As we know, it will soon be blisteringly hot here in Dubai, with the thermometer edging towards 50°C. So what better way to survive the heat than by booking a trip to cooler climes? To help you plan your ideal getaway, we toured Dubai’s recent Arabian Travel Market, an annual event featuring stands and booths from hundreds of international airlines, travel companies and hotels, all offering interesting destinations and attractive deals you can book from now until the end of summer. Here we’ve rounded up the best bargains and made sure there’s something for everyone: whether you’re a cultural traveller, in need of rest and relaxation or just too busy for a long break, we’ve found trips for all budget, timeframes and interests. So what are you waiting for? Get booking!
For a weekend Kerala, India
Flight time: Four hours.
Why go? To see stunning mountains, rivers, lagoons, canals, rice paddies and coconut groves.
Top tip: An absolute must during any trip to Kerala is a backwater boat journey – you’ll travel on a rickety old boat through shallow waterways, past local fishermen and beautiful scenery. Many of the tours will stop at the residence of Matha Amrithanandamayi, a female guru known for her marathon hugging sessions.
Where to stay: There are hundreds of hotel options on the Kerala coast. Try Travancore Heritage Hotel, The Leela Kempinski Kovalam Beach or The Zuri Kumarakon Kerala Beach – Etihad Holidays is offering hotel package deals from Dhs165 per night when you book more than three nights. www.etihadholidays.com (800 23 24).
Get there: Fly direct from Dubai to Kerala with Jet Airways from Dhs1,685 return including taxes (based on travel between June 26-28). www.jetairways.com.
Muscat, Oman Flight time: One hour (or a two-and-a-half-hour drive).
Why go? It’s right next door to Dubai, but the landscape is completely different. Oman features rocky hills, wadis and a rich Middle Eastern culture.
Top tip: Head to Muscat for some history: visit the Al Jalali Fort and Al Mirani Fort, built as prisons in the 1580s during the Portuguese invasion. Non-Muslims can also visit Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, the largest mosque in the world.
Where to stay: Apollo Flight Centre is offering a one-night stay in a four-star hotel from Dhs510, including a dhow cruise. www.apolloflightcentre.ae (04 336 6166).
Get there: Fly direct to Muscat with Swiss from Dhs525 return including taxes (based on travel between June 26-28). www.swiss.com.
Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka Flight time: Four hours 15 minutes.
Why go? To visit national parks, spot wildlife and eat delicious coconut-infused curries.
Top tip: Go surfing. People come from far and wide to enjoy Sri Lanka’s optimum surfing conditions, and you can have lessons and rent surfboards from Dhs17. Try A-Frame Surf Shop in the Hikkaduwa region (+94 777 82 25 24).
Get there: Fly Dubai flies direct to Colombo from Dhs1,195 return including taxes (based on travel between June 25-29). www.flydubai.com.
Beirut and Jounieh, Lebanon Flight time: Three hours 25 minutes.
Why go? Beirut is the Middle East’s Paris, while the sleepy fishing village-turned-party town of Jounieh offers both relaxation and nightlife. The south has an old historic charm, although the north’s main strip is lined with bars and giant nightclubs.
Top tip: Visit Jounieh for the nightlife, then soak up some history on a tour to Byblos and Harissa, both outside Beirut, for monasteries, churches and ruins.
Where to stay: Right on the Med, Holiday Suites is a friendly hotel offering a no-frills stay from Dhs221 a night. www.holidaysuites.com (+961 9 933 907).
Get there: Fly direct to Beirut with Fly Dubai from Dhs1,232 return including taxes (based on travel between June 26-28), then take a taxi to Jounieh for about Dhs60. www.flydubai.com.
For a week Guangzhou, China Flight time: Seven hours 40 minutes, including stopover.
Why go: The third largest city in China, Guangzhou is packed with high-rise buildings and modern developments, swamped by a sea of residents going about their business in its smoggy haze. Scratch the surface a little and you’ll experience incredible food, hospitable people and the fast-growing hustle and bustle of developing China. Less of a tourist destination, but a cultural eye-opener.
Top tip: Visit the ancient Chen Clan Temple in Liwan District. Built in 1888 during the Qing Dynasty, it has beautiful architecture and four courtyards to wander around in the mild heat. Entry is Dhs5. (+86 8181 4371).
Where to stay: Try a package deal at The Garden Hotel: book a deluxe room for Dhs838 a night and get a free 60-minute spa session at Angsana Spa, plus a buffet breakfast. firstname.lastname@example.org (86-208333 8989).
Get there: Fly to Guangzhou via Doha on Qatar Airways from Dhs2,935 return including taxes (based on travel between June 19-25). www.qatarairways.com.
London and Brighton, UK Flight time: Seven hours 25 minutes.
Why go?: The UK’s capital boasts famous architecture, as well as free museums and art galleries. Visit Buckingham Palace, get historical in the Tower of London, stroll along the South Bank to watch street performers and head to Shaftesbury Avenue for the city’s top West End plays.
Top tip: Seaside town Brighton is only 45 minutes away by train. You’ll find a long pebble beach, retro shops and a traditional pier selling candy floss, ice cream and rock.
Where to stay: London’s Savoy, located on the Thames, is offering a summer deal including Dhs550 dining credit with stays of three nights or more. Rooms from Dhs1,623 a night. www.fairmont.com/savoy (+44 207 836 4343).
Get there: Fly direct to London with British Airways from Dhs2,535 return including taxes (based on travel between June 19-25). www.britishairways.com.
Vienna, Austria Flight time: Six hours. Why go? For stunning European architecture, history, arts and culture.
Top tip: Much of traditional Vienna is a world heritage site – the place is essentially an outdoor museum, so you won’t be short of things to see. Start at Judenplatz Square with its memorials, then visit the grand Imperial Palace, which houses six museums, a public library and a chapel.
Where to stay: The Steigenberger Hotel Herrenhof Vienna, a stone’s throw from the heritage sites, is offering rooms from Dhs2,022 a night. Stay three nights and get the fourth free. email@example.com (+43 1 53404 862).
Get there: Fly direct to Vienna with Austrian Air from Dhs2,175 return including taxes (based on travel between June 19-25). www.austrianair.com.
Maldives Flight time: Eight hours 35 minutes, including stopover.
Why go? Surrounded by tropical seas and natural beauty, the Maldives is one of the lowest places on earth. Experts predict that if the world’s sea levels continue to rise, it won’t be here for much longer.
Top tip: If you do one thing, go diving. As well as beautiful coral reefs that house tropical fish, the waters are also home to reef sharks, hammerheads and manta rays.
Where to stay: Book a room at the Keyodhoo Guest House on Keyodhoo Island and get to know what the locals are like. A great place to stay if you want to try some fishing, with rooms from Dhs80 a night. www.bedandbreakfastworld.com.
Get there: Fly to capital city Malé via Sri Lanka with Sir Lankan airlines from Dhs2,675 return including taxes (based on travel between June 19-25).
Hong Kong & Macau Flight time: Seven hours and 10 minutes, including stopover.
Why go? To catch a glimpse of this vast, towering city, which snakes between verdant mountains and pristine beaches.
Top tip: Head to Macau – it has a different vibe from neighbouring Hong Kong, with Portuguese architecture . Get the ferry for Dhs70 each way from Sheung Wan MTR.
Where to stay: Try The Peninsula’s summer deal: a night in a deluxe room with breakfast, one airport transfer and a holistic massage for two from Dhs2,060 a night. www.peninsula.com.
Get there: Fly to Hong Kong via Doha on Qatar Airways from Dhs3,205 return including taxes (based on travel between June 19-25). www.qatarairways.com.
For two weeks Cape Town, South Africa Flight time: Nine hours 35 minutes.
Why go? The second largest city in South Africa has an astounding coastline and fantastic scenery. The national parks offer world-class safari opportunities (try Inverdoorn Game Reserve and Kagga Kamma), with the chance to spot rhinos, lions, giraffes and baboons.
Top tip: Go cage diving. Divers are lowered into a cage and the instructors will crush a ‘chum stick’, made of tuna or sardines, into the water. The great whites are immediately attracted to it – they’ll come swimming over so you can inspect their razor-sharp teeth at close range.
Where to stay: Travel group Tourvest is offering a five-night stay in a four-star hotel near Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, return airport transfers, a city tour, a Cape Point tour and a cage diving Experience for Dhs2,890. www.tourvestdm.com (+271 1676 3000).
Get there: Fly direct to Cape Town with South African Airways from Dhs4,315 return including taxes (based on travel between June 19-July 1). www.flysaa.com.
Boracay, Philippines Flight time: Nine hours, including stopover.
Why go? For magnificent diving and beautiful beaches. White Beach offers a huge stretch of picture-postcard sand.
Top tip: Visit Bat Cave, a rocky cave hidden in the forest where bats carpet the walls. Go with a guide – tours run daily. (+6391 7918 3825).
Where to stay: Try the Shangri-La Boracay Resort and Spa, where you can bag three nights for the price of two, including breakfast and speedboat transfers from Caticlan Airport. Rates start at Dhs1,450 per night. www.shangri-la.com/boracay (800 0600 0201).
Get there: Fly to Manila with Emirates for Dhs2,995 return including taxes (based on travel between June 19- July 1). Local airline Zest Air offers flights to Kalibo (Boracay) from Dhs170 return. www.emirates.com, www.zestair.com.ph.
Florence, Italy Flight time: Thirteen hours 20 minutes, including stopover.
Why go? An art lover’s paradise, Florence is the centre of Renaissance Italy. Visitors can soak up the city’s beautiful buildings, stylish shops and gourmet restaurants.
Top tip: The Basilica Santa Maria del Fiore provides a stunning view and is one of the most recognisable symbols of the renaissance. Entry is free. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where to stay: Antiche Armonie is a cute little guest house near Santa Maria Novella station, with Florentine-style decor and four-poster beds in some of the rooms. Summer rates start at Dhs221 per night for a double room. www.antichearmonie.com.
Get there: Fly to Florence via Paris on Alitalia from Dhs2,276 return including taxes (based on travel between June 19-July 1). www.alitalia.com.
Langkawi, Malaysia Flight time: 10 hours 50 minutes.
Why go? It’s a beachy paradise with a Malaysian and Thai twist. Don’t miss the Telaga Tujuh waterfalls, aka Seven Wells – locals believe fairies used to bathe there. Go trekking up mountains more than 2,000m high, then feed crocodiles and even watch a fight between a man and the deadly reptile. Admittedly it’s not for everyone, but it’s certainly unique. Crocodile Adventureland offers regular trips. (+604 959 2559). Top tip: We’d highly recommend the floating Laman Padi Rice Garden, a museum about Malaysia’s rice trade, plus rice-based food demonstrations. It’s located at the northern end of Pantai Cenang, opposite Casa Del Mar Hotel, and entry is free. (+604 955 4312).
Where to stay: Save up to 40 per cent this summer at Citin Hotel (the local version of Ibis), which is offering stays for Dhs80 during summer. www.citinhotels.com.
Get there: Fly direct to Langkawi on Malaysia Airlines from Dhs3,755 return including taxes (based on travel between June 19-July 1). www.malaysiaairlines.com.
Fiji Flight time: 20 hours 15 minutes including stopover.
Why go? This is a trip-of-a-lifetime kind of place, which boasts a combination of mind-blowing beaches, culture, hiking and sports.
Top tip: Watersports are the thing to do in Fiji. For hundreds of activities on and under the water contact Subsurface Fiji. www.fijidiving.com (+679 666 9955).
Where to stay: You can bag a five-star hotel for three nights for Dhs1,699 with Apollo Flight Centre – call for more info. (04 336 6166).
Get there: Fly via Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific from Dhs6,100 return including taxes (based on travel between June 20-July 1). www.cathaypacific.com.
Closer to home… Don’t want to fly? Enjoy a staycation in Dubai this summer
Why stay? Save money on flight tickets and treat yourself to a fun-filled weekend of beach hopping, souk shopping and pampering at a traditional hammam. Try a body scrub for Dhs490 at Caracalla at Le Royal Méridien Beach Resort & Spa. (04 399 5555).
Top tip: Go on a dhow cruise to see Dubai’s beachfront in all its glory. Captain Jack’s cruises leave hourly from the Marina (near Spinneys) from Dhs60 per person. (04 366 3538).
Where to stay: The hip Media One hotel in Media City is offering a summer deal with rooms from Dhs428 per night including breakfast, plus a free shuttle bus to the city’s main malls. www.mediaonehotel.com (04 427 1000).
Alternatively, stay at any of the Hyatt resorts in Dubai from Dhs399 per room per night. The deal includes 20 per cent discount on food, drink and spa treatments across the group’s three resorts: Hyatt Regency, Grand Hyatt and Park Hyatt. www.hyatt.com (800 4097).