Places to visit near Singapore that will make you believe you're in Europe

PHOTO: Instagram/rifkazahra

Whenever Christmas is just around the corner and the year is coming to an end, I'll always have fond memories of the wonderful time I had strolling the streets of London and Scotland soaking in the wintery European air, wishing I could be transported back again.

If you haven't made plans to travel anywhere farther than a 13-hour flight but still want to experience the chill European vibes, I've got just the list of places in Asia that will make you believe you're taking a vacay in the Western parts of the world, at a fraction of the price and flight time.

If you start clearing your leave now, you may just be in time to spend Christmas in these dreamy places, most of which are less than a five-hour plane ride away from Singapore. 

SAPA, VIETNAM

For dramatic views of rolling hills and terraced rice fields, look no further than Sapa, Vietnam. To get to Sapa, you can travel via train from Hanoi, which is about eight hours away. 

The temperature takes a dip in November and the town is usually blanketed in snow at the end of Dec. The year-end festivities turns this place into a winter wonderland; you won't even remember you're in Vietnam.

The Sapa Central Town retains its colonial architecture influence and you can visit the Notre Dame Cathedral, which was built by the French in 1895. If you're not much of a history buff, here's where you can do some shopping and sip on ca phe (Vietnamese coffee).

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🇻🇳 ❤️ #sunplaza #vietnam #sapa

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SUN WORLD BA NA HILLS, VIETNAM

Sun World Ba Na Hills is an entertainment park that sits atop a mountain outside of Ba Nang, Vietnam. Oddly, the first thing that you might notice is how similar its logo is to Universal Studios, featuring the same globe as well.

That aside, the French Village looks like a scene from Beauty and the Beast, complete with cobblestone streets, a magnificent chateau, gothic-style buildings and cathedral.

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Chạng vạng

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Guzzle down German beer and soak in the Bavarian vibes at the beer garden within the park that's shaped like a beer barrel. 

The annual B’estival is held from May to Sept, where visitors will be treated to an assortment German food, beer and performances. 

There are several ways to travel from Ba Nang to Sun World Ba Na Hills, such as booking a Grab, getting a private car or joining a tour package. 

But getting up to the park is only accessible via the world's longest cable car from the bottom of the mountain.

Where: An Son Village, Hoa Ninh Commune, Hoa Vang District, Da Nang City, Vietnam

Tickets: VND750,000 per adult ($43.94) 

KHAO YAI, THAILAND

Just a two-hour drive from Bangkok, Khao Yai is laced with places that are inspired by the West.

Coupled with its cool weather that can sometimes drop to 15 degrees in the night, it's a great respite from the bustling shopping capital. 

Step into mini Italy at the Palio Village, there are cafes and shops to spend a couple of hours here. When you're tired, take a break at the fountain in the middle of the compound.

PHOTO: AsiaOne/Melissa Goh

The Primo Piazza, on the other hand, has a maze that looks like a set in Alice in the Wonderland that's great for photo ops.

There's also a small alpaca farm where you can feed and pet them. 

Where: 

  • Palio Village - 146 Mu Si, Pak Chong District, Nakhon Ratchasima 30130, Thailand
  • Primo Piazza - 200/2 หมู่ที่ 10 Mu Si, Pak Chong District, Nakhon Ratchasima 30130, Thailand

CINGJING FARM, TAIWAN

Escape to the countryside in Taichung and frolic with sheep on the mountain while you take in the fresh air at Cingjing Farm.

To explore the entire ground of the farm, you might want to spend a night in a European-style villa, such as the Shangrila Music Villa or the Old English Manor.

Where: No. 170, Renhe Road, Ren’ai Township, Nantou County, Taiwan 546

BANDUNG, INDONESIA

Skip Bali and check out other cities in Indonesia for a different kind of holiday. Bandung enjoys a cooler weather, going down to about 22 degrees in the evenings.  

ALSO READ: Indonesian islands for the ultimate beach getaway that's not Bali, Bintan or Batam

Dusun Bambu Lembang is a family resort and recreational park that is fun for all ages and has activities that will cater to everyone. 

Stroll among flowers in a garden, play at the bamboo playground, pet and feed animals, get your adrenaline rush from the flying hammock.

When all that's done, take a rest in a traditional Sundanese hut circling a pond and experience what's it like to chill like a local. 

Another kid-friendly place to check out is Farmhouse Susu Lembang, where the buildings are designed to look like Swiss cottages. You can even rent traditional Dutch costumes to make your photos look even more convincing. 

One of the popular attractions within the farm is the hobbit house inspired by the Lord of the Rings, but you can only take photos from the outside and there's usually a snaking queue.

Where: 

  • Dusun Bambu Lembang - Jl. Kolonel Masturi No.KM, Kertawangi, Kec. Cisarua, Kabupaten Bandung Barat, Jawa Barat 40551, Indonesia
  • Farmhouse Susu Lembang - Jl. Raya Lembang No.108, Gudangkahuripan, Lembang, Kabupaten Bandung Barat, Jawa Barat 40391, Indonesia

FORTUNE ISLANS, BATANGAS, PHILIPPINES 

You don't have to travel to Greece to see the ruins, when you can get upclose with one in the Philippines. 

Although, it isn't so much of an ancient building but more of an abandoned luxury resort, visitors still flock to Fortune Island from Manila by bus or boat to explore the IG-worthy spot. 

Apart from the ruins, you could go cliff diving, explore shipwreck spots and trek to the lighthouse.

Where: Fortune Island, Nasugbu, Batangas, Philippines

ALSO READPlaces in Johor that'll make you believe you're in Europe

melissagoh@asiaone.com

 

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