The National Day is fast approaching and is bringing with it loads of excitement. This year, you can enjoy mesmerising fireworks and performances at the National Day Parade that will be held at the Floating Platform at Marina Bay (back here after last year’s parade in the National Stadium). Alternatively, you could take a short break that week and enjoy a refreshing vacation. A Monday-Tuesday holiday will make it a good five-day break. But this time, ditch the typical locations like Bangkok and Hong Kong and opt for something unique. Take a look at our top picks:
1. Luang Prabang, Laos – For the culture vultures
Luang Prabang can very well be called a fascinating Laotian kaleidoscope. From history, culture, and handicraft to waterfalls, peaks, and temples, this quaint place has it all. Offering the peace and serenity of a small town along with the comforts and advantages of a big one, it is the perfect option for an unforgettable vacation. This ‘Jewel in Laos Crown’ has over 30 wats (temples), unique French architecture, delectable cuisine, and serenity only a few other places can match.
Travel tip: Don’t miss visiting the heart-warming Elephant Village Sanctuary and the three-tiered Kuang Si Waterfall. You can opt for some retail therapy and buy beautiful jewellery, art and handicrafts at the night market on Sisavangvong Road.
2. Ko Kut, Thailand – For the seclusion seekers
Unlearn everything you know about Thailand and then visit this gorgeous place. It isn’t buzzing with tourists, and there is neither any major nightlife nor many sightseeing spots. But what exists in Ko Kut (or Koh Kood) is tranquility and nature’s beauty at its best. This little slice of heaven will refresh your senses and nourish your soul.
With crystal-clear, turquoise waters, soft, white sand, and unending patches of tall coconut trees, the fourth-largest Thai island promises to give you an unmatched experience. Accessible from Bangkok and Koh Chang island, this pristine paradise is waiting for you. Ko Kut has low internet access and minimal electricity but this remote island will make sure you don’t miss any of it.
Travel tip: Carry your travel chargers and extra battery packs so you can be connected in areas where there’s no electricity or if it’s gone for an extended period.
3. Munnar, India – For the romantic ones
Munnar is a place that can weave back the magic into your relationship. With its lush green tea gardens, majestic waterfalls, and splendid mountains, this hill station in South India makes for a romantic getaway. If you are looking to spend some adventurous time with your loved one, try trekking the Anamudi Peak in Eravikulam National Park. The stunning views of the rolling mountains and the velvety tea plantations are definitely sights to behold. Munnar’s easy accessibility and idyllic climate make it irresistible for travellers.
Travel tip: If it is going to be your first trip to India, make sure you read these helpful tips before going. Also, while in Munnar don’t forget to gorge on South Indian delicacies including idlis, dosas, and banana chips.
4. Ubud, Indonesia – For the art lovers
Ubud brings with it a sense of warmth and comfort, which you will instantly fall in love with. This vibrant cultural hub effortlessly blends natural and human wonders. With beautiful rice fields and their exquisite canvases, it is tough to decide where one must focus. Known for its flawless furniture, earthy art and unmatchable homely feel, it is quite likely you are going to want to extend your stay just a wee bit longer.
5. Kyoto, Japan – For the soul seekers
Kyoto is the traditional face of Japan. Find zen at one of the many Buddhist temples (there are hundreds) or feast your eyes on the lush green gardens. The streets of this former capital of Japan are decorated with machiya (traditional townhouse) and ancient shops.
During spring, the breeze is filled with the sweet fragrance of sakura (cherry blossoms), and the year-end brings with it pretty autumn verdure. Visit the Nijo Castle to have a tête-à-tête with history or find inner peace at the iconic Kinkaku-ji temple; the choices are many. Note that Kyoto has a special type of sushi which is said to be delicious. So, make sure you try it!
Travel tip: If you are in the mood to give your taste buds a unique surprise, visit the age-old street food heaven – Nishiki Market. Along with things like tofu, tea and seafood, they have some rare offerings including takotomago (baby octopus stuffed with boiled quail egg) and homemade sesame ice cream.
6. Kandy, Sri Lanka – For the mountain lovers
Kandy is blessed with beautiful landscapes and eternally smiling residents. This little hill station assures a truckload of happy memories you will cherish long after visiting it. The serene lake, fragrant spice gardens, and dense forests give Kandy an unpretentious touch.
The highlights of your trip to Kandy will be a visit to a tea factory, a day spent at an elephant orphanage, and a trip to a botanical garden. Soak in Sri Lanka’s natural beauty by going for an excursion to Riverston to view the majestic Sera Ella and Bambarakiri Ella waterfalls. Alternatively, you could embark on an enchanting trek to Knuckles Mountain Range. Regardless of what you choose, you will be left rejuvenated after this trip.
Travel tip: Your holidays will fall right around the time of the famous Esala Perahera Festival, and you can watch Kandy in its full splendor. This vibrant, colourful festival is an experience in itself. With loads of elephants and dancers, lights and colour, the town comes alive and the atmosphere is charged. Don’t miss it.
7. Pahang, Malaysia – For the wildness hunters
Mysterious caves, untouched rainforests, relaxing beaches, volcanic islands – Pahang has all this and a lot more to excite you. The largest state in Peninsular Malaysia makes for a great family vacation with its diverse offerings. Get into the beach mode at Cherating Beach dipped in luxury or choose from hundreds of explored caves to crawl into or even swim!
How about a jungle trekking expedition at Pulau Tioman or a boating trip at Lake Chini? Spot a rare Malayan tiger or an Indian elephant while walking on a canopy walkway at Taman Negara national park. The possibilities of adventure are many.
Travel tip: Before booking your travel, sign up for the DBS Altitude Visa Signature Card or the Citi PremierMiles Visa Card as they give you additional miles for travel bookings and offer attractive sign up bonus!
Make sure you have your travel insurance in place before you take off. Go ahead, get that much-deserved break.
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