One of the many benefits of living in Singapore is the fact that an entire trove of ‘short getaways’ lies just beyond the other side of the causeway.
A slightly longer weekend or a meaningful conversation over a few shots of tequila would be sufficient motivation for many to pack their bags and cross the border for a short trip.
Therefore, we have come up with a list of 5 popular cities you should absolutely check out when planning for your next short getaway!
Often being referred to as the second food capital of Malaysia, Ipoh is also known for its breathtaking scenery, temples and colonial architecture. Located between Kuala Lumpur and Penang, Ipoh makes for the perfect pitstop that’s worth taking a day or two to explore.
Eat Restoran Tauge Ayam Lou Wong
Google “what to eat in Ipoh” and the ubiquitous Lou Wong seems to have made its way into every notable list with its signature chicken rice. No respectable food blogger worth his salt would dare risk his reputation by passing up on this popular haunt, which is indicative of the influence this eatery has on the city and beyond.
Do/Visit Kok Lok Tong Cave Temple
One of the crown jewels of Ipoh, the Kok Lok Tong Cave Temple boasts a stunning cave that houses a beautiful altar surrounded by statues of deities from Chinese Mythology. Visitors can also look forward to spending a slow and relaxing afternoon in the Zen Garden, which is home to the longest reflexology footpath in the city.
Stay The Haven Resort Hotel
Situated at the precipice of a virgin forest, the Haven Resort Hotel is caught between two worlds. Surrounded by lush vegetation and fauna while located only 15 minutes from the city centre, the hotel is one of its kind, offering visitors an urban enclave while surrounded by the vast primordial nature.
Named after King George III, Georgetown was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2008. Known as the capital of Penang, the city is brimming with culture and heritage. From sprawling mega-malls to sacred places of worship, it is no wonder the city remains one of the most popular destinations in the country.
Eat Kheng Pin Cafe
Kheng Pin Cafe is famous for its Lor Bak, a dish made up of deep fried pieces of meats, seafood, tofu, and vegetable, seasoned with five-spice powder and served with a fragrant sweet sauce known as loh. Over the years, the cafe has seen a steady stream of returning customers consisting of locals and Singaporeans.
Do/Visit Clan Jetty
Located near the Penang ferry terminal, the Clan Jetties are water villages that are over a century old. Known as one of the last bastions of old Chinese settlements on the island, the villages consist of houses on stilts. In the early 1900s, fierce rivalry broke out among the clans over the monopoly of cargo and access to the waterways. Today, they welcome tourists to experience this special piece of history that’s unique to Georgetown.
Stay Seven Terraces Hotel
Located in the bustling part of the city, Seven Terraces Hotel is just 4 minutes walk away from the iconic Penang State Museum and Art Gallery, and 3 minutes from Camera Museum. Each room is furnished with dark and sturdy wooden doors that contrast with large inviting white walls; boasting a blend of contemporary and traditional furniture that provides each guest with a comfortable and unique experience.
Malacca City, Malacca
A popular option among Singaporeans looking to venture out of the familiar Singapore extension *coughs* Johor Bahru. Having received the unofficial title of historic capital of Malaysia, Malacca is saturated with Peranakan influence.
The vibrant and eclectic facade of the old shophouses juxtaposed with the contemporary-looking buildings lends a distinct look to Malacca that often result in travellers recalling their trip with much fondness.
Eat Jonker Walk Night Market
Malacca seems to lit up with life when the weekend comes around. The country’s most famous night market sees visitors flocking from all over the world to soak in the lively atmosphere and indulge in delectable street food. From sticky rice stuffed with meat, to traditional candy made out of fruits and syrup, Jonker Walk Night Market is bound to satisfy every taste bud with its wide array of food options.
Jonker Walk Night Market opens only on Friday and Saturday nights.
Do/Visit Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum
There is no better place for travellers to catch a glimpse of the Peranakan history than the Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum. Made up of a collection of three magnificent restored houses furnished to resemble a typical 19th-century Baba-Nyonya residence, the elaborately carved teakwood doors set the stage for what’s to be expected upon entry. Within the museum, its grand interior and Dutch-design wooden furniture proudly display the opulence of the Peranakan people whom many were merchants and traders.
Stay Hatten Hotel Melaka
With a shopping mall just a stone throw away, Hatten Hotel remains a popular choice among many who aren’t willing to compromise on convenience and comfort. Spotting a panoramic city view from its infinity pool, hotel guests can be seen squeezing in a quick dip no matter how choke full of activities their itineraries may be.
Shah Alam, Selangor
Replacing Kuala Lumpur as capital city of the state of Selangor in 1978, the city is largely situated within the Petaling District. Without the crowds and homogeneity that often plague larger cities, Shah Alam offers a pleasant experience to travellers willing to give it a chance. With plenty of attractions and dining spots, Shah Alam is a perfect destination for families looking for a quiet getaway.
Folks craving for some Chicken Shawarma and salad will be elated to know that one of the best restaurants in town specialises in Mediterranean cuisines. Besides delicious hummus that goes perfectly with piping hot Arabian bread, Mozer’s signature Churros also helped to put the restaurant on the map.
Do/Visit Skytrex Adventure
The first of its kind in the country, Skytrex Adventure provides a tree to tree ‘sky-trekking’ experience where visitors attempt aerial obstacles by flying, swinging, and gliding while suspended above the luxuriant rain forest. For adrenaline junkies or those married to one, Skytrex will be an enjoyable experience for beginners and veterans of adventures alike.
Stay Acappella Suite Hotel & Residences
Opened in 2015, Acappella Suite Hotel & Residences is furnished with a plethora of fine facilities and impeccably designed rooms, an enchanted home away from home for weary travellers. For those looking for some excitement, just a short drive away is City Karting, a Go-kart course with a wide range of vehicles to choose from.
Photo by New Straits Times
Seberang Perai, Penang
At the opposite end of the Penang Bridge is Seberang Perai, a city that has grown from a sleepy town to a developing giant that has been touted as Penang’s catalyst for economic growth. The chief town of Butterworth is one of the main attractions, alongside Penang Bird Park and St Anne’s Church.
Eat Duck meat Kway Chap at Bukit Mertajam
It is not often for a place of worship to be known or remembered for its good food. The Tua Pek Kong temple in Bukit Mertajam Town Centre is one of those exceptions as crowds that congregate in front of the temple are often there for the delicious food instead of divine blessings. Though drawing a large number of hungry visitors, the area has limited sitting hence it is advisable to factor in a bit of waiting time.
Do/Visit Guar Petai
Once a busy quarry, Guar Petai is an essential stop for those looking to up their ‘Instagram game’’ by embellishing their feed with pools of azure waters against a backdrop of thick rainforest. For those longing for a trip to China’s Jiuzhaigou and other picturesque places, Guar Petai will be an adequate substitute for a fraction of the price.
Stay Iconic Hotel Penang - Bukit Mertajam
Situated in Central Seberang Perai, Iconic Hotel has been a popular accommodation for travellers due to its reasonable price and convenient location. With several attractions such as St Anne’s Church and Penang Bird Park within a 15 minutes drive, Iconic Hotel allows visitors to return for a short nap before setting out to check off the next item on the itinerary.
Getting lost during a short getaway can be a giant waste of time. For those looking for a reliable app to help navigate their way around the significantly larger country, consider trying Waze.
A vibrant looking user-updated map that’s often preferred by locals, enabling travellers to receive real-time updates on traffic conditions so as to avoid getting caught in unforeseen jams.