School's out, time to travel: 3 budget destinations for thrill and culture

Railay beach in Krabi, Thailand.
Railay beach in Krabi, Thailand. PHOTO: YOGARAJ PANDITURAI

Take a breather from project work, graded assignments and never-ending deadlines. School is out for polytechnic graduates and university students. Now is the time to go travelling, and you don't have to burn a hole in your pocket.

Here are some budget holiday destinations you can visit for fun-filled activities.


  • Snorkelling and kayaking 

Made up of over 40 islands and has some of the best landscape found anywhere in Thailand, Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park will be the place to go for an unforgettable snorkelling and kayaking experience.

Dozens of speed boats leave from the island of Koh Samui daily, to take tourists from Krabi to snorkel and kayak through beautiful nature in clear blue waters.

On shore, you would also be able to explore limestone caves, karst cliffs and rock formations that rise from sheltered lagoons.

For $70, you will be able to do both water activities, enjoy a light pre-departure breakfast and Thai buffet lunch, as well as travel with ease from your hotel to the island of Koh Samui.

Tourists snorkelling in the waters of Koh Samui. PHOTO: ISLAND INFO SAMUI

  • Soaking in a hot spring 

Tourists in the Emerald Pool at the Tiger Cave Temple in Krabi, Thailand. PHOTO: EXPEDIA

"Enjoy your youthful energy while it lasts" is a popular phrase among young adults.

Climb up 1,237 steps to explore the "footprint of the Buddha". Situated in one of Thailand's natural wonders in the Wat Tham Sua cave, the Tiger Cave Temple offers a rewarding experience. You will be captivated by the 360-degree view of the Andaman Sea and the beautiful islands that fall within it. Furthermore, you are encouraged to take a plunge into the Emerald Pool - a natural hot spring surrounded by stunning limestone.

For $60, a guided tour is available to take you to this unique spot which will help you regain your peace of mind.

  • Rock climbing

A rock climber scaling the heights at Raily Beach. PHOTO: PINTEREST

Attracting tourists from all over the world to scale their heights, Railay Beach is at the top of many rock climbers itinerary. Whether you are a climbing aficionado or the activity is something you have watched only on television, there are various climbing options to suit your preference.

Groups are limited in size and that gives you an opportunity to mingle with travellers from around the world.

For $70, you would be able to top rope climb at two locations on Railay Beach on a one-day course. There will also be hotel pick-up from Krabi Ao Nang with lunch provided.


  • Canyoning 

A tourist jumping from a height into the waters at Badian in Cebu, Philippines. PHOTO: JOURNEY ERA

If you are eager for an adrenaline rush, this is the perfect activity for you. A three-hour drive from Cebu city will lead you to Badian where the excitement begins.

Getting to leap from an 11m-high waterfall is an exhilarating experience. And that's only the beginning, you also get to trek, climb, and rappel amid the mountains.

After overcoming the initial fear of jumping off a waterfall, you will be basking in crystal-clear waters which transform into different shades of blue. The alternative to jumping into the waters, is sliding down the waterfall and into it. 

While some waterfalls are about 10m high, others can go up to 13m.

For $70, you will be able to enjoy a four-hour canyoning adventure including abseiling down rock formations. You will be accompanied by  experienced and certified guides.

  • Diving at Oslob

A diver having an encounter with a whale shark at Oslob in Cebu, Philippines. PHOTO: CEBU TOURS

If you have always been captivated by the underwater adventures you see on National Geographic channel, this will be an activity you cannot miss.

In Oslob, a town of 30,000 people on the island of Cebu, you will get up close and personal with friendly whale sharks during your dive. 

Numerous diving companies can tailor diving trips according to your preference - from beginners' dives and getting your licence to more advanced dive with a GoPro-toting underwater photographer.

In addition, you can ascend the amazing Tumalog Falls and enjoy a three-hour scenic drive along the Southern Cebu coastline. All for $113.

  • Climbing Mount Apo

Climbers scaling the heights to reach the peak of Mount Apo in the Philippines. PHOTO: MT APO ADVENTURES

With six different trails to choose from, Mount Apo - the highest peak in the Philippines that rises 3,000m above sea level - is a favourite destination for both local and foreign tourists. The area features forests, lakes, mossy swamps and ever volcanic structures.

From April 12, 2017, only 50 trekkers for each trail a day will be allowed to climb Mount Apo natural park, in hopes to protect and conserve the park.

For $160, you will be able to embark on this magnificent four-day climb.

3. Hanoi, Vietnam

  • Watching a water puppet theatre show

Water puppets putting up a performance at the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre in Hanoi, Vietnam. PHOTO: DESTINATION UNKNOWN 

Vietnam is known for its rich culture and history, and Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre is one of the country's most popular tourist attractions. Tickets are sold out way in advance.

Shows are performed in a pool, where the water is the stage. The puppets are controlled by no more than eight puppeteers behind a bamboo screen. Instead of one long story, the performances comprise of a number of short sketches and interaction with the audience. Live music is played so that the audience get the best experience possible.

For $40, you will be able to tuck into a meal served with Hanoi’s specialities as you watch the famous water puppet show. The evening ends with a special Vietnamese treat, the famous egg coffee, where a creamy soft, meringue-like egg white foam perches on thick Vietnamese coffee. 

  • Attending a cooking class 

Tourists partaking in a cooking class in Hanoi, Vietnam. PHOTO: COOKLY

Get ready to put on your Masterchef apron, because it is time to discover the best of Vietnamese cuisine.

This five-hour home cooking class will begin with a trip to the local market where you will buy a variety of ingredients from spices to different types of meat. Then you will head to a villa where the cooking class is conducted. Under the guidance of a local chef, you will learn to create delicious and stunning dishes.

The best part about the class is enjoying the meal you have prepared, while taking in the wonderful views of Red River and Long Bien Bridge.

At just $50, you will discover the best kept secrets of Vietnamese culinary traditions.

  • Visiting Vinpearl Land

One of the slides in the water park at Vinpearl Land in Hanoi, Vietnam. PHOTO: BUFFALO TRIP

Also known as the Disneyland of  Vietnam, this resort island has an amusement park, underwater world, a water park, and a five-star hotel. If you choose not to stay at Vinpearl Land, there is Guinness World record-breaking 3,320m-long sea crossing cable car, that will get you there.

Besides roller coasters and bumper cars, the main attraction of Vinpearl Land is its water park which boasts of more than 20 slides to thrill adrenaline seekers.

For only $30, you will have access to the two parks and the underwater world. 

Sources: Klook, Huffington Post, Independent, Inquirer, Lonely Planet.