It is never too early to make travel plans, especially since Malaysians will be enjoying several long weekends in 2019.

Look out for these four official long weekends: Wesak Day (May 20), Hari Raya Haji (Aug 11 and 12), National Day and Awal Muharram (Aug 31 to Sept 2), the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s birthday (Sept 9), Malaysia Day (Sept 16) and Deepavali (Oct 27).

You can also stretch the long weekend count by taking a day’s leave before or after these celebrations: Chinese New Year (Feb 5 and 6) and Hari Raya Puasa (June 5 and 6).

If you’re thinking of travelling abroad, maximise your trip by taking shorter flights. Airbnb has come up with off-the-beaten-path regions, cities and towns for Malaysians to explore within eight hours of air travel from Kuala Lumpur.

These destinations were based on a combination of the home vacation rental platform’s search, booking and wish list growth data.

Xiamen, China

Formerly known by its Hokkien pronunciation of Amoy, Xiamen today still retains its romantic port city vibes. The city and its surrounding is known for its scenery and tree-lined beaches.

Xiamen is also home to Kulangsu, a vehicle-free island just off the coast that is ideal for local seafood-loving couples. The Buddhist Nanputuo Temple, which dates back to the Tang Dynasty, is also a popular attraction here.

The best time to visit is in the spring (March to May). Flight duration from KL to Xiamen Airport is about four hours and 20 minutes.

Wakayama Prefecture, Japan

destinations

Some temples on the grounds of Koyasan offers temporary lodging for visitors. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Close to Osaka is this humble region that’s often referred to as Japan’s spiritual heartland. Have an enlightening experience by staying in a temple on holy Buddhist grounds in Koyasan.

If you’re bold enough to try open-air baths, then Sennin-buro in Kawayu is the country’s largest. Foodies should make a visit to the fish markets here where you can find tuna-cutting shows on daily display.

Head to the area in July for the Nachi Fire Festival. Flight duration from KL to Kansai International Airport is about six hours.

Pondicherry, India

destinations

The Pichavaram Mangrove Forest in Pondicherry is the world’s second largest mangrove jungle. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The French capital of India is where travellers can find saffron-coloured colonial villas and quaint shops. Affectionately known as “Pondy”, the coastal city is a few hours’ drive from the state capital of Chennai.

The sea here is one of the main tourism draws and adventurers can do some scuba diving. Elsewhere, head to the Pichavaram Mangrove Forest which is the world’s second largest mangrove jungle. For some spiritual adventure, the Sri Aurobindo Ashram is one of the most important ashrams in India.

The best time to visit is between the months of November and February for fair weather. Flight duration from KL to Pondicherry Airport is about three hours and 56 minutes.

Taiwan

destinations

The relatively small Daxi has a variety of historic attractions, making it a worthwhile trip if you’re visiting Taiwan. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Taipei might be the perennial favourite in Taiwan, but the eastern districts of Daxi and Yujing have been appearing on many travellers’ radar lately.

The relatively small Daxi has a variety of historic and culinary attractions, making it a worthwhile trip if you’re visiting the capital. For a more remote experience, head to Yujing with its mango farms and hot springs.

Additionally the southeastern coastal city of Taitung attracts ancient treasure-seekers with relics recovered from buried Neolithic slate coffins. The best time to visit Taiwan is from April to June and September to November. Flight duration from KL to Taoyuan International Airport is about four hours and 30 minutes.