Easy weekend getaways from Singapore

Easy weekend getaways from Singapore

Escape to the hills, get marooned on a private island or party it up from dusk till dawn around your own campfire ... and all without going anywhere near Changi

Sometimes you just need to get out of Dodge City, but the last thing you want is to hop on an airplane, again.

When you're suffering from cabin fever, these four weekend escapades will provide the perfect remedy to the hustle and bustle of Singapore.

And best of all you won't have to contend with surly flight attendants, invasive metal detectors, struggle with oversized cabin luggage or be stuck in a stationary plane, thanks to a engineering fault.

1. Nikoi Island: Beach chic

Best For: Couples or families with older children

Who needs a television when you have a living, breathing ocean as a distraction?Right on the other side of Bintan, Indonesia proper awaits; an island oasis perfect for romantic getaways or chilled family holidays.

Nikoi Island (+65 96351950; www.nikoi.com) is a beautifully created private island resort -- the perfect blend of traditional architecture meets first world luxury.

The owners have preserved the Indonesian style of living with open-roofed bungalows and raw finishings. Free-form sculptures are well married with organic-feeling facilities, such as the (under construction) real grass tennis courts.

Fussy travelers and parents with younger children should know that there are no televisions or air-conditioning -- nor ugly safety fences or playgrounds.

Happily, the result is a carefully maintained natural beauty with a surprising array of small wildlife. The beach is a great spot for over-water activities and snorkeling or diving and there are mangroves and rainforest.

2. Malacca: Culture vulture

When you're done stuffing your face, walk off the chicken rice balls with a stroll around this historical city. Best For: Couples or groups of friends

Just three hours' drive into Malaysia from Singapore, Malacca has enough to make you feel far away from Singapore’s big city.

It’s worth visiting just for the delicious food -- peranakan nonya cuisine or the kitschy Malaka Jonker Street Chicken Rice Balls (www.jonkerchickenriceball.com).

Get lost among the beautiful Peranakan shophouses. Wander the UNESCO World Heritage town to sites like the rusty red Jalan Gereja’s Christ Church. In the evening, the Jonker Walk Night Market bustles with street foods and small shops. Stay at chic The Majestic Malacca (188 Jalan Bunga Raya, Malacca, +65 68362455; www.ytlhotels.com) whose spa therapists perform traditional Peranakan head massage -- inspired from the first step of the 12-day traditional Peranakan wedding ritual -- before every treatment.

3. Rawa Island: Fun, sand and sun

This powder white sand was made for sleeping off hangovers. Best for: Families or groups of friends

About four hours over the Malaysian border plus a short ferry ride from Mersing lies Rawa Island.

The basic island resort has revamped itself and become quite the hot spot for a weekend beach holiday.

Be warned, there is nothing trendy or ritzy about the Rawa Safaris (www.rawasfr.com, +607 799 1204); there isn’t even electricity from 9 a.m. til noon. But the beach is beautifully white, the waters clear and there are lots of small fish for the kids to spot.

The entire resort and its one restaurant are very laid-back and unpretentious, ideal for drinking a few cold beers and just chilling.

Call and book well ahead of travel dates as it does get booked up.

4. Cameron Highlands: The hill-top hideaway

When the madness of Singapore gets too much, head to Cameron Highland's cooler climes.Best for: Canoodling couples

When you’re yearning for a road trip or a sense of the countryside, hop into the car and drive up to the Cameron Highlands, Malaysia.

Doing it in a weekend is a push, but it is possible; just the novelty of wearing a sweater in front of the fire makes it worthwhile.

If the long drive on a Friday night seems too much, break it up with a night in Kuala Lumpur and then start off early morning for the scenic windy road dotted with strawberry farms and tea plantations.

Make a pit stop at The Smokehouse Hotel and Restaurant (P. O. Box 77, Tanah Rata, +62 605 491 1215; www.thesmokehouse.com.my). This English Tudor style hotel built in 1939 provides one of the quaintest colonial-era experiences.

Enjoy a traditional English afternoon tea at the elegant Cameron Highlands Resort (Cameron Highlands Resort By The Golf Course, Tanah Rat, +65 68362455; www.ytlhotels.com) where there is little to do other than play a round of golf, use the spa and just relax.

Aimee Chan is an Australian editor and writer based in Singapore. She enjoys travel, food, books and good company, not necessarily in that order.

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