS.
These trips are not the typical shop-till-you-drop trips. I call them adventure trips or backpacking, if you like, where you can get lost exploring the city, spending quality time with your family or friends. Not to worry if you prefer luxurious trips. You could always go to the fanciest place to stay at these destinations.
Here are some of my suggestions:
How to get to Penang? Not flying of course. By train. There’s a train station in Singapore that would take you straight to Penang. It’s a 14-hour journey. So long?? Well, spice it up a little. The morning train from Singapore stops at Kuala Lumpur in the afternoon. It’s a great stop for lunch. Plus! you get to check out the Petronas twin towers with your friends till late afternoon. You can go shopping and buy some dinner before catching the over-night train to Butterworth. You get to hop on a 10-minute ferry from the train terminal in Butterworth to Penang island. I took the picture above right when I arrived there. Surely, this would be priceless experience when the Singapore-KL high-speed rail is operational.
Over-night train experience is something else, you see. The good thing is that you don’t have to pay for a night in the hotel. When you arrive in Penang in the morning, you will have the whole day of exploring to do.
What to do: EAT FOOD. Sight seeing at Penang Hill, Kek Lok Si temple, and of course, the World Heritage Site, George Town.
What about waking up and sipping tea fresh from the plantation? With this view while eating your breakfast to start the day, you might want to stay here forever. This place is waaay up in the mountain, you probably will complain about how cold it gets at night. Except there’s no air-con to switch off.
It’s a 9-hour bus ride from Singapore with scenic views of the local atmospheres and the mountains from a distant. The place is pretty backpacking friendly too. There are restaurants (cheap restaurants. And of course expensive one at the resorts), trekking routes at the mountain for the nature-loving travellers, and Starbucks. Yes, Starbucks.
What to do: Visit the Lavender farm, strawberry farm, honey farm, and all the farms there. TEA PLANTATION, no question. It includes free tour at the tea factory. Also try the food at the night markets. And there’s hiking tour to see the biggest flower in the world, Rafflesia.
Click here to read what I did there!
Penang AND Cameron Highland
Umm.. what about both? So, you go by train to Penang, bus to Cameron Highland (I even heard of car-pools, which is a lot faster), and take coach back to Singapore. Or take a bus to near by Ipoh and fly back to Singapore.
I wrote a journal about the my SG-KL-Penang trip here!
Or take the coach to Cameron Highland, continue on to Penang and fly back to Singapore.
Okay, for the adventurers out there, go a little further when you take the Singapore-Penang train. Bangkok is another 20-hour train ride from Penang. OR just 2-hour flight from Singapore. Up to you.
Bangkok is already so famous to Singaporean. I don’t think I should elaborate so much. You probably have friends who’ve been there multiple times. There’s so much to see; Historical buildings, entertainment centres (If you know what I mean. Karaoke, bowling, cinemas, ice-skating and all family fun!) and food. Yes. Food. Chatuchak weekend market is probably the must-visit place. From cheap souvenirs to cheap food. If you’re a backpacker stay at the Khaosan Street and meet travellers of the same-interest.
What to do: The list is endless. You should google them. But I would recommend visiting Wat Arun temple and the surrounding, including the Reclining Buddha, Khlong River tour. Don’t forget to visit Chatuchak weekend market, …
This is my favourite place. Siem reap has the iconic Angkor Wat, a 9th century city, that is out of this world. It’s a World Heritage Site PLUS a hollywood filming venue. Remember Tomb Rider? There’s so much to explore here, endless exploring. Start the day witnessing the sunrise behind the temple while the temple’s image gets reflected on the pool of water in front of it. Beautiful!
But that’s not all. The small town is literally a tourist heaven (or trap). The restaurants and pubs are so lively at night.
What to do: Explore the whole ancient city. Visit the silk factory. Eat a local delicacy. No, not fried scorpion or cockroach. Local salad. You get to eat fresh-cut raw banana. With skin.
Bangkok AND Siem Reap
Again, why not both! Fly to Bangkok, travel by bus to Siem Reap and fly back to Singapore! Or do it the other way around.
I wrote a journal about my trip from Bangkok to Siem Reap. Click here!
Kayaking, sun tanning, boat-skiing, swimming, SPAs, BBQ-ing by the beach, shopping (love keropok?), all with just a 45-minute ferry ride from Singapore.
The trip to Bintan is probably more expensive compared to the other trips on the list because they are mostly resorts. Some of the services are priced in SG$ and US$. Nonetheless, I experienced the most relaxing holiday here. The trip might not be as adventurous, but it sure freshens up your minds before going back to the hectic, busy hours in Singapore.
A long weekend in Bintan is not a bad idea. Click here to read more!
What to do: All sorts of water activities. Relax by the beach. And buffet breakfast at the hotel. The best kind of breakfast.
The trip to Batam could even be a day-trip. Catch the morning ferry from Singapore. Do you know if your ferry leaves at 10, you will arrive at 10 local time? Oh well, that doesn’t really matter.
When you reach Batam, go straight for your 90 minutes $10 foot massage. Or a full body massage. From there, eat fresh seafood for lunch! Spend your afternoon shopping in Indonesian Rupiah, which probably requires you to bring some extra luggage. Try to stock up your toiletries or other basic necessities (An Oral-B toothbrush is less than a dollar there :p).
There are other exploring trips worth trying out there. You could arrange your own itineraries. I love doing those. Googling travel places already has certain enjoyment value in it. Some don’t even require you to leave Singapore! There are increasing number of people doing a stay-cation. Be a tourist in your own country. You’ll be surprised what you can find!
To check out more of traveling ideas, here is my travel journals.