Ultimate guide to long weekends in 2020 and the best places to go to maximise your leave days!

Mark your calendars, everyone – Avenue One is here to help you make travel plans for the long weekends in 2020!

2020 will have a bumper-crop of seven long weekends – three more than in the past two years. Check out the handy guide we’ve created that summarises all the details including when to take leave. If you follow this guide closely, you’ll get 46 days off with just 14 days of annual leave!

If you’re wondering where to even begin with 46 days off, we’ve got you covered. Here is a list of trip suggestions to different Asian countries to maximise these glorious work-free long weekends, complete with must-do activities based on the season!

1. New Year’s Day

Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka

Period: 1 Jan – 5 Jan (5 days)

The Christmas holiday season is a whirlwind of visiting, shopping and partying but once the rum and egg nog haze has lifted, it’s time to start thinking about somewhere to travel or detox before you kick off the fruitful work year ahead! The perfect place for that? Charming Nuwara Eliya in Sri Lanka.

Source: https://traveltriangle.com

Sri Lanka might sound a little far, but that’s exactly why we recommend travelling there during slightly longer breaks like this one. The best time to visit Sri Lanka is during its dry season from December to April, and January makes a perfect time for a trip there because you’ll probably get little to no rain and cooling weather between 20 to 30 degrees.

Things to do: Tea Production Capital Tour

Source: https://bestoflanka.com

Always wondered where your cuppa is from? Sri Lanka is well-known for its tea production and Nuwara Eliya is the country’s tea production capital. Adorably nicknamed Little England, a tour around their large tea plantation is a must to complete your trip there.

Stop along the way and be mesmerised by the picturesque beauty of Ramboda Falls, the Giant Java Fig Tree or a unique Hindu temple where you can learn about the rituals and make a wish for the upcoming year ahead.

Things to see: Gregory Lake

Source: https://www.flickr.com

One of the most promising places to visit in Nuwara Eliya is Gregory Lake. With plenty of activities including speed boats, dinghy boats, and pony rides, the scenery here is breathtaking and is sure to leave you feeling revitalised after your five-day vacation.

Fastest way to get here:

Time is of the essence when it comes to long weekends. Start with a four-hour flight from Singapore to Colombo with SriLankan Airlines. From Colombo airport, you’re approximately three hours away from Nuwara Eliya by car – perfect for taking in the streets of Sri Lanka on your journey to Nuwara Eliya!

2. Chinese New Year

Langkawi

Period: 25 Jan – 27 Jan (3 days)

Asian cities with a significant Chinese population are going to be quiet during the Chinese New Year period, because most shops run by Chinese owners will be closed. But you can consider travelling to Langkawi, which won’t be affected by as much. With virtually no rain in this month, we’re looking at pristine white beaches, calm ocean allowing exciting water-based activities, and emerald waves embracing flawless and surprisingly soft sand.

Source: https://www.tripadvisor.com/

Things to see: Langkawi Sky Bridge

Source:http://www.langkawi-info.com/

Besides the obvious lolling on beach options, this 125 metre-long curved pedestrian bridge offers a thrilling and occasionally terrifying view of the surrounding verdant waterfalls and several islets around Langkawi. Breathe in the pine fresh air on this bridge set 700 metres above sea level. This will definitely be one unforgettable bridge-crossing!

Things to see: Kilim Karst Geoforest Park

Source: http://www.langkawi-info.com

This noteworthy park spans over 100 square-kilometers and is famous for its mangrove swamps, pristine beaches, and vertical karstic hills jutting out towards the Andaman Sea. January is part of the migratory season, so that means you can spot birdlife of varying species, including kingfishers, white-bellied fish eagles, and kite eagles!

Fastest way to get here:

With only three days to spare for this break, Langkawi is a smart option as it’s only one and a half hours away from Singapore by an AirAsia flight! Time to quickly hop on and off the airplane to begin your short but fruitful break.

3. Good Friday

Bangkok

Period: 10 Apr – 13 Apr (4 days)

Bangkok is open for shopping and tourism all year round, which makes it a great option for a quick four-day getaway during the Good Friday break! While shopping is a given for everyone who visits Bangkok, here are other exciting things you can do for a memorable trip.

Things to see: The Grand Palace

Don’t be surprised to hear about the culturally-rich heritage sites that exist in Bangkok. One such must-see place is the city’s most famous landmark – Bangkok’s Grand Palace receives millions of tourists annually and will give you an authentic introduction into Thai history and life.

Source: http://www.bangkok.com/

Things to do: Be a part of Songkran Festival

Immerse yourself in authentic Thai culture by being a part of Songkran, the Thai New Year national holiday. Thailand’s most famous festival involves crowds of people throwing water at anyone in the vicinity, so you can look forward to a splashing good time. Besides the fun, look to a tempting array of local delights lining the streets throughout the celebration.

The first day of the festival coincides with the last day of your trip, so you can be a part of it right before returning home!

Source: https://www.aleenta.com/

Fastest way to get here:

All you need is about two hours aboard (choose from a multitude of airlines such as Scoot, Jetstar, and Cathay Pacific) before you find yourself in Bangkok!

 4. Labour Day

Bali

Period: 1 May – 4 May (4 days)

What better way to reward yourself on Labour Day than with a refreshing trip to the ever-popular holiday destination, Bali?

Source: http://www.bali-indonesia.com/

While it’s on the warmer side during this period, most adventure-seekers and adrenaline-junkies visit in May due to the excellent conditions for scuba diving, mountain climbing, surfing, and more. The best part – the hotel prices are fairly low during this time!

Things to see: Ubud

Source: https://balicheapesttours.com

You’ve probably seen this swing photo a hundred times on your Instagram feed – well, now’s your turn to check it out and see just what the hype is all about! Enjoy the adrenaline rush as you swing and glide on various spots over lush green forests, rice fields, and river valley while taking in the cliff views.

Remember to capture a shot of this picturesque moment!

Things to do: Shop at Ubud Art Market

Source: https://www.shutterstock.com/

Even if shopping isn’t originally on your itinerary, how do you resist lovely handcrafted goods that you can’t find elsewhere? Centered among the art-producing villages and at the center of Ubud itself, the location of the Ubud Art Market makes it a strategic shopping place for Balinese handicrafts and souvenirs.

Tip: Naturally, bargaining is of absolute importance here!

Fastest way to get here:

It takes about three hours to get here and there are plenty of direct flight options such as Scoot, AirAsia, and Jetstar.

5. Vesak Day

Sabah

Period: 7 May – 10 May (4 days)

May in Sabah is all about the favourable weather conditions with dry and sunny days, blue skies, and minimal rainfall. Beaches are glorious, with the coast of Kota Kinabalu sprinkled in sunshine and powder-white sand!

Source: https://www.tripsavvy.com/

Things to do: Climb Mount Kinabalu

We know what you’re thinking… Mountain climbing?!

Hear us out. Mount Kinabalu stands high and mighty as one of Southeast Asia’s tallest mountains at 4,095 metres and is a very popular tourist destination. If you’re reasonably healthy and physically fit, this is one of the safest and most conquerable peaks in the world.

The 8.8km trek to the top does not require any technical climbing and will take about two days to climb up and down Kinabalu with an overnight stay at authentic huts there. It will definitely be one of the most spectacular sights you’ve ever seen, and a true accomplishment that you can boast about for a long time to come!

Source: https://borneoadventure.com/#

Things to do: Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary

Sabah’s abundant and relatively accessible wildlife makes for a great nature adventure like no other. The Proboscis Monkeys are endemic to Borneo and they are free to roam anywhere they want to – but we recommend making your way to the sanctuary for the morning feeding session, the busiest time for the monkeys where you’ll get to see them in full action.

 

Source: https://www.star2.com/

Fastest way to get here:

It’s only a 2-hour-35-minute flight from Singapore to Kota Kinabalu via an array of airlines such as AirAsia, Silkair, and more. From there, getting to Sabah is as simple as a five-minute drive!

6. Hari Raya Puasa

Perhentian Island, Malaysia

Period: 23 May – 26 May (4 days)

While there’s not much to do here in terms of museums or galleries, this is a great place to relax and unwind and be away from the bustling city life in Singapore. The Perhentian Islands are part of the state of Terengganu in Malaysia and offer acres of sandy beaches and azure waters.

Source: http://www.adventureliesinfront.com/

Things to do: Snorkelling

Source: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/

The Perhentian Islands are home to some of the clearest waters – expect a shallow reef with amazing coral and fish, barracudas, turtles, and even the occasional mantas and whale sharks! These experiences can also be as inexpensive as SGD35, depending on the company and distance. For diving enthusiasts, it’s also one of the cheapest places in the world to get your diving accreditation.

Things to see: Turtle-spotting

Source: http://www.travelingislanders.com/

The Perhentian Islands are home to a large turtle population who come ashore to nest and then lay their eggs on the beach before heading back into the ocean. The best place to catch them? The aptly-named Turtle Sanctuary Beach! Adorable Green and Hawksbill turtles nest in the sand so if you’re snorkelling, you can even see adults swimming on the surface!

Fastest way to get here:

Getting here is a little tricky due to how far it is from city life (but that’s the beauty of it, right?)

You can start by taking a direct flight from Singapore to Kota Bharu – these flights are only available during popular times of the year, and May is one of them! After the 3-hour-30-minute flight via Malaysia Airlines, take an inexpensive and direct taxi to Kuala Besut followed by a 30-45 minute speedboat ride into Perhentian Islands before you finally reach paradise on land.

7. Hari Raya Haji

Paro, Bhutan

Period: 30 Jul – 3 Aug (5 days)

Temperatures start to cool down from the heat of July and with autumn just around the corner, this is a pleasant time to travel to Bhutan. We have some recommended activities below, but if you want a more comprehensive guide on what to do in Bhutan, we have an article for it too.

Source: https://traveltriangle.com/

Things to do: Hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery

Source: https://www.earthtrekkers.com/

This major attraction is one of Bhutan’s most sacred sites and is not to be missed. It needs just a couple of hours to climb, but what makes this trek so spectacular is the view of the incredible monastery that clings to the side of the cliff. There are also several viewpoints along the way, including a lovely cafeteria where you can enjoy lunch or tea and take in the views.

Things to see: Bumdra

Source: https://www.unusualtraveler.com/

This two-day-one-night trek is an ideal fit into this short break and you might not find anything more picturesque than the striking Himalayan ranges and stretches of +lush forest. The moderate hike kicks off from a trail from Sang Choekhor monastery in Paro at 2,800 metres, and ascends up to 4000 meters till Bumdra.

More than anything, the night under a sky full of stars is bound to be unforgettable.

Fastest way to get here:

Take a flight to Bhutan via Drukair (which flies twice a week from Singapore to Bhutan), and you’ll find yourself in Paro in approximately six hours – this includes a 45-minute refuelling stopover at Kolkata.

8. National Day

Seoul

Period: 7 Aug – 11 Aug (5 days)

Summer in Korea is one of the best times to explore hidden pockets of Seoul and enjoy the outdoors with the sun shining down. While it’s common for people to spend summertime relishing the sea breeze at the beach or enjoying music festivals, we’ve got other activities you should consider trying!

Source: https://seoulistic.com/

Things to do: Everland

Source: https://www.koreatodo.com/

At South Korea’s biggest theme park, Everland is home to the world’s steepest wooden roller coaster and South Korea’s only safari! There’s definitely no lack of things to do here – on the contrary, there are too many rides to fit into one day so plan your route carefully! Our tip is to visit Korea’s Disneyland as early as you can so you can see as much of the five zones as possible.

Things to do: Jimjilbang

Source: https://okennasodyssey.com/

No trip to Seoul should be complete without taking a bath at a jimjilbang – 24-hour, gender-segregated bathhouses featuring relaxing hot and cold soaking pools, bathing and massage areas, various saunas, entertainment lounges, and communal sleeping rooms.

But first, let’s address the elephant in the room – Korean bathhouses are a nude affair and the idea of being naked in public might be largely intimidating. But trust us when we say this authentic Korean experience is unlike any other activity you would ever partake in! Definitely a must-try in your five-day trip to Seoul.

For irresistible food options, check out our guide to 27 Insta-worthy cafes in Seoul!

Fastest way to get here:

Six hours and 25 minutes – that’s how long you’ll take to get from Singapore to Seoul. A popular vacation destination amongst Singaporeans, rest assured that there are plenty of flight options such as Singapore Airlines, Scoot, VietJet Air, and more.

9. Christmas and New Year’s Day

Japan

Period: 25 Dec – 3 Jan (10 days)

We’ve saved the best for the last in this generous 10-day break the holiday gods have bestowed upon us. Japan in December is one of the most popular tourist destination thanks to the multitude of activities available in this beautiful winter season with the Christmas spirit in the air.

For a slightly longer trip such as this, consider going to various cities in Japan such as Tokyo and Hokkaido – the two are connected conveniently via a four-hour bullet train or a quick one and a half hour flight!

Source: https://www.pandotrip.com/

Things to See: Winter Illumination, Tokyo

Extravagant, breathtaking, spectacular. Light festivals in Japan have become huge events in Japan and you may be swamped with many options but the ones we love most are in Tokyo. While lighting up the city in the past was done with LED lights, they now use LED with digital choreography, projection mapping, and interaction.

The best winter illuminations in Tokyo are the Caretta Shiodome Illuminations, the Roppongi Hills Christmas Lights and the Tokyo Midtown Christmas Illuminations which extend into the new year so try not to miss out on these!

Source: https://www.youtube.com/

Things to do: Christmas Markets, Tokyo

Source: https://sgmagazine.com/

You don’t have to go all the way to Germany to get a feel of Christmas Markets when there’s Japan! Check out Roppongi Hill’s Oyane Plaza, a recreation of the largest Christmas market in the world at Stuttgart. Here, you’ll find traditional German Christmas food, beverage, and over 1000 Christmas crafts.

Soak in the jolly Christmas atmosphere in the market and enjoy the romantic illuminations at Roppongi Hills held at the same period, including a huge Christmas trees and the famous Keyakizaka Street illumination. It will truly be the most wonderful time of the year!

Things to do: Ski in Niseko Village, Hokkaido

Source: https://hokkaido-labo.com/en/

Winter in Hokkaido is an absolute dream with stunning winter activities such as skiing, snow rafting, ice fishing, dog sledding, and more. But one of the main attractions in resorts here is the quality of snow, in particular, powder-like snow called ‘aspirin snow’ which covers tremendous areas of ski slopes.

At world-famous Niseko Village Ski Resort, the ski slope features a course layout with the longest horizontal distance which is a treat for both intermediate and advanced skiers.

Things to do: Open-Air Onsen, Hokkaido

For anyone who’s watched anime, you’ve probably seen a scene set at an Onsen – they are such a major part of Japanese culture! Hokkaido has the most Onsen spots in Japan with over 250 in the prefecture – perfect for admiring the snowscape amidst the warm, mineral-rich water while cool air breezes across your face.

Source: https://selected-ryokan.com/

Warm your body and soul at Noboribetsu, Japan’s most famous hot-spring resort. At Hotel Mahoroba, one of Japan’s largest open-air baths, enjoy 31 baths and four different thermal water types each with its own mineral benefits! This charming experience is one you won’t forget easily.

Fastest way to get here:

With Japan being a popular holiday destination for people from Singapore, there are plenty of direct flights available. Try Singapore Airlines, All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines, amongst others for a seven-hour flight before you arrive in a winter wonderland!