Travelling in 2023: 3 Best Asian Travel Destinations
The perfect place to be for the rest of 2023 is on the beach! Read on for the three best Asian travel destinations.
Congratulations, you’ve made it through the first half of 2023! Hopefully with a couple of new year’s resolutions checked off, and all your mental faculties still intact!
The second half of 2023 is surely going to present new challenges, but it’s also exciting because we have three fantastic travel opportunities to look forward to!
In this article, we'll share how to apply for seven days of leave to get 18 days of vacation by taking full advantage of public holidays, and our best Asia travel recommendations for these travel periods.
Are you ready to jetset off to paradise, trek with monkeys, and swim with turtles? Because we sure are!
3 More Travel Opportunities In 2023
Thanks to a few upcoming public holidays, simply taking seven well-calculated annual leave days will guarantee you three travel getaways and 18 days of holidayyyyyyyyys!
National Day holiday: 5-13 August (9 day trip)
Deepavali holiday: 11-14 November (4 day trip)
Christmas holiday: 22-26 December (5 day trip)
Doesn’t this get you excited? Have you applied for your annual leave yet? Now, it’s time to plan your trip/s!
National Day holiday: 5-13 August (9 day trip)
We recommend: Gili Islands
July and August generally bring rain and monsoon over Asia, not exactly the kind of weather you want on holiday.
Many Indonesian islands, however, will be having clear blue skies, making them one of the best Asian travel destinations in August. So of course, expect throngs of travellers to descend upon popular Balinese haunts like Ubud and Kuta.
For a more idyllic and peaceful vacation away from crowds, you can head to the Gili Islands just under an hour away from Bali instead.
The Gili Islands are the perfect paradisiacal Asian travel destination.
Once a well-kept backpacker secret, the white sandy beaches and crystal turquoise waters of the Gili Islands have now become known to mainstream travellers, making them an extremely popular destination for anyone seeking the epitome of a tropical paradise in Asia.
The Gili Islands is actually made up of many islands, with Gili Trawangan, Gili Air & Gili Meno being the most popular - each with its own unique characteristics. Thankfully, this extra long National Day holiday will give you enough days to explore all of them!
Gili Trawangan, or to use its popular moniker, “Gili T”, is pretty much party central. Of course, it offers the sandy beaches, and exciting diving and snorkelling opportunities, but this destination truly comes alive only after the sun goes down, with the east coast strip of bars serving up music and dancing till the sun comes back up again. (So probably not for the kids, but definitely with friends or your other half!)
And when your tummy starts rumbling, appease it with the wide selection of affordable seafood options at the Trawangan Night Market. “Extra sambal, terima kasih!”
Of course, the sunsets are going to be spectacular, so bring your phone or a waterproof camera along. Gili T is also home to the instagram-famous ocean swings, so you know you’ll want to experience that once in a lifetime (and snap a shot for proof!).
Gili Air is best known for its relaxed and laid-back ambiance, which welcomes travellers of all ages - yes, families too!
Cycling around the island will take you about an hour, with lovely scenic spots for beautiful family snapshots. Many rental bikes come with bike seats, and you can also rent kids bikes for older kids.
Snorkelling on Gili Air can be as easy as renting snorkelling gear and finding a boat operator to take you out to a nice spot. You can even book snorkelling packages that cater specially to kids or even the elderly.
Snorkelling can be a fun water activity for the whole family on Gili Air.
Another fun family activity is to sign up for cooking classes on Gili Air, where you’ll learn to whip up local Indonesian dishes which you can then recreate at home - what a lovely (and yummy!) vacation memory!
How perfect would it be to teach your kids an educational lesson even while on holiday. Just head to any dive centre on the island and ask if you can work with the Gili Shark Conservation and Trash Hero programme.
About 30 minutes later, you’ve helped clean up the beach, taught the kids the importance of saving the environment and marine life, and set a superb example for your kids!
As the day dies down, head out to the outdoor cinema and see what’s currently screening, or sip on cocktails (mocktails for the kids, of course) while listening to some reggae, or live Ed Sheeran covers, whatever floats your boat.
Travel tip! Gili Air has a scattering of hotels and resorts compared to the “over-touristed” Gili T, so if you’re hoping to secure a leisurely stay on this island, make sure to book ahead!
The smallest of the three islands, Gili Meno is also the quietest and the most untouched, and offers a glimpse into fantastic marine wildlife.
The Gili Islands are actually known as one of the turtle capitals of the world due to the large number of critically endangered Hawksbill and Green turtles found in the waters here.
Left to their own defences, up to 90% of baby turtles never actually make their way to the ocean on their own.
The fact that you can swim with these spectacular creatures in the clear turquoise waters here is largely thanks to the Gili Meno Turtle Sanctuary, which cares for baby turtles until they’re old enough to be released into the wild.
This place runs purely on passion and donations, so make sure you stop by to teach your kids about turtle conservation and donate!
Swimming with turtles can be a dream come true on Gili Meno.
Diverse marine life
If you hope to swim with the turtles, Turtle Point (for snorkelling) and Turtle Heaven (for diving) are good places to check out.
Whether snorkelling or diving, you’re also likely to spot other marine animals, such as cuttlefish, butterflyfish, lionfish, mantis shrimp, tuna, reef sharks and eagle rays.
Travel tip! Plan ahead as the public boats that take you between the three Gili Islands only depart a few times a day, or you can always charter your own boat.
Deepavali holiday: 11-14 November (4 day trip)
We recommend: Kuching, Sarawak
The Deepavali weekend is the shortest holiday on this list, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy an unforgettable vacation in just four short days.
If your kids have been bugging you to take them to the zoo, make this Deepavali holiday an animal-filled family vacation to remember with a trip to Kuching, Sarawak.
Kuching is the capital city of the state of Sarawak and lies on the more often forgotten East Malaysia, on the island of Borneo. Getting there is easy, with 1.5-hour direct flights from Singapore to Kuching.
While Kuching has much to offer in terms of culture - and cat culture too, it is called Kuching (malay for cat) after all - it is largely the wildlife parks that draw families to visit.
Semenggoh Nature Reserve
The Semenggoh Wildlife Centre in Semenggoh Nature Reserve is the biggest orangutan rehabilitation centre in Sarawak.
Home to orangutans who have been injured, orphaned or were once kept captive as illegal pets, the centre now cares for them with the aim of rehabilitating and releasing them back into the wild in protected areas.
Visiting during feeding times (twice a day) is a remarkable opportunity for children to spot an orangutan in its own habitat, and come to appreciate these gentle giants.
Orangutans are already critically endangered, which means that we could see these beautiful great apes go extinct within the next 15 years.
That alone makes it even more important to take your kids to see the orangutans while they’re still around, and teach them about conservation and how we as humans should do better to preserve our environment for all animals.
Witness the majesty of the endangered orangutans at Semenggoh Nature Reserve
Bako National Park
Proboscis monkeys, silver-leaf monkeys, long-tailed macaque monkeys, and almost 200 species of birds all await to greet you in Bako National Park.
Some travellers have also spotted frogs, catfish, monitor lizards, bearded pigs, flying lemurs, crabs and mudskippers on their walks through Bako.
To get there, you’ll need to take a taxi or charter a minivan to Bako Market, and then arrange a 20-minute boat ride (best shared with other travellers).
A sprawling national park full of biodiversity, there are a few trails to choose from, and you can easily pick the gentlest strolls that suit your family.
You can even stay overnight at the national park’s chalets and sign up for a night walk with a guide to hopefully spot nocturnal animals out and about.
Of course, because it’s wildlife we’re talking about, there is never a guarantee what you’ll spot, but the more time you spend in the park, the more opportunity you’ll have to experience its flora and fauna.
Bako National Park is home to a diverse variety of wildlife, including monkeys, birds, amphibians, insects, and more.
Christmas holiday: 22-26 December (5 day rip)
We recommend: Nikoi Island & Cempedak Island
We can only imagine that after a whole year of working hard, you’ll probably want to make that last vacation of 2023 a totally relaxing one.
One of the best Asia travel destinations in December to escape the hustle and bustle of Christmas is actually just a ferry away.
Nikoi Island is the perfect private island destination for a family vacation, and it’s a mere 2.5-hour ferry ride from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal.
Enjoy beachfront luxury with direct access to the ocean just metres away, and finally get to read that book you’ve wanted to, while still keeping a watchful eye on what the kids are up to on the beach.
On the island, you can also go kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, windsurfing, rock climbing, or ziplining.
Your kids can also get the pampering of their little lives with specialty massage options for kids. But if you want to ditch the kids for a little to enjoy your own pampering spa session, you’ll be happy to know that Nikoi Island also has a Kids Club with varied activities for kids - free of charge!
With so much to offer for every member of the family, it’s no wonder that Nikoi is often heavily booked months in advance. If you’re hoping to secure this getaway, make sure to book early!
Cempadek and Nikoi are completely private islands marked by a ring of sandy white beaches, pristinely clear waters, and gorgeous nature just in the backyard of your handcrafted villas.
The only difference lies in the fact that Cempedak Island is an absolute Adults-Only island, where children under the age of 16 are simply not allowed! Yes, it’s time to ditch the kids for once!
Perhaps it’s the perfect excuse for that second honeymoon? Just imagine, dipping into your villa’s private plunge pool, going on romantic walks along untouched nature trails, picking up sailing together, or being whisked away to a nearby deserted island for a special picnic…
If the thought of that doesn’t get you excitedly making babysitting plans with your kids’ grandparents, we don’t know what will!
Start planning early!
Booking your accommodation early is important to reserve the travel destinations of your dreams, but don’t forget these other things that you should also take care of earlier, rather than later.
Passports: ICA Singapore (Immigration and Checkpoints Authority) is always reminding all Singaporeans travelling overseas to check that their passports are valid for at least six months before departure.
Flights: You will probably already expect to pay a little bit more when travelling during popular holiday periods, but booking your flights as early as possible means that you can still choose more affordable options before they’re all snapped up by like-minded travellers.
Activities: “Oh I really feel like a massage right now,” is something we often say, but making it a reality is another thing, especially on vacation. If you’re planning to do a spa session, or any sort of organised activities, make sure to book it in advance, so that you avoid disappointment (and tears when kids are involved)!
Travel insurance: We tend to put this off to the last minute, but booking your travel insurance early is actually really beneficial. We tend to think that our travel insurance coverage starts on the first day of the trip, but travel insurance actually covers you up to 30 days before the start of your trip, in the event of unexpected trip cancellation and travel delays. So make sure you book your travel insurance at least 31 days before your trip!