Travelling to Singapore only to leave it.

Increasingly, travellers don't view Singapore as a destination worth revisiting. If you’ve seen it once, you’ve probably seen it all. Questionable as that may seem, where are they going, then?

Over the years and after multiple chats with our Expat friends, I have come to realise that many of them see Singapore just as a stopover.

Sure, we’re rich in culture, we have a decent party and nightlife scene and the food here is pretty varied.  

But does that make one want to come back again? Well not really. Not anymore, at least.

Singapore offers a number of tourist attractions, however, because of its small size, you could probably cover most of it in two to three days. So travellers have found another use for Singapore.

Many of them see Singapore as a stopover before heading to those more popular Asian destinations. Thailand, Indonesia and even the Philipines. They wouldn’t want to spend a week or more here.

They would rather come to see what all the hype is about, then leave to the next best island destination where you can expect much more in terms of a stereotypical vacation.

It does make some sense. Think about it, it can be pricey to take a flight from America to Thailand. This way, with Singapore as the middle-country, travellers will briefly visit Singapore and it’s limited attractions, then head down to Phuket for a true Thai holiday experience.

So where do they actually go? (because it’s rather easy to Google, ‘Top vacations near Singapore’) Let’s find out which value-for-money-lesser-known holiday destinations you can look forward to in 2019, through Singapore.

We’ll be exploring short (2-3 days or over the weekend) and longer (a week or so) trip recommendations.

Short Trips.

1. Sea Gypsy, Sibu Island

Travelling time:

Less than 4hours.


How to get there:

It’s pretty easy to reach the island from Singapore. The bulk of it is a 3-hour drive to Tanjong Leman. From there you can arrange for a boat ride, about 20mins to the Island itself.


What to do:

This one is for those who would like to spend a trip with the kids. Sea Gypsy is an island family resort.

The resort is tucked in a beautiful and charming bay lined with powdery sand beaches. The staff are accommodating and always wear a friendly smile.

You’ll find the alluring palm tree-laden landscape simply untouched as the island is a hidden gem. The resort also offers a number of land and sea activities to keep you and your little ones busy.

The friendly staff are very accommodating and always feature a pleasant smile. So enjoy the sun, tanning and clear your mind while you recharge during this short getaway.

2.  Pangkil

Travelling time:

Less than 4hours.


How to get there:

This trip requires a ride on a ferry from Singapore and a link up bus ride. The final leg sees a 15 min speedboat ride to the Island.


What to do:

Pangkil is utter seclusion. This private island is perfect for the traveller who intends on spending their holiday with a group of friends and/or family. The Island of Pangkil offers beautiful beaches and pristine waters.

The Pangkil Island Resort caters to all kinds of guests. Whatever your needs, they are there to serve. Gluten-free or strict halal meals? No problem! Amazingly friendly and service-first staff are ever-ready to make your stay at Pangkil as enjoyable as can be.

The island is known for its snorkelling and scuba diving. Travellers can look forward to discovering the abundant marine life in the stunning coral reefs that surround the island. This picturesque paradise will definitely have you wishing you didn’t have to leave.


3. Cempedak Island

Travelling time:

2hours 30mins.


How to get there:

Hop on a ferry from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal in Singapore and head to Bintan. This will nearly make up one half of your trip there (1 hour). At Bitan, thanks to the services provided by Cempedak Island, you’ll be able to chill at the VIP lounge.

From there, a car will take you on hour ride to a jetty where the final 30min boat ride awaits.


What to do:

Unlike the last two destinations, Cempedak Island is an option for those who would rather some time away from the kids. This island has a strict no kids rule. I know, its amazing. No little munchkins running around! You’ll get to enjoy an adult trip without the guilt.

Once you step onto the Island you’ll be greeted by a paradise wonderland of beautiful bamboo and atap-roofed villas featuring intricate architectural designs.

One thing you’ll realise is that the staff over at Cempedak won’t be treating you like hotel customers but like guests in their own home. Expect friendly conversations and lovely service.

The ultimate romantic retreat; the beachfront villas feature infinity pools that connect to the beach. Running an eco-friendly theme, you won’t find any air conditioning or even refrigerators here. But what you will find is a tropical haven for those who want a break from technology.

The island runs daily nature walks where travellers can spot local wildlife such as monkeys, pangolins and sea otters. The island also runs a couple of farms and amazing tropical spas.

Slightly Longer Trips.

1. El Nido (Snake/Vigan Island)

Travelling time:

4 hrs 45mins

How to get there:

The luxury of air travel begins with these options. Heading to El Nido requires you to take a plane (easier of the other options getting there). Start off with a flight to Manila. The journey there takes about 3 and a half hours. Once in Manila, you can take a domestic flight toward El Nino which will take about an hour and a half. Lastly, catch a cab to El Nido Town for about 15mins.


What to do:

El Nido is a constant adventure. With a number of islands scattered around El Nido, you can expect your time there to be filled with the sight of crystal blue waters, soft-sand beaches and indulgent big and small lagoons.

If you’re feeling a tropical party then catch the El Nido party boat! Run by 3 girls from South Africa, the party boat travels around offering swimming, snorkelling with loads of drinks, singing and dancing. It’s the ultimate party on and in water.

Other water-based activities include a scenic kayaking session in the many big and small lagoons found all over the small islands in El Nido. The pristine waters of secret beaches and rock formations are a great way to keep yourself in constant awe.

Those who are looking to mix it up with a land activity can head to zipline all the way down to Las Cabanas beach. This is a great way to set your sights on the lay of the land and take it all in.

2. Kanchanaburi

Travelling time:

4hrs 25mins

How to get there:

Book that flight ticket to the heart of Thailand; Bangkok. This flight will take approximately 2hours and 25 mins. Once in Bangkok look our for and head to Bangkok Khaosan Road where you can book a minibus to take to you Kanchanaburi which will take you 2hrs.

What to do:

Known as a spot in Thailand rich in history, Kanchanaburi now offers much more for varied tourists.

The trend of glamping has been picking up, over recent years. Over at the 3199 Mountain Camp, you can look to staying under the stars and cooking your own meals but with the luxuries of modern living. Can’t bear the thought of staying away from your serviced apartment for too long?

Don’t worry, the themed glamps and many services offered make indoor-outdoor living a breeze.

Thailand is known for its floating market, amongst other things, and you can find such a market in Kanchanaburi too. The Damneon Saduak Floating market offers the sights and sounds of the famous floating markets of Thailand.

Continue the local discoveries with a trip to the night market. The Kanchanaburi night markets offer a wide range of food and goodies. You’ll find rows and rows of shops with seafood, amazingly tasty street food and colourful local desserts.



Travellers don’t hate Singapore. They just seem bored of it. So maybe embrace this change. Let’s take a step back to our roots of being a popular trade port and start ushering travellers to other destinations through ours, one visit at a time. With all the complaints of foreign intrusion from the locals, this cant be a bad thing, can it?