The best short day trips from Singapore

You don't have to go far by land or sea to be in a totally different island when you make these day trips from Singapore
Banyan Tree, Angsana Bintan
By Megan Sim and Nicole-Marie Ng |
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Take a break from city life by leaving our sunny (and hectic) island for little ones that are far more quaint. These day trips within Singapore and beyond provide a breathtaking change of scenery sans airport queues and hours of travelling time. Cross the Causeway into Johor and other towns or jet off to an Indonesian beach resort in Batam or Bintan because who needs Bali anyway? These out of town spots are perfect for relaxing and refuelling away from the stress of the city, coconut in hand.

RECOMMENDED: Family-friendly activities in Johor Bahru and the 12 best hotels in Singapore

Day trips from Singapore

Malacca
Photo: Lung Wei/Flickr

Malacca

If you're looking for an idyllic heritage town to spend a quiet weekend in, the charming and quaint Malacca is only a few hours drive away from Singapore. Rows of shophouses, Peranakan antiques, winding laneways and plentiful of good food at every corner, this town is your dream roadtrip destination. There's history, heaps of culture, too much food and many happy photo opportunities to be had. 

EAT

Pak Putra

Despite all the guide books telling you to eat your weight in assam laksa and chicken rice balls, skip the advice and try out Pak Putra, an open-air, open-at-night-only establishment. For the best naan you'll have, amazing Tandoori chicken, and assorted curries, this is a must-go when you're in town. 

DRINK

The Daily Fix

Blink and you might miss this buzzy cafe located within a gift store. You'll be surprised to find that this is no sleepy, quiet spot. Still if you do bag a spot, the coffee is the best in town. Rose lattes, ice mochas and the cold-brewed tea (ask the staff to see what's brewing for the day), it's the erfect complement to your short getaway. The kids will love the selection of fluffy pancakes in gula melaka, chocolate chip and more. 

DO

The Clay House

Here's a different sort of holiday shopping: it's where you take the time to make your own wares to bring home. Drop by the rustic store and pottery studio where you can sign up for a session to get your hands dirty. From sculpting to glazing, you'll be bringing home your own handmade cups, bowls, lamps, aromatherapy burners and more.

STAY

When in Malacca, stay by the river, just so you won't be too far from all the good food and good spots in town.This colonial-style heritage building is located just outside the main Jonker Street area but still close to everything. Rooms are spacious so if you're rooming with the family, there's enough sleeping space for everyone. Splurge on a room upgrade with river views, a balcony and your own personal whirlpool tub.  

If you do just one thing...

Besides just eating and cafe-hopping, Malacca is huge on its antique stores as well. From Chinese porcelain stools to crystals and gemstones (think agate face rollers and rose quartz stone massagers), batik and fabric stores to rattan furniture shops, it's a different kind of shopping sans malls here in Malacca. 

AJ Hackett Sentosa

Sentosa

There's something for everyone at Sentosa. Whether you're a high roller looking to make your fortune, a thrill-seeker wanting to scream your heart out on a high-speed coaster, Michelin-star hunting foodie or a marine life enthusiast learning more about our ocean depths, the island has you covered. And if all that sounds a little too much for you, you can always park yourself at one of its three beaches and laze the day away.

EAT

Curate

Dine at Asia's first Michelin chef showcase experience. Every quarter, a different guest chef takes over the kitchen at Curate to present his or her award-winning menu. 

DRINK

Tanjong Beach Club

Dig your feet into the sand as you lounge by the beach with a tiki cocktail by Tanjong Beach Club. On Sunday, DJs turn the beachfront into a dance floor from the afternoon 'til late.

DO

AJ Hackett

Here's one for the daredevils. Take a leap of faith by jumping from a height of 47m at AJ Hackett, Singapore's first bungy jumping facility.

STAY

There are plenty of family-friendly hotels and luxe cabana stays on the island but for something sexier, we recommend making the trek out to W Singapore Sentosa Cove. Located in a quieter corner of the island, the hotel is perfect for couples looking for a little privacy. 

If you do just one thing...

Spend the day at Universal Studios Singapore, home to Battlestar Galactica and other fun rides that get the heart racing.

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Bev C
Camera: Sony RX100 IV

Johor Bahru

Cross the causeway via public transport or in the comfort of your car from Woodlands Checkpoint and you'll find yourself in the heart of Johor Bahru. The JB immigration building is directly connected to City Square mall, where you can find brands such as H&M and Uniqlo priced more affordably thanks to the strong Singapore dollar. The surrounding area is also home to plenty of cool restaurants and cafés where you can while the day away.

EAT

The Replacement – Lodge and Kitchen

Out of all the cafés we've been to in Johor Bahru, The Replacement – Lodge and Kitchen undoubtedly serves the best food. Try the soft shell crab bao and the piping hot churros served with your choice of dip: there's salted caramel, dark chocolate, Nutella hazelnut and salted egg yolk to choose from.

DRINK

Bev C

Johor Bahru isn't exactly known for its buzzy bar scene so swap the booze out for some caffeine instead. The house special at Bev C is the espresso ice cube: shots of coffee frozen into ice cubes served with some milk. 

DO

Austin Heights Water & Adventure Park

Just a half an hour drive from Johor Sentral lies Austin Heights Water & Adventure Park. The family-friendly theme park is home to the Supersurf, a waterslide with six high-speed lanes.

STAY

Conveniently situated within JB Sentral, Doubletree by Hilton makes for the perfect base for exploring the rest of the city. The modern hotel also comes equipped with a swimming pool and gym to work off those calories from all that café hopping.

If you do just one thing...

Queue up for buns baked in a charcoal oven at Hiap Joo Bakery. The banana cake at this old-school institution is unbeatable too – we guarantee you won't stop at one slice.

LEGOLAND Malaysia
Photo: LEGOLAND Malaysia

Iskandar Puteri

Home to some of Southeast Asia’s most epic theme parks like Legoland Malaysia and the Hello Kitty Indoor Theme Park, the thriving city of Iskandar Puteri is well worth crossing the causeway for – especially with the kids in tow.

Eat

Spice Grill

Leave the touristy eats at the theme parks behind and make the drive down to Puteri Harbour instead. There, you'll be greeted by a host of better options such as Spice Grill, a stylish Indian restaurant that also has Western offerings.

Drink

Rock Bottom Kitchen & Bar

During happy hour, Rock Bottom Kitchen & Bar offers ridiculously affordable alcohol. Think $3 drinks and Bud Light draft, those are some truly rock-bottom prices.

Do

Legoland Malaysia

Spend a day (or two) at Legoland Malaysia, the country's first international theme park. Ride the towering roller coasters or immerse yourself in a captivating 4D movie experience. Whichever the case, the impressive park promises to fascinate both children and adults alike.

Stay

Hotel Jen Puteri Harbour

Aside from its incredibly convenient location, Hotel Jen at Puteri Harbour also offers a luxe infinity pool overlooking the glistening marina.

If you could do just one thing...

Get more for less at Southeast Asia’s first luxury premium brand outlet – Johor Premium Outlets. The retail paradise houses internationally-renowned designer brands like Burberry, Coach and more.

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The Els Club Desaru Coast
Photo: James Lovett

Desaru

Spellbinding white sand beaches and azure waters render this relatively underrated island the perfect place for a fulfilling getaway. Simply hop on a 30-minute ferry ride from Changi Ferry Terminal to unravel the diverse offerings of Desaru – everything from ostrich farms and fruit plantations to posh golf courses.

Eat

Jade Garden Seafood Corner

Treat yourself to a decadent seafood dinner at Jade Garden Seafood Corner – expect succulent lobster and bamboo clams, to name a few.

Drink

Beach Hut

Located within Lotus Desaru Beach Resort, this shack along the coast is a restaurant by day and bar by night. Grab a coconut or beers by the bottle.

Do

The Els Club Desaru Coast

The sprawling club consists of 45 holes spread across two world-class golf courses. The stunning Ocean Course offers a range of customisable golf lessons at its academy for both serious golfers and beginners alike.

Stay

Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast

Choose from one of the renowned hotels housed at Desaru Coast – a unique integrated destination resort that spans across a pristine beachfront. In particular, the Hard Rock Hotel entices with “rock star” treatment for vacationers and business travelers alike.

 

Batam Montigo Resort

Batam

Take a ferry across the Singapore Strait to the charming Indonesian island of Batam. From serene beaches to an enthralling nightlight scene, this oft-overlooked island makes for a more than decent getaway. Look past its sleazy reputation to unearth an array of exciting activities unique to the alluring destination.

Eat

Golden Prawn 933

Head over to Golden Prawn 933 for a leisurely lunch that guarantees to satisfy. Serving up delectable plates of affordably priced freshly-caught seafood, the renowned restaurant proves that it’s worth the hype. Alternatively, join fellow tourists as they flock to the iconic A&W café for authentic root beer floats – creamy vanilla soft serve atop fizzy root beer.

Drink

Brewsky & Co

Pay a visit to one of the island’s reputable microbreweries. Brewsky & Co has delicious cocktails and great bar games as the cherry on top.

Do

Batam Cable-ski Park

If you’re looking for adventure, choose from a variety of exhilarating water sports. In particular, opt to go jet skiing at Batam Cable-ski Park. Prices start from $25 for a one-hour pass but opt for the full-day pass that's priced at $65.

Stay

Montigo Resorts

The distinctive white and blue colour palette of Montigo Resorts’ façade affords you the luxury of experiencing a slice of Santorini without having to catch the dreaded 17-hour flight. If that wasn’t enough to warrant your stay, the posh villa-style resort boasts an exclusive private pool with unparalleled views of the surrounding Nongsa waters.

If you do just one thing…

Relish a fragrant slice of one of Indonesia’s famed traditional specialties, Kueh Lapis – an indulgent layered cake – from the revered Layers Batam. Its range of conveniently located outlets include Nagoya Hill Mall and Batam Center Point.

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Banyan Tree, Angsana Bintan

Bintan

Long established as an upscale playground for the spendthrift, the idyllic archipelago is spoiled with pristine beaches and picturesque landscapes. Yet, hidden amidst an abundance of high-end luxury resorts are rustic old-school fishing villages that intrigue with their grit. It’s nice to know that a mere 50-minute ferry ride from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal can transport you to a versatile and multi-faceted holiday destination like Bintan.

Eat

Nasi Padang

Experience Indonesian-style Nasi Padang in its most authentic form as you tuck into the generous servings at Pujasera Food Centre’s Lamak Basamo or Rumah Makan Sederhana in Tanjung Pinang.

Drink

Silk

Touted as Bintan’s veteran nightclub, Silk promises a night to remember as you immerse yourself in live band music with a jazzy beverage in hand.

Do

Air Adventure

Learn to fly at Air Adventure, a flying club at Lagoi Bay. But if all that sounds a little too ambitious for you then opt for a 20-minute ride on a seaplane that will accord you stunning views of the island. There's even an option to purchase a video recording of your flight so you can take your memories home.

Stay

Banyan Tree Bintan

Tucked away in a verdant rainforest, the lavish villas of Banyan Tree Bintan offer breathtaking views of the South China Sea and a tranquil atmosphere. In line with its luxurious setting, hotel staff provide impeccably intuitive service catering to every need and want.

If you could do just one thing…

Embark on a rejuvenating eco farm tour conducted by BRC Tours – have a hand at harvesting seasonal crops and relish farm-to-table rojak comprising of house-grown fruits and vegetables.

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