The Asia-Pacific region has almost every activity you could want just a short flight away. With Singaporeans tending to lean towards short, regional trips, there are plenty of things to do in Asia without needing to take extended period of time off from work. Whether you want to spend your long weekend scuba diving in Thailand, trekking Mount Kinabalu in Malaysia or skiing in South Korea, there are plenty of cheap destinations for you to escape to. Below we have some of the best cheap destinations for sports and adrenaline junkies and some tips on how to make the most out of your weekend getaways.
Where to go
Since long-haul flights can take precious time away from a short vacation, opting for a destination closer to home can give you great results for cheaper prices. The places we explore are within reach for a typical weekend (under 6 hours of flight) and cost S$200 to S$2,000 per person for a 3 day weekend for a round trip flight, hotel and activity. Booking your flight with a travel credit card could reduce these costs even further by 15-20%.
Top destinations for scuba diving and water activities
Some of the cheapest destinations in the ASEAN also host some of the most exquisite coral reefs. If you are looking for a quick getaway to explore the oceans, Tioman Island in Malaysia is home to the Coral Triangle and has some of the most biodiverse reefs in the world. Due to its proximity to Singapore, Malaysia is a great budget option for a short, weekend getaway with airfare costing around S$150 (60% less than a flight to visit Australia's Great Barrier Reefs). Indonesia is another great location for scuba divers, and only a 3-hour flight away. There are several locations in Indonesia you can explore there that are considered to be some of the best dives in the world, including Komodo, Raja Ampat and the Derawan Islands. Lastly, Thailand, with its quick 4 hour flight and S$300 airfare, boasts cheap accommodations and top scuba diving spots, including the Similan Islands and Phuket.
Top destinations for skiing and snow activities
If your idea of a great long weekend is to spend it skiing or snowboarding, you can do so without having to travel all the way to the Alps. Though it costs around S$1,500 to S$2,000 per person, the added convenience of being closer to home, as opposed to travelling to Europe or North America, make South Korea and Japan great destinations for a quick winter adventure trips. Hokkaido, Japan has some of snowiest resorts in the world, great for advanced and intermediate skiers. Alpensia Resort in Pyeongchang, South Korea is where the 2018 Winter Olympics are being hosted, so those interested in trying out the same runs as their favourite athletes can enjoy a long weekend getaway there for under S$1,000. For both destinations, you can expect to save around 50% as opposed to flying to the Alps or Central Asia.
Top destinations for thrill-seekers
If you want to really give yourself an adrenaline rush, there are plenty of extreme adventure activities you can do in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam or Indonesia. If you want to go skydiving, you can try places like Chonburi and Pattaya in Thailand, which cost around S$600 for a quick round-trip flight and a skydiving ticket. If falling 12,000 feet isn't your idea of adventure, you can go kayaking in Thailand, Vietnam or Cambodia. For around S$65 you can have a kayak tour from Hanoi to Halong Long Bay. For S$95, you can have a Canoe tour in Phuket where you can go to James Bond Island and explore sea caves. If you prefer hiking or trekking, Singapore's neighbors have great hiking experiences, including a two day hike to the summit of Mount Kinabalu in Malaysia or a quick 2 hour hike to the summit of Mount Bromo in Indonesia.
How to make the most out of a short trip
Even though you are travelling to a nearby destination and only for a short period of time, there are still precautions you should take—especially if you are going to be participating in extreme activities.
Don't forgo travel insurance just because it's not a long vacation
Even if you are going away for a weekend, it is better to be safe than sorry and find a travel insurance plan that will cover your activities. Though most insurance companies don't cover extreme sports like off-piste skiing or rock-climbing, you can find sports-focused insurers that will cover you for sky-diving, kayaking, trekking, skiing/snowboarding and bungee jumping. Some insurers, like Aviva, even have cover for your winter sports equipment and rentals. Travel insurance is a great way to make sure that if you get injured or damage your valuable equipments while you're skiing, skydiving or whatever else you'll be doing. Plus, because you are not travelling for a long period of time to a far-flung destination, premiums can go as low as S$10.
Do your due diligence to avoid financial mishaps
If you are planning a guided tour or trek, you should make sure you are booking your excursion with a licensed company. You can research the company by reading reviews on trusted travel sites, talking to more experienced friends and family or read blogs and news articles about your destination. You should also research what kind of expenses will be necessary for your trip so you can avoid overspending or getting sucked into buying accessories or package extensions you don't need. Not only will this help save you money, but it will also help you avoid credit card fraud and miss out on an excursion because the tour company you chose was fraudulent.
Get the proper medical examinations
If you are going to be travelling to less populated regions or participating in activities that require certain health levels, it is important to check with your doctor to see if you can carry out your itinerary without being at risk for exacerbating an existing injury or suffering an adverse health effect (i.e. heart attacks, strokes or epilepsy). Furthermore, you should make sure you are properly vaccinated to prevent diseases that can land you in the hospital. If you want to prevent unforeseen medical costs, international health or travel insurance with comprehensive medical coverage may come in handy, as it will cover your medical expenses relating to your trip unrelated to your activities.