Solo Traveller Diaries: The Last-Minute CNY Getaway Edition

As the Chinese New Year (or Lunar New Year as some of you like to call it) draws near, your wanderlust bug might just start itching. Not only is there a long weekend, you can also escape from all the annoying relatives and endless questions. Don’t want to answer pesky questions about your missing partner? Want to just sit back and relax? Just drop everything and go for a quick weekend getaway.

Time for a change?

Everyone should experience travelling alone at least once in their lives – you’ll be surprised at what your learned and, at worst, it’ll just be a good story to tell.
We’ve put together some last-minute destinations where you can fly to, and the best deals that you can get online! Pack your bags and fly out on Friday, with a flight back on Monday and it’ll be like you never left at all!


1. Hat Yai, Thailand

Chinese New Year is not a public holiday is Thailand, but Chinese communities might take a day off on the first day

Samila Beach, Source

Bangkok might be too expensive for a last minute getaway, so why not explore a new city? Hat Yai is on the south of Thailand, but it’s still Thailand. You’ll be able to eat all your street food, chillax on the beaches and get enough massages until your next trip back.
Visit the mermaid on Samila Beach in Songkhla, which is Thailand’s version of The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen, and then check out the Ton Nga Chang Waterfall that has seven cascades, with the third one being the most famous as the stream splits off into two to resemble the tusks of an elephant.
Flights from $275 on Skyscanner, hotels from $12/night on Agoda

2. Jakarta

Celebrates Chinese New Year, but only the first day is a public holiday. Chinatown is the most festive area

Ancol Dreamland, Source

Believe it or not, Jakarta was the only city that made it to the top 10 list of Instagram’s Most Instagrammed Cities for 2018. That aside, Indonesia is not exactly the first choice of destination for most of us, but it has its own charm. Stop by the Menteng district to take a look at what they have on offer or ride around Kota Tua on colourful bikes to take in the colonial sights left behind from the Dutch colonial period. They’ve also got a pretty good theme park, Ancol Dreamland that hosts exhilarating rides and ever water pools to cool off on a hot day. If you just want a proper waterpark experience, hit up the Atlantis Water Adventure park.
Roundtrip flights from $172 on Skyscanner, and hotels from $11/night on Expedia

3. Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia celebrates Chinese New Year with a public holiday only on the first day of CNY, and there will lots of celebrations and festivities going on in the city


During the day, hit up Batu Caves or the countless mosques to soak in some local culture. If sightseeing is not your thing, there are tons of shopping malls like Sungei Wang and Berjaya Times Square to spend all your money. APW Bangsar is a popular destination for brunch (Breakfast Thieves is our favourite) and has a lot of Insta-worthy spots around the area. For those seeking sweet treats, make a stop at Dip and Dip, a cafe that only has chocolate on the menu.
At night, hit up Suzie Wong for a cabaret show and local-inspired cocktails which also has one of the best wanton mees right outside the door for post-drinks hunger pangs, or head to TREC, a street that is home to Zouk KL, YG Republique (a Korean barbecue restaurant owned by YG Entertainment) and other bars and clubs.
Roundtrip coach from $50 on, hotels from $20/ night at Agoda

4. Batam



Once you get past the crazy queues at immigration (but not as crazy as the one to Malaysia), all you have to do is eat! Hit up arcades, visit A&W and stock up on Indomie while you’re there. A few streets away from Nagoya Hill Mall, you can also get your hands on some firecrackers and sparklers to create your own light shows to celebrate your Chinese New Year with a bang.

Suspended nets at Kopak Jaya, Source

Feast on fresh and cheap seafood at one of the many kelongs, which will remain open but might have a slightly earlier closing time. Our favourite is Kopak Jaya 007 Kelong, which is slightly further out (about 30~40 mins from central Batam) but has a good view of the sunset as you dine over the water. There’s also hammocks and even nets suspended over the water (where you’ll really drown if it breaks – but it probably won’t) for chilling out.
Return ferry at $49 from Batamfast, accommodation from $32 for three nights if you book through

5. Georgetown, Penang

Malaysia celebrates Chinese New Year with a public holiday only on the first day of CNY, and there will lots of celebrations and festivities going on in the city
Georgetown is the hipster city of Malaysia, and is as street as they come. Besides all the street food, cheap beer and street murals lining the street, Chinese New Year sees the little town take on a livelier spirit. The many temples are decked out in lights and festive decor, making it a beautiful sight at night. All those Instagram photographers will flock to the little city to catch the ethereal night lights.


Those who love the supernatural have to make a stop at the Penang Ghost Museum, which details the history and different supernatural creatures that plague the folk stories you grew up with (and yes, you can take some pretty creepy photos). Pontianaks, Jiang Shi (Chinese vampires), and Kappa are just some of the creepy creatures that reside in the museum. There’s even a dedicated corner to cult Japanese horror movie, Ju-On – it’s kind of like a horror version of Madame Tussauds.
Flights from $322 from, hotels from $13 on Kayak

Handy websites! For last minute bookings.

Depending on which country you’re traveling to, you can book your data sim cards and travel cards for trains and buses. Best part is that there’s instant confirmation! Klook also has activities, guided tours and also meals which you can book.
With flash sales and cutthroat prices, you’ll be able to find accommodation for all budgets on Agoda. You can also select between guesthouses and hotels, and there are also plenty of photos and reviews if you believe in reading reviews. Confirmation is near instant so you can fly knowing you’ve got a roof over your head tonight.
Skyscanner compares the best flights from various airlines all on one platform. Better yet, you can also search for the cheapest deal to various places by selecting the ‘Everywhere’ option as your destination.
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If you don’t mind splurging a little to indulge yourself (it’s a holiday after all), is a good place to book your trip. Regulars alos get special prices and even free night stays.
Book your flights, hotels and cars on all one website with Kayak! For those who might want the freedom of having your own vehicle, this might be the easiest platform to settle your trip. Of course, if you don’t have an International Driving Permit, driving your own car will not be an option as it takes 7 days to process an overseas driving license.
Once you’ve got your destination locked down, go ahead and use Trivago to compare hotel deals! You can also filter your choices by the number of stars, guest ratings, distance from certain places or areas, and (the most important thing), if they have wifi or not.

Other tips for first-time travellers


  • Just pack your basics like medication and contact lens. Everything else – you can just buy when you’re there, or you’ll realise that you can go a few days without whatever you forgot
  • Get a wifi egg. Even if you’re flying out and haven’t booked any, there are counters at Changi Airport like Changi Recommends where you can pick up a wifi egg for a small fee a day
  • Be flexible. Don’t feel like you have to stick to your itinerary – the best part about traveling alone is that you don’t have to worry about upsetting anyone because you decided to check out a cafe  instead of heading to a temple like you originally planned
  • Keep your family and friends updated. You never know what would happen (to you and back home), so just drop a message here and there to make your friends and family know that you’re still thinking of them even though you are physically away. Who knows; they might even pass your angbao to your parents!

For those who are truly adventurous, load up on cash and just turn up at the airport with an overnight bag and ask for the next (cheapest) flight out. There is always fun in the mystery!

Why you should always pack light

Original header image from Money Smart