Malaysia’s Independence Day — or Hari Merdeka, as we know it — is fast approaching (31 August cannot come fast enough). Yes, it may fall on a Wednesday, but you can extend the break by taking Thursday and Friday (1-2 September) off. To celebrate the freedom of a long weekend, head on down to any of these luxurious destinations that we’ve picked for not only their lavish digs, fun activities and delicious food, but also because they take less than 5 hours to reach by flight from Kuala Lumpur. It’s time to pack up and fly out!
Also called the island of the Gods, one cannot make a weekend getaway list without including this lush island. Whether you are a beach lover, surfer or a party animal, Bali has something for you.
See: Do as Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray, Love and visit the magical town of Ubud in the uplands of Bali. This town hosts some of Bali’s oldest cultural sights as well as restaurants and street shops. Visit the Tegallalang rice terraces for beautiful scenes of the rice paddies and drink some of the local coffee whilst taking in the view.
Do: With over 60 surf spots across the island, Bali is a surfers mecca. Whether you are a beginner or a pro, you simply cannot leave without hitting the waves of the white sand beaches.
Eat: Indulge in spectacular Spanish and Mediterranean cuisine at El Kabron Restaurant & Beach Club. Located 50 meters above sea level on the breathtaking cliffs of Uluwatu, it offers scenic sunset views.
Located at the southern end of Thailand, the tropical paradise is home to some of the world’s most breathtaking islands.
See: With around 200 islands just off the coast of Krabi, it is the ultimate haven for island hopping. Rent a speed boat and explore the secluded islands where they filmed Leonardo Dicaprio’s The Beach and the James Bond installment, The Man With The Golden Gun.
Do: One cannot leave Thailand without getting an energising Thai massage. The Rayavadee Spa at the Rayavadee Beach Resort offers an extensive range of therapies and treatments that draw on ancient thai techniques.
Eat: We recommend Lae Lay Pavillion at the Phulay Bay, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, for sensational seafood in a breathtaking setting overlooking the Andaman Sea.
Located in central Vietnam, Da Nang is a historical city that is home to some of Vietnam’s most beautiful beaches.
See: Pay a visit to Marble mountains- a bundle of five hills made from limestone and marble and explore the hidden caves, tunnels and peaks.
Do: Just a short car ride away lies the city of Hoi An — a UNESCO world heritage site that is known for it’s well-preserved ancient town. Why do we love it? The numerous skillful tailors that will tailormake you anything — from a perfectly-fitted suit to the gown of your dreams.
Eat: Try some amazing French fine-dining cuisine at La Maison 1888, InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort.The menu is created by Michelin-starred Chef Pierre Gagnaire.
Cebu is a heavenly destination offering something for every traveller.
See: Kawasan falls is a must see when visiting Cebu. Located inside the jungle of Barangay Matutinao, it is surrounded by pristine nature that will blow your mind away. Rent a wooden raft to get closer to the falls and stop right underneath the stream of water for a powerful massage.
Do: If you are feeling the adrenaline kicking in and looking for an extraordinary adventure, then you cannot leave without canyoneering in the jungle. Rock climbing, cliff jumping, swimming and rappelling are just some of the activities available.
Eat: Dine at the Mediterranean restaurant Anzani and indulge in their ostrich scallopine with martini reduction and truffled mash. Located in Cebu City, it boasts a warm and earthy ambiance.
If you are looking for a romantic island getaway, then Maldives is where you should be heading. Located in the Indian Ocean, Maldives is the definition of heaven on earth. Nearly 90 of the 200 inhabited islands of the Maldives are devoted to resorts and spas, offering luxury at it’s finest.
See: The Maldives hosts some of the world’s greatest marine life. Pretend like you are in a national geographic documentary and take a day trip to Banana Reef. Witness beautiful sealife such as Napoleon Wrasse, Moray Eels and the rare Bannerfish.
Do: Ever dreamt of being on the TV show Survivor? As the Maldives consists of hundreds of secluded islands, we cannot think of a better place to go on an island adventure and spend the night on a completely inhabited island than in the Maldives.
Eat: For a truly memorable experience, dine 16 feet below sealevel at Ithaa — the world’s first underwater restaurant at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island resort. Indulge in their six-course contemporary European set dinner menu, while admiring the vibrant corals and exotic fish passing by.
Hong Kong, or ”The Pearl of the Orient” as it is known, is a vibrant cosmopolitan city situated in the Southeast of China. Host to one of the most stunning skylines in the world, it is the perfect mix of Eastern and Western culture.
See: You have not been to Hong Kong if you have not been to the top of Victoria Peak situated 554 metres above sea level. The Peak offers breathtaking views of the concrete jungle. Go there just before sunset for an extraordinary experience.
Do: Hong Kong is more than just high-rises with blinding neon lights. It consists of over 200 off-shore islands with stunning mountain views and beaches. Located just in the outskirts of Hong Kong Island, is the Dragon’s Back hiking trail. Offering exquisite panoramic views of the coastal line and surrounding mountains, it provides an excellent break for those who want to escape the city life.
Eat: No trip to Hong Kong is complete without digging in to some luscious dim sum. Head over to Mott 32 in the basement of the Standard Chartered Bank for a diverse selection of Cantonese, Sichuan and Beijing dishes.
Taipei is a city of dimensions. Here you can shop till you drop, or eat till you burst (we prefer the latter).
See: Make a hike to the top of Elephant Mountain for an unforgettable view over Taipei. The hike takes approximately 20 minutes and we recommend you do it in the late afternoon to catch the beautiful sunset.
Do: Also known as a foodies paradise, you cannot go to Taipei without a visit to the famous Tonghua Nightmarket. Stuff yourself with the delicious street food to satisfy your rumbling tummy.
Eat: Food meets art at De Loin — a modern French restaurant serving a fusion of French and Japanese dishes.