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Going to Singapore on biz & need advice on other destinations to visit

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I will be going to Singapore on business in January and would like some advice on other relatively close destinations to visit. Have not been to Asia and likely won't be back for quite a while. Would like a mix of city, culture/history and beautiful beaches. Looking to go for about 10 days. Any suggestions on must see places, methods of transport or length of stay?

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    My usual recommendation from Singapore is Indonesia, but that may not be the best idea right now. I'd recommend Thailand as an easy flight from Singapore. There is lots to do and see, Bangkok, perhaps some time in the north or a few days at a beach.

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    Jan is the tail end of the monsoon season so beach places may be out. Try going to Malacca, KL and then up to Bangkok and Chiang Mai for culture/history. For a safe beach place, try Beaufort Sentosa in Sentosa Island, Singapore. You can swim with the pink dolphins. Actually Singapore itself is pretty interesting if u take the MRT (train) to the heartlands.

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    Dear Jennifer:

    I lived in Hong Kong and Singapore for 5 years each and will give you my personal opinion on side trips. All the places noted are within a 3 hour flight of Singapore, except Beijing which may be 4+.

    Bangkok for sure, that is a really interesting city and is so different from Singapore. I would suggest at least 3 days for that. There is lots of Bangkok info on this site and the Fodor's guide is good too.

    As someone above pointed out, it is the tail end of the monsoon season on the east coast of Malaysia and South China Sea, so the small islands near Singapore like Tioman and Rawa will not be a great choice. Hua Hin, on the south east coast of Thailand (the extreme northern end of the South China Sea, get out your map), may not be as affected. It is about a 2 hour drive from Bangkok, there may be flights there from Bangkok or Singapore as well. There is a fantastic health spa there, Chiva Som, that I would heartily recommend. It is a 5 star hotel on the beach with a world class spa. Great exercise classes, gourmet food that somehow manages to be healthy. Check there website.

    I would also put in a vote for a trip to Hong Kong as it is completely different from Singapore, and much more dramatic in terms of geography: cliffs going into the sea with skyscrapers in front. A really fantastic city. The weather in January will be great, cool and sunny, a nice change from hot and humid Singapore.

    For beaches, if you don't want to do Hua Hin, I would suggest Phuket on the western side of Thailand (again, get out your map). Lots of beautiful beaches. There is lots of advice on this site for hotels.

    I would also recommend Bali, truly the most beautiful place on earth (and I live in Europe now and have seen the Amalfi coast, so you can imagine how beautiful it is). I can understand you may not want to go there, but by January things may have changed. I would ask people in Singapore when you get there what they think. I would image you can get flights and hotels at extremely short notice at this point.

    Beijing is a bit farther north, and will be pretty cold in January (think New York or Boston) put is actually beautiful in winter and totally uncrowded.

    Shanghai is interesting, would be cold, and culturally does not have as much to offer as Bangkok or Beijing.

    From Singapore, it is fun to drive up the west coast to Melacca. This can be done in a weekend. You can rent a car in Singapore and drive yourself. There are also buses going there from S'pore. The drive is very pretty thorough small villages, and Malacca was once a Portuguese colony so there is interesting architecture and history. There is a fantastic Chinese temple there to. The beach is OK, but not one that you really want to lay out on.

    Don't ignore Singapore either. The east coast is great for biking, or go to the Wind Surfing Club for windsurfing (not a private club, you can rent boats and they have a nice outdoor restaurant). Get someone to take you for a Singapore Sling at the Cricket Club (better than the ones at Raffles). Also, the Punggol area on the north of the island has great seafood and water-skiing. You would hardly know you were in a city. If someone hasn't already told you, it will be hot and humid in Singapore, with rain at some point on the island every day. It is a really great city to work in, maybe not as interesting for the tourist, but much more livable than most cities in Asia.

    Have a great trip!

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