The Republic of Singapore in Southeast Asia is a tropical country located just north of the equator on the Malay Peninsula. Though the history of Singapore dates back millennia, modern history in the area began in 1819 when it was founded as a British East India Company trading post. Singapore became independent in 1963 and a fully sovereign state in 1965. Today, Singapore is known for innovation in finance, healthcare, technology, trade, and manufacturing while maintaining a booming economy through the tourism industry as well. People from all over the world love to visit Singapore because it’s been rated one of the earth’s safest countries, and has one of the best ports and airports in the world as well.
Singapore is a modern and developed country that has been ranked as one of the most expensive places to live in the world. There are unlimited attractions to see in Singapore, but there are also many places within a day’s drive that are great to visit to get a taste of Southeast Asian culture.
The biggest city in the Province of Riau is Batam which is also known as the Port to Paradise in the free-trade zone of Malaysia-Indonesia-Singapore Growth Triangle. People love to visit Batam for luxury golf courses, water sports, spas, beach resorts, and duty-free shopping. There are also fantastic restaurants with freshly caught seafood and ocean delicacies.
Visitors can reach Batam by ferry from Singapore in about forty minutes. There are multiple ferries that leave the Tanah Merah Port daily. There are also direct flights into Batam from several southeastern Asia airlines. Visitors should plan to taxi around Batam to see attractions such as the Barelang Bridge. Another popular attraction in Batam is the Laughing Buddhist Temple which is one of the most prominent temples in Southeast Asia.
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Bintan Island is a serene island near Singapore famous for world-class golf courses, exhilarating water sports, and legendary beaches. Visitors can get to Bintan by direct flight from Singapore or a ferry ride. Visitors to Bintan Island love to explore the beaches and participate in ATV riding, jet skiing, boating, scuba diving, and more. The island also has some of the most beautiful natural sites to see such as the Banyan Tree Temple that resembles a mythical fairytale home or take a guided tour of the mangroves where snakes, otters, birds, and other wildlife can be spotted. Visitors can also pass by the eerie, abandoned ship that has been taken over by the forest.
The Village of Changi is part of the Singapore city-state has many great attractions to keep the entire family busy. The Changi Boardwalk is a 1.2 km walkway that separates the coastline from the beach club. Along the boardwalk are shops, restaurants, and plenty of places to stop and enjoy the tropical coastal weather of Singapore. Visitors can spend time indoors exploring the Changi Chapel and Museum, which features artifacts of war and the history of Japan and Singapore in World War II. Boat tours and rentals are also available from Changi Village, and several outdoor food courts offer different local food options for lunch or dinner.
Coney Island is a city park with green space and white sand beaches in Singapore. Coney Island is a fantastic place to spend the afternoon bicycling, which is how most tourists and locals explore the park. The main path is 2.4 km long with signs that show cyclists where to find the beaches. Trails lead off the main road that the more adventure-seeking visitors are free to venture down; although at their own risk.
Coney Island is an excellent place for bird watching with more than 80 species nesting on the island. There are designated bird-watching locations on the main path where visitors can spot the Baya Weaver who makes nests of tropical flowers. A boardwalk leads into a dense mangrove forest near one of the beaches where snakes, turtles, and other wildlife can be seen.
Travelers wanting to spend the day lounging and relaxing at a Malaysian beach town should check out Desaru. The city is two hours from Singapore and is known for luxury resorts on their white sands beaches. Desaru is one of the most popular places for water lovers in Malaysia because the waters are free of jellyfish, calm, and warm.
Visitors who love reptiles can spend time at Teluk Sengat Crocodile Farm which is home to more than 1,000 of the creatures, some of which are more than 130 years old. Malaysia’s largest ostrich farm is also nearby. Visitors looking for a modern, waterpark experience with pools, slides, and amenities can spend the day at Desaru Coast Adventure Waterpark. Those looking for local fresh seafood and art galleries can explore the Tanjung Balau Fishing Village.
Iskandar Puteri is a Malaysian city on the Straights of Johor and is the city located the furthest south on the peninsula. The city is known for its harbor, which is also a marina development with dozens of shops and restaurants. Iskandar Puteri is also home to the Legoland Malaysia and EduCity, one of the largest educational campuses in the world. The EduCity is 600 acres and includes the University of Southampton Malaysia, University of Reading, Multimedia University, Newcastle University of Medicine Malaysia, Netherlands Maritime Institute of Technology, Raffles University, and several others.
Other great attractions in Iskandar Puteri include Heritage Forest, Edible Park, and Sireh Park for nature lovers. Visitors who love to shop will enjoy the Anjung Neighbourhood Centre, Mall of Medini, and Sanrio Hello Kitty Town.
Located just across Singapore causeway is the capital city of Johor, Johor Bahru. The town was only recently declared in 1994 but has been fast-growing and is currently the third-largest city in Malaysia. The metropolitan city is more industrial than tourist-friendly however many of the top electronics manufacturers in the world have plants in Johor Bahru, and there is also an immigration and customs checkpoint there. The Johor Zoo is a great place to visit and dates to 1928, making it one of the oldest zoos in Southeast Asia. Visitors can also tour The Istana Besar Royal Palace and the Royal Abu Bakar Museum or check out the Angry Birds Theme Park, or Johor Bahru Art Gallery.
8.Jurong Bird Park
Nature lovers will enjoy spending the day at the Jurong Bird Park, which is open all year round. The park was opened in 1971 and is the largest bird park in all of Asia with more than 3,500 birds from more than 400 species. One-fifth of the species represented at the Jurong Bird Park are endangered or threatened. The park is known for the walk-in aviaries that allow visitors to get close to the beautiful birds. The park also features penguins, and pelicans, and was the first to have successful breeding of the Malayan black hornbill. The only Avian Hospital in the Asian Pacific is located at the Jurong Bird Park which is also part of the Wildlife Reserves of Singapore.
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Kuala Lumpur is the capital of Malaysia and a modern, metropolitan town bustling with tourists and locals. The nightlife in Kuala Lumpur is vibrant, and there are many attractions for the entire family that make it worth staying multiple days in the capital city. Kuala Lumpur’s skyline is dotted with domes and skyscrapers, but the city also includes green space, shopping malls, and local markets amongst the temples and mosques. The cultural makeup of the city is a mix of Malay, Chinese, and Indians and all of their communities are represented all over Kuala Lumpur.
The city is best explored on foot as traffic is often jam-packed and you’ll miss some of the best local food in Malaysia otherwise. Visitors who are looking for handcrafted, local gifts and souvenirs can shop at the Central Market.
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Visitors wanting to immerse in nature and local Malaysian heritage can find what they are looking for on Kusu Island. Just off the southern shores of Singapore, Kusu Island is Chinese for Turtle Island and is a prominent place in local legends and mythology. There is a turtle sanctuary on the island with hundreds of tortoises. Travelers from around the planet come to worship at the sacred sites found on the island which is also a destination on a pilgrimage during the ninth lunar month that occurs between September and November annually. Visitors also come to Kusu island to swim in the serene lagoons and sunny beaches.
There are no overnight accommodations on Kusu Island, and camping is not permitted which makes the island perfect for day trips. A public ferry is available for transportation to and from the island from Marina South Pier and St. John’s Island.
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One of the eight Southern Islands of the archipelago, Lazarus Island features a serene and quiet coastline that is mostly tourist-free and covered in palm trees. Lazarus Island is connected via bridge to St. John’s Island, as well as Kusu Island and, is a great place for snorkeling or scuba diving. Several coral reefs are located off the shores of Lazarus Island. The island is mostly deserted with no shops, accommodations, or tourist attractions. Visitors are advised to bring their water with them when visiting Lazarus Island which is reached by walking over the pedestrian bridges or catching a ferry from Marina South Pier.
Visitors to Legoland Malaysia Resort are experiencing one of the best themed resorts anywhere in Asia. The resort features more than 70 rides and attractions that the entire family can enjoy including the Legoland Water Park, Legoland Hotel, Lego City, Miniland, Land of Adventure, Lego Kingdoms, and more. Outside food and beverages aren’t allowed, but there are many restaurants, cafes, and food courts at Legoland Malaysia. There are also many shops to explore in this giant lego theme park and resort, and aquarium zones that will immerse the entire family in underwater marine life, rock pools, rainforests and more.
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Malacca is one of the most historic cities in Malaysia, and visiting the town is like journeying back in time to the golden age. Not everything is ancient and historic in Malacca, however. There is a great blend of ancient and modern amenities and attractions. Most people come to the city to soak in the history of southeast Asia and will make a point to see places like St. Paul’s Church ruins, Christ Church, Stadthuys, Baba Nyonya Museum, Cheng Ho’s Museum, A’Famosa Fort, and the Melaka Sultanate Palace. Nature lovers can explore the Butterfly and Reptile Sanctuary just northeast of Malacca.
Penang is a beautiful island where visitors can experience Chinese culture through ancient temples, museum, protected forests, and scenic beaches. Tourism is a major driver of the economy in Penang with visitors flocking to the food capital of Malaysia to enjoy some of the best food in Southeast Asia. Some of the popular attractions in Penang include the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Batu Ferringhi recreational spot where visitors can find resorts, boutiques, and restaurants that cater to European tourists. People who want to spend time in nature can also spend the day hiking at Bukit Mertajam Recreational Forest or Bukit Panchor Forest Park.
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Just south of Singapore is the gorgeous island of Pulau Hantu, known to locals as ghost islands. Local legend tells of ghosts of ancient Malay warriors who haunt the island. Pulau Hantu is quiet and the perfect island to visit for visitors looking to relax and explore the great outdoors. When tides are low, visitors can simply walk across the loch to visit the other side of the island. Water sports such as scuba diving and snorkeling are also popular on the island where lots of marine life is visible in the coral reefs. Fishing and camping opportunities are also available.
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Pulau Ubin is an island that showcases what Singapore was like decades ago in the 1960s. The island city has a lot of rustic charm and is full of abandoned quarries where granite was once mined. Today, visitors come to the island to see unspoiled wildlife habitats such as the Chek Jawa Wetlands where the intertidal flat showcases coral reef and marine life such as octopuses, sea hares, sand dollars, sponges, starfish, and cuttlefish. Another great outdoor place to visit is the MacRitchie Nature Trail and Reservoir Park. Many visitors to the island choose to explore by kayak or hiking and biking on land.
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Sentosa Island is a resort island that is one of the leading destinations for leisure travel in all of Asia. The island is 500-hectares total and features many themed attractions, spas, and golf courses in the middle of the rainforest on sandy, golden beaches. Sentosa is the first resort to be integrated in Singapore and also has luxury accommodations and a yacht club. Sentosa Cove is the residential region of the island where there are 2,000 homes, restaurants, boutiques and shops. Spend time at Adventure Cove Waterpark, go bungee jumping, visit dolphin island, and Butterfly Park and Insect Kingdom.
Sisters’ Island Marine Park is the first marine park in Singapore. The park encompasses 40 hectares of the Sisters’ Islands as well as the western reefs of St. John’s Island and Pulau Tekukor. The marine park features a rich spread of biodiversity across the sandy beaches, seagrass, and coral reefs which are inhabited by endangered species such as seahorses and clams. The first turtle hatchery in Singapore is also found on Sisters Island Marine Park. Visitors to the island can explore through dive trails, intertidal guided walks, or stop by the Public Gallery at the Marine Park Outreach and Education Center.
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19.St John's Island
Tourists who want nothing more than to snuggle with cats all day while they explore a historic island should visit St. John’s Island. The island’s history is rather dark with it once being a quarantine zone for people with infectious diseases and then a drug rehab center. The island was turned into a tourist-friendly hot spot in the 1970s with the addition of beaches, swimming lagoons, and picnic spots. The island remains mostly uncommercialized with the only accommodations being the rentable chalets and cabins, or tent camping. Most visitors to the island come by boat and spend the day fishing, hiking, or picnicking.
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19 Best Weekend Getaways and Day Trips from Singapore
- Batam, Photo: Marko/stock.adobe.com
- Bintan, Photo: Florence Piot/stock.adobe.com
- Changi Village, Photo: marcuspon/stock.adobe.com
- Coney Island, Photo: Pr/stock.adobe.com
- Desaru, Photo: Travis/stock.adobe.com
- Iskandar Puteri, Photo: hamdie/stock.adobe.com
- Johor Bahru, Photo: Maohao/stock.adobe.com
- Jurong Bird Park, Photo: familie-eisenlohr.de/stock.adobe.com
- Kuala Lumpur, Photo: Elena Ermakova/stock.adobe.com
- Kusu Island, Photo: fiftymm99/stock.adobe.com
- Lazarus Island, Photo: Christopher Howey/stock.adobe.com
- LEGOLAND Malaysia , Photo: kenstock/stock.adobe.com
- Malacca, Photo: Richie Chan/stock.adobe.com
- Penang, Photo: Howard/stock.adobe.com
- Pulau Hantu, Photo: Dudarev Mikhail/stock.adobe.com
- Pulau Ubin, Photo: Christopher Howey/stock.adobe.com
- Sentosa Island, Photo: Val Thoermer/stock.adobe.com
- Sisters Island, Photo: Erin/stock.adobe.com
- St John's Island, Photo: Novak/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Daniel Ferryanto/stock.adobe.com