Why waste the seven precious long weekends for 2017 on Netflix when culture, history, mystery and adventure are calling? These Asian destinations are an easy, direct flight from Changi Airport – no more than 5 hours away – meaning all you have to do to prep for a fun-filled long weekend in 2017 is to book your tickets now. Turn off the TV (or computer) and step out of your comfort zone!

1. Marvel at old Malaysian life and art in Ipoh

Picture of Evolution, the wall mural created by famous artist Ernest Zacharevic

Ipoh is home to several cool murals that add colour and character to the city

There are lots to fill a long weekend with in one of Malaysia’s largest cities. If street art is your thing, check out the Art of OLDTOWN, most notably the wall murals by Ernest Zacharevic. This artist started out in Penang in 2012, and today at least five cities around Malaysia host his amazing art on various walls and surfaces. See how many you can spot as you walk around.

Picture of Kek Lok Tong Cave Temple, Ipoh

The stunning interior of the Kek Lok Tong Cave Temple in Ipoh

For Buddhism-inspired art and culture, head to Kek Look Tong, a quiet cave temple filled with Buddhist statues as well as stalactites and stalagmites. The ornamental garden here is worth a visit too for its peaceful ponds and pagodas.

Best long weekend to go:

31 December 2016–2 January 2017 (Saturday–Monday). Temperatures are reasonable throughout the year, with daily highs around 32°C throughout the month of December. How about spending your New Year holiday here, away from all the surrounding touristy spots, for a change?

Getting there:

Firefly, Tigerair and Malindo Air fly regularly from Changi Airport to Ipoh. Search for airfare deals and book your tickets now!

2. Dive into adventure at Boracay, Philippines

Picture of boat on ocean in Boracay with coral

Laze away the days on the blue in Boracay

You'll jet into the Philippines via Kalibo, but you'll probably want to make a beeline for Boracay. While only 7km long and less than 1km wide at its narrowest point, tiny Boracay is undoubtedly the Philippines' top tourist draw, thanks to its gorgeous beaches.

It’s a haven of adventure for the thrill seeker too. Kiteboarding is big in Bulabog, courtesy of reliable strong winds. Whizz around a lagoon and make new friends when you join one of the kite schools.

For something different, get off the island and take an overnight break on Iloilo on the mainland. This atmospheric seaside town boasts some of the Philippines’ oldest Catholic churches, and is a great place to wander around and soak up city life. To watch locals in action, head to the Mandurriao district and walk along the new riverside esplanade.

Best long weekend to go:

28–30 January 2017 (Saturday–Monday). Boracay is mostly dry from November to May, making it a great time to visit – after all, nobody wants to be stuck at a wet beach! Usher in the Chinese New Year in Boracay!

Getting there:

Tigerair and SilkAir both fly regularly from Changi Airport to Kalibo. Book your adventure now!

3. Visit a secret beach in Yogyakarta

Picture of lake with dramatic sky

Visit a beach in Yogyakarta for something a little different

There's great food, awe-inspiring art and even a couple of UNESCO World Heritage sites nearby, but once you've experienced sensory overload in Yogyakarta, head an hour or two out of town, and you'll be photographing dramatic natural landscapes and swimming at sandy coves and beaches that few tourists visit.

Rent a motorbike and head to the Wedi Ombo beach in Gunung Kidul, where you can watch the sun descend into the horizon. Or try Wohkudu beach in Panggang, one of Gunung Kidul’s lesser-visited areas towards the east. If it's solitude you seek, you'll find it here.

For adrenaline freaks, attempt at aerial crossover from Timang beach to Watu Panjang island on a wooden cable cart using pulleys and rope! This was once a device for local fishermen, so if you're brave enough to dangle in their footsteps over those waters, who knows what you might bring back for lunch?

Best long weekend to go:

14–16 April 2017 (Friday–Sunday). Yogyakarta is best explored in the dry season from April to October. Make it a (really) Good Friday break.

Getting there:

AirAsia and SilkAir fly regularly from Changi Airport to Yogyakarta. Search for airfare deals and book your tickets now!

4. Ride a motorbike in Da Nang, Vietnam

Picture of a road with beautiful scenery in Da Nang, Vietnam

Take to the road and see the real Vietnam from Da Nang

Get off the road and into the real Vietnamese countryside with a motorbike tour from Da Nang. What better way to spend a long weekend than zipping round hairpin bends with emerald green valleys stretching out around you?

A local guide will put you on the back of his own bike or lead the way as you ride your own. Imagine home-cooked Vietnamese meals in tiny towns and villages, saying hi to the kids at schools, plus taking a walk around ancient Hoi An with its fairytale-like streets and stores.

There are lots of tour operators who offer these trips from Da Nang. It's a good idea to talk to a few before picking one you like.

Best long weekend to go:

29 April–1 May 2017 (Saturday–Monday). February to May is an excellent time, as the skies are sunny but the weather is not as humid as the later months. Labour Day would make for the perfect long weekend here.

Getting there:

SilkAir and Jetstar fly regularly from Changi Airport to Da Nang. Book your tickets now!

Get off the road and into the real Vietnamese countryside with a motorbike tour from Da Nang.

5. Soak in the natural beauty of Gulangyu Island, Xiamen, China

Picture of Gulangyu beach and landscape, Xiamen

Some of China's best beaches are on Xiamen's Gulangu Island

Gulangyu Island is well known for its beautiful beaches and one of China’s National Scenic Spots. The intricate colonial architecture and winding lanes also help this international port top the list of Fujian province’s 10 most scenic areas.

Wander round the calming oasis of Shuzhuang Garden where the sea meets stunning rock formations and native trees. Music lovers also shouldn’t miss out on the Piano Museum or the Organ Museum while here.

There's much to see in this fascinating corner of the world. What’s more, having recently been voted one of China's cleanest cities, taking a break in Xiamen is not only easy on the eyes but also positively good for your health.

Best long weekend to go:

24–26 June 2017 (Saturday–Monday). Xiamen has an average annual temperature of 21°C, meaning there is neither an extreme summer nor winter. Why not celebrate Hari Raya Puasa here?

Getting there:

SilkAir and Xiamen Airlines fly regularly from Changi Airport to Xiamen. Search for airfare deals and book your tickets now!

6. Witness artistic and architectural fusion in Kathmandu, Nepal

Picture of temple and flowers, Kathmandu

Kathmandu's temples are mesmerising, but there's more to see in the countryside

The beautiful Kathmandu Valley boasts almost 130 important monuments that meld Hindu and Buddhist religions and culture. With a three-day weekend, you can hike or cycle along the fringe of the valley, an interesting and eco-friendly way to explore the Himalayan countryside.

Back in the city, visit the Garden of Dreams, just five minutes out of central Thamel. In spite of suffering some damage in the 2015 earthquake, this pretty area of fountains, ponds and flowers has been largely restored to its former serene self.

Best long weekend to go:

1–3 September 2017 (Friday–Sunday). September to November and February to April are the best times, so you could travel over the Hari Raya Haji long weekend.

Getting there:

SilkAir flies regularly from Changi Airport to Kathmandu. Book your adventure now!

7. Get hungry for Myanmar's Yangon

Picture of locals eating street food in Yangon, Myanmar

Eat like the locals with a food tour of Yangon, Myanmar

Yangon has a lot for the tourist to do, but once you've explored the colonial buildings, seen the Sule Pagoda and admired the half-lion, half-dragon deity in Maha Bandoola Park, you'd be forgiven for wanting to eat your way around the rest. The food here is out of this world so learn to cook some national dishes at a cooking school. If you have more time, several culinary tours also leave Yangon and take you farther afield.

Alternatively, you can do what the locals do and make a trip to Thiri Mingalar market. Located outside downtown, there's no better place for people-watching and sampling what the Burmese are looking to cook.

Best long weekend to go:

23–25 December 2017 (Saturday–Monday). November to February is a good time to visit. Why not head here for Christmas and have a festive break somewhere totally different?

Getting there:

Six airlines fly from Changi Airport to Yangon. Search for airfare deals and book your tickets now!

 

Take your pick from these seven cool places for the seven long weekends in 2017. Pack your bags and get ready to set out on an adventure, without using up all your annual leave!