With some leave-taking from work and school, you can enjoy 10 long weekends in 2018. Make the most of them and book your trips before anyone else does
Long weekends are the best, aren’t they? The good news is that 2018 will have a number of long weekends, thanks to some very nicely-placed public holidays. In fact, all 10 public holidays offer ample opportunities for short getaways. Now the only decision you’ll have to make is where to go. Here are our suggestions – all family- and kid-friendly, of course!
1. Spend New Year’s Day at Cassia Bintan
How: 1 Jan 2018, New Year’s Day, falls on a Monday. Take your last day of leave for 2017 on 29 Dec and you have four days to chill into the new year.
Where to go: Cassia Bintan. With one- and two-bedroom apartments, this brand new resort property helmed by the Banyan Tree group is perfect for families. A kids’ club will keep young ones busy, while friendly staff get you moving with activities such as volleyball, foosball and Nintendo games. There’s also a private beach where little ones can dig around and build sandcastles. Each apartment comes with a kitchen so you can prepare your own meals, great if you have a baby who’s weaning. The well-stocked supermarket on the property will have everything you need so you won’t need to lug groceries overseas. And since Bintan is only a 45-minute ferry ride from Singapore and Cassia Bintan just 15 minutes away from Bandar Bentan Telani Ferry Terminal, you’ll be there and back in a jiffy! Book your holiday with them at least 14 days in advance and get 15% off the best available rate plus daily breakfast for two and free wifi too.
Tip: Get the kids’ school uniforms, bags, and books ready before you go so that there’s no last-minute panicking when you get home.
2. Ring in the Lunar New Year in Bangkok
How: Chinese New Year falls on Friday and Saturday, 16 and 17 February, so why not plan a getaway to Bangkok for the long weekend? It’s just a two-and-a-half hour flight away!
Where to go: Live it up at the luxurious Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok where the Kempinski Kids Club (see picture above) will thrill young ones with its large playground and activities like movies and arts and crafts. For little crooners, there’s also a room dedicated to karaoke! Wannabe junior masterchefs can join the Kempinski Junior Chef Programme which organises cooking classes for kids aged five to 12. They’ll be given cute aprons and chef hats, and learn how to make treats like cupcakes and pizzas. The hotel is located in the city centre, a short walk from Siam Paragon Shopping Centre and near Chatuchak Market too, when mum gets in the mood for some retail therapy.
Tip: You can also enjoy Chinese New Year festivities Thai-style while feasting in Bangkok’s Chinatown!
3. Have a Good Friday in Penang
How: This holiday falls on 30 March and, since it’s obviously on a Friday, no one has to take time off to enjoy a break.
Where to go: How about Penang, just a short (one-and-a-half hour) flight away? This UNESCO World Heritage Site has great food, culture, and beaches. Stay at Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa and you’ll be transported to paradise. The lush foliage and sprawling gardens will relax you instantly and the kids will enjoy the space. If that doesn’t do the job, the spa certainly will. Kids will love the Adventure Zone, with more than 10,000 square feet (all air-conditioned, yay!) of indoor playground activities, with three drop slides (including a heart-stopping almost-90 degree one) and climbing structures to wear them out. The resort offers a complimentary daily shuttle to George Town, where you can visit clan jetties, ornate temples, heritage buildings, pose for that ‘gram with a backdrop of colourful street art, and of course, feast on Penang’s delicacies at Gurney Drive.
Tip: You can still bring the kids to Adventure Zone for a day of fun even if you’re not staying at the Shangri-La. Remember to pack a long-sleeved tee and socks for them – these are playground entry requirements.
4. Celebrate your ‘babymoon’ during Labour Day
How: Labour Day falls on Tuesday, 1 May, so take a day off on Monday and have a relaxing holiday before your labour day comes around.
Where to go: The Banyan Tree Phuket offers babymoon packages for expectant couples, with a three-day-two-night package that comes with spa and wellness sessions as well as dining delights and gift packages. Spa experts will even give massage lessons to dad-to-be, so make sure your man learns all the right moves to soothe and comfort you. Mums-to-be will be spoilt with chocolates and snacks, while dad receives a celebratory cigar and cognac. You’ll enjoy all this in the comfort of your luxury villa, where a dip in your private pool is a good way to start your romantic vacation. And since Phuket is only a 90-minute flight away, you won’t have to spend too much time in the air either.
Tip: Check with the property before you book as package validity varies. Note that the Banyan Tree Phuket Babymoon package is available only to couples expecting a child. For reservations, contact [email protected] or call +66 76 372 400.
5. Visit a Kelong during Vesak Day
How: With the Vesak Day holiday on Tuesday 29 May, take a day off on Monday (and get the kids out of school on that day if possible) and try something different.
Where to go: Located on a small island off the southern coast of Batam (get the ferry from Harbour Front Centre to Batam, and the kelong manager will take you from there), about two-and-a-half hours from Singapore, Blue Mountain Kelong offers a unique getaway for the family. There’s no wifi here so it really is a chance to disconnect and relax. Of course you can use your own data roaming but don’t tell the kids that. Being at a kelong itself should be an enjoyable experience for kids. You can bond over board games (provided), fish, swim, and enjoy other water activities. Blue Mountain Kelong gets very busy during holidays so it’s best to book two to six months in advance. Do note that you will have to bring your own towels and toiletries.
Tip: If you want to shorten your journey, upgrade to the speedboat option from Batam at an additional $30 per person.
6. Greet each other “Selamat Hari Raya” in Bali
How: Hari Raya Puasa falls on Friday, 15 June, and Bali is just under three hours away by plane so make a plan already. Plus, it’s the school holidays so there’ll be no dramas about the kids missing school.
Where to go: Bali is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the region but it’s not just for partygoers and honeymooning couples. The Nusa Dua area is a good choice for accommodation as it has a nice beach and is also away from the party area of Kuta. Stay at The Westin Resort Nusa Dua, which is nestled on a beautiful white-sand beach overlooking the Indian Ocean. There’s also a huge outdoor playground, activities such as face-painting and stargazing, and The Westin Family Kids Club (see picture above) is a supervised centre with games and enriching activities for children. The clincher here is Westin Kids’ Spa, a dedicated kids’ spa where you can treat your little ones to massages, mini-facials and mani-pedis in style. Child-friendly products are used for all treatments so you won’t have to worry about any possible side-effects.
Tip: Add a culture boost to the trip by bringing the kids to watch a ‘kecak dance at Uluwatu as the sun sets. It’s a spectacular experience that they’ll not forget!
7. Visit our neighbours on National Day
How: 9 August in 2018 is on a Thursday and since the following day is a school holiday, kids enjoy an extended weekend holiday. Adults just have to take one day off work to make this a long weekend.
Where to go: Why not make a road trip to Kuala Lumpur? It’ll take just over four hours by car. Travelling with younger kids? Opt for the 45-minute flight. It’s short enough so that they’ll stay entertained by the flight itself and you’ll get to avoid those “are we there yet?” whines. Stay at the Placin at Vortex KLCC. It’s smack in the city centre and has gorgeous views of the skyline, including the Petronas Twin Towers. Get a two-bedroom apartment, enjoy the property’s leisure facilities and stroll around The Curve Shopping Mall (KidZania’s here!) next door, amongst others. Remember to check out the Bangsar Sunday Market for great eats and quirky souvenirs too!
Tip: Driving up north? Plan your departure times well and leave early as you certainly won’t be the only ones with the idea of spending the National Day weekend in Malaysia.
8. Discover Siem Reap during Hari Raya Haji
How: Hari Raya Haji falls on Wednesday 22 August. Take two days off work and school either side of the holiday and enjoy a five-day family vacation.
Where to go: Just over two hours by plane, Siem Reap in Cambodia boasts stunning ancient attractions and luxurious hotels. Stay at the Shinta Mani, which is centrally located in the leafy French Quarter of Siem Reap — just 15 minutes away from Angkor Wat. The hotel organises many tours and activities for its guests so you can book your Angkor Wat adventure together with your stay. Best for families? Adventurous bike rides to Kulen Mountain and to Beng Melea temple, organised in tandem with Grasshopper Adventures. With great guides, perfectly maintained bikes and attention to safety, they welcome families with children of all ages. Hotel guests can also go on a Shinta Mani Village Visit to see how the hotel works with villages to build homes and wells.
9. Spend Deepavali at Desaru Coast
How: With the Deepavali public holiday on Tuesday, 6 November, just take Monday off work, and get the kids out of school for a day (er don’t tell the teachers we said so) and go on a road trip to Desaru Coast (opening in 2018).
Where you can go: There’s a range of accommodation options to choose from at this premium integrated destination resort. The Hard Rock Hotel is a good family-friendly option. Get the kids into Hard Rock Roxity Kids Club, which has a large pool area for kids to splash around, and activities to keep them entertained. If your water babies want more action, the Desaru Coast Adventure Waterpark and Desaru Coast Riverside are just next door. Kids will certainly be exhausted at the end of each day, so say hello to early bedtimes for the kids. Mum and dad can enjoy couple time!
10. Say Happy Christmas at Koh Samui
How: Christmas Day falls on Tuesday, 25 December. Take the eve off and enjoy year-end bonding with the kids, since they’ll be on holiday too.
Where to go: Just under two hours away by plane is Thailand’s second-largest island. Come now while it’s still not as touristy as Phuket and Bangkok. Book a room at OZO Chaweng Samui, a tropical paradise that will make you forget about your worries. The beachfront setting will relax you instantly or you can take a leisurely stroll to central Chaweng for some sightseeing. Ssoak up the sun, explore the Five Islands nearby or venture out to the lovely Na Muang Waterfall. Decisions, decisions, decisions…
Header image: Desaru Coast website
Feature image: OZO Koh Samui