Southeast Asia

10 Less-Touristy Destinations With Short Flights From Singapore For A Chill Getaway Without Big Crowds

Short flights from Singapore


As you’re clearing your remaining AL, you’ll want to make the most of it. 12 hours on a plane becomes a less desirable option when you could have spent that time exploring attractions. In fact, there are equally mesmerising tourist destinations that are much closer to us than a 6-hour flight to Japan or South Korea. 

We’ve searched high and low to find destinations that are a short flight from Singapore. Here are some nearby destinations worth visiting that are far from mainstream. 

P.S. Prices for the flights listed are for round trips from 12th-19th December 2022, and are accurate at the time of writing.


1. Miri, Malaysia – Get in touch with nature



Cave at Gunung Mulu.
Image credit: @itswillypearson

Just 2 hours away by plane, Miri is located in East Malaysia next to Brunei. It has 4 national parks for adventurers to explore: Gunung Mulu, Niah, Lambir Hills, and Loagan Bunut National Park.

Gunung Mulu National Park is a UNESCO world heritage site known for its karst formations and extensive variety of species from fungi to birds. It spans 52,864 hectares with 4 showcaves such as the Deer Cave and Lang Cave (MY$35/pax, ~S$11) where you can find a myriad of limestones.


Lambir Hills National Park at Miri, Malaysia
Image credit: @zharf87

Niah National Park is known for its 40,000-year-old cave that’s home to bats. Though not that large at 3138 hectares, it’s filled with signs of early human life. In the Painted Cave, you’ll find rock paintings that are said to be about 1,200 years old. There is an entrance fee to the park of RM20/adult (~S$6) and RM7/child aged 7-18 (~S$2) for foreigners.

Lambir Hills National Park is considered one of the smaller parks in Sarawak but it boasts multiple hiking trails of varying difficulties. The 2.9km-long climb up Bukit Lambir is considered one of the hardest there. 

You can slow down on the Lambir trail and enjoy the view of waterfalls along the way. Before you can embark on your trek, there is a small entrance fee of RM10 (~SG$3) for adults and RM5 (~SG$1.50) for children.

Flight time: 2 hours
Airlines from Singapore to Miri, Malaysia: Scoot and AirAsia
Estimated price for return flights: From $159.29-$181 

Book a round trip flight from Singapore to Miri.


2. Pekanbaru, Indonesia – Natural waterfalls & waterparks



Sarasah Murai, one of the waterfalls located at Harau Valley.

If you’re the kind who doesn’t mind a climb for picturesque views of rushing waterfalls in lush greenery, you might want to check out Pekanbaru, Indonesia.

You can find multiple waterfalls at Harau Valley. One of which is Sarasah Aia Luluih, a family favourite. Take a dip in the rock pools and rent tyres to float on for IDR10,000 (~S$1). There are 2 other waterfalls next to this one – so be free to check them out too.


Rainbow Hills at Pekanbaru, Indonesia with multi-coloured rocks.

If you want a more leisurely trip, scout out the rainbow hills that are located close to roads so you can get there by car. Capture some Instagrammable photos with the coloured rocks and enjoy the unique scenery.

For the kids who may not be into trekking to waterfalls, you can get your own share of water play at Riau Fantasi (IDR50,000 ~S$4.40). Don’t be fooled by its low ticketing fee, there are tons of slides and a lazy river.

Riau Fantasy
Price: IDR50,000, ~S$4.40
Address: Jalan. Labersa, Tanah Merah, Siak Hulu, Kabupaten Kampar, Riau 28284, Indonesia
Opening hours: Mon-Fri, 10am-6pm | Sat-Sun, 9am-6pm
Contact: +62 761 7865590 | Riau Fantasi website

Flight time: 1 hour
Airlines from Singapore to Pekanbaru, Indonesia: Scoot
Estimated price for return flights: $342.69

Book a round-trip flight to Pekanbaru, Indonesia.


3. Da Nang, Vietnam – Clear-water beaches & “Golden Bridge”



Image credit:
@parveenish

If you want a quieter beach getaway from that of Bali and Phuket, Da Nang, Vietnam is a good alternative. There you can find stretches of beautiful beaches like Non Nuoc Beach to sunbathe or go snorkelling.


Image credit:
@nattapongsb

Stroll along the Golden Bridge at Ba Na Hills as you enjoy the view of the surrounding greenery. You’ve probably seen this godly bridge on social media and you can get a shot of your own here too. You’ll have to take the Ba Na Hills cable car to get to the bridge.

Rather than just pay for a cable car ride, you can pay VND700,000 (~S$39) – which covers the entrance fee to Sun World Ba Na Hills and the Golden Bridge, as well as the cable car ride.

Book a tour to Ba Na Hills and Golden Bridge. 

Flight time: 2 hours 53 minutes
Airlines from Singapore to Da Nang: Vietjet via AirAsia, and Singapore Airlines
Estimated price for return flights: From $479-$973.60 

Book a round trip flight from Singapore to Da Nang.


4. Surabaya, Indonesia – Hike craters & tour villages



Image credit:
@the.shah

2 hours and 45 minutes away is Surabaya, Indonesia with unique places you can explore. Hike up to Ijen Crater, which almost looks like Hades peeking through the cracks.The best time to see this natural phenomenon is right after sunset or before sunrise.


Image credit:
Wiiedhya Eiiynezthika

From there, you can continue your exploration on Madura, an island just Northeast of Surabaya. There, the culture is preserved. Some of the citizens – called the Madurese – wear their sarongs and songkoks out. Drop by a local shop and observe the traditional practice of Batik Tresna art.


Image credit:
@lina_christyanti

The most noticeable of attractions is the unique environment in parts of the island, where you can find limestone structures that look straight out of an ancient Egyptian movie. There are also natural sandstone caves to explore.

Book a tour to Ijen Crater.

Book a private tour to Madura.

Flight time: 2 hours 45 minutes
Airlines from Singapore to Surabaya, Indonesia: Jetstar, Scoot, and Singapore Airlines
Estimated price for return flights: From $302.82$975

Book a round trip flight from Singapore to Surabaya.


5. Medan, Indonesia – Abundance of authentic Indonesian food



Beef Lung Soto from Soto Kesawan.
Image credit: @sotokesawan

Medan is known as Indonesia’s food haven – and all that separates you from its authentic cuisine is a 1 hour and 25 minute flight. One of the must-try dishes is Soto Medan, which is a thick soup with shredded chicken, prawns, bean sprouts, and bergedil.

One of the best restaurants to get Soto Medan is Soto Kesawan. They serve it with juicy cut-up prawns so it’s less of a hassle to eat. You can also get it with chicken or beef instead.


Bihun Bebek from Bihun Bebek Asie Kumango.
Image credit: @hendrapit77

Another dish you should try while in Medan is bihun bebek, which means duck beehoon. Bihun Bebek Asie Kumango serves the dish with a generous amount of spring onions and fried garlic. Opened since 1930, they’ve been upholding the same stringent method of preparing the dish. Alternatively, learn to make the dishes yourself at a village tour at Bukit Lawang. Here, you can participate in a cooking class, get a tour of the market, and learn from the locals.


Image credit:
@shintamawarny

If you have time to spare, consider a 6-hour drive to Lake Toba – the largest volcanic lake in Southeast Asia. You will easily fill your itinerary with an abundance of activities around it such as  touring the villages, digging into Batak cuisine and hiking to one of Indonesia’s tallest waterfalls – Sipisopiso.

Besides driving, there is another way to get there. You can take a 6-hour bus ride from Amplas Station to Parapat (IDR20,000/pax ~ S$1.80). Then, hop on the ferry (US$1 ~S$1.40) which will take you to Samosir Island in the middle of the lake.

Book a cooking class and village tour at Bukit Lawang.

Soto Kesawan
Address: Jalan Ahmad Yani, Kesawan, Kec. Medan Bar., Kota Medan, Sumatera Utara 20231, Indonesia
Opening hours: 8am-2.30pm, Daily
Contact: +62 61 4514518 | Soto Kesawan Instagram

Bihun Bebek Asie Kumango
Address: Jalan Kumango No.15, Kesawan, Kec. Medan Bar., Kota Medan, Sumatera Utara 20212, Indonesia
Opening hours: Mon-Sat, 6am-12pm (Closed on Sundays)
Contact: +62 61 4512517 

Flight time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Airlines from Singapore to Medan, Indonesia: Singapore Airlines
Estimated price for return flights: $587.70

Book a round trip flight to Medan, Indonesia.


6. Yogyakarta, Indonesia – Explore sand dunes & temples



Image credit:
@syahyo_

Channel your inner Indiana Jones for a day and explore the ancient Buddhist temple of Borobudur at Yogyakarta, Indonesia. If you worry about getting lost navigating the huge temple, opt for private tours that bring you around the temple as well as a jeep tour at Mount Merapi. They will also charter you to and from the hotel.


Image credit:
@francisca.kurniawan

A 15-minute drive away from the temple, you will find the Chicken Church with a backstory of its own. Its conception started from a “prophetic dream” a Christian man received in 1988. Now, thanks to the influx of visitors due to media coverage, the church has been renovated and houses a small cafe inside. 


Image credit:
Fajar Subekti

For a more adventurous experience, go off the beaten path and explore the Parangkusomo sand dunes with a Jeep. With this, there’s no need to travel far to Egypt for a desert crusade.

Book a tour to Borobudur temple or a jeep tour to Parangkusomo sand dunes.

Flight time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Airlines from Singapore to Yogyakarta, Indonesia: AirAsia and Scoot
Estimated price for return flights: From $492 – $871.45 

Book a round trip flight to Yogyakarta, Indonesia.


7. Hat Yai, Thailand – Reclining Buddha statue & night markets



Image credit:
@xierrashid

Wat Hat Yai Nai temple is one of the most popular attractions at Hat Yai for its eye-catching Reclining Buddha statue. Much so that even local devotees often make a pilgrimage there to see it.


Image credit:
@greenwaynightmarket

When night falls, hop on over to the Greenway Night Market where you can shop and haggle for goods. They also sell trendy clothes and accessories so this is your chance to get them for cheap. You can also grab some local street food within walking distance after all that shopping.

Flight time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Airlines from Singapore to Hat Yai, Thailand: Scoot
Estimated price for return flights: From $417.07 

Book a round trip flight from Singapore to Hat Yai


8. Makassar, Indonesia – Trek along canyons



Image credit:
@fadly_wero

Instead of taking a 14-hour flight to explore the Grand Canyon in Arizona, there’s a similar landscape to be found just 3 hours away at Makassar, Indonesia. But instead of a dry and hot desert, you’ll find Celebes Canyon with tropical springs where you can cool off.


Image credit:
@muhrezkifadlun

Come with your friends and take a dip or dive into one of the nature-made pools. There are toilets (IDR2000/entry ~SG$0.20) to use after you’ve had your fun. This place is 1km from the road so be prepared for a little trek to get there.


Image credit:
Agus aQm

You can still find beautiful sights even when you head back to civilization. This state is also home to one of the biggest mosques in Southeast Asia – the Great Mosque of Makassar. This place of worship has 2 storeys with a courtyard to stroll around and catch a breather. 

Book a stay at Favehotel – Pantai Losari Makassar.

Flight time: 2 hour 50 minutes
Airlines from Singapore to Makassar, Indonesia: Scoot
Estimated price for return flights: From $344.90

Book a round trip flight to Makassar, Indonesia.


9. Kuching , Malaysia – Explore authentic heritage sites



Image credit:
@raf_baltazar

An hour and 33 minutes away from Singapore is Kuching, Malaysia. “Kucing” in malay means “cats”, so cat lovers might be drawn to check out this state. Take a trip to the Cat Museum with everything feline-related.


Image credit:
@shyizham

Apart from the cats, Sarawak is also known for its indigenous culture that you can see at cultural villages. Visit Sarawak Cultural Village where you can view well-kept ancestral longhouses and watch performances with traditional string instruments such as the Jatung Utang.


Image credit:
@doryloveyoga

This state also has gleaming beaches such as the one at Bako National Park. While you can’t swim there now, you can still stroll along and enjoy the tranquil scenery.

Book a stay at Imperial Riverbank Hotel Kuching.

Kuching Cat Museum
Price: RM3/adult, ~SG$0.90 | RM2/child ~SG$0.60 | Free for disabled person & children below 2
Address: Bangunan DBKU, Jalan Semariang, Petra Jaya, 93050 Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia
Opening hours: 9am-4.30pm, Daily
Contact: +60 82512200 | Kuching Cat Museum website

Flight time: 1 hour 33 minutes
Airlines from Singapore to Kuching Malaysia: Scoot, AirAsia, and Malaysia Airlines
Estimated price for return flights: From $152.06 – $372.40

Book a round trip flight from Singapore to Kuching for $147.49.


10. Ko Samui, Thailand – Chill alternative to Phuket & Krabi



Image credit:
Zbynek Rampacek

A serene beach by day and happening nightlife district by night, Ko Samui, Thailand makes for a vacation spot with endless opportunities for fun around the clock. 


Image credit:
@siamexperiencessamui

Ko Samui is known for its beaches, so there’s no shortage of water activities you can try here. Head down to the beaches and you can easily get into it with rental places for snorkelling, kayaking and scuba diving. Compared to other popular beach destinations like Phuket and Krabi, Ko Samui is harder to get to – so you can expect less crowds. 


Image credit:
Charly Templar

Those who love partying will find themselves right at home here. There are Full Moon Parties at places like Koh Phangan. At the Chaweng beach area, you’ll find The Islander, a popular Irish pub, and the Green Mango Club – a large and lively open-air nightclub.

Book a scuba diving and kayaking speedboat tour.

Flight time: 2 hours
Airlines from Singapore to Ko Samui, Thailand: Bangkok Airways via AirAsia
Estimated price for return flights: From $1,133

Book a round trip flight from Singapore to Ko Samui.


Book a flight to these lesser-known destinations


You don’t necessarily have to block out an entire week for a holiday. With these flight destinations that are less than 3 hours away, you can have a weekend trip whenever you need a breather. 

After all, you might just find your next favourite travel destination might be closer than you think.

Here are some other travel articles:


Cover image adapted from: @gavrila.shila, @zharf87, DHANDY WAHYU1

Nur Hidaya

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