Chinese New Year in 2020 falls on the last weekend of January which makes it perfect for avid travellers planning for a quick getaway. With the 25th recorded as a Public Holiday in lieu of the two-day festivity, all you need to do is apply for leave on the Friday right before Chinese New Year and you are set for a four-day vacation!
Travelling within South-east Asia is more convenient for those who do not want to travel too far during their Chinese New Year escapade. If you do celebrate the Lunar New Year but prefer to head out this time with your family, we hope our guide around South-East Asia below will be of great help. Others looking for another opportunity to get their passports stamped over the holidays, start planning now! Here are our top picks for 2020.
Bangkok is known as the shopper’s hideout - of course, a weekend getaway for a complete retail therapy sounds very tempting. However, when in Bangkok, do remember to take a step out of the busy markets like Chatuchak and Sampeng and find peace in the city’s rich culture!
A visit to Thailand’s most sacred Buddhist temple is a must. Located within the grounds of the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew enshrines the Emerald Buddha that has been carved from a single block of jade.
After exploring other attractions at the Grand Palace, you can stop by Wat Pho that is particularly famous for the reclining Buddha, a massive 45-metre long statue that lays tall at 15 metres high.
There is also the Temple of Dawn that illuminates like a jewel against Bangkok’s night skies, the architectural glory of other temples such as Wat Suthat and Wat Traimit, not forgetting the Bangkok National Museum and the ruins of Ayutthaya.
If you want to sink your feet in white sand, watch the palm trees dance against the winds and catch the sky’s glistening reflection on crystal blue waters, then Phuket is the place to be. Spending your Chinese New Year holiday on this mountainous island will make for a beautiful start to your 2020 travel adventures!
Take a canoe out to Phang Nga Bay to explore the magical caves and lagoons. Popular among travellers is the James Bond Island, known for its iconic rocky pinnacle.
Koh Panyee, a Muslim village amid the towering limestone cliffs, is also a must-visit for a delicious meal at a restaurant built on wooden stilts.
A trip to Phi Phi Islands for an overnight stay lets you explore this beautiful archipelago comprising charming beaches and gigantic cliffs over two bays. Do make a mini hike up to the viewpoint for a panoramic view of the emerald blue oasis!
On that note, photography-enthusiasts looking to capture breathtaking panoramas of Phuket’s wonders can include into their itinerary several other viewpoints. One that is worth the click would be at Samet Nangshe just outside of Phuket and accessible over a 25-kilometre drive via the Sarasin Bridge. A 20-minute serious climb or a ride in a pickup truck will take you up to the peak. Do note, however, if you choose to climb instead of taking the vehicle, there will still be an entry fee of 50 baht per person.
You can also do some shopping at many of Phuket’s night markets, including the Sunday Walking Street Market on Thalang Road at Phuket Town. We reckon though, the best of Phuket is in its earthly sanctuary.
The capital of Perak, Ipoh may not necessarily be on the top of the list for tourists apart from it being one of the best Malaysian cities for its gastronomical offerings. However, its history is so alluring that it is hard not to give it a mention.
The city’s booming tin mining business in the 19th century was its major source of development during the British colonial rule, which has now seen a decline. Yet, the city’s renaissance is nothing without its past, as you would see embedded in its time-worn architecture that is now home to many of the city’s landmarks. You can begin your colonial wanderlust at Ipoh’s railway station.
The famous black and white Birch Memorial Clock that dates back to 1909 is another colonial masterpiece. Regarded as an ode to British symbolism, the tower features figures that embody the virtues held by the British government during its rule. These are accompanied by a mural of 44 famous historical icons such as Darwin and Shakespeare and finished with a humongous bell to complete the neoclassical facade.
The buildings of Ipoh’s High Court and Townhall also revive the historic charm of this old city.
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Do add a visit to the historical Darul Ridzuan Museum, St. Michael’s Institution and the Kong Heng Square to your Ipoh street tour. Hopping on Ipoh’s Heritage Trail will also be a great experience.
Four days in Ipoh gives plenty of time to explore its countryside as well. More popularly known among locals and visitors is the limestone Kek Lok Tong Cave Temple that spreads across 12 acres of land. It features a stunning altar accompanied by various Buddha sculptures.
Outside, the Zen Garden offers a calming invitation to its meditative aura. You can relax along a reflexology footpath, known to be the longest in the city.
Travellers with kids will find The Lost World of Tambun the perfect family recreation. Accommodating a water theme park, hotel and hot springs, a three-day-two-night stay here will be ideal.
While at Tambun, it would be worth a visit to the Tambun Cave to see Malaysia’s most extensive collection of Neolithic art. Boasting an approximate 600 paintings of humans, animals and abstract art on the faces of the limestone cliff, the cave is a beautiful artist’s hideout!
4. Cameron Highlands
If extending your trip is a possibility, you can step into Malaysia’s largest hill station via Ipoh, the gateway to Cameron Highlands. Otherwise, a four-day vacation at this sanctuary is perfect for a weekend getaway, especially for adventurous backpackers who want a respite from the hustle of the city.
The Cameron Highlands had been a rich fertile ground for the British who grew tea on its mountainous slopes during the colonial era. A practice continued by the locals till today, the district has become the biggest tea exporter in Malaysia, alongside its constant supply of vegetables to the people as well as residents in neighbouring Singapore.
Singaporeans will know the classic BOH tea all too well - getting up and close to the blanket of green to take in the aroma of the botanicals that complete our morning kopitiam runs will be a treat. Tea lovers, compose yourselves, please.
Plantations aside, there are more jewels of Mother Nature to admire on Cameron Highlands. Drive up to Mount Brinchang at 6,666 metres above sea level, one of the highest peaks in Malaysia and enjoy the remarkable scenery of the panorama right from the observation tower.
You can also reach up the mountain on foot. Known as the Mossy Forest trail, the boardwalk takes trekkers through the unique moss-covered forest. Due to the moist condition of the surroundings, the steep slopes that you will encounter can be wet and slippery. It is thus advised to embark on the 150-metre trail with an experienced guide.
The trail in the Mossy Forest is just one of the many trekking options on Cameron Highlands. You can also trek through the jungles and explore the vast flora and fauna. Mingle with the Orang Asli villagers when you get the chance too!
A trip to Jakarta during the Chinese New Year holidays can kick start your shopping spree for 2020, especially if you are thinking of sewing a suit for your next big event back at home. Everyone knows Jakarta is another shopper’s heaven aside from Bangkok, and it definitely does not fall short of its expectations.
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This dynamic and cosmopolitan city is also one that never sleeps. The brilliant nightlife and its splendid array of cafes and bars offer tourists many opportunities to unwind, catch up with friends and make connections. Those who, however, arrive with a spring in their feet will find Jakarta’s attractions worth a visit.
Located at the eastern part of the city, Taman Mini Indonesia Indah – otherwise known as the Beautiful Indonesia Miniature Park – is a great place to learn about Indonesia’s culture. Its vast expanse of land features 26 exclusive replicas of the chieftain’s traditional abode from Aceh all the way to Kalimantan. You can also visit some museums, ride on a cable car and watch performing arts.
A trip to Dufan Fantasi will thrill the kids. Attached to Ancol beach and facing the Java Sea, this amusement park accommodates over 40 rides and attractions. The park is designed to give an impression of a world tour, featuring influences from America, Europe, Greece and Egypt. The Dufan Fantasi might just be a great alternative to your Chinese New Year celebrations this year, a perfect family vacation early in 2020.
Fitting in a day trip to Thousand Islands will also spice up your weekend getaway. Just a few hours outside of the city towards the north of Jakarta’s coast, Thousand Islands, or Pulau Seribu as known by the locals, is home to gorgeous beaches, coves and inlets. Take a boat tour for some incredible island hopping – have a break at Pulau Macan for some fine dining at its luxury resort!
Chinese New Year celebrations will get a lot more exciting – find cheap flights from Singapore to Jakarta in 2020 and plan your vacation!
A weekend getaway to Bali is not uncommon – with beautiful beaches, hipster cafes and attractive nightlife, Bali offers a good breather during the Chinese New Year festivities. Over four days, however, you can do a whole lot more.
Whether you are climbing Mount Batur in Ubud or trekking along rice terraces at Canggu and Tabanan, there is an abundance of nature offering a feast for the eyes.
Add a little more excitement to your experience with an adventurous ride on the ATV. Also known as the quad ride, you can get to zoom along beaches, into caves, past waterfalls and through thick forested areas!
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Water enthusiasts can also plan a scuba diving trip to admire Indonesia’s rich underwater scenery. You can find the cute Nemo at Nusa Lembongan and Tulamben. At Nusa Penida, you can reach a bat cave accessible only via sea – be ready to spot whitetip and blacktip sharks on the way till you hear the high-pitched shrieks of your furry friends flying above.
Time to plan your Chinese New Year escapade this year – make 2020 a year filled with wanderlust memories!