Singaporeans love to travel. Living in a prosperous city with arguably the world’s most advanced airport makes it relatively easy to pack up and venture abroad. In fact, residents here have an altogether enviable problem. With a feast of public holidays and long weekends, Singaporeans have ample opportunities to explore far-flung destinations. Deciding where to go can be as much of a challenge as actually getting there. Fortunately we’ve put together a helpful list of popular travel destinations. Organized by public holidays and long weekends, this list will help you find that ideal vacation spot. These are the top destinations for Singaporeans to visit during public holidays in 2020.
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Singapore 2020 Long Weekend Guide
Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
Singapore 2020 Long Weekend Guide
Public Holiday: New Year’s Day (Wednesday, January 1)
Long weekend: Wednesday, January 1 – Sunday, January 5
Tip: Apply 2 Days Annual Leave on 2nd Jan & 3rd Jan
Public Holiday: Chinese New Year* (Saturday, January 25 – Sunday, January 26)
Long weekend: Friday, January 24 – Monday, January 27
Tip: Apply 1 Day Annual Leave on 24th Jan. *Following Monday will be Public Holiday
This year one of the hottest destinations is Down Under! People from Perth often wax poetic about how it’s Australia’s best city. Grab something fresh at one of the many cafes and start your tour with a visit to the Perth Cultural Centre. Explore the Art Gallery of Western Australia and make sure to take a walk through Kings Park and the Botanic Garden. If you’re spending the weekend in Western Australia, don’t pass up the chance for a trip along the coastal road. With the Indian Ocean to one side and amazing landscapes to the other, this beautiful drive offers a great chance to snap some stunning photos. There are plenty of small towns along the way where you can stop to enjoy a rest and take in a bit of the Western Australian hospitality.
As its economy continues to boom, Vietnam is undergoing a renaissance in tourism. Hanoi and Saigon are places for museum lovers and shopaholics. If you ask us, however, one of the country’s best destinations is without a doubt the coastal town of Hội An. The city’s old quarter is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the many fine tailors there can whip you up a new suit or beautiful dress in no time. Look for a place to stay in nearby Cẩm An where you will have easy access to the beach. Alternatively, if you can’t imagine New Year’s without a blanket of snow on the ground, head north to Sa Pa near the border with China. The mountain town has some fantastic trekking and is one of the few locations in Vietnam that receives appreciable snowfall. Vietnam is all-around a great place to ring in the New Year!
No Public Holiday
DIY Long Weekend
Consistently one of the world’s top travel destinations, Paris enchants visitors looking for the thrill of romance. The city radiates out in a series of numbered neighborhoods called arrondissements. If it’s your first trip to Paris, concentrate on the areas around the Louvre Museum. Walk the Champs-Élysées and visit the Arc de Triomphe. The Eiffel Tower and Left Bank are great at night. You can get a fantastic view down into central Paris from the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Finally, pay a visit to the suburban Palace of Versailles where you can walk the gardens or tour the Hall of Mirrors. The Parisian nightlife is legendary as are the city’s many bakeries, cafes, and restaurants. There is no shortage of culinary treats on offer in this most European of destinations.
Mandalay is a sprawling metropolis on the east bank of the Irrawaddy River. The former royal capital is a beautiful low-lying city surrounded by fertile farmland. You will want to spend at least two days here so you can visit some of the surrounding attractions. Rented bicycles are a great way to get around. It is also possible to book a driver for the day. Pay a visit to U Bein Bridge, located near the ancient city of Amalapa. Built out of precious teakwood, the bridge has survived since 1850, likely making it the oldest surviving teakwood bridge in the world. Sunsets over U Bein Bridge are very romantic, which is why this is one of Myanmar's most famous landscapes. In the northern part of the city you can visit Mandalay Palace, the former royal residence. If you’re feeling energetic, climb Mandalay Hill for a great overlook and the change to visit some beautiful temples.
No Public Holiday
School Vacation: Saturday, March 14 – Sunday, March 22
Goa is a state on India’s western coast. It’s one of the most developed places in the country and features an abundance of landscapes, beautiful beaches, and great culture. Visit the state capital in Panaji. Tour Goa Museum and visit Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church, a Baroque style church constructed during Portuguese colonial rule. Portuguese influence is readily apparent throughout Goa, particularly in Margao, the state’s commercial and cultural hub. Be sure to see the Margao Municipal Council building, the Holy Spirt Church, and Damodar Temple. The Basilica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa is a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with other parts of the historic city. Finally, make time for some recreation on the beach or trekking through an inland nature park.
Cebu Island is a long, narrow island stretching some 196 kilometers north to south. It is a popular destination for its many beaches, coral reefs, and rich fishing waters. Cebu City is the principle transportation hub. Explore some sights in town as you acquaint yourself with the island. Pay a visit to Fort San Pedro, Magellan’s Cross, and Basilica Minore del Santo Nino. From Cebu City, find yourself a smaller resort along the coast where you can enjoy the relaxation and swimming. A few things you won’t want to miss include the famous sardine run in Moalboal on the island’s western coast. Here you can dive into a sardine swarm and watch as countless fish churn under the waves. In Oslob on the south of Cebu Island, you can swim with whale sharks. These magnificent creatures are the largest fish in the world. Don’t pass up the opportunity to get up close and personal with these magnificent animals.
Public Holiday: Good Friday (Friday, April 10)
Long weekend: Thursday, April 9 – Sunday, April 12
Tip: Apply 1 Day Annual Leave on 9th Apr
Japan’s cultural capital is full of wonderful attractions. It’s easy to spend several days exploring the many temples, shops, and artistic offerings. If you can, try to budget three days. Concentrate on central Kyoto. Take a bus to Kiyomizu-dera Temple in the morning. The shrines and temples in the area will give you plenty to see and photograph. Don’t miss Jishu-Jinja Shrine, a favorite among young couples seeking to cement a romantic relationship. Afterwards take a bus to Heian Shrine with its beautiful gates. Several art museums are located nearby and make a great afternoon stop, particularly on hot days. If the cherry blossoms are in bloom, don’t miss a walk along the Philosopher’s Path where you can reach Ginkakuji Temple, a famous Zen Buddhist temple. Arashiyama in Western Kyoto is a special place. The famous bamboo road is breathtaking. Wander along as gentle winds cause the entire forest to sway. Explore the park and surrounding hills where you will find tons of fantastic places to photograph. Tenryuji Temple is famous for its gardens, so be sure to take a look. You will find Kyoto is a lovely place to celebrate Easter.
As with other parts of Indonesia, Larantuka has a strong Portuguese cultural influence. Residents here are overwhelmingly Roman Catholic and several towns are renowned for their Holy Week celebrations. Traveling to Larantuka is best accomplished via ferry service from Kupang on Timor Island. When you arrive in Larantuka, spend some time exploring the town and appreciate the view up to the nearby mountain. Often capped with a wisp of clouds, this is an inspiring sight any time of year. During Holy Week, various towns stage elaborate ceremonies to commemorate the Death and Resurrection of Jesus. Beginning on Wednesday and continuing through Easter Sunday, the celebrations draw large crowds in moving displays of religious faith. Given these impressive gatherings, Easter is the best time to travel to Larantuka.
Public Holiday: Labour Day (Friday, May 1)
Long weekend: Friday, May 1 – Monday, May 4
Tip: Apply 1 Day Annual Leave on 4th May
Public Holiday: Vesak Day (Thursday, May 7)
Long weekend: Thursday, May 7 – Sunday, May 10
Tip: Apply 1 Day Annual Leave on 8th May
Public Holiday: Hari Raya Puasa* (Sunday, May 24)
Long weekend: Friday, May 22 – Monday, May 25
Tip: Apply 1 Day Annual Leave on 22nd May. *Following Monday will be Public Holiday
Known as the cradle of Western Civilization, Athens ranks among the top travel destinations in Europe. Visiting in May before the summer heat takes hold is a great time to see the city in all its splendor. Start your tour on Syntagma Square in front of the Greek Parliament. The square is an important gathering point and focus of protest in contemporary Greek life. Depending on current political happenings in the country, there may be large gatherings or other public events on the square. Tour the National Garden before making your way to the Acropolis. Explore the Parthenon and enjoy the overlook near the enormous Greek flag at the western end of the Acropolis. Work your way down and out into the city. Take in a museum or two before climbing Mount Lycabettus and watching the sunset from the viewing area. It’s a magical experience. Finish your day at a lovely restaurant or tavern for the perfect Athens experience.
Vesak celebrations occur on a grade scale at Yogyakarta’s Borobudur Temple. Start your tour near Alun Alun Kidul Yogyakarta, an open grassy area near the Royal Palace where you will find lots of people out enjoying their day. Visit nearby Taman Sari and explore the gardens. Venture the short distance to the Palace of Yogyakarta, which is still used today by Indonesian royalty. If you’re hungry or want to do some shopping, find your way to Jalan Malioboro. There is always something delicious on offer either along the main road or in the side streets. Prambanan Temple to the northeast and near the city limits is a beautiful Hindu Temple dating back to the 9th century. To reach Borobudur Temple and to take part in the Vesak festivities, you will have to travel a bit out of town. Borobudur is a magnificent complex reputed to be the largest Buddhist temple in the world. If you’re visiting Yogyakarta during this time of year, it is something you surely don’t want to miss.
No Public Holiday
School Vacation: Saturday, May 30 – Sunday, June 28
Seoul, South Korea
Seoul is one of those places that needs little by way of introduction. Futuristic cityscapes mingle with classic Joseson-era temples. The smell of bibimbap and kimchi hangs in the air as you ply the streets hunting for bargains or enjoying South Korean culture. Visit Namsan Mountain Park and climb up to the N Seoul Tower. Offering a panoramic view to the city below, this is a great place to come at night when Seoul really shines. Stroll around Bukchon Hanok Village, where you can lose yourself in the Joeson-era buildings. Fans of traditional Korean architecture will not want to miss this. Nearby Gyeongbokgung Palace is one of Korea’s most famous attractions. The former Joeson royal palace is ornate and representative of a true Korean splendor. At night, find a market stall or a small restaurant where you can dine in style on some amazing Korean food. With so much to choose, you could do nothing by eat and still have a fabulous time in Seoul.
Indonesia’s resort island of Bali is legendary. If you ask people what they think when they hear the words tropical resort, chances are a good many will name Bali! Flights arrive at Ngurah Rai International Airport just outside the island’s principle city, Denpasar. This is the place to get your bearings and check out the local culture. Jimbaran Beach lies south of the airport and is one of the island’s most-frequented stretches. Enjoy a candlelit seafood dinner while admiring your surroundings. North of Ngurah Rai is Kuta Beach, a great place for sunbathing or enjoying the surf. Kuta is set in a crescent-shaped bay that creates sheltered conditions at either end, perfect waters for beginners. Stronger breaks make the middle section a paradise for professional wave-riders. Finally, don’t pass up the opportunity to visit the magnificent Tanah Lot. Its unique offshore setting provides the perfect backdrop for sunset photos. Constructed in the 16th century to honor the Hindu sea god, Baruna, Tanah Lot is one of Bali’s most-visited landmarks.
Public Holiday: Hari Raya Haji (Friday, July 31)
Long weekend: Friday, July 31 – Monday, August 3
Tip: Apply 1 Day Annual Leave on 3rd Aug
Sarawak, on Borneo Island, is a great destination for a short holiday. Easy to reach from Singapore, you will nonetheless feel as if you’ve managed to get worlds away. Sarawak’s abundance of pristine natural scenery means you will have no trouble finding excellent ways to explore outdoors. July is the dry season, making it a great time to visit. Although this year it’s not during the Hari Raya Haji holiday, a fantastic thing to do in Sarawak is attend the Rainforest World Music Festival. The annual three-day event brings together musicians from many different backgrounds and traditions. Craft displays, food stalls, and the main-stage evening concerts are all tons of fun. If you can’t make the festival, try visiting either Bako National Park, Niah National Park, or Gunung Mulu National Park. These spectacular natural paradises will help you experience Sarawak’s true glory.
Taiwan is a great destination nearly any time of year. In the high summer months, there are beautiful beaches and nature parks in which to recreate and enjoy outdoor adventure. Of course you can also enjoy great food, shopping, and museums. Taipei can be a bit sweltering in July so you might make for cities along the coast. Tainan is known as the seat of Taiwanese culture. It’s a great place to wander around, explore some great cafes, and take in a lovely city park or two. Another great alternative is to make for the extreme south and visit Kenting National Park. This incredible stretch of scenic beauty is one of Taiwan’s best kept secrets. With plenty of places to say, you can easily spend a weekend here enjoying the drive. Along the way you can spot wildlife like deer, macaques, and seabirds. Visit Kenting Ranch Cooperative for an educational and fun look at modern farming techniques. Finally, enjoy a dose of long weekend relaxation at Kenting Beach.
Public Holiday: National Day* (Sunday, August 9)
Long weekend: Friday, August 7 – Tuesday, August 11
Tip: Apply 2 Days Annual Leave on 7th Aug & 11th Aug. *Following Monday will be Public Holiday
San Francisco, USA
San Francisco is the unofficial capital of Silicon Valley. Tech giants dominate and everyone seems eager to develop the next big app. Come discover what makes the Bay Area such a special destination. Visit PIER 39 with its eclectic collection of shops and restaurants. Though somewhat touristy, it’s one of those must-do things in San Francisco. Head to Pioneer Park and enjoy the view from Colt Tower. Walk down Lombard Street and explore the famous curved portion. Stroll through the famous neighborhoods of Haight-Ashbury and the Castro. Golden Gate Park is expansive and the perfect place for stroll. Stop at the de Young Museum or the California Academy of Sciences. Visit the iconic Golden Gate Bridge or take a tour of Alcatraz. Golden Gate National Recreation Area is the place for amazing sunsets. Finally, head downtown for some great music and entertainment.
The Island of Flores is the gateway to Komodo National Park. Best known as the habitat for the rare and famous Komodo dragon, the park comprises some 600 square kilometers of protected lands and surrounding waters. The park’s rugged beauty coupled with the Komodo dragon’s fearsome reputation belie the rich diversity of land and sea creatures that inhabit the region. The park is spread across three main islands: Komodo, Padar, and Rinca. Komodo is the largest of the three and most likely to be on any organized tour outing. The main visitor center is located on Rinca, where it is also fairly easy to find and observe Komodo dragons. Facilities in other parts of the park are sparse. Tourists should make sure they are well-prepared for eventualities. This includes traveling with plenty of water and sunscreen. Satisfy your own curiosities and strike out on an adventure to visit this remote and natural wonder.
No Public Holiday
School Vacation: Saturday, September 5 – Sunday, September 13
Indulge yourself in and around bustling Victoria Harbour. Commercial banks dot the skyline and the entire city dazzles at night. If you have a few days, consider venturing to one of the outlying islands or maybe an amusement park such as Hong Kong Disneyland or Ocean Park. Visit the upscale shopping on offer in Tsim Sha Tsui or explore local culture in Sham Shui Po. Hong Kong is a place like few others. The sheer diversity of experiences on offer nearly boggles the mind. No matter who you are, there is something for you in Hong Kong. The remarkable scenery is matched by the friendliness of the people. Hong Kong has long been an international city. Its tourist infrastructure is highly developed. You can easily navigate around and find what you need. Hong Kong is hands down one of the world’s great cities.
Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
Brunei’s capital is a great place to spend a weekend in September. As this ASEAN member continues to prosper, Bandar Seri Begawan is attracting investment and tourism from around the region. Visit Jame’Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque, built in 1992 and known for its lavish interior design. Next make a stop at Istana Nurul Iman, the official residence of the Sultan. The complex is absolutely enormous (nearly four times the size of Versailles!) and one of the largest residences in the world. Unfortunately, the palace is closed to visitors except for a brief event held to commemorate the end of Ramadan. If you’re hoping for some scenic adventure, check out Tasek Lama Recreational Park, a large area with hiking trails stretching into the jungle and lovely waterfalls. Finally, consider visiting the Royal Regalia Museum where you can explore a vast collection of items and learn about Brunei’s history and culture in Brunei. It’s a great way to round out the weekend.
No Public Holiday
DIY Long Weekend
Velana International Airport is the primary gateway into the Maldives. It is located on Hulhule Island and connected via road and ferry links to nearby Male, the country’s capital and most populous island. Male is a great place to get acquainted with the local culture and secure onward transportation to other atolls. The island’s colorful buildings make for great pictures. Take a stroll through Republic Square and visit the nearby fish market. Afterwards, venture past the Grand Friday Mosque, National Art Gallery, and Old Friday Mosque. The latter is a UNESCO-recognized example of Maldivian architecture. Finally, find a quaint cafe, some good food, and enjoy the lovely sunset. If you’re spending the weekend, you’ll be glad you spent a day in Male before making for an outlying resort.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Thailand’s northern capital is no stranger to a lively party. The areas around the moat, canals, and Ping River tend to be very popular. Likewise Thapae Gate and Chiang Mai Gate are popular gathering points. Finally there is always lots to see and do along Nimmanhaemin Road. Here you will find DJs playing music and people dancing. If you happen to be in Chiang Mai, a great thing to do is find your way into some of the smaller streets or alleyways. There’s great fun to be had away from the large crowds. As one of Thailand’s most well-known tourist destinations, it is easy to get to Chiang Mai and easier still to spend a few days in this beautiful destination.
Public Holiday: Deepavali (Saturday, November 14)
School Vacation: Saturday, November 21 – Thursday, December 31
Varanasi is an important city to the Hindu faithful, who come to visit the city’s countless temples and bathe in the River Ganges. During Deepavali, pilgrims from across India and around the region congregate here. Experience the magic as worshippers dip into the river before lighting small lamps on the steps of the many temples near along the riverbank. When night falls the city is awash in light from millions of these small candles. Varanasi is a place bursting at the seams. Narrow alleyways run in every direction. You can easily lose yourself and spend hours wandering around, enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells in the capital of Indian spiritualism. Be sure to plan in advance, however, as accommodations can be tight during important festivals like Deepavali.
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Siem Reap is the gateway to the famous Angkor complex of temples. Angkor was capital of the historic Khmer Empire, which flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries. Today the ruins at Angkor are Cambodia’s most famous attraction and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They form the world’s most significant collection of Khmer architecture and are a true marvel to behold. As the complex at Angkor is sprawling, it’s best to visit over the course of a few days. Find yourself a guided tour so that you can appreciate the many intricacies on display and gain a fuller appreciation for how Angkor functioned in its heyday. Finally, if you’ve had enough of temples, Phnom Kulen National Park to the northeast is a great place to explore the region’s natural wonders.
Public Holiday: Christmas (Friday, December 25)
Long weekend: Friday, December 25 – Sunday, January 3 2021
Tip: Apply 4 Days Annual Leave on 28th – 31st Dec
Zagreb is a place for the museum lover in all of us. More than thirty collections and galleries are housed here. The city’s many cultural institutions reflect its long history and deep roots. Upper Town is a good place to start your visit. The narrow streets offer heaps of charm and allow you to hunt for a hidden restaurant, picturesque park, or a great art gallery. In Lower Town, you will find a collection of varying architectural styles including secessionist, neo-baroque, and art deco. Zagreb is best enjoyed casually, with no defined plan. Allow yourself the freedom to wander, visit where you want, and find a place that calls to you. Make a point to see the Museum of Broken Relationships, St. Mark’s Church, and Zagreb Cathedral. Finally, venturing into the hills to the north will give you a great vantage point for some magnificent pictures.
Luang Prabang, Laos
Traveling to Luang Prabang in December lets you take part in the annual Hmong New Year celebrations. These tend to occur mid-month and feature residents dressed in their finest attire and eager to welcome in the New Year. Visit the temples alongside the Mekong River and climb up Phousi Hill from where you can snap some excellent pictures back into town below. Visit the city’s largest temple, Wat May Souvannapoumaram, where you can see intricate wood carvings and golden Buddha statues. The former Royal Palace is now a history museum with lovely gardens and ornate architectural decor. There are several other Buddhist temples on the small peninsula so you can easily hit several great sights as you’re walking around enjoying Hmong New Year.
We Singaporeans are fortunate to be able to string together a number of holidays and long weekends throughout the year. As you’re planning what to do in 2020, do your best to structure your time off in accordance with holidays so as to maximize your time for travel. The list we’ve put together here will help you get the most out of wherever you choose to go. Structured to take advantage of Singapore’s great connections to regional destinations, we’re sure you can turn 2020 into the year where you finally go on those adventures you’ve always dreamed about.