Escape Plan to Vietnam December 2019

A brief summary on the itinerary

Escape Plan to Vietnam:

Total duration 9D8N
Singapore is 1hr ahead of Da Nang.
Flight time is 17hrs 15mins on Singapore Airlines from Singapore to Newark Airport, New York. Return flight is 2hrs 10mins on Scoot from Ho Chi Minh to Singapore.

Evening flight on 24th Dec at 650pm and arrival in Da Nang in the Night at 835pm. Return flight from Ho Chi Minh on the 1st Jan at 555pm and arrival in Singapore at 905pm.

Day 1 Arrival into Da Nang and transfer to Hoi An
Day 2 Hoi An Old Town tour and My Son tour
Day 3 Hoi An free and easy
Day 4 Day trip to Hue
Day 5 Ba Na Hills and Dragon Bridge
Day 6 My Khe Beach and transfer to Phu Quoc
Day 7 Vinpearl Land and Waterpark
Day 8 Bai Dai Beach and transfer to Ho Chi Minh NYE 2020
Day 9 Home Sweet Home

This escape plan was to getaway to somewhere close and not too expensive while at the same time, see how people are doing Xmas and New Year’s Eve.

Budget nature: Inexpensive except when in the resort

Costs of living was pretty low in Vietnam and thus we found that things were relatively inexpensive. We catered SGD$800 but wouldn’t have overspend if we didn’t buy stuff along the way. It could also be that we had paid upfront for private tours and transfers and even so, it was still affordable.

Complexity: Easy

It was easy since most of the transportation was taken care by our private transfers and tour. Phu Quoc transfer was taken care by the resort while Grab app worked pretty well in both Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh.

Escape Plan to Phuket August 2019

A brief summary on the itinerary

Escape Plan to Phuket:

Total duration 5D4N
Singapore is 1hr ahead of Phuket.
Flight time is 1hrs 50mins on Silkair from Singapore to Phuket. Return flight is 4hrs 45mins on China Airlines from Taipei to Singapore.

Morning flight on 9th Aug at 120pm and arrival in Phuket in the afternoon at 210pm. Return flight from
Phuket on the 13th Jun at 1145am and arrival in Singapore at 220pm.

Day 1 Arrival into Phuket and check into resort
Day 2 Phuket Aquarium, Upside-Down house and Chaofa Variety night market
Day 3 Dinopark mini-golf, Weekend market and Jungceylon
Day 4 Splash Jungle waterpark and Mai Khao village
Day 5 Home Sweet Home

This escape plan was to utilise the National day and Haji super long weekend for a short getaway to somewhere close to home. Since we hadn’t really been to Phuket, we thought it would be a good time to do so.

Budget nature: Comparatively costly

Comparative to other parts of Thailand, I thought it was rather costly to visit Phuket. The flights were obviously expensive since due to the long weekend but we reduced the costs by claiming expiring miles for the flight there and paying for the return on a day after the long weekend. Our transportation could have been cheaper if we booked through Klook or negotiated with the driver more. We spent more than $700 cash than we bought for the 5 days.

Complexity: Easy

It was easy since most of the transportation was taken care of with a chartered driver. It could have been difficult had we been able to get our own car as we realised while in the taxi that it was quite challenging to drive in the chaotic traffic especially in town.

Escape Plan to Taichung June 2019

A brief summary on the itinerary

Escape Plan to Taichung:

Total duration 6D5N
Singapore is on same timezone as Taiwan.
Flight time is 4hrs 45mins on China Airlines from Singapore to Taipei. Return flight is 4hrs 45mins on China Airlines from Taipei to Singapore.

Morning flight on 20th Jun at 1030am and arrival in Taipei in the afternoon at 310pm. Return flight from Taipei on the 25th Jun at 230pm and  arrival in Singapore at 715pm.

Day 1 Arrival into Taiwan, drive to Taichung and Feng Chia Night Market
Day 2 Natural Science Museum, Farm visits and Gao Mei Wetlands
Day 3 Sheng Hsing Station, Long Teng Bridge and Flying Cow Ranch
Day 4 Flying Cow Ranch and Little Ding Dong Science Theme Park
Day 5 Window on China Theme Park, Leofoo Village and Hsinchu City God Temple
Day 6 Home Sweet Home

This escape plan was the first time that we travel with my wife’s extended family. I didn’t participate in any of the planning and just went with the flow. As such, some parts of the trip didn’t turn out to be as enjoyable as I thought it would be.

Budget nature: Not too bad 

The bulk of the costs were the plane tickets and accommodation which was paid off by extended family members and I only had to pay for the attractions which weren’t all that expensive. Food was affordable too (and paid by FIL).

Complexity: Easy

As it was planned with a daily driver, we didn’t need to know how to move around since the driver would bring us around. We only need to know where we wanted to go.

Also, we targeted attractions within Taichung and northwards towards Taoyuan, it was easy to cover these with the driver.

Escape Plan to Desaru Coast May 2019

A brief summary on the itinerary

Escape Plan to Desaru Coast:

Total duration 3D2N
Singapore is in the same timezone as Malaysia.

Desaru Coast can be reached by car.

Day 1 – Drive into Johor and Firefly leisure park
Day 2 – Fruit Farm visit and Adventure Waterpark Desaru Coast
Day 3 – Home Sweet Home

This escape plan was the another attempt of visiting our neighbouring country Malaysia for a long weekend getaway on Vesak day 2019. This was after swearing not to drive in ever again. I still hated wasting my life in a traffic jam but what changed? We tried to avoid the jam by getting across late and getting back early!

Budget nature: Not too bad since it was still soft launch

Singapore high exchange rate coupled with a soft launch of the Desaru Coast area meant that we it wasn’t too expensive to do this trip.

Complexity: Medium

The only complexity I thought was navigating the jam at the crossing and checking on the latest fees which might be confusing if not following the news. There was supposedly VEP implementation in Q3 2019 so we weren’t really impacted.

Escape Plan to South Korea & Hong Kong March 2019

A brief summary on the itinerary

Escape Plan to South Korea and Hong Kong:

Total duration 18D17N
Singapore is 1hr behind of Korea and same timezone as Hong Kong.
Flight time is 4hrs 5mins on Cathay Airlines from Singapore to Hong Kong, a 50mins transit followed by a 4hrs 50mins time on Cathay Airlines from Hong Kong to Incheon Airport Seoul.

Return flight is 3hrs 55mins on Cathay Airlines from Hong Kong to Singapore.

Friday night flight on 29th Mar at 810pm and arrival in Hong Kong in the morning of the 30th Mar at 1215am followed by a flight at 105am and arrival in Korea in the same morning at 555am.

Return flight from Hong Kong on the 15th Apr at 230pm and same day arrival in Singapore at 625pm.

Day 0-1 Flying and Gamcheon Village in Busan
Day 2 Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival and arrival into Geoje
Day 3 Cruise to Oedo Island, Tong Yeong Hallyeosudo cable car and Junggang market
Day 4 Hakdong beach, Windy hill and drive to Yeosu, Odongdo island
Day 5 Yeosu Rail bike, Aqua Planet and Teddy bear museum
Day 6 Drive to Jeonju, cheese theme park and Jeonju old town
Day 7 Explore Jeonju and drive to Wolmido
Day 8 Fairytale land, Chinatown and back to Seoul
Day 9 Yeouido park, Noryanjin Market and Myeongdong
Day 10 Lotte World Adventure theme park
Day 11 Nami Island, Gangchon rail park and Garden of Morning Calm
Day 12 Dongdaemun and Lotte Outlet
Day 13 Strawberry farm, Pocheon Art Valley and Herb Island light festival
Day 14 Seoul to Hong Kong
Day 15 Sino Center and Hysan Place
Day 16 Hong Kong Space museum and shopping at CHKC
Day 17 Home Sweet Home

This escape plan was the first time in donkey years that we travel with my extended family. It was not an easy itinerary to begin with, having to plan different flights for my wife, my parents, my aunt in HK and for me and my boy, as we were flying different times, for reasons such as for business, for best price and for breaking the trip. There was also trying to plan a bit of something for my parents and for the kids. Glad that everything turned out well.

Budget nature: Rather Expensive 

Costs of living in Korea was quite high especially in the cities, car rentals was expensive too. This was offset by the optimisation of squeezing into Airbnb units in Seoul and getting the better deal through Klook and utilising discount coupons from tourism book brought over from Singapore.

Complexity: High

Due to different flight times (5 different tickets) for everyone, we had to get all the dates and times right before purchasing the tickets. Travel by car outside the city was still fine but met with heavy traffic when in Busan. Thankfully for the Hyundai Sonata in-car GPS, it was a little easier to navigate as Google maps do not work, and Naver app wasn’t driver friendly. Travelling via public transport in Seoul was easy but not so in a taxi as we were easily lost in translation, and getting taxis for a big group was a challenge itself, as the taxis can only take up to a certain number of people.

Escape plan to Bintan February 2019

A brief summary on the itinerary

Escape Plan to Bintan 2019

Total duration 3D2N
Singapore is 1hr behind Bintan.
Ferry time is 1hrs on Bintan Resort Ferries from Singapore to Bintan.
Afternoon ferry on 2nd February at 12:10pm and arrival in Bintan at 12:10pm.
Return ferry is on the 20th February at 235pm and arrival in Singapore at 435pm.

(Itinerary without details)
Day 1 Arrival in Bintan
Day 2 To the beach and back
Day 3 Home Sweet Home

This escape plan was planned as a short getaway before the CNY. We were here 4 years ago for when our kid was still an infant so it was a short revisit to the resort under the same company (Staying at Angsana instead of Banyan tree previously).

Budget nature: Budget buster.

Although this was in Bintan, we were getting something better for accommodation and therefore the accommodation was quite high. Similarly for the ferry, we also took the “business” class seats and that was slightly less than twice an economy class seat, with an change in timing costs at the last minute to rush back for our boy to see a doctor

Complexity: Easy.

Since all the transfers were arranged, there was nothing difficult about getting to the resort. We didn’t get out of the resort at all except getting over to Banyan tree restaurants through internal buggy arrangements.

Escape Plan to Tokyo January 2019

A brief summary on the itinerary

Escape Plan to Tokyo:

Total duration 5D4N
Singapore is 1hr behind of Tokyo, Japan.
Flight time is 6hrs 20mins on Japan Airlines from Singapore to Tokyo Haneda Airport and return flight is 7hrs 50mins on Japan Airlines from Tokyo Narita Airport to Singapore.

Monday morning flight on 7th Jan at 220am and arrival in Tokyo in the morning of the 7th Jan at 950am. Return flight from Tokyo on the 11th Jan at 6pm and arrival in Singapore at 1250am on the 12th Jan.

Day 1 Flight and Arrival at Tokyo, Shibuya and Shinjuku and Themed restaurant
Day 2 Tokyo, Akihabara, Ginza, Roppongi and more Themed restaurants
Day 3 Tsukiji Market, Ueno Park, Nezu Shrine, Maricar, Asakusa Shrine, Skytree
Day 4 Atami Onsen and Ayumi Hamasaki concert in Shizuoka
Day 5 Tokyo Autosalon and Home Sweet Home

This escape plan was an impromptu one when I thought I needed to clear leave and the idea of a solo trip come to mind. I had never done it once in my life and since wifey wasn’t keen on trip to Japan anytime soon, I thought I would just go there on my own!

Budget nature: Budget buster 

The airplane tickets weren’t cheap at all even though the travel dates were on weekdays as it was kind of last minute. However, I managed to get a seat on JAL at $900++ vs the Scoot $1k+, it was still not too bad (another one by Delta was $600+ but considering the later flight time, I opted for JAL). The exchange rate between SGD and Yen was average, but the cost of living in Tokyo was quite high. Furthermore, “cultural experiences” cost money too!

Complexity: Medium

Travel was done almost exclusively by foot and train (subway, JR and Shinkansen, yes they are all different). It took some time to get used to the what tickets were used for each but once that’s done, it was easy. Language could still be a barrier especially outside Tokyo but nothing an online translator, sign language or absolute sincerity couldn’t fix!

Escape to Rawa Island October 2018

A brief summary on the itinerary

Escape Plan to Rawa Island 2018:

Total duration 3D2N
Rawa Island is in the same timezone as Singapore. Transfer to Mersing takes about 2hrs and ferry time is 30mins on private transfer ferry from Mersing to Rawa Island. Return is the same in reverse, time depending on jam at crossing.

Ferry from Mersing to Rawa Island at 1130am, arriving at 12noon in Rawa Island. Return ferry from Rawa Island to Mersing is at 1230pm and arriving in Mersing at 1pm.

Day 1 – Arrival in Rawa Island, Beach fun and water slide
Day 2 – Cactus garden and a walk to the owl habitat
Day 3 – Aeon Mall and Home Sweet Home

This trip was planned as a getaway birthday trip for me. It was planned closer to my birthday in November but we pushed it earlier as we had hijacked 1st week of November with a USA trip.

Budget – Affordable by standard of private island.

Total package of accommodation plus ferries and full board for 2 adults came up to RM3000 which in my opinion was affordable. We didn’t go for the water activities such as diving though.

Complexity – Easy except the jam

Travelling was pretty easy with a car. Driving to Mersing followed by private carpark and thereafter a short ferry to the island was simple enough! I am often confused about how much to pay while crossing the borders and thankfully with 2 Touch N Go cards, I didn’t have to figure out where to top up (since the Touch N Go was in Singapore). But the jam was horrendous on the way back and I swore never to go back into Malaysia via car ever again.

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Escape Plan to Hong Kong November 2017

A brief summary on the itinerary

Escape Plan to Hong Kong 2017:

Total duration 5D4N
Singapore is in the same time zone as Hong Kong.
Flight time is 4hrs on Singapore Airlines from Singapore to Hong Kong.

Morning flight on 24th January at 955am and arrival in Hong Kong at 155pm.
Return flight is on the 28st January at 210pm and arrival in Singapore at 610pm.

Day 1 Arrival at Hong Kong and visit to the Peak
Day 2 Disneyland
Day 3 Ngong Ping and Citygate Outlet Mall
Day 4 Shopping Day – Esprit Outlet at CHKC
Day 5 Home Sweet Home

This escape plan was to get away from Singapore to celebrate our son’s birthday by bringing him to the nearest happiest place on Earth, Disneyland! It was also a good time to visit, given that the weather near the end of the year was nice and cool.

Budget nature: Slightly expensive due to costly hotels and Disneyland, but offset by outlet malls savings.

We had chosen to stay in a apartment close in Tsim Sha Tsui close to Harbour City for most of the days and accommodation in TST are priced higher slightly. The 1N stay in Disneyland was expected to be expensive, even on advance purchase with free upgrade. However, it was just worth it to experience this luxury once in a while

Complexity: Easy to get around with the MTR.

The places we covered were very accessible as every tourist would probably go. Plus the fact that the hotels we chose was in an accessible place, it was easier comparatively. We chose to take the taxi for both trips from and to the airport, just for convenience’s sake.

Escape to Nikoi Island November 2017

A brief summary on the itinerary

Escape Plan to Nikoi Island 2017:

Total duration 2D1N
Nikoi Island is in the 1hr ahead of Singapore. Ferry time is 1hr on Bintan Resort Ferries from Singapore to Bintan, land transfer of 1hr drive followed by a speed boat transfer of 20mins. Return is the same in reverse.

Ferry from Singapore to Bintan at 1110am, arriving at 1110am in Bintan. Return ferry from Bintan to Singapore is at 335pm and arriving in Singapore at 535pm.

Day 1 – Arrival in Nikoi Island
Day 2 – First time fishing and Home Sweet Home

This trip was planned as a getaway birthday trip for me. It was initially intended to be a 3D2N private island resort experience but was cut short due to my kid getting a fever and we absentmindedly left the paracetamol at home.

Budget – Expensive, made worse by forgoing one night stay.

As this was a private island, what would you expect? Accommodations were comfy but modest but they are all villas and nothing less. There were just one restaurant serving fine dining cuisine that was delicious no doubt, but without choice, one had to full board SGD100-ish a day. Had to booked an urgent boat on Emerald class which increased the costs further and the private land transfer from jetty to jetty cost money too.

Complexity – Easy

Since it was all integrated, what came with the price was the convenience and the exclusivity of private travel (except for the boat transfer to the island). The short cut to the front of the queue at the immigrations was awesome!