I haven’t think of my 2019 would start in a very interesting way! I have visited Da Lat once again in Jan after the last time I went there in the end of 2018. Then in the last days of Jan, I did a 5 days trip to Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia.
Yes, 5 days trip in 3 countries. That could be so short to do everything. However, it was still enough to put my first steps in new lands, and to have my experience on destinations that I haven’t been before.
Why I Chose Batam, and Cameron Highlands
I just planned to visit my girl friend in Singapore. Then she suggested me to travel around than spending my whole vacation in only a city. So I choose Indonesia and Malaysia, the two nearby countries of Singapore.
I actually haven’t visited Indonesia before. Hence, I chose Batam, an Indonesian island that’s very nearby Singapore, where is the middle point of both Indonesia and Malaysia. Also, it was kinda easy to access Batam from Singapore.
Then I picked Cameron Highlands in Malaysia, a pretty similar place to Da Lat, Vietnam. With the location in high mountain, Cameron Highlands has a cold weather over the year. By that, the land is very developed in agriculture, particularly in growing tea trees, flowers, and fruits, especially the strawberry. Therefore, Cameron Highlands is beautiful with the tea hills and the greenhouses. If you live in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam where it’s hot all-the-time, you will know why I prefer a cold place like Cameron Highlands.
How to Go from Singapore to Batam, or Cameron Highlands
From Singapore to Batam, Indonesia
The best way to go to Batam from Singapore is taking a ferry. Mostly, the ferry operators charge around $10 – $15 SGD for one way. Nevertheless, you can find a promo ticket at $6 SGD sometimes at a point in day. My friend used ticket search engine to book the route going to Batam from Singapore. We had a really better price than on the ferry operators’ websites.
From Singapore to Cameron Highlands, Malaysia
To save money for the transportation, and to take advantage of the night time, I chose a night bus to go from Singapore to Cameron Highlands. It was simple to book with ticket search engine. As planned, I will go specifically from Singapore at 9.30 pm, and will arrive to Brinchang, a town of Cameron Highlands, at around at 7 am.
The 5 Days Itinerary from Singapore to Batam, then Cameron Highlands
First Day – to Batam, Indonesia
After arrived to Changi Airport, Singapore, me and my friend have gone directly to Habourfront, where we took a ferry to go to Batam Island, Indonesia. It was about 1 hour to go to the island.
We actually didn’t have any plan when going to Batam. So we initially got a taxi and went straight to the hotel. At Batam, you can easily find 3 or 4-star hotels with good prices, as far as I saw. On the way going to the island, you can see many ads about Harris Hotel, which could be a pretty good choice. It’s location is right nearby the harbor, and quite close to Batam Centre. However, we chose Zia Boutique Hotel, a more affordable price one but also equivalent in service, and it was suitable for our need.
After checked-in the hotel and organize the luggages, we needed to find a place for dinner. The receptionist told us about WTB, an area right in the bottom of the word ‘Welcome to Batam’, where many Indonesian people sell local foods. That would be a great place for dinner, especially to try Indonesian cuisine. Furthermore, you may be able to take some great photos with the welcome words.
Wandering around the Batam Centre could be a good option to generally see the life at the island. And that was even a better choice when we had no sim or wifi to catch a taxi, or Grab. We then walked to the Mega Mall Batam Centre, after the dinner, to both see around the city, and to find a taxi going back to the hotel, ended of our first day.
Day 2 – 1 Day in 3 Countries
We started our morning with the breakfast served at the hotel. And then figured out some places that we could visit. Many tours would suggest Vihara Duta Maitreya temple, Batam Miniature, Pineapple Cake, Be Superheroes, Chocolate House, or many beautiful beaches around the island. Moreover, you may want to try the traditional massage of Indonesian.
Nevertheless, as we didn’t have much time at the island, we would love an experience which we could see the whole island, or at least to have a general view. Therefore, we chose to visit a spot called Ex Camp Vietnam, or Galang Refugee Camp. The destination is a historical site where Vietnamese took a refuge from the Vietnam war. At the place, you can know more about life of the refugee when they left Vietnam by small boats. Of course, not so many people were alive to step on the new lands. Additionally, the Camp is located on Galang Island, which is the very South from Batam Island. Therefore, by going to the place, we can also have a general view of the whole 3 islands. Honestly, I pretty love doing that than going to a beach, which I have been to a lot last year.
Actually Batam Island connects to Rempang Island and Galang Island. On the way going to the Camp, we got through Barelang Bridge, the longest suspension bridge that connects the strait, also connect the islands there. Talking about the bridge, the locals are very proud about the construction. At the area of Ex Camp Vietnam of Galang Island, we visited Batam Pulau Galang, a Vietnamese pagoda which has a pretty nice view of the island. And it has some good background for any photographer.
We left Batam Island at around 2 p.m, and arrived to Singapore at 4 p.m in local time. My friend has a house in Singapore so we came there for a quick rest before going to Cameron Highlands, Malaysia. The plan was taking a night bus to save our travel time. The bus left the station at 9:30 p.m, and we crossed the Singapore – Malaysia border at approximate 11:30 p.m. Hence, it wasn’t really a 5 days trip in 3 countries, but we even did 1 day in 3 countries. And that was so cool!
Day 3 – Hello Cameron Highlands!
The bus dropped us at Brinchang, a settlement of Cameron Highlands, at around 7 a.m. As it was not the right time to check-in the hotel, we took a walk down to the central of Brinchang for breakfast. At the destination, Brinchang looked like an old district with a lot of old houses, restaurants opened by locals, the Malaysian Chinese. Therefore, at Brinchang, you can easily find a lot of Chinese foods. There was only one KFC restaurant for anyone who isn’t familiar with Chinese cuisine.
We then came back to the hotel – Wan Alyasa Hotel to check-in and started our day exploring the land. At the area, you can take a taxi and go to 3 spots within 3 hours for $75 Malaysian Ringgit (RM). There is no other options such as Grab, or public transport. You can only take taxi, or hire a motorbike if you have an international driving license. Hence, taxi to us was the best choice. We visited BOH Sungai Palas Tea Centre, Lavender Garden, and Tanah Rata, the very tourist area. Cameron Highlands, in overall, is very similar to Da Lat. Therefore, you can easily take a lot of beautiful photos at the land.
That was a kinda cold day, especially at night. We ended up our day with an iconic hotpot, the Charcoal Steamboat. That was awesome! The hotpot always was the best choice for a cold day. Particularly at Brinchang, almost the Chinese restaurants serve this hotpot for the dinner.
Day 4 – A Long Day on Bus..
We woke up early to have breakfast, then left Cameron Highlands at around 8:30 a.m by the bus we had booked. That was really a long day on bus. It took us approximate 10 hours to come back Singapore. I can still remember the moment me and my girl friend had to share our only neck pillow to prevent neck pain when sitting on bus on a very long time. However that made our good memory!
On the other hands, that night at Singapore was perfect. We awarded ourself after a hard day with the hotpot at Haidilao restaurant. It was the best restaurant and the best hotpot I have ever tried. This is not an advertisement, but this is definitely the have-to-experience restaurant in Singapore. I must absolutely do a review about Haidilao soon.
That day was ended up after we strolled around the Orchad Road. Actually we planned to go to Clarke Quay, but we were so tired.
Day 5 – Goodbye Singapore!
I always love to start a day in Singapore with Kaya Toast and half-cooked eggs, the traditional breakfast of the country. After the breakfast, me and my friend wander around the city, starting from Takashimaya mall, to Bugis, then a mall nearby our accommodation. As the day was pretty close to the Lunar New Year, Singapore was decorated pretty nice at places we went to, and people sells a lot of things for the special occasion.
At around 1 p.m, I went to Changi Airport, had lunch there before got on the plane to fly back to Vietnam, ended up an enjoyable 5 days trip to Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia.
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