Time Out takes a look at some of the best Eid travel deals from Dubai to hotels in the likes of Jordan, Asia, Europe, Bahrain, Oman and more
There is every chance this could be the last holiday you take this year. Make the most of it with one of these bargain packages (and two do-it-yourself ideas).
Go underground in Vietnam Why fly: You may have missed out on Vietnam so far in your travels. This Eid is your chance to start correcting that mistake with Al Rostamani Travel’s whistle-stop tour of the capital, Ho Chi Minh City. In just a couple of days you will see a war crimes museum, take boat tours of the delightfully-named Unicorn Island, orchards, listen folk music and eat a month’s supply of noodles.
Eat this: While again it is widely available in Dubai, you really can’t visit Ho Chi Minh without sampling authentic pho (pronounced “fuh”). The clear broth comes loaded with noodles, onions and, perhaps, meat or fish.
Instagram this: The Vietnam War remains a strong cultural influence on locals and tourists alike. On an organised tour to the town of Cu Chi take pictures from inside guerrilla tunnels. Weather forecast: 25-31°C, five hours of sunshine. Dhs3,300. Four nights and five days with breakfast. www.alrostamanitravel.ae (800 278).
Safari in Kenya Why fly: Eid Al Adha will coincide with peak safari season and, quite possibly, the wildebeest migration in Kenya. Sharaf Travel’s package includes an overnight stay in Nairobi, but the real highlight has to be the two nights you will spend at the Fig Tree camp in the stunning Maasai Mara National Reserve. The northern reaches of the reserve make an excellent base for safari and your package includes a pop-up-roof vehicle game drive.
Eat this: Ask for nyama choma – barbecued goat slow-cooked in its own juices, seasoned and served with tomato and rice – and thank us when you come back.
Instagram this: It’s all about the animals.
Weather forecast: 11-26°C, eight hours of sunshine. Dhs3,349 (three nights and four days including flights and meals. www.sharaftravel.com (04 397 6161).
All-inclusive in Zanzibar Why fly: With two nights plus breakfast at Tembo House hotel and three nights all-inclusive at the luxury Emerald Dream of Zanzibar, this Al Rostamani Travel package deal is all about indulgence. Sure you can take the short drive to the Kiwengwa Caves or try some nearby horse riding if you want a break from the resort but, as with most all-inclusive packages, the emphasis on this break is not exploration but relaxation. Take sun cream, a book and little else.
Eat this: The Swahili, Arab and Indian influence on Tanzanian cuisine is obvious. A Portuguese dish such as sorpotel is also common. It’s a boiled and spiced meat dish, prepared with tongue, heart or liver on this stretch of African coast.
Instagram this: Capture the relaxed vibe of the vacation by taking a leisurely beach stroll and snapping the most beautiful conch shell you spy on the sands.
Weather forecast: 22-27°C, ten hours of sunshine. Dhs3,950 (five nights and six days including flights and mixed all-inclusive and bed and breakfast). www.alrostamanitravel.ae (800 278).
Budget stay in Salalah, Oman Why fly: The cheapest package in the round-up is also the closest to home, but at less than Dhs2,000 for flights and accommodation when booked with Holiday Factory, it’s an ideal mini-getaway. Likely to be cooler than Dubai and, believe it or not, just recovering from an annual monsoon, you’ll be surprised at the lush greenery of our nearby neighbour. Situated right on the beach, Salalah’s Haffa House is a budget escape if you need a quick recharge of your batteries and a change of scenery.
Eat this: If you’re not a coffee drinker give Omani tea a try. Strong and served with cardamom powder, it is a symbol of the nation’s hospitality.
Instagram this: You know how you thought it was “too touristy” to snap camel pictures on a normal weekend? Well, guess what? You’re on holiday now.
Weather forecast: 23-29°C, six hours of sunshine. Dhs1,999. Two nights and three days on half-board basis. www.holiday-factory.com (04 701 4000).
Dance in a downpour in Goa Why fly: Maybe it’s the chilled, hippy ambience, maybe it’s the delicious-every-time budget street food or maybe it’s the fact that no two visits are ever the same but we’re unashamedly in love with Goa. The accommodation provided by Musafir for this trip – Acacia Hotel – is just 500m from the beach and modern and stylish. A notable boast considering the low-scale beach hut vibe of many Goa stays.
Eat this: Seafood is never far from the menu in the seaside state of Goa. Prawns are succulent and plump, but a spicy kingfish curry has to be on your menu.
Instagram this: Rain (and there is a very good chance it will) has never looked as good as it does in Goa. Sun or shower you need snaps from underneath a palm tree.
Weather forecast: 27-31°C. Dhs2,449 (three nights and four days including flights, accommodation and breakfast). www.musafir.com (600 544 405).
Island life in the Seychelles Why fly: You know what you’re going to get with a tropical island break in this Indian Ocean archipelago. Book the package deal with Flight Centre and if you never want to stray far away from the Berjaya Beau Vallon Bay resort you really don’t have to. It has the turquoise beaches and crystal waters you have been dreaming about and Morne Seychelles National Park a short drive away should you want to gaze upon anything other than the ocean. It’s tropical so expect some rain, but there is guaranteed sunshine and heat as well.
Eat this: Bat curry, although once a delicacy on the islands, is becoming less common in the Seychelles. If you can’t get or don’t fancy that, try the sweet alternative, ladob. The dessert version of this staple is made from plantain, sweet potato, nutmeg, vanilla and sweetened coconut milk.
Instagram this: Invest in an underwater camera and snap a whole new world.
Weather forecast: 24-27°C. Dhs7,550. Four nights and five days half board. www.flightcentre.ae (800 11 444).
Family Getaway with a Difference in Mauritius Why fly: One of the most beautiful places on the planet, Mauritius offers travellers a wide range of activities depending if you’re there for adventure, cuisine, sport or just some Eid-time R&R. Angsana Balaclava Mauritius' special Father-Son and Mother-Daughter packages offer a taste of each, the former including a fishing trip, bike ride and a day at Casela Adventure Park, and the latter involving massages, pampering sessions, a market trip and cookery class.
Eat this: If you love seafood and curry, you’ve hit the jackpot here. The vindaye ourite (octopus vindaloo) is a tasty treat that is full of flavour with a nice kick to warm those tentacles. Another must-try is the dholl pori, a fried paratha-style bread filled with bean curry and split peas.
Instagram this: If you’ve used up most of your camera’s memory on beach shots, make sure you save some for a trip to Grand Bassin where you’ll find a beautiful lake and a majestic 108ft statue.
Weather forecast: 22-25C, ten hours of sunshine. Dhs2,872 for two per night (flights extra). www.angsana.com (+230 204 1888).
Snorkelling in The Maldives Why fly: When you picture tropical island perfection, it’s quite possibly the Maldives that you have in your mind. Palm trees, coconuts, turquoise waters, white beaches, night fishing, snorkelling, sunset cruise, island hopping, dolphin safari… The beachfront Lonuveli hotel has all of that and more when you book the package trip offered by Holiday Factory.
Eat this: As you may expect from a tropical archipelago, a lot of fish and coconuts consumed here. Enjoy grated, curried, fried, dried and grilled, and combinations of all of the above. Also try mas huni, a smoked fish and coconut breakfast combo.
Instagram this: Sunrise or sunset – it doesn’t matter which as long as you have still waters, a jetty and maybe a few hundred metres of empty white beach in the background.
Weather forecast: 25-29°C, eight hours of sunshine. Dhs1,299 (three nights and four days including flights). www.holiday-factory.com (04 701 4000).
Surfing in Sri Lanka Why fly: Bargain hunters know that group-buying sites have great holiday deals. On this half-board trip to Sri Lanka, offered on deals website Cobone, you’ll stay right on the beach at The Surf Hotel in Bentota. It is ideal for an adventure break, with watersports, hot air balloon rides, coastal walks and more all available. The package also includes provision for a city tour of Colombo to give you shopping and sightseeing possibilities.
Eat this: Everything. Whatever comes your way will be spiced and delicious. Look for the ambul thiyal, a sour curry of sautéed fish with fruit and intriguing spice blends.
Instagram this: For obvious reasons you can’t photograph yourself napping in a jungle hammock, but a snap of you leaning against a stone carving in the lush Brief Garden in Bentota is a winner nonetheless.
Weather forecast: 25-30°C, eight hours of sunshine. Dhs2,249 for four days and three nights. www.cobone.com (055 870 7025).
Experience contrasts in Kuala Lumpur Why fly: Futuristic and historic, hot and wet, man-made and natural, budget and premium – you can carve out whatever holiday you want in the vibrant Malaysian capital. We say skip the shopping malls and skyscrapers that fill tourist adverts and check out the tropical bird parks, rainforests, megaclub Zouk, colourful temples, cable cars and as much as you can feasibly cram in. Al Rostamani Travel’s trip includes a day at the Sunway Lagoon Theme Park, for those seeking concentrated thrills.
Eat this: It’s too simplistic to say that Malaysian food sits in between Chinese and Indian cuisine, but rather than getting bogged down with such detail, just enjoy the curried lamb, peanuts, cucumber, chilli paste and fragrant coconut rice dish nasi lemak.
Instagram this: It’s hard to choose between the skyline and night markets. So forget both and take a picture from a treetop jungle rope bridge instead. Weather forecast: 23-31°C, eight hours of sunshine. Dhs3,270 (three nights and four days including flights and breakfast). www.alrostamanitravel.ae (800 278).
Street bustle in Thailand Why fly: The temperature of Bangkok can soar at this time of year, but there is also plenty of rain, which keeps heat intensity at bay. And judging by the crowded bars and heaving streets, this is the kind of weather the people here like. And the price offered by Holiday Factory to get you there, back and accommodate you with breakfast is not to be sniffed at.
Eat this: The aromatic flavours of Thailand can be readily found across Dubai. Ditch your usual red or green curry, however, and try massaman. It has been a popular dish in central Thailand for centuries, but is thought to have its origin in 17th-century Persia. There is also some Malay influence in the dish, which relies on cinnamon and cardamom for flavour. A delicious way to educate your palate about new flavours.
Instagram this: Nightlife is one of the major attractions in this part of Thailand. There are plenty of nightclubs and vendors hawking street food, all of which should make it into your holiday snaps.
Weather forecast: 27-30°C. Dhs2,365 (three nights and four days including flights and breakfast). www.holiday-factory.com (04 701 4000).
Try Baku, It’s just different Why fly: London, Barcelona, Paris and Milan – Europe’s traditional city break destinations are being challenged by a wave of alternatives and Baku is at the forefront. Al-Futtaim Travel’s three-night package includes two sightseeing city tours, taking in attractions such as the Bulvar waterfront for café culture and pretty fountains, a 12th century fortress and the 15th century ruler’s palace.
Eat this: Another cuisine with similarities to Iranian and Turkish. The traditional plov (saffron rice served with, but separated from, vegetables or seasoned meat) should top your foodie wish list. Instagram this: Everything and as quick as you can. Despite having a Unesco World Heritage Site in the shape of the walled Old City fortress, the Azerbaijani capital is changing at a Dubai-like pace. Lock in your memories now before it changes beyond recognition.
Weather forecast: 19-26°C, ten hours of sunshine. Dhs2,990 (three nights and four days including flights and breakfast). www.alfuttaimtravel.ae (04 217 7500).
Ultimate Asian city break in Singapore Why fly: Singapore is crammed full of tourist-friendly activities, which draw crowds from all over Asia and Australia. Book through Musafir to experience the theme parks, megamalls, nightlife, gardens, street life and a world-renowned zoo. If you have never been, put Singapore on your wanderlust list.
Eat this: Singapore is the world’s best city for street food. So astonishingly good are the food-court-meets-street-market hawker centres that two food stalls – Hill Street Tai Hwa at Crawford Lane and Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle in Chinatown – were each recently awarded a Michelin star. Not bad considering a meal costs less than Dhs7.
Instagram this: Have your filters at the ready for the 21st-century take on botanical attractions that is the breathtaking Dhs3 billion Gardens by The Bay. Weather forecast: 24-31°C, nine hours of sunshine. Dhs2,899. Four nights and five days with breakfast. www.musafir.com (600 544 405).
Arabian heritage in Jordan Why fly: When you have one of the true wonders of the world just a few hours’ flight away, it should be on your must-see list. The three-night trip from Musafir manages to cram in numerous highlights, hassle-free. The stunning Rose City of Petra and millennia-old rock-cut architecture, the Dead Sea and capital Amman are all boxes that will be conveniently ticked, while the Belle Vue Hotel in central Amman is a convenient base to get to know the city and see modern Jordan as well.
Eat this: You haven’t experienced mansaf until you’ve eaten it in a traditional Amman café. Lamb, yoghurt, rice and all sorts of delicious goodness.
Instagram this: You’ve seen the enormous cave city of Petra in many a movie (we’re thinking of you, Indiana Jones) so be sure to get your own snaps here.
Weather forecast: 17-30°C, 11 hours of sunshine. Dhs3,190 (three nights and four days including flights, breakfast, dinner and tours). www.musafir.com (600 544 405).
Follow the Kardashians to Armenia Why fly: If it’s good enough for the Kardashians it is good enough for you, right? Kim and co. holidayed in Armenia this year, but as the capital, Yerevan, is one of Europe’s oldest cities there’s a lot more to it than celebrities returning to their ancestral roots. One of the most packed itineraries offered by tour operator Sharaf Travel this Eid features day trips to Mount Ararat, nearby lakes and mountains, a whistle-stop trip around the capital Yerevan’s best sites and even a ropeway adventure. All this from your base at the Hrazdan Hotel.
Eat this: Similarities to Turkish, Lebanese and Iranian food means grilled meats and hot, fresh breads are staples. For something less common try the Armenian stew, dzhash – a mix of lamb, beans, tomato and garlic stewed overnight and served in giant, steaming pots.
Instagram this: There is plenty of history and some stunning buildings in the neoclassical Republic Square.
Weather forecast: 13-29°C, 11 hours of sunshine. Dhs2,149 (four nights and five days including flights, accommodation, breakfast and tours). www.sharaftravel.com (04 397 6161).
Walk the streets of Sarajevo Why fly: The Bosnian capital still shows the scars of conflict, but a rich cultural heritage and artistic sensibilities help it to thrive. From your base of the standard room in the Hollywood Hotel, this Holiday Me package allows you to explore a blend of Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian buildings, wartime “attractions” such as the chilling Tunnel Museum and plenty of cafés and galleries.
Eat this: Snaffle back some cevapi and you will ask why there are not more Bosnian restaurants in Dubai. The flatbread kebabs stuffed with lamb, onion, feta cheese, cream and seasoning are a Balkan favourite and best washed down with a strong local coffee.
Instagram this: Graffiti-marked walls and the legacy of conflict are interesting, but the stunning Academy of Fine Arts is a symbol of enduring Sarajevo.
Weather forecast: 9-23°C. Dhs2,400 (three nights and four days including flights, accommodation and breakfast). www.holidayme.com (04 429 8989).
Experience wonderful chaos in Mumbai Why fly: You’ll be sharing India’s entertainment capital with 15 to 20 million people, many of whom will seem to be going the same way as you most of the time. There is an intense energy and a lifetime of interest to soak up in just a couple of days in this incredible city.
Eat this: You’ll hear a lot about the great street food of Mumbai and all praise is richly deserved. Just as important, however, is the fantastic fine dining scene in the city. Locate an upscale hotel such as the Oberoi Mumbai and check out regal dining in the signature restaurant for a taste of modern India that will take your breath away.
Instagram this: The contrast of colour, architecture and lighting is unlike anywhere else in the world, so snap all the buildings you can see and you’ll pick up character every time.
Weather forecast: 25-31°C, five hours of sunshine. Dhs1,500 (return flights). www.jetairways.com (04 203 2053).
Take an African city break in Addis Ababa Why fly: A modern city break with great food, coffee, music and nightlife would more often be associated with European escapes and that is exactly why you need to see the Ethiopian capital soon.
Eat this: Wat – a thick and spicy stew made with onions and lamb and lots of oil. Normally eaten with hands and mopped up with an injera flatbread, it’s a superb Ethiopian staple.
Instagram this: If you’re surprised by the vibrancy of Addis Ababa then hot foot it to one of the city’s burgeoning jazz clubs and take a dancefloor selfie.
Prices are taken from tour operator and airline websites and were correct at the time of going to press. Check for visa requirements and destination safety with your embassy before travelling. Weather forecasts are taken from www.holiday-weather.com.