Sometimes a short, sharp getaway is as good as a long summer holiday for recharging the batteries while getting a taste of Southeast Asia’s highlights. Here are just a few of the nearby escapes in Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia that are well worth exploring.
Avoid the Airport
What: Bintan Resorts
Where: Bintan, Indonesia
Just a ferry ride away, Bintan is growing in stature as a destination, and now four new tours of the island will bring you closer to the unique culture and nature of Singapore’s closest Indonesian neighbour.
* Trail of the Sea Gypsies explores Bintan’s largest sea-gypsy village, where you’ll discover the local way of life and see kelongs (over-water fishing platforms), fishing villages and traditional boat-builders.
* The Eco Farm Trek takes you to a 17-hectare eco-farm, where you can watch farmers at work and learn about a range of tropical fruit, vegetables and herbs.
* Gods and Dragons involves a journey to the Chinese village of Senggarang, built over the sea, and to the tallest statue of the Goddess of Mercy in Southeast Asia, among other attractions.
* Island of the Kings takes you back in time to visit Pulau Penyengat with its rich history and intriguing heritage, and Gunung Bintan, the tallest mountain on the island.
What: Club Med Cherating Beach
Where: Cherating Beach, Malaysia
Warm sandy beaches, views of the South China Sea, plenty of birdsong and animal calls – Club Med Cherating Beach is an eco-resort that allows guests to reconnect with Mother Earth. Located on the eastern coastline of Malaysia, in a protected 80-hectare jungle reserve, the resort features rows of bungalows on stilts that are perfectly positions for taking in the lush surrounds and natural sights. And once you’ve shaken off the stresses of your hectic city life, there are endless activities toe enjoy at Club Med – from archery, flying trapeze, sailing and yoga, to rainforest walks and more. The signature all-inclusive package means that your holidays is made simple – meals, accommodation, activities and entertainment are all settled for when you book a stay.
Where: Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand
Cruises might take people to the far-flung corners of the world, but trains take them into the very heart of it. This romantic journey aboard the Eastern & Oriental Express begins in Singapore and moves onwards through Malaysia and Thailand. Enjoy an afternoon tea while watching passing scenes of rubber and palm trees lining the track, then make for colonial Georgetown in Penang; next, continue heading north to the legendary River Kwai in Thailand.
Special offer: Book the trip through Country Holidays and enjoy exclusive freebies worth $1,600 per couple, including a complimentary stay at the Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok, private transfers, and even free flights from Bangkok back to Singapore.
What: Angsana Laguna Phuket
Where: Phuket, Thailand
This island resort in scenic Bang Tao Bay is just 20 minutes from the international airport on the sun-splashed Thai island of Phuket. The Angsana’s attractive Laguna rooms come in a variety of styles, from intimate loft accommodation floating above water to expansive residences with private pools. There are five restaurants, together with the XANA Beach Club and its swim-up bar, offering everything from authentic Thai seafood and popular Asian-fusion cuisine to international delights. And the great news for families is that children below the age of 12 get to stay, eat and play for free. Though you might want to while away all your time at this beautiful beachfront resort, you can choose to visit the local Naka market in Phuket Town or take a day trip to the famous “James Bond island” in nearby Phang Nga. Special rates start from S$195.
What: Sangsuri Beach Villas
Where: Koh Samui, Thailand
For groups of friends, families or wedding parties, the Sangsuri Beach Villas are a rare and appealing find – a clever combination of luxury and nature where guests can immerse themselves in the peaceful surroundings without missing out on any modern comforts. The three villas are thematically and physically linked, all boasting upscale, comfortable furnishings and a contemporary yet gentle, earth-toned décor theme. Despite the close proximity to the shops, restaurants and nightlife on offer along the nearby Chaweng beach strip, it’s equally possible to enjoy a fabulous holiday at Sangsuri without ever leaving the grounds: swimming, sunbathing by the pool or on the beach, indulging in a private massage, or lounging in cushioned comfort with a good book and your favourite music streaming through the sound system.
Where: Bali, Indonesia
You can expect five-star service the moment you step into Semara Luxury Villa Resort, located on the cliff-top of Bali’s beautiful Uluwatu. Each luxuriously appointed Guest Suite is in one of seven unique villas that offer sweeping views of the Indian Ocean. And the white sand and aqua-blue waters of Finn’s Beach Club below the resort are likely to have you dreaming of your next visit before you even return home.
Special offer: Head to Bali and enjoy a lazy long weekend at this stunning resort from US$475 per night, including a butler on call, daily breakfast at Selatan Restaurant, VIP entrance to Finn’s Beach Club, free Wi-Fi and more. Mention this Expat Living article to receive an additional 10 percent off the published rate (valid for direct bookings only). Terms and conditions apply.
This story first appeared in Expat Living’s August 2015 issue.