By Rachel Barac
Thinking of taking a trip away with your gal pals? Time away with your besties can be a great way to relax, bond and experience new adventures. However deciding where to go can sometimes prove difficult with friends having such varied interests. That’s why a trip to Southeast Asia is an excellent choice! This part of the globe provides a variety of affordable experiences that will cater to each person’s tastes. The most difficult part will be trying to narrow down which country to visit. Check out a few tried and tested suggestions below, then grab your gal pals and get ready for a getaway with lots of good food, laughs and adventure!
Cultural, glamorous, and rich in delicious cuisines, Singapore is one of the best girlfriend getaway destinations. The country city is made up of an assortment of different cultures that gives the city a vibrant atmosphere. To capture some of the daily community life visit Chinatown, Little India and Kampong Glam. Although Singapore is associated with modernity, the architecture is as varied as the people with traditional, colonial, art deco and modern styles on show, there are also many old temples, mosques and heritage sites scattered around the city waiting to be explored. And if history is what you’re after, visit the National Museum of Singapore or the Singapore Art Museum.
For the foodies, the first stop on your culinary journey should be one of the many hawker markets. They are not flashy but what they lack in aesthetics they make up for in rows and rows of delicious food stalls where the food is of a high standard. Serious foodies have the option for signing up for a Singapore food tour; think chicken rice, fried kway teow, chili crab and laksa to name a few! Or spend an afternoon catching up over coffee in Tiong Bahru. This trendy little spot is home to a number of funky cafes and bakeries that will leave you on a sugar high. But for a special afternoon with the girls indulge in a glass of bubbles at one of Singapore’s decadent high tea locations. Two favorites include the rustic charm of the Dempsey area and Ann Sian Hill in China Town, where you will find streets full of fun bars. As the sun goes down take advantage of the growing restaurant scene that has seen an influx of celebrity chefs joining the ranks. For some glamour and a skyline view enjoy Sky 57 at the Marina Bay Sands hotel or Equinox restaurant at the Swissotel. Take the party mode to a different level by boarding a party bus from Club Street or a party boat down the Singapore River, replete with flashing lights and the latest upbeat tracks that can be heard from a distance!
For a different kind of wild night out, head to the night safari at the Singapore zoo or walk amongst the treetops at the MacRitchie Reservoir. For something even more remote and a break from the busy city take a “bumboat” to Palua Ubin, hire some bikes and cruise around the island taking in the jungle foliage, serenity and wildlife.
That said, one of the best outdoor activities might just be spending a lazy brunch with the girls soaking up the sun at one of Singapore’s many beach clubs. Come a little later in the day and watch the sun go down and the DJ’s turn up for a good old fashioned party! The beach clubs can be found at Sentosa and East Coast Park.
Complete your holiday with a trip to Orchard Road, one of Singapore’s main shopping strips. If possible try to visit on a weekday when the crowds aren’t as overwhelming. If large department stores are not your thing then head to Orchard Central. It houses boutiques from local designers and tends to be less crowded. For something more alternative, stroll down the boutique filled Haji Lane and the fabric lined stores of Arab Street.
Thailand’s welcoming hospitality, buzzing cities, temples and beautiful beaches, entice travellers from all over the world to its shores. Bangkok, Thailand’s busy capital city is a great place to begin your girl’s trip away. Khao San Road is a bustling street populated with visitors from all over the globe. There is no shortage of entertainment with numerous bars, clubs and restaurants on offer. Although authentic Thai culture is not necessarily experienced on Khao San Road, the energy, neon lights and interesting people watching make for a great evening! For a more relaxed vibe and fabulous views of the city head to nearby Gazebo bar and enjoy one of their many cocktails on the rooftop while listening to some live music.
A trip to Wat Pho will provide a piece of serenity in this busy city. One of the largest temples in Bangkok, Wat Pho houses an impressively large reclining Buddha. Wat Pho is also considered by locals to be a favourite spot to get a quality Thai massage.
For a unique day trip, hop on a colourful long-tail boat with your Thai tour guide to explore the floating market of Damnoen Saduak - an hour outside of Bangkok. Although a popular place with tourists, the experience is still one-of-a-kind. With numerous stalls upon the water, you can buy anything from seafood skewers, coconuts, noodles, toys, flowers and t-shirts right from the boat. Get a glimpse of commerce on the river and get some amazing photos while you’re at it! The best time to go is early in the morning before it gets too crowded.
Away from the bustle of Bangkok is Thailand’s picturesque north. Visit the awe-inspiring Wat Rong Khun, otherwise known as the white temple in Chiang Rai, it’s more a work of art then it is a temple. Then head to nearby Chiang Mai and take in the city’s history and famous night bazaar. And don’t miss out on the experience of being in three countries at once at the Golden Triangle.
One cannot mention Thailand without also mentioning its many beautiful beaches. Take an island hopping tour in the Gulf of Thailand and discover the picturesque islands of Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao. Enjoy snorkeling in the warm waters or chill out with a coconut and fresh seafood on the beaches. Then step it up a notch at Koh Phangan’s famous full moon party held each month. Dance until the wee hours knowing that you and your friends can chill out in a tropical paradise the next day.
Indonesia is a country comprised of thousands of islands with the most well known being Bali. The Balinese culture is unique in Indonesia often expressed through their art. Visit the town of Ubud and watch one of the nightly dance performances at Puri Saren (also known as Ubud Palace). The costumes, intricate hand movements, music and palace backdrop will make for an unforgettable cultural experience.
For some outdoor fun grab your girlfriends and some surfboards and head to some of Bali’s well-known surf spots such as Ulluwatu, Bingin, and Kuta beach. Better still; hire a scuba diving guide to lead you and your buddies to the best spots to explore Bali’s diverse marine life underwater. Or enjoy a spectacular sunrise from the top of a volcano at Mt Batur on one of the many hiking tours available with a local guide.
But if tranquility and relaxation is what you and your friends are seeking, then look no further than one of Bali’s soul soothing retreats. Picture waking up in a beautiful forest, stretching away any aches and pains in a morning yoga class, then re-fueling on nutritious meals, and enjoying the health benefits of luxury spa treatments.
At the other end of the spectrum is the busy nightlife of Kuta and Seminyak. There is no shortage of pubs, clubs and bars to enjoy some sunset cocktails and all night music. Of course Indonesia has thousands more islands to choose from so the possibilities of things to do are endless!
Image Details and Licenses: https://flic.kr/p/etdkMK (Mew Vararat, CC BY-NC 2.0), https://flic.kr/p/8hn1op (green_kermit, CC BY 2.0), https://flic.kr/p/orBj9g (tuper misc, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0), https://flic.kr/p/6LfcXL (zsoolt, CC BY-NC 2.0), https://flic.kr/p/qxwnWc (Brian Evans, CC BY-ND 2.0), https://flic.kr/p/qTiJ4i (Guillén Pérez, CC BY-ND 2.0), https://flic.kr/p/jVgF6s (Clay Gilliland, CC BY-SA 2.0), https://flic.kr/p/f3CnK8 (Sophia Lucero, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0), https://flic.kr/p/q6LTjN (Thanate Tan, CC BY 2.0), https://flic.kr/p/atp9Y6 (Fabio Achilli, CC BY 2.0), https://flic.kr/p/qkoyDN (Antonia, CC BY-SA 2.0), https://flic.kr/p/bk3hNQ (Matthew Kenwrick, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)