Last-minute holiday ideas that won’t empty your wallet

School holidays mean peak season for most places, which equals spending more than necessary on a spontaneous plan

By ASILA JALIL / Pic By bangkok.com & upload.wikimedia.org

THE holidays are here and if you haven’t already planned a getaway, you might be considering sneaking in a last-minute trip to celebrate Christmas or ring in the New Year. However, school holidays mean peak season for most places, which equals spending more than necessary on a spontaneous plan. Here are four destinations that won’t empty your wallet.

 

Batanes
Batanes is the northernmost region of the Philippines and consists of 10 islands. It’s located away from the hustle and bustle of the city, with nearly half of the land made up of green mountains and hills.

The best way to get around the island is either by bicycle or motorcycle. You can rent a motorcycle from RM40 a day, depending on the type of vehicle.

For some history and beautiful landscapes, head up to North Batan. Among the attractions available in North Batan are the Vayang Rolling Hills and Tukon Church. Outdoor enthusiasts can also opt to hike Mount Iraya, a 1,009m tall volcano in the town of Basco.

Beach lovers can enjoy Nakubuang Beach, which, unlike many other beaches catered for tourists, is not filled with cheap food stands meant to attract customers. The beach’s trademark is Chawa Cave, a rock formation that created a tall and mossy archway.

From Kuala Lumpur, you have to first fly to Manila before taking a two-hour domestic flight to Basco Airport.

 

Hua Hin
Thailand is one of the world’s most popular travel destinations, but if you’re eyeing our neighbour, forget Koh Samui, Krabi or Bangkok. Instead, enjoy an island getaway at Hua Hin.

The 8km beach of Hua Hin promises clear blue water and soft white sand. It’s not too crowded, therefore, you’ll be able to find a secluded area by the beach to read your favourite book or just have a good time in the sun.

Afterwards, do pay a visit to Hua Hin Railway Station, which is dubbed as one of the most beautiful stations in Thailand. It was built in 1920 and features the royal pavilion, also referred to as the royal waiting room.

 

Jakarta
Yes, Jakarta. The city is busy, packed and alive. Congested traffic is not the only thing that the city has to offer. Look beyond that and you would have a ball this time of year in Jakarta.

The people are friendly, the food options are endless and the malls are having major markdowns on almost every item you can find as Christmas and New Year are approaching.

Head to Grand Indonesia mall in Thamrin Road or Kota Kasablanka mall in Tebet to get all your branded goods at a much lower price. Be prepared to see some stores offering up to 90% discounts on selected items, a few days before the New Year. These malls also have various salons where you can get your hair and nails done at extremely low prices.

For food lovers, forget ayam penyet and bakso while you’re there. If you love street food, check out Jalan Sabang or Taman Menteng at night and see these roads come alive with street performances and a wide array of stalls selling local dishes such as nasi goreng gila, batagor or mie ayam. Don’t miss out on avocado juice or jus alpukat for as low as RM3.

If you’re feeling adventurous, rent a motorcycle for less than RM50 a day and save up on transportation. It also saves you so much time as you can easily ride through the city’s famously heavy traffic.

 

Penang
Sometimes, you don’t have to look far to get the best holiday experience. Head up north to Penang, Malaysia, for as low as RM59 by train and you’ll get a nice balance of the city and nature.

Pinang Peranakan Mansion offers you a glimpse into the opulent life of the rich Baba-Nyonya community a century ago

Located six kilometres away from Georgetown, Penang Hill offers different views during different times of the day. If you’re lucky, you can see the mountains of Langkawi or north Kedah from the top of the hill during the day.

If you prefer to steer clear of the sun, visit the hill at night and soak in the beauty of lit-up Georgetown and the Penang Bridge. Tickets to Penang Hill are sold at RM12 for locals, RM6 for children aged four-12 and senior citizens aged 60 and above.

General tickets are sold at RM30 for adults and RM15 for children aged four-12.

The island has plenty of food for you to try, but you have to get your hands on Penang Road Teochew Chendul located at Lebuh Keng Kwee. They also offer assam laksa and rojak if you want savoury meals.

Get to know more Penang history by visiting some of the beautiful mansions that would take you back in time. Pinang Peranakan Mansion offers you a glimpse into the opulent life of the rich Baba-Nyonya community a century ago. It also has over 1,000 antiques and collectibles of the era displayed for visitors. The mansion has a large courtyard and boasts eclectic architecture with wood panels and English floor tiles. Admission to the museum costs RM20 for adults.