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where to go for short trip from Singapore?

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We're going to be in Singapore for work but wondered where else we could fly off to for 3-4 days for a different experience? We've looked at a map but don't know where to start (apart from starting with a place that's easy and relatively inexpensive to get to) - don't know this part of the world at all so suggestions welcome!

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    Singapore is a great location for exploring SE Asia. You have a huge array of options. Not knowing your interests, I'm giving you a variety of suggestions.

    The first place that comes to mind is Bali. The unique culture (the only part of Indonesia that is Hindu) is quite accessible to the visitor. You could stay at a beach location (but don't consider Nusa Dua) or inland, near Ubud. Lots of great hotels to choose from.

    More adventuresome? Consider a jaunt to central Java to visit Borobudor and Prambanam. Or consider a trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia to visit the temples of Angkor. Silk Air (a subsidiary of Singapore Air) has non-stop flights to both of these.

    Looking for wildlife? Malaysian Borneo is a quick flight. You could go to either Sabah - fly to Kota Kinabalu or to Sarawak - fly to Kuching.

    I don't know if there is a non-stop to Penang or if you'd have to fly through KL, but the Georgetown area of Penang is a wonderful place with the famous Hawker food and the historic port-town buildings. The E&O Hotel alone is worth the visit.

    You are welcome to browse photos of places in SE Asia www.marlandc.com Also, if you click on my name, you'll see a list of my trip reports.

    Normally, I'd recommend Bangkok, but these are not normal times in Thailand.

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    thanks - certainly gives us some ideas, will investigate further! We had actually intended to spend a few days in Bangkok originally, but as you say, given the unrest we've decided to give it a miss this trip and hope to go sometime in the future. Off to do some research ... Borneo sounds interesting, we are keen on the wildlife options!

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    Take a look at North Sulawesi -- Bunaken and Lembeh for phenomenal reefs, Tangkoko for wildlife. There are non-stop flights from Singapore to Manado.

    Bali is easy and multifaceted and a good starting place for Asian exposure. You get culture and nature in a relatively small area. A short flight from Singapore, lots of choices of accommodation.

    Siem Reap and Angkor is a must-see. Also easily accessible from Singapore, but more architecture than nature.

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    You will really be quite spoiled for choice with Singapore as a base. It would be helpful to me to know the time of year you will be in Singapore, as rainy season patterns would affect my reccos. See weatherbase.com for an idea of temps and rainfall in SE Asia generally. It would also be helpful to know more of your interests, e.g. whether you dive, as if you do, then joining a live aboard dive boat from Singapore (or chartering your own boat) would probably be ideal for you.

    I would also say that there are many places in Malaysia where you could drive or taxi, train or bus for a weekend that would be quite interesting, such as Malacca or if you want a really idyllic island, Rawa (see http://www.rawasfr.com/, but Rawa is not really good from about mid-October though late April as they get a good bit of rain). I love the Redang area, and you can fly there non-stop on Berjaya Air from Singapore (from Seletar Airport, the small regional airport in Singapore). There are a few hotels there, including two run by Berjaya. Right off the beach snorkeling is quite good, the Redang Beach Resort is actually quite OK, it depends on what you want (http://www.berjayaresorts.com.my/redang-beach.)

    Another option for Malaysia is to rent a car and drive all the way up to Kuala Terengganu in 2-3 days if you have time, which is a great trip. One of the most beautiful fishing villages I have ever seen is Marang, which is near the seriously gorgeous beach at Rantu Abang. Reward yourself with a stay at the wonderful Tanjgong Jara Hotel, take a look http://www.tanjongjararesort.com. Drop the car in KT and fly back to Singapore. (Rent the car in Johor Bahru, just over the causeway from Singapore and save yourself some money.)

    Then there is Malaysian Borneo, which would offer orang utans, the “head hunters” in their long houses on the river, the chance to climb Mt Kinabalu, the chance to see the sunset performance of the bats and swallows at Mulu and some nice beaches. With on 3-4 days you would need to pick your time carefully. You do not have time to dive or snorkel in Sipadan, unfortunately, but might consider a longer trip there if you have time at the end our your stay and if you are there at the right time of year.

    Also you can take ferries to many places in Indonesia for 3-4 days. While Bintan is a bit too developed for me, and the beaches not that great, you can get to other places as well. If you wanted to opt for something in the Bintan area, I think the Nikoi Island might be the only really good choice, see http://www.nikoi.com/. You can also fly non-stop from Surabaya to Johor Bahru on Air Asia. JB is about a 15 minute taxi or bus ride over the causeway into Singapore. Surabaya (outside of the main very large city) has lots of interesting tribal areas and gorgeous natural scenery and virtually no tourists. Otherwise, for the rest of Indonesia, you could take a ferry to Batam and connect to other ferries or by plane from there. See http://www.batamfast.com/index.aspx for schedules, you would be departing from Harbourfront in Singapore. (These are “nice” Indonesian ferries, not the overloaded kind which sink occasionally that you read about in the newspapers. The Singaporeans would not stand for that!) These areas would be very much off the beaten tourist track of this board, so see something like the Lonely Planet guide for Indonesia, which covers these areas in more detail than other guidebooks.

    Of course Bali, which has been mentioned, is a very good choice and easy to do for 3-4 days, although I would say don’t move locations for that short a time.

    In addition to Ankor Wat, which is certainly an excellent choice, Luang Prabang in Laos easily lends itself to a 3-4 day trip, as does Hong Kong which is completely different from Singapore (I have lived in both and can attest to that). The weather (esp in fall and winter), food and geography between Hong Kong and Singapore are vastly different and can make for an interesting contrast. You could go to Hanoi from Singapore for a weekend (IMO much more interesting than Ho Chi Minh), or to other places in Vietnam via Silk Air like the beaches of Da Nang (you could also get to really interesting Hue).

    For a serious food lover, I think Taiwan would be a place to consider, although 3-4 days would mean you probably can’t get to alpine areas inland, Taipei and its excellent museum (with loot stolen from the China mainland by the departing KMT) and tons of restaurants would certainly be doable.

    While barely scratching the surface with 3-4 days, you could do sort of an introductory trip to Beijing and a trip to the Great Wall. Other parts of the PRC are possible, but with only 3-4 days, and not as many non-stops, Beijing may be your best choice. (You also need a visa, which you should be able to get at the PRC consulate in Singapore.) You can fly non-stop to Kunming, from where you could reach the very charming Lijiang, a very nice 3-4 day trip.

    As always, I have to throw out there that the Maldives is only a 4 hour non-stop flight from Singapore. You will find it defined under the word “sublime” in the dictionary. White powdery soft sand, turquoise blue water, lovely people and silence. With that short a trip, you would need to pick a hotel close to Male so you don’t have to overnight at the airport hotel to connect to a seaplane flight to a resort (I would go with the Four Seasons Kuda Hurra but there are other choices). But they have a rainy season, and the summer is not the best time to spend money to go there, IMO.

    You could also consider Sri Lanka, which is also only a 4 hour flight from Singapore. I think with only 3-4 days, it really is not a doable option, but they have beaches, wildlife preserves, tea growing highland areas, a real mix of sights and culture.

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    Thanks for all suggestions, I knew I could count on you experts to come up with so many options! Having looked into all these ideas I've come to the conclusion that 3-4 days wouldn't do many of them justice - we need to plan another trip for places such as Sri Lanka, Maldives & China (after Singapore we're travelling on to Australia so still have plenty of miles to cover). I'm now veering towards the option of Malaysia or the islands without having to take a flight ... will look into all the places you've mentioned - website links very useful. BTW, we'll be there early August. Thanks again!

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