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 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 Thomas Town Johor October 2017

A brief summary on the itinerary

Escape Plan to Thomas Town Johor 2017:

Total duration 1D
There is no time difference between Singapore and Johor.

Day 1 Thomas Town, Hello Kitty Town and Puteri Harbour

This trip was planned as a weekend activity with our boy, an impulse to leave the country for a Saturday for some fun.

Budget – pretty affordable.

Since it was a really short day trip, we didn’t manage to spend the SGD $100 that we exchanged for the trip.

Complexity – Driving took only 15mins from Tuas Checkpoint

It was a pretty straightforward drive just like the one to Legoland. Even better with a preloaded Google map. The crappy experience was only the one where we got stuck for 2hrs on no-man’s land. The causeway one might be faster option.

Escape to Kuala Lumpur July 2017

A brief summary on the itinerary

Escape Plan to Kuala Lumpur 2017:

Total duration 5D4N
Kuala Lumpur is in the same timezone as Singapore. Flight time is 1hr on Silkair from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur. Return is 1hr on Silkair from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore.

Flight from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur at 1015am, arriving at 1115am in Kuala Lumpur. Return flight from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore is at 510pm and touching down in Singapore at 610pm.

Day 1 – Arrival in Kuala Lumpur and Sunway Pyramid Mall
Day 2 – Sunway Lagoon theme park and the Parenthood
Day 3 – Sunway Pyramid and transfer to Kuala Lumpur downtown
Day 4 – Sungei Wang, Berjaya Times Square and Indoor Theme Park
Day 5 – Home Sweet Home

This trip was planned as a getaway birthday trip for mommy. We didn’t plan anything other than a visit to the Sunway Lagoon theme park. The rest of the trip was based on ad hoc shopping and just on impulse visits.

Budget – Quite affordable other than the accommodation.

Everything was quite affordable comparable to Singapore, especially with the currency of 1:3.1 now, effectively reducing the costs of living by a third. With free wifi at airports and hotels, Grab and its promos reduce the costs of transport as well. The accommodation was expensive but it was chosen for the purpose of comfort, and was worth it in my opinion.

Complexity – Easy with Grab

We didn’t go many places and for transfers, Grab was a good choice. For the visits around the area, walking was our choice and it was quite easy since everywhere was within 15mins walking distance.

Escape plan to Legoland Johor 2016 NYE

A brief summary on the itinerary

Escape Plan to Legoland Johor 2016:

Total duration 2D1N
There is no time difference between Singapore and Johor.

Day 1 Arrival in Legoland, Waterpark and Fireworks
Day 2 Legoland theme park and Home Sweet Home

This trip was planned as a getaway to celebrate the New Year of 2017. We didn’t cater any trips and therefore a short escape to Legoland to spend the night was planned instead.

Budget – expensive in theme park.

As expected, theme parks were never cheap places to visit. The hotel stay itself costed SGD$500 already and things sold in the theme park were expensive. However, there were some discounts for purchase of the 2-day tickets, for about SGD$160, together with the hotel stay.

Complexity – Driving took only 15mins from Tuas Checkpoint

It was a pretty straightforward drive, with signboards showing directions to Legoland. We were surprised that it was even that close! However, I felt that the area around it was still a little undeveloped and thus secluded and personal transportation should be easier and offers more flexibility, though there should be available day trips and transportation options available.

Escape plan to Langkawi April 2015

A brief summary on the itinerary

Escape Plan to Langkawi April 2015:

Total duration 3D2N
Singapore is on the same timezone as Langkawi.
Flight time is 1hrs 30mins on Air Asia from Singapore to Langkawi and return flight on Tigerair. This airline combination gave better timing options compared a single airline combination.

Morning flight on 3rd April at 11am and arrival in Langkawi at 1225pm.
Return flight is on the 5th April at 6pm and arrival in Singapore at 735pm.

Day 1 Arrival in Langkawi and Eagle Square
Day 2 Oriental Village and SkyCab 
Day 3 Underwater World then Home Sweet Home

This escape plan was planned as our 2nd trial trip with baby. As a follow up on a holiday trip 2 months before to Bintan, we were chose to visit Langkawi because we wanted to get a feel of how our baby would react on a plane and therefore find an overseas trip where a flight time was short. Langkawi is about an hour and a half away, which would be ideal and it was somewhere that we hadn’t visit before. It was a Good Friday long weekend and a great excuse to escape.

Budget nature: Affordable costs of living offsets fairly expensive plane tickets.

Langkawi has a low cost of living and therefore it was pretty cheap to travel in Langkawi. We got by for the 3 days with less than 300 SGD for all the food and car. Maybe it was low season?

Complexity: Easy with own transport.

As with all developing places, places of interests are not within walkable distances. Taxis might rack up the costs and might not be readily available. We chose the car rental route that enabled maximum flexibility, especially with an infant in tow.

Escape Plan to Penang in February 2014

A brief summary on the itinerary

Escape Plan to Penang in February 2014:

Total duration 3D2N
Singapore is in the same time zone as Penang, Malaysia.
Flight time is 1hr direct flight on Jetstar from Singapore to Penang.
Friday evening flight on 14th Feb and arrival in Penang at 9pm on the same day.

Day 1 Arrival in Penang
Day 2 Shopping and Makan at Gurney Drive
Day 3 Home Sweet Home

This escape plan was to getaway on Valentine’s Day where everything was expensive. Thought we might as well fly somewhere to spend the same amount of money. Took Tigerair back instead of Jetstar as it offered a better time slot of 735pm, which was not too early leaving the 3rd day wasted or late so that it was too tiring to get to work the following day.

Budget nature: Cheap eats. 

Definitely a makan heaven since everything was half price considering the very good 2.6 ringgit to 1 SGD. Transport by taxi wasn’t too bad though it ranged from 15ringgit within Georgetown to 45ringgit to airport. There was free hop-on bus, but required to know your location before getting on.

Complexity: Easy to get around, but easier with own transport

Georgetown was a rather small area for visit and easy to move around. Tourist destinations were apparently served by the local buses but we didn’t take these buses as we didn’t know where the bus stops for these buses were. There were bicycles for rental and we did see people riding around to various tourists locations. Taxis could get you around but it depended on the locations for the availability and costs could vary and required negotiation.

Escape Plan to Port Dickson in January 2014

A brief summary on the itinerary

Escape Plan to Port Dickson in January 2014:

Total duration 2D1N
Singapore is on the same time zone as Port Dickson, Malaysia.
Drive time is 3hr direct Singapore to Port Dickson.
Early morning 8am at checkpoint, arrival at 4pm at Port Dickson with 3hr stop at Malacca.

Day 1 Lunch at Malacca and arrival at Avillion Hotel.
Day 2 Home Sweet Home

This escape plan was to spend the weekend at Port Dickson for our anniversary. It was planned as a getaway, visit Port Dickson for the first time and drive in Malaysia for the first time.

Budget nature: Cheap fuel, affordable food, value for hotel. 

Malaysia was generally more affordable than Singapore in terms of food and the cheap fuel allowed for nice road trips from Singapore. We paid for a over water chalet, which was the cheapest you could find compared to other more popular places such as Maldives or Bora Bora. However, what you pay is what you get.

Complexity: DIY

Notwithstanding the media reports of how dangerous it is to drive in Malaysia, we had an easy time and the GPS was very useful to make the virgin drive a success. Pre-planning and getting a Touch-N-Go card was essential and roads were easy to drive. No reason not to do so again.

Escape Plan to Kuala Lumpur in November 2013

A brief summary on the itinerary

Escape Plan to Kuala Lumpur in November 2013:

Total duration 4D3N
Singapore is on the same time zone as Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Flight time is 1hr direct flight on Airasia from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur.
Saturday noon flight on 2nd Nov and arrival in Kuala Lumpur at 10 mins after 1pm.

Day 1 Shopping at Pavilion
Day 2 Petronas Twin Towers, Shopping at Berjaya Times Square, Sungei Wang, Fahrenheit 88
Day 3 Home Sweet Home

This escape plan was triggered by sudden acknowledgement that it was a long weekend (Monday given leave due to Sat being a holiday, by company). There wasn’t anywhere cheaper in terms of flights and accommodation and something that we could do on 3 days and less. More savings made when I converted some Starhub points to BIG points and using the BIG points to offset some costs from the tickets.

The trip consisted mainly of shopping places and food that was eaten – the main objective of the trip anyway.

Budget nature: Affordable if manageable 

With a strong SGD against the Ringgit, everything else was less than half the price published, but mostly food and non-branded items were really cheap while others were comparably expensive. 

Complexity: DIY possible for the beginners

This is an easy place to navigate with planning and English was spoken in tourist locations. Touring the city with little planning is possible and should be DIY for maximum costs savings and flexibility.