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Affordable Destinations for Short Trips From Singapore

Alevin Chan

Alevin Chan

Last updated 15 March, 2024

Singaporeans can find plenty of affordable options for short holidays, courtesy of the various neighbouring countries. Here are some recommendations for quick getaways, starting from just S$100. 

Thanks to Singapore’s central location in the heart of Southeast Asia, Singaporeans are blessed with plenty of choices for overseas holidays. From bargain hunting in the city to swanky hotels, historical sites, natural wonders and delicious local cuisines, everything is just a short flight, drive, or plane ride away. 

And the best thing is, thanks to the strength of the Singapore Dollar within the region, you can have an awesome trip for just a couple of hundred dollars – maybe even less if you play your cards right. 

If you’re looking for a quick getaway to recharge, check out our picks of affordable destinations for short trips you can take from Singapore.

Table of contents


Day or overnight trips

Johor Bahru

shutterstock_1009419850Approximate budget: S$100 to S$150 per pax

Johor Bahru, or JB, needs no introduction, judging by how popular it already is among Singaporeans. Here’s the gist: the sprawling city’s shopping malls, delicious restaurants, chic cafes and charming heritage walking streets offer plenty of enjoyable reasons to spend a day out. 

And if you’re thinking of making it an overnight trip, you’ll be spoilt for choice. You can choose from multiple attractively priced boutique hotels, each with their own charm and character. Or you can take advantage of the Dollar-to-Ringgit exchange rate to treat yourself to a luxury stay at the likes of Holiday Inn, DoubleTree by Hilton, Amari and other top-notch hotel franchises.

Read more: 
14 Cheaper Things To Buy In JB Besides Food, Groceries And Petrol 
Cheap Shopping in Johor Bahru: A Bargain Shopper’s Guide 


Desaru

shutterstock_2201825637Approximate budget: S$150 to S$200 per pax

Located just a 2-hour drive away, Desaru is a seaside resort town on the east coast of Malaysia. Its balmy weather and gentle waves make it a perfect choice for a short trip to get away from the city.

Recharge yourself with a walk down the beach, watching the waves go by. Or, for some wet, splashy fun, head over to the Adventure Waterpark, complete with a fantastic wave pool and several thrilling slides. 

If you’re looking to stay the night, consider the Hard Rock Hotel Desaru or a family-friendly option located closest to the Waterpark. 

Alternatively, there are several wallet-friendly options available among the hotels, resorts, and homestays. 


Batam

shutterstock_2120682461Approximate budget: S$150 to S$200 per pax

Accessible via a 40-minute ferry ride, Batam is ideal if you’re looking to feast on cheap and delicious Indonesian dishes amidst relaxed beach vibes.

The other main draw is shopping at bargain-bin prices, which you can find if you make a trip to the city centre. Try to exercise some self-control and don’t hog the Indomie in the supermarkets. 

For accommodation, take your pick of the several beachside resorts or head to the Harris Hotel Batam Center to continue the “cheap and good” theme.  

See also: What To Do In Batam: Our Ultimate Travel Guide & Itinerary

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Trips up to 2 nights

Kuala Lumpur

shutterstock_745400287Approximate budget: S$300 to S$350 per pax

In the 2019 Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index, Kuala Lumpur was ranked in sixth place among the world’s most visited cities. And we think the bustling capital of our northern neighbour still has plenty to offer for short weekend getaways. 

Apart from the proximity (flying to KL takes just 45 minutes while giving you an excuse to enjoy duty-free shopping at Changi Airport), Kuala Lumpur remains attractive simply because it’s a lower-priced alternative to spending a weekend out in town. 

There’re shopping malls to visit, walking streets to wander, and eateries to track down serving up distinct-yet-familiar renditions of classics like chicken rice, roti canai and bak kut teh. More than just the home of the Petronas Twin Towers, the Bukit Bintang entertainment direct also offers up plenty of Instagrammable moments thanks to its resplendent nightlife.

Also, you can stay at The Hilton in Kuala Lumpur for S$150 per night – that’s S$75 per pax, assuming you’ve got a travel buddy to share the room with. 

See also: The Ultimate Guide To Driving From Singapore to Malaysia


Penang

shutterstock_1190842918Approximate budget: S$250 to S$300 per pax

If you’re looking for a more laid-back option, try Penang. The flight is just 1 and a half hours, and as you approach the city centre, you’ll be greeted by seaside vibes and open skies. 

Explore the shophouse-lined streets of George Town to find all manner of shops, restaurants and cafes. Be sure to make a stop at one of the many traditional bakeries for a box of tau sar piah (bean pastries). And don’t miss the famous street art murals while you’re in the area. 

Penang is also home to many weird and wonderful museums, such as the mind-boggling 3D Trick Art Museum, the ghoulish Ghost Museum and the captivating Wonderfood Museum, featuring giant displays of traditional Malaysian dishes.


Trips for 3 or 4 nights

Bangkok

shutterstock_2262818911Approximate budget: S$400 to S$500 per pax

Going to Bangkok on a long weekend is now a Singaporean rite of passage simply because the vibrant city has everything you’d want for a quick getaway. Lip-smacking cuisine, quality massage, colourful street fairs, lively entertainment and nightlife, and shopping malls so large, you can easily spend an entire day in one. 

Better yet, you can shake things up a little by adding a day trip to historic Ayutthaya (taking the train is the cheapest and most enjoyable way of getting there), where you can experience ancient temples, historical parks and the delightful Krungsri Market, one of Thailand’s most popular weekend night markets. 

See also: 17 Best Things To Buy Back from Thailand

Another option is to drive over to Phuket, about two hours away, where you can spend the day exploring Phuket Old Town. and learn about its historic beginning as a seaside resort town, and tin mining hub. You’ll find plenty of Chinese architecture, courtesy of the mainly Fujianese immigrants who came over in the 17th century.


Ho Chi Minh 

shutterstock_2114497166Approximate budget: S$600 to S$700 per pax

The most populous city of Vietnam is a nice option if you’re looking for a casual trip that also offers a good dose of novelty. 

Ho Chi Minh offers up an unforgettable mix of tradition and modernity, filled with historic boulevards, ancient places of worship, and pre-war buildings housing colourful markets, family-run shops, artisanal boutiques, and some of the best fine dining to be found in this corner of the world. 

For first timers, the best way to get acquainted with the city is with a leisurely rickshaw ride, complete with audio narratives as you pass famous landmarks. Once you’ve got your bearings, strike off on your own to search for museums, markets, and coffee shops serving up fresh cups of homegrown Vietnamese coffee.


Bali 

shutterstock_631736717Approximate budget: S$500 to S$600 per pax

The famous sun-kissed beaches of Bali may have a reputation for being expensive, but with a bit of planning, you can enjoy a three or four-night stay without spending too much.

The key is to avoid the peak tourism season between June to August, and to stay away from overhyped accommodations, especially in Kuta and Legion – the most touristy regions – as well as the high-end district Nusa Dua. 

Instead, try looking for stays in Ubud, Seminaya or Canggu; don’t worry, you’ll find plenty of quality accommodations ranging from private villas to serviced apartments and hotels. 

As for activities, take your pick of day tours, forest hiking, yoga sessions, shopping at local markets, all manner of sea sports… or simply kick back and enjoy a poolside barbecue in the privacy of your own backyard, beer in hand. 

See also: Bali Travel Guide — What Kind Of Traveller Are You?

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Cheat sheet: Long weekends in Singapore 2024

Unfortunately, there are only five long weekends in Singapore in 2024, and two of them – New Year’s Day and Lunar New Year – have already passed! 

This leaves only three more long weekends for the year, which are:

  • Good Friday – 29 March, Friday
  • Hari Raya Haji – 17 June,  Monday
  • National Day – 9 August, Friday

If you’re looking to save your precious annual leave, we recommend locking in your short getaways now. 


Tips on how to save more on your short holidays

Offset plane tickets using your air miles

Some may think of it as a waste to use air miles for short trips since tickets for flights to nearby destinations tend to be cheap anyway. But this could also be a great way to treat yourself to upgrades and other perks for a relatively low amount of air miles, especially if you have any that are expiring soon

Eat like the locals

Or better yet, with the locals. By that, we mean forgoing glitzy foreign restaurants, and relying on street food, markets, eateries and other local options for the majority of your meals. You’ll not only save money, eating with the locals is also the best way to experience your host country at its most authentic. 

Don’t buy on the first pass

When out shopping, especially at traditional markets and handicraft shops, resist the urge to buy the first trinkets that catch your eye – or get pushed into your face. Decline politely and take your time to check out other options. 

This way, you’ll get a feel of the going rate for souvenirs, and maybe even get to indulge in a little bout of friendly bargaining. 


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What countries are two hours away from Singapore? 

Countries located within two hours of Singapore include Malaysia and Indonesia. You can find plenty of holiday options, depending on whether you’re commuting overland, by ferry or by flight. 

Overland and ferry options include Desaur, Johor Bahru, and Batam. Meanwhile, flights to Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Bali take under two hours each. 

What are the cheapest countries to fly to?

Some of the cheapest countries to fly to from Singapore are Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. However the price of plane tickets are highly sensitive to demand levels, so it's best to plan your travels as early as you can to avoid peak period surcharges.



Read these next:
Best Travel Insurance for Singaporeans Travelling to Malaysia in 2024
7 Affordable Grad Trip Travel Destinations Below S$800
Where to Travel in 2024: Best Countries to Visit - SingSaver
The Top 10 Destinations Singaporeans Will Be Travelling In 2024 (Including Best Times to Book Flights)

Tags Holidays

An ex-Financial Planner with a curiosity about what makes people tick, Alevin’s mission is to help readers understand the psychology of money. He’s also on an ongoing quest to optimise happiness and enjoyment in his life.

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