By Jessica Haley

Sometimes “short and sweet” are the best kind of trips to take. Everyone needs the occasional weekend excursion to take a break from hectic, everyday life. So where should you go?

Here are five quick getaways in Asia to give you inspiration!

Bali, Indonesia

From thrill-seeking adventures to spiritual retreats, the island of Bali has something for every kind of traveller. Boasting numerous pristine white beaches, and some world-class surfing destinations such as Padang Padang and Uluwatu, particularly suitable for experienced wave-riders. Novice surfers should head to Kuta beach and find an instructor—there is no better place to dip your toes into the sport!

Once you’ve had your fill of sun, surf, and sand, journey inland to explore the natural beauty Bali has to offer. Visiting the picturesque Tegallalang rice terraces and Ubud Monkey Forest are definite must-dos. The famous Bali swing is also in Ubud for anyone brave enough to soar above the rice paddies. 

Bali may be only a short flight away, but it might tempt you to stay much longer than planned!

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Perhaps slightly less well known than the bustling city of Bangkok or the stunning beaches of Phuket, Chiang Mai is the crown jewel of northern Thailand. Surrounded by green mountains, it retains a small city vibe, brimming with Thai culture and hospitality. Ride a red songthaew around the old city and visit a Buddhist temple or two. Make sure to also check out the Sunday Night Walking Street to eat incredible street food and go shopping for some local handicrafts.

A short journey out of the city brings you to one of the area’s most famous landmarks, the Doi Inthanon National Park. This highest point in the country could well be a highpoint of your trip, especially if you like to bird watch. The park is home to more species of birds than anywhere else in Thailand. 

Hanoi, Vietnam

Just a short flight away lies the colourful, vibrant city of Hanoi. Not only is it tons of fun to explore, but it is incredibly budget-friendly too. Spend a couple hours walking around the Old Quarter to discover a labyrinth of tiny streets, perfect for getting lost in, lined with French-colonial architecture like the stunning St. Joseph’s Cathedral

Hanoi is a foodie’s paradise offering plenty of street stalls with tables serving coffee, pho, bahn mi, and other local delicacies. The Old Quarter truly comes alive at night with a unique vibe and energy.

The city is home to the world-famous Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre. Here, you can enjoy this centuries-old traditional Vietnamese art form at nightly shows. Traditional music accompanies the puppets depicting Vietnamese folk tales, making it a truly one of a kind experience.

Siem Reap, Cambodia

By far the most famous attraction in Siem Reap is Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the biggest religious structure in the world. The sprawling temple complex is best explored with a guide over a whole day or several. There are plenty of temple hopping tours, including via tuk-tuk, motorbike, or hot air balloon.

Other attractions in Siem Reap include the Khmer Ceramics Fine Arts Centre, the old market, Khmer cooking classes, and Pub Street to name a few. 

Seoul, South Korea

If you are willing to spend a few additional hours airborne, then make your way to Seoul. A vivacious metropolis brimming with culture, South Korea’s capital city is a wonderful blend of modern and traditional. Pay a visit to Gyeongbokgung Palace to explore the gardens and admire the Joseon architecture. Bonus points for wearing a Korean hanbok, which also gets you free entry and makes the experience feel like taking a time machine to the past. 

A short distance from the palace lies Bukchon Hanok Village showcasing traditional Korean houses, with lots of handicraft stores and restaurants to discover. Speaking of restaurants, don’t miss the chance to eat some delicious Korean BBQ while in Seoul.

Want to fit in some shopping and nightlife? Seoul is the perfect city! Visit Meyong-dong, Gangnam, or Itaewon districts in the daytime for shopping, and return after dark to experience the many nightclubs. While on a shopping spree, definitely pick up some K-beauty and skincare products.

There are so many fun, exciting trips to be had right in Asia’s backyard. With diverse cultures and enough activities to fill up any itinerary, this list is just a small sampling of what is waiting for you to discover. 

Many countries in the region seem to be getting a handle on the spread of COVID and will (hopefully!) begin opening their borders sometime next year. If you don’t want a lot of planning or packing to slow down your travelling in 2021, consider a quick getaway in Asia and satisfy your wanderlust with ease!