If you needed proof of Dubai’s status as a world travel hotspot, consider that a record 50.98 million passengers passed through Dubai International Airport in 2011 – an increase of eight percent over the 47.2 million travellers recorded in 2010. More than 150 airlines fly to 220 locations across the globe from this city: that’s a lot of travelling, and any would-be holidaymakers could be forgiven for a bout of choice anxiety. However, help is at hand. We’ve put together a list of 51 locations for you to work your way through: some near, some far, none further than 14 hours away. Not only that, but we’ve included great packages, hotel recommendations and flight details. Bon voyage!
Less than 2 hours Bahrain Travel time: One hour 15 minutes.
Why go? Bahrain is home to the capital of the former Dilmun civilisation, and history buffs will love Unesco World Heritage Site Qal’at al-Bahrain.
Where to stay: Take advantage of the two-night spa and beach package at the Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa: stay two nights for Dhs3,799 for a double room. (+973 17 63 6399).
Getting there: Flydubai flies direct; return tickets from Dhs500. www.flydubai.com.
Doha, Qatar Travel time: One hour.
Why go? Doha is fast becoming one of the Middle East’s most exciting cities. Check out the Museum of Islamic Art, which offers regular special exhibits – the most recent was Japanese artist Takasi Murakami’s EGO. Alternatively, head to the desert for a natural phenomenon like no other: The Singing Dunes.
Where to stay: Stay two nights at the St Regis Doha and get 20 percent off the best available rates. Prices from Dhs887 per night for a superior room. www.stregisdoha.com (+974 4 446 0400).
Ras Al Khaimah, UAE Travel time: One hour 30 minutes (by car).
Why go? RAK is perfect for a weekend break: head to one of the many family-friendly, peaceful resorts for a relaxed weekend of lounging by the pool, buffet dinners and, for the more adventurous, watersports.
Where to stay: The scenic Cove Rotana Resort is reminiscent of a quaint Mediterranean seaside town. Premium rooms start at Dhs1,000 per night. www.rotana.com/thecoverotanaresort (07 206 6000).
Getting there: Drive north on Emirates Road (E311) to RAK.
Umm Al Quwain, UAE Travel time: 45 minutes (by car).
Why go? To check off another emirate, hunt for crabs (seriously) or splash around in Dreamland Aqua Park.
Where to stay: Pearl Hotel boasts a pool, beach and decent rooms from Dhs420 per night. www.pearlhotel.ae (06 766 6678).
Getting there: Take the Emirates Road before peeling off to the Dubai Outer Bypass Road (E611); once you reach the end of the E611, turn left over Emirates Road to the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Salem Road (E11).
2-3 hours Amman, Jordan Travel time: Two hours 55 minutes.
Why go? To check out the Roman ruins of Jerash (dating back nearly 2,000 years). Also, don’t miss the magnificent city of Petra – it’s only two and a half hours drive from the city.
Where to stay: Barakat Hotel Apartments offer self-contained apartments from Dhs260 per night. www.barakatapartments.com (+962 6 569 7348).
Getting there: Emirates flies direct to Amman; tickets from Dhs1,530 return. www.emirates.com.
Kathmandu, Nepal Travel time: Two hours.
Why go? Check out the Boudhanath Stupa (a famed Buddhist holy site) and hang out with beardy backpackers on Freak Street. Alternatively, head to the Himalayas with a trekking company. Note: monsoon season lasts from June to August.
Where to stay: The Thamel Eco Resort is ideally located; rooms cost from Dhs200. www.thamelecoresort.com (+977 1 426 3810).
Getting there: Flydubai flies direct; return tickets from Dhs1,500. www.flydubai.com.
Kerala, India Travel time: Three hours 50 minutes.
Why go? Kerala is famous for its houseboat tours through backwaters surrounded by tropical flora and fauna.
Where to stay: Embrace the forested surroundings in a tree house. Ebenezer Holiday offers stays in a number of districts. www.paradisekerala.com (+91 484 280 2808).
Getting there: Air Arabia flies from Sharjah to Kochi (Cochin); return tickets from Dhs2,408. www.airarabia.com.
Salalah, Oman Travel time: Two hours.
Why go? Subtropical environs in the desert (it’s cool and drizzly until September).
Where to stay: Crowne Plaza Resort; rooms from Dhs500 per night. (+968 23 238 000).
Getting there: Oman Air flies direct; return tickets from Dhs1,300. www.omanair.com.
3-4 hours Baku, Azerbaijan Travel time: Three hours 10 minutes.
Why go? Check out the Old City (a Unesco World Heritage site) or the Crystal Hall, which was specially built for the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest in this oil-rich booming destination.
Where to stay: Check into the Baku Hilton in the Business District: double rooms from Dhs1,050 per night. www.hilton.com/baku (+994 12 464 5000).
Getting there: Flydubai flies direct to Baku; return tickets from Dhs1,042. www.flydubai.com.
Beirut Travel time: Three hours 30 minutes.
Why go? Experience art, culture, nightlife, shopping, history and the harsh realities of a long civil war in this vibrant, gritty city – the fantastic old French architecture is still peppered with bullet holes.
Where to stay: Try the basic but modern 35 Rooms in the bustling Hamra area. It boasts free Wi-Fi and in-room kitchenettes. From Dhs422 per night. www.35rooms.com (+961 1 345 676).
Getting there: Flydubai offers direct return tickets from Dhs997. www.flydubai.com.
Cyprus Travel time: Three hours 40 minutes.
Why go? The island hosts a seductive mix of inviting beaches, mountains trails and historical sites.
Where to stay: For a blend of coast and comfort, try the Pyramos Hotel in Paphos, located just 200 metres from the beach. Rooms start at Dhs163. www.pyramos-hotel.com (+357 2693 0222).
Getting there: Emirates flies direct to Larnaca; return tickets from Dhs2,700. www.emirates.com.
Dead Sea, Jordan Travel time: Three hours to Amman, then about 45 minutes by car to the Dead Sea.
Why go? To float effortlessly in the world’s lowest body of water and relax in the sun.
Where to stay: Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea offer rooms from Dhs605 per night. www.kempinski.com (+962 5 356 8888).
Getting there: Emirates flies direct; returns from Dhs1,530. A taxi from Amman to the Dead Sea is about Dhs100. www.emirates.com.
Rajasthan, India Travel time: Three hours 30 minutes.
Why go? Jodhpur in Rajasthan is one of northern India’s most colourful destinations. Note that monsoon season continues into June and the weather is humid until August.
Where to stay: Relax at the beautiful Vivanta by Taj Hari Mahal, from Dhs364 a night. www.vivantabytaj.com (+91 291 243 9700).
Getting there: Air Arabia flies from Sharjah to Jaipur; return tickets from Dhs1,417. www.airarabia.com.
4-5 hours Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Travel time: Four hours.
Why go? The capital of Ethiopia has been a music lovers’ haven for generations, with East African jazz emerging from the city in the 1970s from pioneers such as Mulatu Astatke (he wrote the soundtrack for 2005 movie Broken Flowers).
Where to stay: The Sheraton Addis is in the heart of the city; rooms from Dhs2,000. www.sheratonaddis.com (+251 11 517 1717).
Getting there: Flydubai flies direct; return tickets from Dhs675. www.flydubai.com.
Alexandria, Egypt Travel time: Four hours.
Why go? Alexandria is Egypt’s most cosmopolitan city, with Belle Époque architecture, Roman ruins and grand squares.
Getting there: Flydubai flies direct; return tickets from Dhs1,281. www.flydubai.com.
Athens, Greece Travel time: Four hours 55 minutes.
Why go? A visit to the Parthenon is an unforgettable experience (and Greece could do with some support right now…).
Where to stay: Stay just outside the city at the Arion Resort on the Athenian Riviera; rooms from Dhs657 per night. www.arionresortathens.com (+30 210 890 2000).
Getting there: Emirates flies direct; return tickets from Dhs4,710. www.emirates.com.
Galle, Sri Lanka Travel time: Four hours 15 minutes.
Why go? Enjoy the colonial charms of Galle, its wood carvings and gems. Also check out the nearby tea plantations.
Where stay: Splash out at the Amangalla in Galle; rooms from Dhs1,836. www.amanresorts.com (+94 777 743 500).
Getting there: Sri Lanka Airlines flies direct; return tickets from Dhs1,290. www.srilankan.lk.
Kiev, Ukraine Travel time: Four hours five minutes.
Why go? Aside from Euro 2012, Kiev hosts a number of breathtaking sites such as St Andrew’s Church, the charming Andriyivsky Uzviz, St Sophia’s Cathedral and the terrifying yet intriguing Chernobyl Museum and reactor.
Where to stay: Bunk down at the opulent Opera Hotel, with rooms starting from Dhs671 per night. www.opera-hotel.com (+38 044 581 7070).
Getting there: Flydubai flies direct; return tickets from Dhs1,551. www.flydubai.com.
Niyama, Maldives Travel time: Four hours 10 minutes.
Why go? This island paradise offers fantastic diving, snorkelling, seafood, sunbathing, swimming and all-round relaxation.
Where to stay: Splash out and relax at Per Aquum’s posh new Niyama resort, which is currently offering a special package – pay Dhs22,420 for a Beach Studio for four nights. www.niyama.peraquum.com (+960 676 2828). Alternatively, stay at Equator Village on Addu Atoll; rooms from Dhs499 per night. www.equatorvillage.com.
Getting there: Emirates flies direct to Malé; return tickets from Dhs3,650. www.emirates.com.
Praslin, Seychelles Travel time: Four hours 35 minutes.
Why go? Head to the island of Praslin, home to UNESCO World Heritage Site Vallée de Mai, home to a 190,000 sq m palm forest that has remained almost unchanged since prehistoric times.
Where to stay: Stay five nights for the price of four at Raffles Praslin: Dhs2,112 per night for two adults. www.raffles.com/praslin (+248 4 296 000).
Getting there: Emirates flies direct, with return flights from Dhs3,680. www.emirates.com.
6-7 hours Rome, Italy Travel time: Six hours 20 minutes.
Why go? This cultural capital is bursting with sights, such as the Coliseum amphitheatre, the Pantheon temple, the iconic Trevi Fountain, and plenty of churches and basilicas.
Where to stay: Check out the recently opened Jumeirah Grand Hotel Via Veneto; rooms start at Dhs2,009 per night. www.jumeirah.com (+39 0648 7881).
Getting there: Emirates flies direct; return tickets from Dhs3,160. www.emirates.com.
7-8 hours Bhutan Travel time: About seven hours, including transfers.
Why go? For a rare peek at this hermit nation.
Where to stay: Amankora has five boutique lodges spread across the tiny country, offering simple yet stunning accommodation in beautiful surroundings. Rooms from Dhs1,836. www.amanresorts.com (+975 8 272 333).
Getting there: Druk Air is the only airline authorised to fly to Bhutan. From Dubai, fly to Delhi or Kathmandu, then board a Druk Air plane to Paro. Flights from Delhi cost approximately Dhs2,700. www.drukair.com.bt.
Barcelona, Spain Travel time: Eight hours five minutes.
Why go? Emirates will start flying direct from Tuesday July 3 – so why not?
Where to stay: Soak up Catalan culture in the Gran Hotel La Florida from Dhs489 per night. www.hotellaflorida.com (+34 93 259 30 00).
Chiang Mai, Thailand Travel time: Six hours 10 minutes to Bangkok, then a one-hour flight to Chiang Mai.
Why go? Chiang Mai is the gateway to the mountainous area in the north, so don’t miss the chance to go trekking, meet the ethnic hill tribes and see the Doi Suthep temple at sunset.
Where to stay: The urban stylings of Dusit 2 boutique hotel are aimed at a younger and hipper crowd than most of Chiang Mai’s other hotels. It’s located in the heart of the city’s night market. From Dhs468 per night. www.dusit.com/dusit-d2 (+66 5399 9999).
Getting there: Emirates flies direct; tickets from Dhs2,870 return. www.emirates.com.
Hong Kong, China Travel time: Seven hours 45 minutes.
Why go? Head to Lan Tau Island to climb up to the Giant Buddha. Also worth a trip is Lamma Island for the seafood restaurants along the pier, where you can pick a live catch from the buckets before it’s cooked.
Where to stay: East Hong Kong boasts impressive views from its rooftop bar. From Dhs709 per night. www.east-hongkong.com (+852 3968 3968).
Getting there: Emirates flies direct; return tickets from Dhs3,680. www.emirates.com.
London, UK Travel time: Seven hours 25 minutes.
Why go? Try the many markets – Borough, Broadway and newbie Maltby Street.
Where to stay: Stay in the heart of the city on the cheap at Travelodge Covent Garden; rooms from Dhs464 per night. www.travelodge.co.uk (+44 871 984 6245).
Getting there: Emirates flies direct; return tickets from Dhs2,730. www.emirates.com.
Masai Mara, Kenya Travel time: Five hours to Nairobi, then a two-hour flight to Masai Mara airstrip.
Why go? The wildebeest migration begins in June and lasts until September. Unforgettable.
Where to stay: The Sala Camp is one of the best-placed lodges in the country to see the millions of animals crossing into the Mara. Rooms start at Dhs1,800 per person per day. www.thesafaricollection.com (+254 502 0888).
Why go? Marvel at the skyline, tour historic Chinatown, browse the museums and stroll the amazing Botanical Gardens.
Where to stay: Hotel 1929 in Chinatown offers a boutique vibe and quirky décor at reasonable prices. From Dhs385 per night. www.hotel1929.com (+65 6347 1929).
Getting there: Singapore Air flies direct from Dubai; return tickets from Dhs2,680. www.singaporeair.com.
Shimla, India Travel time: Three hours five minutes to Delhi, then four hours on the fast train.
Why go? Located amid the soaring Himalayas and surrounded by lush green virgin cedar and pine forests, Shimla’s cooler climate means that it’s great for sightseeing, whether you’re exploring mountain trails or the colonial-era buildings.
Where to stay: Once the home of Lord Kitchener, Wildflower Hall is now a luxurious five-star hotel; rooms from Dhs1,650 per night. www.oberoihotels.com (+91 177 264 8585).
8-9 hours Shanghai, China Travel time: Eight hours 40 minutes.
Why go? Mosey around the fashionable French Concession, with its multitude of nightspots and boutique shops, then gorge on hairy crab at centuries-old restaurant Wang Bao He and drink at 100 Century Avenue at the Park Hyatt.
Getting there: Emirates flies direct; return tickets from Dhs3,680. www.emirates.com.
Verona, Italy Travel time: Six hours 40 minutes to Milan, then a two-hour train to Verona.
Why go? Think shopping, food, culture and plenty of historical interest: don’t miss Piazza dei Signori, Lamberti Tower and what has become known as ‘Juliet’s House’. What’s more, we spied a great travel package for girls only – a weekend at Palazzo Victoria.
Where to stay: Said package at the Palazzo Victoria Hotel, located right in the heart of the city’s historic area, is Dhs5,581 per double room, for a total of two nights. email@example.com.
Getting there: Emirates flies direct to Milan; return tickets from Dhs3,900. A return train ticket from Milan to Verona costs Dhs140. www.emirates.com.
9-10 hours Bali, Indonesia Travel time: Eight hours 25 minutes to Jakarta, then a 1.5-hour flight to Denpasar.
Why go? Enjoy sundowners at Ku De Ta on Seminyak beach, take a day trip to Ubud and head to Nammos Beach Club at Karma Kandara for a perfectly secluded beach break.
Where to stay: Villa Karisa in Seminyak is affordable and beautiful; rooms from Dhs322. www.villakarisabali.com (+62 361 739 395).
Getting there: Austrian Airlines flies to Brussels via Vienna; return tickets from Dhs2,898. www.austrian.com.
Cape Town, South Africa Travel time: Nine hours 35 minutes.
Why go? Aside from Table Mountain, Cape Point and the V&A Waterfront, travellers should visit Stellenbosch for breathtaking scenery and a tour of the vineyards.
Where to stay: The Grand Daddy Hotel takes creativity to new heights and is famous for its Airstream Rooftop Trailer Park. Rooms from Dhs535 per night. www.granddaddy.co.za (+27 21 424 7247).
Getting there: Emirates flies direct to Cape Town; return tickets from Dhs5,100. www.emirates.com.
Ibiza, Spain Travel time: Nine hours.
Why go? Beyond the party scene lies an island of beautiful white beaches, woods and hidden treasures – glimpse the spiritual Atlantis beach, then gaze upon Es Vedra, the mystical (and magnetic) island rock, which pokes almost impossibly from the sea.
Where to stay: Travel in a group and rent a villa, with prices from about Dhs8,000 per week for up to 10 people. www.ownersdirect.co.uk.
Getting there: Emirates will fly direct to Barcelona from July (returns from Dhs3,000), then hop on a Ryanair flight to Ibiza for about Dhs314. www.emirates.com; www.ryanair.com.
Split, Croatia Travel time: Nine hours 45 minutes.
Why go? This beautiful Mediterranean city offers plenty of cultural sites, such as the Palace of the Roman Emperor Diocletian.
Why go? The Cebu region of the Philippines consists of 167 islands, most of which are tranquil, tropical and paradisiacal – a prime example is Olango Island, while Malapascua Island offers great diving.
Gdansk, Poland Travel time: 10 hours five minutes.
Why go? The Euro 2012 football tournament, staged in Poland and Ukraine, kicks off on Friday June 8. UEFA is offering a gold-class package: watch Spain against Italy, Ireland and Croatia and see a quarter-final game for Dhs41,319 in a skybox seating ten or 20 people – see www.hospitality.uefa.com. Not into football? Check out the city’s Green Gate and the Town Hall Spire.
Where to stay: Check into Hotel Logos, which offers doubles from Dhs238 per night. www.hotellogos-gdansk.pl (+48 58 341 91 16).