With Christmas only a week away, everyone’s gearing up to usher in the year’s most highly anticipated holiday. For some people, Christmas might mean staying indoors to quietly celebrate with family and friends. However, more and more Singaporeans are choosing to go abroad for a quick Christmas getaway and get some well-deserved year-end R&R.
If you’re looking to go on a quick, budget-friendly trip this Yuletide season, check out Expedia’s top picks for the best holiday destinations near Singapore this Christmas!
Relax in laid-back Langkawi
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Just off the coast of Penang in Malaysia lies Langkawi, a picturesque island that gives off a laid-back vibe as soon as you set foot on it. Best known for its mesmerising beaches, Langkawi is only a 2-hour flight from Singapore, making it the ideal beach getaway! What’s even better is that it’s an incredibly affordable place to visit as well – you can expect to spend as little as SG$60 per day or even less if you live modestly while you’re there.
Langkawi is every nature-lover’s dream come true. Awarded with UNESCO World Geopark status in 2007, Langkawi is teeming with lush forests, varied natural landscapes, beautiful beaches, limestone cliffs, and more. In fact, you get the most out of your experience in Langkawi by taking part in popular outdoor activities such as parasailing, bird watching, and jungle trekking. However, most travellers are happy just to lie on the beach and enjoy a cocktail or two!
Go off the beaten path and visit Yogyakarta
Considered the soul of Indonesia, Yogyakarta is an exhilarating mix traditional arts and culture. Home to notable cultural attractions like the Taman Sari, the Prambanan Temple, and the Palace of Yogyakarta, Yogyakarta offers its visitors several sightseeing options to choose from. Foodies will also have a field day here as Yogyakarta offers a dizzying array of dishes with Javanese, Chinese, Middle Eastern, and Indian roots.
If you’re looking to buy souvenirs for your loved ones, make a side trip to Pasar Beringharjo, Yogyakarta’s oldest market, where you’ll find vendors selling goods such as batik, clothing, street food, and more. Running right beside Pasar Beringharjo is Jalan Malioboro, Yogyakarta’s most iconic street. The street is busy 24/7 and is teeming with shopping centres, food spots, and affordable hotels that offer stays for as little as SG$28 per night!
Marvel at Bohol’s natural landscapes
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When it comes to Christmas, no one’s quite as excited to celebrate as the Filipinos. They start putting up christmas decorations in late-October and remove them in February the following year! If you want to get caught up in the Philippines’ Christmas spirit, consider visiting Bohol, home to the famous Chocolate Hills and the wide-eyed tarsiers.
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Located in Central Visayas, Bohol is an outdoor adventure just waiting to happen. Popular tourist activities on the island include dolphin-watching at Balicasag Island, paddleboarding along Loboc River (starting at SG$21 per person), biking on a zipline at the Chocolate Hills Adventure Park (starts at SG$13), and visiting the Tarsier Sanctuary in Corella. As a bonus, weather in Bohol cool and temperate during this time making it ideal for outdoor activities!
Tuck into traditional Vietnamese cuisine in Ho Chi Minh
Vietnam is one of the most affordable countries in Southeast Asia making it an ideal weekend getaway destination for Singaporeans. With more than 36.5 million visitors in 2019, Ho Chi Minh is the most visited city in Vietnam, even beating out the capital, Hanoi. Aside from being the most visited city in the country, Ho Chi Minh is also one of the best places to get a real taste of traditional Vietnamese cuisine.
Foodies looking for the best eats in town should head to the streets! For breakfast, we recommend going to a small alleyway in the city where you’ll find Bánh Mì Hòa Mã, a streetside eatery that’s only open from 5:00 AM to 10:00 AM daily. They’re best known for their banh mi op la which is a Vietnamese baguette served with eggs, pate, and charcuterie. Other noteworthy eateries to visit are Bột Chiên Đạt Thành (try their bot chien!) and Phở Lệ Nguyễn Trãi (locals say they have the best pho in town!).
Visit Chiang Mai’s breathtaking temples
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While most people head to Bangkok when visiting Thailand, Chiang Mai has a different, but equally alluring draw to it. Home to magnificent Buddhist temples, Chiang Mai is considered Thailand’s cultural and religious centre. It’s also one of Thailand’s most affordable places to visit. Budget travellers can expect to spend as little as SG$34 to SG$40 per day, assuming you’ll be staying in an affordable hostel, eating street food most of the time, and using public transportation.
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Temples such as Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Phra Singh, and Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep are just a few of Chiang Mai’s top tourist attractions. Don’t forget to drop by Chiang Mai Night Bazaar to get some great deals on items like clothing, toys, souvenirs, and food!
Embrace the great outdoors on Jeju Island
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If you’re looking for a relaxing Christmas getaway where you can soak up some sun and breath in some fresh air, head on over to beautiful Jeju Island in South Korea. A stark contrast from the bustling city of Seoul, Jeju Island is all about lush landscapes, breathtaking bodies of water, and exploring the great outdoors. Budget travellers can expect to spend less than SG$200 on a 5-day trip there! Accommodations there are quite inexpensive and the same can be said about public transportation and food.
When visiting Jeju Island, make sure you get to visit the Jeongbang Waterfalls, Hallasan National Park (where you can trek Hallasan Mountain!), and the quicky museums there like the Love Museum, the Maze Museum, and more!
Visit the Christmas Markets of Fukuoka
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If you want to be able to visit the Land of the Rising Sun without breaking the bank, head on over to Fukuoka – one of Japan’s cheapest cities to visit. Despite this, however, Fukuoka is just as vibrant and exciting as any of the other popular cities in Japan. The city is famous for its ancient temples such as the Dazaifu Tenmangū Shrine and the Kushida Shrine, but people also go there to feast at the popular open-air food stalls (locally referred to as yatai).
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During the Christmas season, however, one of the most highly-anticipated events in Fukuoka is the Christmas Market. The first-ever Christmas Market in Fukuoka was held in 2013 and, since then, it has grown to become one of the most popular Christmas events in the city. There is one Christmas Market in Hakata and another in Tenjin, with stalls selling mulled wine, hot chocolate, seasonal foods, and more.
Your last-minute Christmas getaway plans don’t have to come at a hefty price. There are several affordable places to visit near and around Singapore to offer you an unforgettable (and budget-friendly!) Christmas experience with your family and loved ones. Regardless of what activities you’re into, there’s bound to be something exciting in store for you this Christmas!