Yes, a mums-only holiday sounds like a massive guilt trip in the making. Who could leave her kids at home to jet off on a holiday? Gasp! But honestly, getting away from it all once in a while is a must. After all, we do want to maintain our sanity, right? Check out these places (all in Asia, within easy reach!) — city, as well as nature-based destinations — perfect for a mums-only holiday. Passports, luggage, ready!
#1: Bangkok, Thailand
Accessible, affordable, and you can shop till you drop, then get kneaded into a zone of bliss. There’s no need to worry about kids getting bored and cranky on a mums-only holiday!
Get anything and everything at mega malls like Central World, Siam Paragon, and Terminal 21, or trawl old stalwart MBK for great deals on electronics, shoes, bags, and even luggage. Platinum Mall is a treasure trove of cheap clothing, bags and shoes (allocate a full day or two if you want cover the entire mall). Finally, there’s Union Mall, which houses stalls and boutiques selling clothes, accessories, and shoes. Prefer markets? Chatuchak (be prepared for the heat!), Asiatique, and Rod Fai Markets are great. The latter two are night markets which offer a more manageable experience, temperature-wise.
View this post on Instagram
“Chef Bee brings more than just skill, creativity and experience to the Paste Laos menu. Her family heritage traces back across northern Thailand and Laos, providing the very important genetic connection required to decode and represent these complex natural flavors” @pastelaofood @the_apsara #PasteLaos #LaoFood #LaoFoodMovement
Bangkok means amazing street food, but did you know that the City of Angels has a buzzing restaurant scene as well? Some of them are pretty fancy (so you get a chance to dress up!), but their prices are extremely reasonable when converted back to SGD. The one Michelin-star Chim by Siam Wisdom is helmed by Chef Thaninthorn “Noom” Chantrawan who spent 14 years working in some of London’s best restaurants. Paste serves heirloom Thai dishes and also has a Michelin star. Its chef Bee Satongun was Best Female Chef in Asia in 2018. Be wowed by the unconventional food pairings and bold, standout flavours at 80/20bkk, a hip fusion restaurant.
There are plenty of massage parlours that line the streets of Bangkok, and you can get an hour-long massage from as little as S$10. That said, we recommend forking out a little bit more to really get your zen on. We like: Let’s Relax Onsen and Spa whose newest branch at The Grand Centre Point Thonglor houses the biggest onsen in Bangkok. Asia Herb Association Herbal Massage and Spa uses traditional Thai herbs and oils from organic farms at the Khao Yai Mountains. The Urban Retreat Spa & Thai Massage is an intimate, beautifully designed spa that’s perfect for pampering.
#2: Seoul, South Korea
This vibrant city has plenty to offer on a mums-only holiday — amazing food, cultural activities, and let’s not forget the affordable skincare products that you’ll definitely be stocking up on.
For affordable clothes and accessories, head for Namdaemun Market, Ewha Woman’s University Shopping Street, and Goto Mall (Gangnam Terminal Underground Shopping Centre). If you’re more into designer brands, check out Common Ground, Garosugil, and Hongdae. On your last day, hit up Lotte Mart to purchase your favourite Korean snacks, including Honey Butter Chips and Market O’s Real Brownies. Remember to schedule a pit-stop at Myeongdong to stock up on masks and skincare products. Pro-tip: snag free samples just by walking into a skincare store!
There are plenty of food places in Seoul so plan your schedule to maximise your feasting opportunities. The best thing about eating on a mums-only holiday is that you don’t have to worry about fussy eaters!
These are some restaurants and cafes to try: The 30+ year old Na Jeong-sun Halmae Jjukkumi restaurant specialises in jjukkumi, a spicy dish that features stir-fried baby octopuses marinated in gochugaru sauce. It’s exceptionally spicy, so order a bottle of soju to wash it down! The Osulloc Green Tea Latte and Green Tea Roll at O’sulloc Tea House gets rave reviews – try it! Myeongdong Kyoja noodle restaurant is famous for its knife-cut, handmade kalguksu (noodle soup). Visit during off-peak hours so that you don’t have to queue – the restaurant was recently listed in the 2019 Michelin Guide. Migabon Restaurant specializes in juk (traditional Korean porridge). You can choose from over 20 kinds, including King Crab, Ginseng, and Abalone. The restaurant also serves a mean samgyetang (Ginseng Chicken Soup) .
Don’t pass up the chance to visit a jjimjilbang, a Korean spa or bathhouse. Most jjimjilbang comprise of three areas: the same-sex baths, communal sauna areas, and common rooms where visitors hang out. If you’re visiting a more upmarket jjimjilbang, this might also come with restaurants, outdoor swimming pools, hair salons and karaoke rooms within the same facility. You could easily spend an entire day at the jjimjilbang. Popular jjimjilbang in Seoul include Dragon Hill Spa, The Spa in Garden 5, and SeaLaLa Water Park.
#3: Taipei, Taiwan
Like Bangkok, Taipei is an excellent destination for mummies who are looking to eat and shop. If you speak Mandarin, you’ll also appreciate the fact that there’s no language barrier, making it easy for you to get around.
For cheap deals, check out Shilin Night Market, East Metro Mall, and Longshan Temple Underground Shopping Bazaar. You’ll also want to reserve half a day (at the very least!) to hit up Wu Fen Pu, a wholesale market where you can get massive savings on apparel and accessories. For the ultimate shopping experience, head to Ximending, where local brands sell trendy clothing and accessories congregate. If you’re keen on luxury brands, your best bet is the Taipei 101 Mall, or Gloria Outlets near Taoyuan International Airport.
Taipei has plenty of amazing street food, cafes and restaurants to suit any budget. Try: Jin Feng Braised Pork Rice is the best place to have the country’s iconic lu rou fan (Braised Pork Rice). Elixir Health Pot (Wu Lao Guo) is one of the most popular hotpot places in Taipei. Try their signature broths, including the Layered Tofu (made with chicken bone, pork bone, and over a dozen Chinese spices and herbs) and the Spicy Wulao (made with chicken broth and Chinese spices that are simmered for eight hours). Old-school eatery Yongkang Beef Noodle has been around since 1963. Its signature dish (Braised Beef with Noodles in Spicy Broth) is hearty, aromatic, and intensely fragrant.
One must-do activity in Taipei? Release sky lanterns at the old town of Shifen. To get there, take a rail train from Taipei Main Station to Ruifang, then transfer to the Pingxi Small Railway, and alight at Shifen Station. The railway line cuts through the middle of Shifen Old Street, which is lined with sky lantern shops. The shops charge roughly the same price (NT100 to NT200) per lantern, so just pick one that’s less crowded, choose your lantern, and start writing your wishes on it. When you’re done, a shop assistant will help you light the lantern and set it afloat.
(See also: How Real Mums find Balance in their Lives)
#4: Koh Chang, Thailand
Koh Chang doesn’t attract as many tourists as Phuket and Krabi — so you can truly relax on your mums-only holiday! There are no direct flights from Singapore to Koh Chang at the moment, but you can book a bus and ferry combined charter in Bangkok to take you to Koh Chang.
This is where you can get down and dirty with nature (check out Klook for ideas). Our pick? Snorkel, or dive. Koh Chang is known for its powdery white sand beaches and clear blue waters. There are tours available at agencies and kiosks all over the island. Alternatively, head to Bang Bao pier and purchase your ticket from one of the old fishing boats used to run snorkelling tours.
Prefer a non-water activity? Take a hike. There’s a great cross-island trail in Koh Chang that connects the Klong Plu and Than Mayom waterfalls. It covers 12 kilometres and takes approximately 8.5 hours to complete, so it’s definitely not for the faint of heart. If you’re looking for something less time-consuming, Mount Jom (630 metres) or Mount Salak Phet (744 metres) are very do-able.
Restaurants dot Koh Chang’s seaside, serving affordable dishes of calamari, crab, and Thai-style barbecued fish. The over-water Buddha View Restaurant at the Bang Bao village pier offers great sunset panoramas and yummy seafood dinners.
#5: Bawah Island
The luxurious eco-resort Bawah Reserve is where you can get away from the crowds, and truly recharge. Located on Bawah Island, a private island in the Anambas Archipelago, it’s approximately three hours from Singapore. To get there, take a ferry ride from Batam, then a private seaplane. The resort sits in a marine conservation area spread across a group of five off-the-beaten-path islands, with only 70 guests allowed at any one time. Talk about exclusive!
Relax and do nothing, or do a lot at your own pace. Bawah comprises five islands, on which you’ll find 13 beaches and three lagoons — plenty of snorkelling and diving spots to choose from. You can also borrow the resort’s kayaks and embark on a day of exploration and adventure. For ultimate relaxation, head for the Aura Spa, which offers an extensive menu of traditional therapies and modern wellness treatments. The spa’s signature is their Head to Toe Deep Healing Massage, which uses thunderstruck wood to spread “energising vibrations” into your meridian lines and muscles.
Indulge in bespoke Asian-Fusion cuisine featuring locally-grown ingredients at The Tree Top. The restaurant is helmed by Omar Bernardi, who has worked at several Michelin-starred restaurants around the globe, so you know you’re in good hands.
#6: Cempedak Island
Like Bawah Island, Cempedak Island is an exclusive, adults-only island near Singapore. To get here, take a ferry to Bintan; transfer to a private shuttle that takes you to the other side of the island, then to another ferry that brings you to Cempedak. All in all, we’re looking at 2.5 hours of travelling time, then you’re in paradise!
There are several walking paths around the island that will allow you to explore the untouched forest, dense mangroves and stunning rock formations. If you get lucky, you might spot a pangolin, sea otter, or dugong whilst you’re at it. Snorkelling, diving, kayaking, or paddle-boarding are also available. If that’s not up your alley, you can also try your hand at stand-up paddle-boarding, which we hear is a great full body workout. Of course you could simply laze by the private infinity pool in your two-storey handcrafted villa :)
The daily board charge includes three meals. Menus change daily according to what’s in season, and includes barbequed seafood, local dishes and tropical fruits. There’ll also be fresh vegetables, free-range chicken and eggs from the resort’s farm on Bintan.
(See also: Time-saving Tips for Busy Mums)
Mums-Only Holiday — Plan Yours Now
If you ask us, a mums-only holiday should be an annual affair. Think of it this way: when you’re relaxed and well-rested, you’ll do a better job taking care of your kids and your family; it’s a win-win for everyone. What are you waiting for? Grab your mum-friends and plan your mums-only holiday now!
Header & Feature images: Bawah Reserve