This article is brought to you by Skyscanner.
Malaysia is blessed with some of the best air connectivity in the region, meaning exotic bargain travel doesn’t need to be a dream. Skyscanner shows you how to get the most out of your hard earned ringgit with our best selection of fabulous weekend getaways and affordable holiday ideas!
Where to go for a short getaway?
1. Bandung, Indonesia – best for volcano hikes & shopping
Lying at the cool altitude of 768m and surrounded by volcanoes and lush green mountains blanketed in tea plantations, this university town of Bandung is also Indonesia’s trendiest city with its large student population, vibrant music scene and fantastic shopping.
Length of stay in Bandung: 3 days/2 nights
Places to visit in Bandung:
- Villa Isola built in 1932 and the Savoy Homann Hotel, built in 1880 since Bandung, known as the Paris of Java, is famed for its art decor style and old Dutch colonial architecture
- Tangkuban Perahu volcano and Kawah ratu (Queen’s crater)
Things to do in Bandung:
- Shop at the city’s distros (distribution outlets) selling the creations of independent local designers, including t-shirts, accessories and indie music
- Head to Jalan Trunojoyo and keep an eye out for Invictus, Screamous and Badger
- Tea plantation visit
What to eat in Bandung: Laksa Bandung, Nasi timbel, Lamb satay or tongseng (a curried lamb soup) and Bandrek (a perky drink concoction of ginger, coconut sugar and spices)
Transport in Bandung: A taxi from the airport into town costs RM12 (IDR40,000)
Where to stay in Bandung: Palagan Joglo Boutique Guesthouse, located in the hills and with a sun terrace, cocktail bar and gorgeous rooms packed with vintage decor. Book in advance to avoid the Jakarta-weekenders crowd.
Rooms from: RM83 (IDR255,000)
Address: Jl. Lembah Bajuri no 7 Sersan Bajuri
2. Yogyakarta, Indonesia – best for temples, palaces & traditional markets
Java’s cultural capital, bursting at the seams with history and looked down upon by brooding Gunung Merapi, Yogyakarta is packed with things to do from visiting stunning Borobudur Temple and snapping up bargain batik to watching performances of ancient Hindu epics under the stars. If there’s one city you need to visit in Indonesia, this is it.
Length of stay in Yogyakarta: 4 days/3 nights
Places to visit in Yogyakarta:
- Sultan’s Palace known as the Kraton (for RM4/IDR12,500) and Taman Sari, the Sultan’s water palace
- Borobudur for sunrise (RM91/IDR280,000) as the dawn mist lifts and reveals the Buddhist stupas
Things to do in Yogyakarta:
- Pick up cool t-shirt designs and lacquered sandals along Jalan Marlioboro
- Pop into a traditional Javanese market like Pasar Beringharjo for some local treats and a batik sarong or two
- Universitas Gajah Mada on Sundays is great for silat, capoeira or a bit of jogging
What to eat in Yogyakarta: Gudeg (a sweet curry of jackfruit, chicken and egg). Head to Gudeg Wijilan for an authentic Javanese meal for around RM6 (IDR20,000).
Transport in Yogyakarta: Taxis from the airport into town cost around RM16 (IDR50,000)
Where to stay in Yogyakarta: ViaVia Guesthouse, near Jalan Prawirotoman, which is the best area for budget mid-range options.
Rooms from: RM73 (IDR225,000)
Address: Jl. Prawirotaman 30
3. Bangkok, Thailand – best for city thrills & shopping
Bangkok offers maximum bang for your buck with excellent value accommodation, some of Asia’s finest street food, amazing and quirky shopping and enough engaging tourist attractions to keep you busy for days.
Length of stay in Bangkok: 4 days/3 nights
Places to visit in Bangkok:
- Grand Palace and the Temple of Emerald Buddha (RM62/THB500)
- Wat Arun (RM12/THB100)
- Khao San for cheap street food and wild nights out
- Lumphini Park for a jog or peaceful contemplation
Things to do in Bangkok:
- Spend a morning at Damnoen Floating market
- Shop at Siam Square or Chatuchak weekend market
- Join a meditation class or work up a sweat with some Muay Thai
What to eat in Bangkok: Street food at Bangrak or Yaowarat, including som tam (papaya salad), pad thai kung (noodles with prawn) and gai moo (grilled chicken). You can eat like a king for RM25 (THB200)!
Transport in Bangkok: Airport Rail Link Train running into town for RM6/THB45.
Where to stay in Bangkok: LubD in Siam Square is a treat for bargain hunters, with its sleek modern dorms offering ample space and Wi-Fi.
Address: 925/9 Rama 1 Road, Wang Mai, Pathumwan
Beds from: RM48 (THB383)
4. Kochi, India – best for heritage streets & tranquil backwater cruises
Thanks to the Romans, Phoenicians, Arabs, Chinese and European powers all vying for control of the port at some point in its history, Kochi is crammed full of heritage architecture and spice warehouses. It’s also the jumping off point for days spent cruising the gorgeous Kerala backwaters.
Length of stay in Kochi: 4 days/3nights
Places to visit in Kochi:
- Santacruz Basilica, the first church to be built in Asia
- Dutch Palace
- Jew Street for spice shops and antique stores
- Chinese Fishing Nets, the most photographed site
Things to do in Kochi:
- Cruise through the backwaters, a network of interconnected lagoons banked by mangroves, paddy fields and small villages
- Hire a boat with a cook on board for a few idyllic days on the water
- Spend a few hours at Cherai Beach and spot dolphins if you’re lucky
What to eat in Kochi: Karikku (young coconut) for hot days, meen mollagitta (smoked fish with chilli) and fish molly (coconut and fish stew with spices). Meals shouldn’t set you back more than RM13 (IR200).
Transport in Kochi: Taxis from the airport into town cost RM27 (IR400).
Where to stay in Kochi: Chiramel Residency in historic Fort Cochin offers superb value in a bright heritage building built during the Dutch rule of the city.
Rooms from: RM135 (IR 2000)
Address: 1/296 Lilly Street
5. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam – best for history museums & amazing street food
Ho Chi Minh City is bursting with energy. Revel in some of Asia’s best food, pop into some great museums and take a trip out of town to investigate the Viet Cong tunnels or paddle around the Mekong Delta. With such unrelenting energy, Ho Chi Minh is definitely a city in a hurry, so suck in the vibes and let yourself be energised.
Length of stay in Ho Chi Minh: 3 days/2 nights
Places to visit in Ho Chi Minh:
- The War Remnants Museum (RM3/VND15,000) is a sobering experience detailing the experiences of Vietnamese during the American War
- The Reunification Palace (RM5/VND30,000) is a veritable time warp packed with furniture and furnishings from the 60s and 70s
Things to do in Ho Chi Minh:
- Day trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels, a vast network of tiny tunnels used by the Viet Cong during the war
- Petrol heads will enjoy touring the city on a motorbike with XO Tours, an all-female motorbike company
What to eat in Ho Chi Minh: Banh xeo, a rice batter pancake with seafood (RM6/VND40,000), Vietnamese sandwiches, pho and strong coffee (RM3/VND15,000).
Transport in Ho Chi Minh: A taxi to District 1 should cost no more than RM29 (VND150,000). Mai Linh is a reliable company.
Where to stay in Ho Chi Minh: Saigon Inn in the backpacker area of Pham Ngu Lao has spotless air-con rooms with cable TV and amazing breakfast.
Rooms from: RM80 (VND420,000)
Address: 265/7/55 Pham Ngu Lao
What are the best beach holiday spots?
6. Ao Nang, Krabi, Thailand – best for beach bums & rock climbers
The key beach resort in Krabi province, Ao Nang has an expansive stretch of beach and all the facilities of bigger Thai resorts. Hop on a boat for day trips to gorgeous Railay, indulge in a spot of scuba diving or lay back and enjoy a massage and spa treatment.
Length of stay in Krabi: 3 days/2 nights
Places to visit in Krabi:
- Krabi Town night market
- Railay island, a 15-minute boat ride away for swimming and lounging in a stunning setting
Things to do in Krabi:
- Relax on the beach
- Rockclimbing trips on Railay or Ton Sai
- Diving on trips to Koh Phi Phi and Ao Nang Bay
- A tour to Hin Muang to dive with manta rays and glide with whale sharks, from RM340 (THB2700)
What to eat in Krabi: Local seafood at Krabi Town night market, cold noodle salads and grilled squid skewers. You can stuff yourself silly here for RM38 (THB300).
Transport in Krabi: A taxi for the 40-minute ride from the airport to Ao Nang costs around RM75 (THB600). Or hop on a local bus from the airport to Krabi Town for RM6 (THB50) then to Ao Nang for RM6 (THB50).
Where to stay in Krabi: Glur Hostel for its selection of funky en-suite rooms and dorms, pool and garden with hammocks for daytime chilling. Prices plummet during the low season (May-October) when real bargains can be found.
Rooms from: RM43 (350THB)
Address: 591 Moo 2 Soi Ao-nang 11
7. Boracay, Philippines – best for white sand & sunset cocktails
IMPORTANT: Boracay will be closed from 26 April 2018 – 25 October 2018 to make way for the rehabilitation of the island.
One of Southeast Asia’s premier beach destinations and celebrated for its whiter than white sand, Boracay is a beach lover’s dream. Lounge on the beach, throw yourself in the crystal sea and sip cocktails at dusk; this island is the ultimate chill out weekend holiday.
Length of stay in Boracay: 3 days/2 nights
Places to visit in Boracay:
- White Beach
- Puka Beach
- Panay Island for the Bakhawan Mangrove Forest (RM9/PHP100), for bird-watching, kayaking, walking and eating locally-produced organic meals.
Things to do in Boracay:
- Kitesurf at Bulabog Beach (November–April)
- Enjoy the island life and massage on the beach
- Skimboarding with locals (RM26/PHP300)
What to eat in Boracay: Sweet local mango and Crafty’s for the best selection of beers. Meals start from RM17 (PHP200).
Transport in Boracay: Hop on a bus for an 80-minute drive to Caticlan Jetty from Kalibo Airport (RM26/PHP300) then hop on a boat over to Boracay (price included in ticket).
Where to stay in Boracay: Lazy Dog Bed and Breakfast with renovated en suites, cosy and bright dorm rooms and Whiskey’s Cafe, serving up good international grub. Avoid peak seasons such as Easter, Chinese New Year and Christmas for bargain digs.
Address: Bulabog Beach
Rooms from: RM43 (PHP500)
8. Kep, Cambodia – best for rustic beach stays & pepper crab
If rustic beach stays are your thing, throw in a spot of island hopping, seafood flavoured with fragrant pepper and friendly locals and you have a perfect holiday in Kep.
Length of stay in Kep: 3 days/2 nights
Places to visit in Kep:
- Kampot pepper plantation in Phnom Voar mountain
- Colonial French villas that dot the town
- Koh Tonsay (Rabbit Island) for quiet beaches and top seafood
Things to do in Kep:
- Take a walk in Kep National Park and enjoy secluded beaches
- Swim at the stunning white sand Angkaul Beach, a 40-minute drive from Kep
What to eat in Kep: Crabs. A decent crab costs RM20 (CR20,000) that you can take back to your hotel to be cooked. Or enjoy the catch of the day smothered in Kampot pepper for around RM15.
Transport in Kep: Hop on a bus for 4 hours to get here from Phnom Penh RM22 (USD5).
Where to stay in Kep: Kep Lodge for rustic spacious rooms, gorgeous views and a small pool.
Rooms from: RM139 (USD32)
Address: Pepper Street
Where to go for a countryside escape?
9. Vang Vieng, Laos – best for ziplining, caving & outdoor fun
Famed for its stunning natural beauty, Vang Vieng (a small town in Vientiane) has surged in popularity as a destination in recent years – thanks to its emerald green rice paddies and stunning karst rock formations.
Length of stay in Vang Vieng: 3 days/2 nights
Places to visit Vang Vieng:
- Padeng Cave and Ring Cave
- Rice fields
- Karst formations
Things to do Vang Vieng:
- Go tubing down the Nam Song River
- Rent a mountain bike (RM10/20,000 kip) and explore the countryside
- Zipline above Water Cave (usually includes a barbecue lunch, cave exploring, kayaking and the zipline ride for around RM89/170,000 kip)
What to eat in Vang Vieng: Larb (marinated meat or fish served with herbs and spices) and tam mak hoong (papaya salad). Meals shouldn’t set you back much more than RM16 (30,000 kip). Try Beerlao or local Lao whisky too.
Transport in Vang Vieng: Take a 3-hour bus ride from Vientiane (RM21/40,000 kip).
Where to stay in Vang Vieng: Laos Haven, a short walk from the river, with simple, comfortable rooms and great balconies with views of the gorgeous landscape.
Address: 047 Vieng Ko Village
Rooms from: RM101 (USD23)
10. Yangshuo, China – best for a glimpse of gorgeous rural China
Yangshuo is renowned throughout China for its karst peaks, winding rivers and chilled out café scene. It attracts visitors who come for fresh air and a chance to experience rural China at its most beautiful (and comfortable).
Length of stay in Yangshuo: 4 days/3 nights
Places to visit in Yangshuo:
- Moon Hill (RM10/RMB15)
- Fuli market, filled with stalls selling beautiful rice paper fans and barbers plying their trade
- Liugong village
Things to do in Yangshuo:
- Take a boat down the Li River and marvel at the natural landscape
- Try one of the 300 rockclimbing routes
- Mountain biking
What to eat in Yangshuo: Guilin beef noodles (RM4/RMB7) from Guihua Lu, beer-fried fish, The Brew pizza (RM15/RMB30).
Transport in Yangshuo: Hop on the airport shuttle (RM12/RMB20) for the hour-long journey from Guilin airport to Yangshuo.
Where to stay in Yangshuo: The Stone Bridge – Home Sweet Home, located far from the crowds on the main drag, so you can tune into a bit of the region’s tranquillity.
Address: 26 Shibanqiao Village, Yangshuo
Rooms from: RM47 (RMB75)
- 20 cheapest beach holidays for Malaysians
- Asia’s top 10 beach destinations for the perfect getaway
- Top 5 budget getaways from Malaysia
- 19 great family vacation ideas for the June school holidays
- Top 10 smart gadgets to bring on your travels