Best side trips from Singapore
September 7, 2017 11:34 AM   Subscribe

Going to Singapore, but I'm more interested in leaving again. Where do I go?

I bought a dirt cheap flight to Singapore in November. I plan to spend 1-2 days in Singapore, and then go elsewhere. Minus flight times and Singapore activities I have about 6 days.

I am not really interested in cities. I like seeing unique, striking nature and geography; I'm interested in everything from mountains to jungle to rural farm areas to the beach (and I especially like snorkeling). I'd like a mix of adventure and relaxation.

I am happy to either take a short flight from the Singapore airport, or a short trip via ground (I won't drive, so it would have to be accessible via public transport.) I know Thailand is close, and great, but I'm planning a separate Thailand trip so I'd rather go somewhere else.

Things I've considered:
Flying in to Langkawi and snorkeling, hanging out on the beach, maybe some jungle treks.
Flying in to Siem Reap and visiting Angkor Wat and ....?
Flying in to Ho Chi Minh and doing a boat tour through the Mekong river valley to Phnom Penh.

Very open to other suggestions - either itinerary ideas or specific areas I should see. I am a woman in my late twenties and I'll be traveling alone, so I'd like to keep safety, ease, and accessibility in mind. Thank you!
posted by ohsnapdragon to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Sarawak! So underrated. Cf. caves.

Or Sabah, and go and look at the very big mountain.

A very short flight. All safe.
posted by idlethink at 11:46 AM on September 7, 2017

Mulu caves in Sarawak would be amazing, but there are no direct flights from Singapore. You'll have to fly to Kuching, Miri or Kota Kinabalu (easy) and take a connecting flight into Mulu (not so easy). But don't let that deter you - the rest of Sarawak and Sabah also offer plenty of mountains, jungles, waterfalls and beaches. Do some research before going to Sabah as there are some riskier places you should avoid.

You can also fly direct into Hanoi, do a trek through Sapa and/or a cruise and kayaking in the Halong Bay. Either option is safe and very doable as there are plenty of reliable and professional tour operators that include all the point-to-point arrangements for you.

Also, I know you said no Thailand, but it's a big country and you'd need multiple trips to see it anyway. Try Chiang Mai - you could do a zipline through the rainforest, whitewater rafting, and visit the elephant nature park. You can even stay at the park!

Weather-wise, November tends to be the start of the cool season for the Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand (generally speaking), and the rainy season for Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.

You have plenty of options - Southeast Asia has so much to offer, and Singapore is the perfect place to use as a base.
posted by hellopanda at 1:27 PM on September 7, 2017

Oh and Lombok (Indonesia) is another quick direct flight away where you can go on a guided trek up the active volcano Mount Rinjani, chill by the beach and get to the Gili Islands where you can snorkel with sea turtles.
posted by hellopanda at 2:03 PM on September 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

You could easily spent the whole time in Siem Reap and the surrounding area - I spent 3 full days seeing Angkor Wat and some of the further afield temples and one day relaxing; if I had slightly more time I would have done a day trip to Ton Le Sap Lake to see the birds and/or floating village. I was there in March by myself and am similar demographically to you, and I had no issues with safety or transfers. I'm also happy to answer more specific questions via MeMail if you have them - I've travelled quite a bit in the area, but I think Siem Reap is the best size of destination given the time that you have and your interests.
posted by asphericalcow at 2:37 PM on September 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

In 6ish days you could also travel to Laos with a Lunag Prabang (relax, see some temples, visit the amazing waterfalls outside of town) -> Vang Vieng (beautiful outdoor scenery and kayaking/hiking/caving) -> Vientiane (gateway) itinerary, but there is an unpleasant 6 hour van ride in there.

Chiang Mai (temples, elephant sanctuaries) -> Chiang Khong (transfer city) -> Luang Prabang (temples, spas, great waterfalls) via a 2 day Mekong boat cruise would also fit the time you have. If you book a mid-tier boat cruise, they will handle all the transfers except the Thailand bus part of it, which would make it easy. Some Thai bus lines are even bookable online in English.
posted by asphericalcow at 3:03 PM on September 7, 2017

If you have not seen the Angkor temples that is absolutely worth a trip, they are a wonder of human artistry. My favorite sites were Angkor Thom and Bayon. Plan to spend a couple of days at least exploring the area.
posted by 4rtemis at 5:16 PM on September 7, 2017

Seconding Lombok, which is visible from Bali as it's just the next island east - it has everything you want at a fraction of the hassle of Bali and with far fewer people.

SilkAir fly there direct from Singapore, or get a flight to Bali, Jakarta or Surabaya and then go from there to Lombok. Reliable airlines in Indonesia include Garuda Indonesia, Citilink (part of Garuda) and AirAsia; my Wings Air and Lion Air flights were also pretty full.

There's also a (safer than speedboats) public ferry from Bali to Lombok, but for a short trip I'd say just fly there.
posted by mdonley at 6:18 PM on September 7, 2017

For stunning scenery I always recommend Gunung Bromo, from there it's easy to get to Bali for snorkelling and some beach time. Kawah Ijen isn't too far from Bromo but quite difficult to get to, I hired a car and driver to get there.
posted by DelusionsofGrandeur at 10:51 AM on September 9, 2017

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