As we're inching closer to the year-end, there's definitely a build-up of excitement for a brand new year of travelling. Ask any traveller and they're likely to be flipping their calendars to plan for their next getaway! Malaysia has 8 long weekends in 2023, and one of the first public holidays to hit our calendars is the Chinese New Year weekend! Happening on 22 - 24 January 2023, the long weekend promises an opportunity to escape the crowd and take a breather from the bustling festivity. While these destinations are situated around Southeast Asia, do plan ahead before the tickets get pricey!
1. Hat Yai, ThailandCredit: Takahiro Yamagiwa on Flickr
If you're planning to visit Thailand with the hopes of escaping the bustling Bangkok and Phuket, make a trip to Hat Yai. For anyone travelling from Kuala Lumpur, Thailand's fourth-largest town is only an hour's flight or a 6-hour drive away. Similar to other parts of the country, Hat Yai is brimming with awesome sights and sounds complete with lip-smacking Thai food.Credit: Allen Warren on Flickr
Start your long weekend by navigating the labyrinth of Kim Yong Market which is packed with dried fruits, snacks and peanuts. Then, spend time at the Hat Yai Municipal Park, Samila Beach and Songkhla Old Town before dropping by the local eateries for delicious halal Thai food! Satisfy your hungry by feasting on nasi kerabu at Tamrab Muslim Restaurant or seafood tom yam at Islam PaiDaeng Restaurant. For travel inspiration, check out our 3D2N Muslim-friendly itinerary to Hat Yai for the best weekend vacay!
2. Phu Quoc, Vietnam
If there’s one thing we know and love about Phu Quoc, it’s beach life. The locals might point you to the popular Long Beach, but there are fewer crowds at Sao Beach (and it’s still as scenic!). Circled with greenery, Instagrammers would walk towards the north end of Sao Beach for the picture-perfect palm tree swing.
You can follow the beachgoers if you like but getting a 360-degree view of Phu Quoc from the world’s longest oversea cable car ride is worth a shout-out. Catch a glimpse of the emerald sea, fishing villages and An Thoi Archipelago from your 30-minute ride in the Phu Quoc Cable Car. For a walk on the wild side, say hello to the lions, hyenas and giraffes roaming freely (not in restrictive cages) at Vinpearl Safari. Patterned after international safari models, this is Vietnam’s first and only open zoo with wild animals from South Africa, India, Australia and more.
3. Lombok, Indonesia
Compared to the touristy island of Bali, Lombok is better known for its serenity and less touristy vibe. Whether you rise early for a morning hike to Mount Rinjani or take pictures along the famous Pink Beach, creating great holiday moments is possible here. If you think that's all there is to do, there are many extraordinary natural wonders to experience in Lombok.
Spending your weekend here is easier too as there are many luxurious (but affordable) beachfront villas in Lombok to find a home away from home. If you're planning a romantic dinner with your spouse, dine away at the stunning Muslim-friendly restaurants in Lombok that come with picture-perfect views. You can easily picture yourself savouring authentic Indonesian food while overlooking the beach. For travellers who find Lombok to be the perfect destination for the Chinese New Year holidays, this is the 3D2N Lombok itinerary you've been looking for!
Your trip to Singapore starts at Changi Airport. Touted as one of the best airports in the world, it’s a must-visit destination by itself. Be sure to pose for photos at the famous HSBC Rain Vortex in Jewel Changi, shop at Jewel-exclusive retail stores and eat at the best restaurants they have to offer. One of the best things to do in Singapore is to enjoy thrilling rides at Universal Studios! Hop onto fun rides, and roller coasters, meet your childhood characters, gorge on some lip-smacking food and be a kid all over again at this world-famous theme park.
5. Langkawi, Malaysia
For a beach getaway that's closer to home, Langkawi may just be a splendid choice for a long weekend vacation. Besides waiting for the sunset at Cenang Beach, your weekend will be brimming with delicious Malaysian food and amazing beach activities. Some travellers begin their getaway by taking a cable car to Gunung Mat Chinchang or exploring Kilim Karst Geoforest Park, while others will chase the adrenaline rush with a round of jet skiing or paragliding.
Since it's the start of the new year, treat yourself by staying at these breathtaking resorts in Langkawi for the perfect retreat. Families with kids can also turn it into wonderful family time at these amazing kid-friendly beachfront resorts in Langkawi. Ask any Malaysia and they say your trip would be incomplete without having a meal at these delicious halal eateries in Langkawi, and imagine yourself taking a bite out of succulent meat kebabs at Yasmin Syrian Restaurant or nasi dagang from Nasi Dagang Pak Malau! In the spirit of adventure, combine it with a day trip to Koh Lipe to mirror our awesome 4D3N Langkawi-Koh Lipe itinerary!
A city to add if you want to shop until you drop is Bangkok! Thailand’s marketplaces need no introduction and the Damnoen Saduak floating market is a must-visit! Located about 1.5 hours from main Bangkok city, the place is a bustling marketplace which can be explored on a boat. It offers a wide range of handicrafts, clothes, street food and lots more. If you have not had enough, head to MBK shopping centre for over 2000 shops to choose from. Other equally fascinating places include Asiatique–The Riverfront and Pratunam market.
Sandwiched between the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak, Brunei is a destination that's worth exploring during the long weekends. While the country may be small, there are many amazing places in Brunei that'll completely change your mind about it. You can walk along the bridge at Ulu Temburong National Park, get local snacks at Gadong Night Market and take the boat to explore Kampong Ayer.
A must-visit for every Muslim traveller, the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque is definitely a sight to behold! Known as Brunei's historical site and major tourist attraction, pay a visit to admire the mosque's modern Islamic architecture. If you're planning your first trip to this beautiful country, check out our first-timer's guide to Brunei which includes amazing things you have to do (and useful tips!).
8. Bintan, IndonesiaCredit:Banyan Tree Bintan on Facebook
Bintan is a popular beach getaway destination for travellers who appreciate the sun, sand and sea. If you're living in Singapore or Johor, spending your long weekend here is a must! Getting to this island is easy too and you can take a ferry via the Bintan Resort Ferries, which operates a regular service. When it comes to your choice of beachfront resorts, you can stay at Cassia Bintan, Angsana Bintan or Banyan Tree Bintan - depending on the size of your group!
While it's nice to relax by the beach, there are many things to do including unique Instagram-worthy spots to visit! To get awesome snapshots, stand at the top of Gurun Pasir Busung or walk along Lagoi Bay to find Rumah Imaji, a 3D and optical illusion attraction.
For a pump of adrenaline, you'll find ATV riding, cycling and archery at Lagoi Beach to be absolutely fun to do! Before your trip, make the most of your holiday by reading our top things to do in Bintan.
9. Krabi, Thailand
Thanks to Krabi’s large Muslim community, finding halal food and other Muslim-friendly amenities is a breeze! For that, it remains a favourite beach destination for many Muslim travellers. Getting to Krabi from Singapore, Malaysia or Indonesia is easy thanks to the huge number of direct flights too!Credit: At Ao-nang Halal Food Krabi on Facebook
When it comes to choosing where to stay, head over to the touristy area of Ao Nang or the serene and romantic Klong Muang. Planning a private weekend away is also convenient with our ultimate guide to romantic accommodations in Krabi. Whether you're craving seafood green curry or pineapple fried rice, turn it into a food trip and enjoy mealtime at the best halal eateries in Krabi. To make the most of your stay, here’s a Muslim-friendly guide to planning your incredible Krabi getaway!
10. Luang Prabang, Laos
Peppered with tranquil Buddhist temples and monasteries, Luang Prabang is a city that never rushes its travellers. If you’re ready to go off the grid, there are many things you can do at this UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can enjoy a cool dip at Kuang Si Waterfalls, hike up Mount Phousi, shop at Luang Prabang Night Market and more!
Make it a mission to savour halal Laotian food when you're exploring this laidback destination too. Dine at Wat That Homestay for its delicious Luang Prabang salad and Lao curry or head over to Nisha Restaurant for chicken tikka masala and vegetarian samosa! For travellers who need further convincing, here are more reasons to say yes to a relaxing vacation in Luang Prabang.
11. Siem Reap, Cambodia
Siem Reap is one of the best destinations to visit if you want to step back in time. Home to the famous Angkor Wat, you can explore the town of Siem Reap, shop at the Art Centre Night Market, take a trip to the Cambodia Landmine Museum and Relief Centre, learn the country’s history at the Angkor National Museum and more!
There are also many halal restaurants to discover, and we recommend trying local specialities like Beef Climbing Mountain and amok at Muslim Family Kitchen and Cambodian Muslim Restaurant. To plan a trip, check out our 4D3N Muslim-friendly itinerary for a Siem Reap adventure!
Since Chinese New Year is almost here, it's time to plan your next weekend getaway! Whether you're longing for a relaxing retreat in Lombok or immersing in the street culture of Hat Yai, there's always a destination out there that'll bring out the wanderlust in you.