Hack your holidays in 2019 and find the best places to travel 

The list of public holidays for 2019 is here and we have studied it carefully to come up with the perfect cheat sheet just for you to get the maximum number of holidays. If we were in your place, we would apply for leave on the gap dates right away. Wondering which ones you must aim for before anyone else does? Here are some ideas.

  1. 5 and 6 February 2019 (Tuesday and Wednesday): Chinese New Year – Plan a holiday to Okinawa

Play truant on February 4 (we are kidding – please book a day off!) and you will be awarded with a piping-hot five-day weekend so early in the year! Excited enough? Before you apply for that leave, allow us to suggest you consider travelling to Okinawa, Japan, for this longish weekend.

Okinawa is your ticket to escape the forever hot and humid Singapore to someplace that actually experiences winter! Scared of all the extreme cold? Don’t be. Winters in Okinawa are extremely pleasant, unlike those in many other Japanese prefectures, with temperatures hovering around 18 degrees Celsius. So, you can finally take that chic jacket out and click some impressive photos with stunning beaches and castles in the backdrop. The best reasons for travelling to Okinawa during winters are fewer tourists and relatively cheaper airfares. When in Okinawa, make sure you experience many firsts – walking through an underground river in an age-old cave, buying rare (read: strange looking) fresh seafood in a market, getting it cooked and eating it there, and petting a snake or even wrapping a python around your neck at the local zoo.

Okinawa’s magnificent nature and cultural richness must be experienced firsthand.

  1. 19 April 2019 (Friday): Good Friday – Visit Kuala Lumpur

A three-day weekend is the prefect break needed for this time of the year. Make sure you make your holiday bookings early, to beat the rush. Consider our travel recommendation – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Kuala Lumpur is like a colourful pendulum – you can effortlessly oscillate between historical monuments and modern architectural wonders, sizzling street food and Michelin-class delicacies, and vibrant night markets and glitzy colossal malls. Although the celebrated Petronas Towers will top your list of architectural attractions in Kuala Lumpur, don’t forget to visit Menara KL, Islamic Arts Museum and Masjid Jamek Sultan Abdul Samad. Oh, and when the city gets too overwhelming, escape to KL Forest Eco Park or KL Bird Park. The best part? Its proximity ensures you don’t waste a chunk of your precious weekend travelling. Bored of the typical hotel stay and looking for something different this time? Book a HomeAway.

  1. 1 May 2019 (Wednesday): Labour Day – Fly to Hokkaido

This holiday is celebrated in many parts of the world as an honour to the organised working class and their contribution to the society. Since it falls on a Wednesday in 2019, we suggest you take leave for two days before or after, so you can plan a five-day break. Wondering which is the perfect place to visit? Hokkaido in Japan, of course!

On May 1, Japan’s spring will still be at its peak with many places covered in mesmerising white and pink sakura (cherry blossoms). During spring, the skies are clear, temperatures are pleasant (around 15 degrees Celsius), and there is plenty to do. Since May is the perfect chance to enjoy cherry blossoms in full bloom up north, we suggest you plan a trip here. Ensure you cover Sapporo (where you will see sakura as it should be viewed), Lake Toya and Otaru. A self-drive itinerary should be a great idea as the weather will be perfect. In Sapporo, the prime sakura spots include Maruyama Park, Nakajima Park, Moerenuma Park, Hiraoka Park, and Hokkaido Shrine. Those looking for some adventure will be glad to know that many resorts offer skiing until late May in Sapporo. And when you are cold from all the snow, warm yourself up with a piping hot bowl of some luscious ramen.

  1. 20 May 2019 (Monday): Vesak Day – Explore Seoul

Although Vesak Day falls on a Sunday, Singaporeans will enjoy a holiday the following Monday. This gives us the perfect opportunity to grab that much-needed, short break from the mundane. With Thailand rained out in May, we suggest you fly to Seoul, South Korea, to create some stunning memories.

The South Korean capital city sees a harmonious marriage of unambiguous modernism with deep-rooted traditional practices. Apart from the obvious shopping and dining, South Korea offers its visitors an array of interesting things to do. Travel back in time on your trip, with a visit to the age-old Bukchon Hanok Village, relive history at the War Memorial and Museum, explore gigantic indoor and outdoor amusement parks, and take a cable car up the N Seoul Tower to catch one of the best sunsets of your life. Your visit to Seoul in May will be in time to enjoy the interesting Gwanghwamun International Art Festival too. Feed that into your itinerary.

  1. 5 June 2019 (Wednesday): Hari Raya Puasa – Say hello to Sydney!

We suggest you make the best of this mid-week holiday by applying for two days of leave, preferably the two days before.  Pack your bags and fly to Sydney, Australia. That way, you can experience just the start of the Australian winters. Yes, it means you will experience temperatures of 15-20 degree Celsius during day time! Sounds like the perfect contrast to the forever hot Singaporean weather.

While on the face of it, Sydney might look like any other cosmopolitan city, it is quite unlike that. Its diverse cuisine, unending outdoor activity options, ubiquitous love for art and culture, and the overall liveliness are unmatchable. If you visit Sydney in early-June, you will be right on time to catch the city’s vibrant annual light show Vivid Sydney. Along with an impressive array of installations and events, the festival is your perfect chance to interact with locals and make some new friends. When in Sydney, you must cover all the basics – Sydney Harbour, Bondi to Coogee beach coastal walk, Nicholson Museum, Sydney Opera House, and the ferries.

The city is also the perfect place to watch some migratory humpback whales, interact with adorable kangaroos and try your luck at The Star, a spectacular casino. Sydney also offers a diverse shopping scene; take your pick from local markets such as The Rocks Markets and Paddington Markets, or swanky malls including Westfield Sydney and Pitt Street Mall. If you are planning day trips, head to Hunter Valley to try some exquisite wines or go to Blue Mountains to soak in all its natural beauty.

  1. 9 August 2019 (Friday): National Day and 12 August 2019 (Monday): Hari Raya Haji – Explore Sri Lanka

If you miss taking a holiday in the first half of next year (our sympathies!), we urge you to consider this inviting four-day weekend and plan a trip away from Singapore. This is one of those rare real long weekend jewels so make sure you make the most of it. Don’t waste it on mindless mall visits. Instead, head straight to Sri Lanka.

If you want to experience real monsoon magic, you must visit Sri Lanka in August. Your Sri Lankan holiday album will be packed with enthralling beaches, mountains, temples, and tea plantations. Visit beaches like Bentota, Mirissa, Induruwa, Uppuveli, and Dickwella for swimming and snorkeling. You could also try surfing at Hikkaduwa or Arugam Bay. For those who want to try hiking, Adam’s Peak is the perfect bet. If you are not up for anything adventurous, how about sipping some hot, delightful tea while soaking in some picture-perfect tea plantations at Ella and Nuwara Eliya? Children, in particular, will enjoy spotting wildlife at Udawalawe National Park and Yala National Park. By now, you must have realised that Sri Lanka offers a variety of things to do for its travellers. Whatever you end up doing, you will make memories that will last a lifetime.

  1. 28 October 2019 (Monday): Deepavali – Escape to Bali

Deepavali, the Hindu festival of lights, falls on a Monday next year which means you get three days to make a short trip. While three days might not sound too long, if you plan it well, you can grab a good break. And when it comes to selecting from our neighbours, what better tropical escape than Bali, Indonesia?

Located only a short flight away from Singapore, Bali offers enough things to do to keep you busy for three days. From exploring the black sand beach of Amed to checking out the USS Liberty Wreck while diving at Tulamben or appreciating the many shades of green at Tegallalang Rice Terraces to having a close encounter with over 800 monkeys at Ubud Monkey Forest – Bali will amaze you with its diversity. When in Bali, hiking up Mount Batur to view a magnificent sunrise, shopping at Ubud Art Market, and soaking in the unmatched beauty of the Tanah Lot sunset are a must. And when you are done for the day with a full heart and aching muscles, make sure you get a heavenly massage. The best part about visiting Bali in October is that the weather is dry and pleasant with temperatures ranging from 27 to 30 degrees Celsius.

  1. 25 December 2019 (Wednesday): Christmas – Celebrate in Hong Kong and Macau

Aaah Christmas! It is difficult not to feel a fuzzy warm flow of emotions in your heart when you think about this festival. However, we urge you to hold those gooey feelings for a bit, think straight, and apply for leave on either the Monday and Tuesday or the Thursday and Friday during the Christmas week and get a five-day holiday! Sounds as tempting as Christmas pie, doesn’t it? We suggest you enjoy the festivities in Hong Kong and Macau during this week.

With temperatures hovering around 20 degrees Celsius and plenty of activities to indulge in, your trip to Hong Kong and Macau in December will not have a single dull moment. You will be able to enjoy the Hong Kong Winterfest, sparkling shopping festivals and New Year Eve’s Countdown and Fireworks at the Harbour. Apart from these, your children will have an exciting trip to the Hong Kong Disney Land and Ocean Park, thanks to the unending holiday events there. The Christmas and New Year festivities are extensive in Macau too with various casinos offering special, festive menus, amazing illuminations, and limitless shopping options. Apart from enjoying these year-end revelries, make sure you grab some breathtaking views from Victoria Peak, ride the iconic Star Ferry and hike the Dragon’s Back.

HomeAway is the world leader in vacation rentals. The HomeAway network of sites represent more than 1.2 million listings of vacation rental homes in 190 countries and is part of the Expedia group family of brands. Visit www.homeaway.com.sg  or download the HomeAway Asia app to choose the ideal holiday homes and homestays for your next holiday.s