Living in Asia is a dream for many but once you’re actually living it, you might find yourself in need of a break every now and then. Luckily, short distances and affordable airfare make weekend getaways a breeze. Here’s our guide for your next expat getaway in Asia, all within an easy flight from the area’s main expat hubs. Psst…! Our guide is also great for a staycation if you’re staying locally.
From Singapore to Bali
Flight time: 2 hours 40 minutes
Bali is a great destination for families, with plenty to do for kids of all ages. Staying in areas like Seminyak and Jimbaran means you’ll be close to the airport and won’t waste time being stuck in traffic. If you want to get off easy, you can treat the family to a full day at places like Waterbom or Finns Recreation Centre, which has a water park, bowling alley, bounce centre and restaurants all rolled into one. We also love all the family friendly restaurants popping up around the island – some even allow the little ones to eat for free. When it comes to accommodation, Bali offers a huge range of family friendly villas – we love Chandra Villas and Villa Abakoi. Organising for children’s equipment is also made easy so you don’t need to lug around heaps of baggage. For more insight, check out our guide to choosing a family friendly villa.
Is there anything more romantic than a couple’s getaway to Bali? If you want to treat your significant other to something a bit special, why not book a stay at a romantic one-bedroom pool villa and hang the “do not disturb” sign for the whole weekend? One Eleven offers super chic one-bedroom pool villas with a “no kids” policy ensuring a blissfully grownup stay. Berry Amour Romantic Villas are purposefully built for romance, with villas themed for Temptation, Mystique and Desire. Bali is also lousy with romantic restaurants, whether that means a toes in the sand dining experience in Jimbaran or a sweeping clifftop dinner in Uluwatu. If your spouse is a foodie, you could also treat them to a fine dining tour with Bali Food Safari.
There’s nothing that lifts your spirits quite like an impromptu getaway with your mates. Bali is perfect for a fun friends’ getaway with its cool beach clubs, vibrant restaurants and endless nightlife. It’s also a great pick for a bucks’ weekend or a girls’ getaway – hello, spa day! In Bali, you can either go for accommodation in the heart of the action or choose a mega villa away from it all where there’s more room to hang. In central Seminyak, we love Niconico Mansion and Lataliana Villas. If you want something fabulous with a view, go for a clifftop villa like Villa Sol Y Mar in Uluwatu.
From Hong Kong to Koh Samui
Flight time: 3 hours 20 minutes
Koh Samui’s sandy beaches and calm waters are ideal for family getaways. If staying close to the beach is a priority, Koh Samui is often the better choice over neighbouring Phuket where a lot of villas and resorts are built over scenic clifftops away from the beach. If you’re planning a quick getaway to Koh Samui, it’s best to stay in areas like Chaweng and Bophut where you’ll be within a 15-minute drive from the airport. The beaches in Bophut and Chaweng are also suitable for children. Some villas in Koh Samui come with designated kids’ rooms – we love the eight-bed fun zone in Villa Malouna. For more ideas, check out our guide to Koh Samui with kids.
Koh Samui’s picture perfect beaches and killer sunsets make this island ideal for a bit of romance. It really is no wonder the island is a firm favourite with honeymooners and actually, a lot of couples get engaged on the island! The island’s romantic treetop restaurants and toes in the sand dining experiences offer the perfect setting for popping the question – or simply for stealing some quality time with your significant other.
Koh Samui is ideal for some fun in the sun with the gang. Actually, you don’t need to do much planning – simply book an epic villa with enough room for everyone and let the chips fall where they may. We love destination villas like Villa Splash which come with all the trimmings, including a private cinema. Then again, there’s something to be said for direct beachfront access – we love Villa Mia and Villa M, both located within an easy drive from the airport. If you want to venture beyond the villa, Koh Samui’s fabulous beach clubs are sure to keep the whole group entertained.
From Kuala Lumpur to Phuket
Flight time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Phuket’s beautiful beaches, fun water sports and lively markets make this Thai island a great destination for a family getaway. Beaches like Nathon and Natai (located in mainland Thailand but easily reached via the Sarasin Bridge) are located within a 30-minute drive from the airport and offer a beautiful sandy playground for your family. If you’re travelling with older kids, they’ll love the water sports – just make sure you check that safety standards are up to par before heading into the water. We love villas with fun kids’ rooms, like Villa Tievoli and Villa Rodnaya.
If you know where to look, Phuket offers amazingly romantic hideaways tailor made for couples – and it doesn’t exactly hurt that the island is lousy with beautiful sunset beaches and romantic fine dining restaurants. When planning your romantic getaway, finding the right accommodation is key. The Bell Pool Villa Resort offers beautiful pool villas at a great value, while the surreally luxurious Keemala villas are the stuff of dreams.
No one does epic mega villas quite like Thailand, so what better place to treat your crew to an unforgettable stay in the tropics than beautiful Phuket? There is so much to do in Phuket – you could hit a beach club, try out some water sports and hit a vibrant night market all in one day. If you’re staying for a few days, you could also head out for some island hopping. If you want to treat the group to something really special, you could go for a fabulous villa with a pool table or even a private cinema. Bluesiam Villa and Villa Napalai are some of our favourite.
From Seuol to Niseko
Flight time: 1 hour 25 minutes, plus 2 hours by car from airport to Hirafu Village
Snowy Niseko offers family runs and ski schools which make this ski town ideal for a family trip during the winter months, with the best ski season falling between late November and early May. And you shouldn’t write Niseko off simply as a winter destination – you can enjoy family friendly activities like rafting, biking and rock climbing during the summer months as well. If you’re bringing the kids and want to stay close to ski lifts, you could consider chalets like Gustav’s Hideaway or Itoku which also include fun bunk rooms for the kids.
Nothing like a frosty mountainside getaway to heat things up. Niseko’s majestic mountains, cosy izakayas and ancient onsen hot springs make for a very atmospheric setting and of course, this location is ideal for a pair of adrenaline junkies looking to rekindle the magic. Intimate chalets like Heiwa Lodge and Yorokobi Lodge are ideal for couples – their clever layout even allows for two couples to stay without anyone feeling too cramped. If you’re looking for something really special, Hideaway on Escarpment is one of the best chalets we’ve ever stayed in, with a mountain view onsen that screams romance.
Niseko is the ultimate destination for larger groups looking for an epic powder fix. Hirafu village offers great skiing and the area is also seeing a real renaissance of cool restaurants and pubs popping up all over the ski village. Niseko also offers everything from affordable ski lodges to epic mega chalets, so there’s something to suit every budget. Chalet Billopp represent great value while Kazahana is a jaw-dropping chalet with all the trimmings, including an outdoor Jacuzzi overlooking Mount Yotei.