Want to beat the heat? Hop on a plane and try out these divine local destinations
Why go? This Jordanian city is one of the oldest in the world. Tourist musts: The Dead Sea and Petra. Insider tip: The hilltop citadel offers amazing views of the city. Stay: The Four Seasons Amman (+962 6 550 5555) may be pricier than most hotels (rates start at Dhs1,090), but it’s worth it. Get there: Fly Dubai flies five days a week. Prices start from Dhs750. Visa info: Consulate (04 397 0500). Journey from DXB: Four hours.
All approximate flight prices are returns.
Why go? To experience Egypt’s overcrowded metropolis, with a population of 6.8 million – the city hangs onto its sanity by the skin of its teeth. Tourist musts: The Pyramids, Old Cairo and the National Museum. Insider tip: Try the Turkish coffee at Feshawi’s café, and fuul (fava bean stew) from most restaurants. Stay: Intercontinental Semiramis (+20 2 2795 7171; www.ichotelsgroup.com) is in the downtown district with views over the Nile and a great steakhouse inside. Rates start from Dhs753. Get there: Emirates flies to Cairo daily. Prices start from Dhs1,600. Visa info: Consulate (04 397 1122; email@example.com). Journey from DXB: Three hours.
Why go? To taste India’s laid-back vibe, friendly people and beach-side relaxation. Tourist musts: Chennai is home to some spectacular temples, including the towering, brightly coloured Mylapore Temple. Insider tip: Prepare for humid weather and little air-conditioning. Also, dress modestly on the beaches. Stay: Try the centrally located GRT Grand (+91 0 44 2815 050; www.grthotels.com). Rates from Dhs400. Get there: Kingfisher flies to Chennai daily. Prices start from Dhs995. Visa info: Embassy (04 397 1222, www.cgidubai.com). Journey from DXB: Three and a half hours.
Larnaca Get there: Emirates flies to Cyprus daily, with fares starting from Dhs2,045. Journey from DXB: Four hours
Why go? The Sri Lankan capital is one of the most vivid cities on earth. Tourist must: A tour of the coastal villages in the south. Insider tip: Head inland to visit the Pinawalla elephant orphanage. Stay: Mirissa Hills (+94 773 290 999; www.mirissahills.com) is a boutique hotel on a working cinnamon plantation. Rates start from Dhs350. Get there: Mihin Lanka Airlines flies to Colombo three times a week. Prices start from Dhs1,098. Visa info: Consulate (04 398 6535; www.srilankanconsul.org.ae). Journey from DXB: Four hours.
Why go? For sports events, Qatar is the next big destination. Tourist musts: The Museum of Islamic Art is an amazing building that showcases some breathtaking displays. Insider tip: Head to the Pearl Qatar, where the outdoor restaurants look back over the city skyline. Stay: Try the Grand Hyatt Doha (+974 448 1234; www.doha.grand.hyatt.com). Rates start from Dhs767. Get there: Fly Dubai flies to Doha daily. Prices start from Dhs890. Visa info: Consulate (04 345 6888; firstname.lastname@example.org). Note that entry laws for Qatar are changing from May 1, so check whether you require a visa before you travel. Journey from DXB: 45 minutes.
Why go? For beautiful beaches and an active, if laid-back, nightlife scene. Tourist musts: Try the tat-tastic Anjuna Flea Market every Wednesday. It has some great finds – you just have to trawl for them. Insider tip: After beach-hopping in the super-touristy (but no less fun) north, head to quieter Palolem in the south. The beach is pretty as a postcard. Stay: Budget travellers should try Shalom Guest House (+91 227 3166), near Vagator beach. Rooms start at Dhs50 per night. Eat: Shore Bar (+91 982 238 3795) is situated on Anjuna beach and is headed by an award-winning chef. The seafood is top notch and the beach views are to die for. Get there: Air Arabia flies to Goa from Sharjah three times a week. Prices start from Dhs1,271. Visa info: Consulate (04 397 4167; www.cgidubai.com; email@example.com). Journey from Sharjah: Four hours.
Why go? It was the cornerstone of two of the world’s largest empires. Tourist musts: See the Hagia Sophia, then sweat it out in a 16th-century hammam. Insider tip: Travel down the Bosphorus river to see where Asia and Europe meet. Stay: The Osmanhan Hotel (+90 21 2458 7702, www.osmanhanhotel.com) is charming and clean. Rates from Dhs225. Get there: Air Arabia flies to Istanbul once a week. Prices start from Dhs1,154. Visa info: Consulate (04 349 0200). Journey from Sharjah: Three and a half hours.
Why go? It puts you only a bus ride away from the world’s highest peaks. Tourist must: A tour of the Himalayas. Insider tip: Beware the simians at the Monkey Temple. It’s their temple and they do as they please. Stay: The Radisson (+977 1 441 1818, www.radisson.com/kathmandune) is an upscale and reasonable option. Rooms start from Dhs380. Get there: Air Arabia flies daily from Sharjah Airport. Prices start from Dhs1,028. Visa info: Embassy (02 634 4385; www.nepembassyuae.ae). Journey from Sharjah: Four hours.
New Delhi Get there: Gulf Air flies there daily. Prices start at Dhs903. Journey from DXB: Two and a half hours
Why go? It’s Pakistan’s cultural, intellectual and artistic hub. Tourist musts: Stop off at the Shalamar Garden, built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan way back in 1642. Insider tip: Head to Wagah, on the border with India, to watch the daily closing-of-the-border (flag lowering) ceremony. Stay: For a touch of luxury, we love the Avari (+42 636 6366, www.avari.com). Rates start from Dhs700. Get there: Emirates flies to Lahore four times a week. Prices start from Dhs2,465. Visa info: Consulate (04 397 3600). Journey from DXB: Three hours.
Why go? India’s answer to New York, Mumbai is a melting pot of hip artists, musicians and actors. Tourist musts: The Prithvi Theatre shows English-language plays from India’s best playwrights. Insider tip: Avoid the trains around 6pm, when the system descends into jostling madness. Stay: Check into the clean, plush Residency Hotel (+91 0 22 6667 0555, www.residencyhotel.com). Rates start from Dhs198. Get there: Gulf Air flies daily to Mumbai. Prices start from Dhs822. Visa info: Embassy (04 397 1222, www.cgidubai.com). Journey from DXB: Two and a half hours.
Sharm el-Sheikh Get there: Royal Jordanian Airlines flies from Dubai to Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt via Amman from Dhs1,700. Journey from DXB: From six hours (depending on connections)
Why go? Picture-postcard Nepalese scenery and the freshest air you’ll ever breathe. Tourist musts: A plane ride to the top of Mount Everest. Insider tip: Don’t pack much. You can rent everything you need when you get there. Stay: The Little Tibetan Guest House (+97 7615 31898). Rates start at Dhs135. Get there: Air Arabia flies from Sharjah to Kathmandu, with prices starting from Dhs1,028. Buddha Airways flies from Kathmandu to Pokhara daily. Rates start from Dhs350. Visa info: Consulate (04 394 4733) Journey from Sharjah: Four hours.
Why go? For lush Omani landscapes, pristine beaches and lower temperatures than Dubai. Tourist musts: Drive along Salalah’s coastal road, with palm trees and fruit shacks. Insider tip: Hotel prices tend to rise in khareef season (June to September), when there is an influx of GCC tourists. Stay: Hilton Salalah Resort (+968 23 211 234). Rates from Dhs601. Get there: Fly Dubai flies to Muscat, with prices from Dhs470, then Oman Air flies from Muscat to Salalah, with prices from Dhs570. Visa info: Embassy, Abu Dhabi (02 463 333). Journey from DXB: Two hours.
Peshawar Get there: Emirates flies there daily. Prices start from approx Dhs1,635. Journey from DXB: Two hours
Why go? For a taste of medieval Yemen. Tourist musts: The Suq al-Milh, an ancient market accessed through the 1,000-year-old Gate of Yemen. Insider tip: If children shout ‘sourah’, it means they want you to take their picture. Stay: Check out the 18th century Taj Talha Hotel (+967 128 7130, www.taj-talha-hotel.com.ye). Rates start at Dhs70. Get there: Air Arabia flies to Sana’a from Sharjah three days a week. Prices start from Dhs970. Visa info: Embassy (04 394 7400, www.yemenconsulatedubai.org). Journey from Sharjah: Two and a half hours.
Why go? It’s a cosy city that mixes ancient mountains with the modernity of Kazakhstan. Tourist musts: Check out the Holy Ascension cathedral, the largest wooden church in the world, then try skiing at the nearby resorts. Insider tip: Take a trip to the Alma-Arasan gorge for spectacular views. Stay: The InterContinental Almaty (+7 727 250 5000) is always reliable. Prices start from Dhs1,400. Get there: Air Astana flies to Almaty daily. Prices start from Dhs2,265. Visa info: Consulate (04 224 2462). Journey from DXB: Four and a half hours.
Why go? Because this Greek gem is one of the world’s oldest cities. Tourist musts: The world-famous Acropolis. Later, try an evening stroll around the Plaka district for souvenirs. Insider tip: Climb Lycabettus Hill for picturesque views of the city. Stay: The St George Lycabettus Hotel (+30 210 7290 711 9; www.sglycabettus.gr). Prices start from Dhs580. Get there: Emirates flies direct to Athens. Prices start from Dhs2,365. Visa info: Consulate (02 449 2550, 04 227 2106). Journey time from Dubai: Five hours.
Manama Get there Fly Dubai flies to Bahrain daily. Prices start from approx Dhs660. Journey from DXB: One hour
Why go? The Thai city boasts buzzing street scenes packed with quirky clothing stalls and colourful, tasty street food. Tourist musts: The outdoor Suan Lun Night Bazaar has great (and cheap) clothing finds. Insider tip: Cabs usually cost less than pedi-cabs, and the meter is always cheaper than bargaining. Stay: Flashier accommodation with a riverside view can be found at the five-star Mandarin Oriental Hotel (+66 2659 9000, www.mandarinoriental.com), with rooms from Dhs1,542. For a budget stay, try the charming, if basic, Villa Guest House (+66 2281 7009). It provides no-frills (and no hot water) stays from Dhs25 a night. Eat: For cheap and tasty grub, you can’t beat Thai street food. Oddly enough, some of the best Thai food stalls – serving more conventional food – can be found in Chinatown. If you’re looking for somewhere classier, seek out Bo.Lan (+66 2260 2962, www.bolan.co.th), run by a Michelin-starred Thai chef. The food is as fantastic as you’d expect, but not cheap by Thai standards. Get there: Etihad flies to Bangkok daily. Prices start from Dhs3,075. Visa info: Consulate (04 349 2863; firstname.lastname@example.org) Journey from DXB: Six hours.
Why go? It’s a chance to explore India’s vast jungle and backwater. Tourist musts: Jump in a canoe with a local fisherman and drift lazily down the green-hued waters. Insider tip: For dinner, try fish molly, Kerala’s signature dish – a tasy yet tongue-burningly-hot delicacy. Stay: Check into a floating cottage at Poovar Island Resort (www.poovarislandresort.com). Rates from Dhs248. Get there: Air Arabia flies to Trivandrum airport three times a week. Rates from Dhs796. Visa info: Consulate (04 397 1222; email@example.com) Journey from DXB: Four and a half hours.
Kuwait Get there: Kuwait Airlines flies there daily. Prices start from Dhs177. Journey from DXB: 1 hour 30 minutes
Why go? It’s the cultural hub of Morocco. Tourist musts: Photograph the breathtaking architecture, including the Hassan II Mosque and the Villa des Arts. Insider tip: The movie of the same name is set here, but it was filmed in the US. Stay: The Golden Tulip Hotel des Arts (+212 522 96 54 50; www.goldentuliphoteldesarts.com) is dedicated to arts and culture. Rates from Dhs329. Get there: Emirates flies daily to Casablanca. Prices start from Dhs3,150. Visa info: Embassy (02 443 3963). Journey from DXB: Eight hours 50 minutes.
Why go? It’s a great jumping-off point for Malaysian travel. Tourist musts: Check out the Hindu temple in Batu Caves, or the rainforest canopy tour. Insider tip: Ultra-friendly hostel Classic Inn (www.classicinn.com.my) is perfect for cheap stays. Rates start at Dhs35. Stay: For something upscale, try the Dorsett Regency (+60 327 151 000, www.dorsettregency.com.my). Rates start at Dhs147. Get there: Qatar Airways flies daily to Kuala Lumpur. Prices from Dhs1,880. Visa info: Consulate (04 398 5843, www.tourism.gov.my). Journey from DXB: Seven hours.
Why go? For the gorgeous beaches, clear waters and a plentiful supply of palm trees to lean against as you relax on the sand. Tourist musts: Watch a sega dance and visit the peerless Pamplemousses Gardens. Insider tip: Birdwatch at the Black River Gorges Park and spot the pink pigeons. Stay: Feeling flush? Treat yourself to a stay at the Oberoi Mauritius (800 065 0551, www.oberoihotels.com), which offers luxury beachside villas for Dhs3,850. Get there: Emirates Airlines flies directly to Mauritius. Prices start from Dhs5,510. Visa info: No consulate or embassy in UAE. Journey from DXB: Six and a half hours.
Why go? The food and the great city buzz. Tourist musts: Singapore Zoo houses the world’s largest captive colony of orangutans. Afterwards, hit the Night Safari, the world’s only nocturnal zoo. Try to fit in a trip to the Botanic Gardens, which includes a rainforest, the Evolution Garden (it shows the evolution of plant life) and a Chopin monument. Insider tips: Try afternoon tea at the Shangri-La and a Singapore Sling at Raffles. Stay: For a bit of character, stay at The Royal Peacock (+65 6 223 3522; www.royalpeacockhotel.com), a collection of restored shophouses decorated with a fantastic collection of antiques. Rates start at Dhs360. Eat: Hit Glutton’s Bay on the Esplanada for old-fashioned street cart fare with a twist (the oyster omelettes are fab). For mouth-watering dim sum, head to Din Tai Fung at the Paragon centre. Get there: Singapore Airlines offers daily flights from Dubai. Rates start at Dhs2,465. Visa info: Consulate (04 321 9498; www.mfa.gov.sg/dubai). Journey from DXB: Seven hours 20 minutes.
Tirana Get there: Austrian Air flies from Dubai to Albania via Vienna from Dhs1,945. Journey from DXB: Seven hours
Why go? It’s an island steeped in natural beauty, as well as history and diversity. Tourist must: Watersports: diving, snorkelling and deep-sea fishing are all popular here. Insider tip: When organising transport from Stone Town to one of Zanzibar’s beaches, don’t fall for the ‘private taxi’ scam. The car/minibus gathers every holidaymaker in sight before starting the journey. Stay: We like 236 Hurumzi (+255 77 742 3266; firstname.lastname@example.org). Rates start from Dhs438. Get there: Kenya Airways flies to Zanzibar daily. Prices start from Dhs2,635. Visa info: Embassy (02 631 3088). Journey from DXB: Six hours.
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Esra Engur Apr 24, 2010 07:38 pm
I would like to inform you that the national airline of Turkey which is Turkish Airlines fly everyday twice to Istanbul. It operates a network of scheduled services to more than 120 international cities, serving a total of 158 airports, in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. I have no doubt that you, as the Travel & Holidays department of TIME OUT Dubai, know about Turkish Airlines, but I believe that it is better to mention Turkish Airlines before Air Arabia, in the section where you talk about Istanbul.
Thank you for your concern and correction on your web site in advance.
Ammar Apr 22, 2010 11:46 am
I do not understand how you can take a six to eight hour travel time and enjoy a weekend overseas and then be back by sunday morning!