BangkokThe food here will remind your taste buds what they are there for, the street life throbs around the clock, and Chatuchak market could turn the most hardened mall-dodger into an avid shopper in minutes.
Escape the suffocating exhaust fumes and take the Phraya Express (www.chaophrayaboat.co.th) river boat for an inexpensive tour of the city. Here you can hop off and eyeball a giant Buddha before jumping back on. If size does it for you, then the 46m-long reclining Buddha at Wat Pho (Thanon Chetuphon, +662 222 5910) is a must and is housed in the city’s oldest temple; while, around the corner, the Grand Palace (+662 222 8181) there’s a complex of assorted temples, stone statues and fascinating tableaux depicting an ancient, mythical war.
Good food is available on every street corner at every hour in Bangkok, whether it’s pad Thai noodles, satay sticks or som tum (a fiery salad made from grated green papaya). The essential shopping stop is the gargantuan Chatuchak Weekend Market (in Thanon Phahon Yothin) and in the last two years it has become a beehive for design, and a social centre with artist bars, coffee houses and sliver-sized Esarn eateries.
Qatar Airways flies from Abu Dhabi to Bangkok around Eid currently from Dhs740 (exc taxes)
DamascusAn unusual spot in the Middle East in that history is everywhere and there’s not a shopping mall (or giant ski slope) in sight.
Alcohol is available at non-Muslim restaurants and cafés throughout Damascus, but for something sophisticated you’ll have to head to the Four Seasons’ XO, a sleek wine bar and cigar room offering a selection of tempting cocktails. You can find anything and everything at the labyrinthine Souk Al- Hamidiyya, just around the corner from the Umayyad Mosque. Stock up on fabrics and spices, then reward yourself with a pistachio covered ice cream from the legendary Bakdash parlour.
Gulf Air flies to Damascus around Eid currently from Dhs650
KeralaThe monsoon season in India might be in full swing, but the temperate climate and warm rainfall makes for a delightful contrast to a parched Abu Dhabi summer. Especially if you happen to be cruising gently through the waterways of Kerala on a traditional rice barge, converted into a houseboat (www.keralahouseboat.org).
As for the chilling-out part, well this is a trip that has got it in spades. The boats are gorgeous for starters, with everything from basic no-frills models through to luxurious five-star cruisers. You will gently wind through miles of thick tropical jungle dotted with villages, where you can pause to visit churches and temples and meet the welcoming locals before returning to your home on the chilled-out waters.
At night the air fills with the sound of chirping crickets and cicadas, and the clinking noises of dinner being prepared. The sky opens up with an amazing bright intensity, and lying on the deck, with the candlelit lanterns flickering quietly behind, the feeling is simply indescribable. Plump for this trip if you want to get away from it all with your loved one for a few days.
Etihad Airways flies from Abu Dhabi to Thiruvananthapuram, around Eid with prices currently starting at Dhs1,850
CairoPeople usually head to Egypt to see one of the world’s busiest most ancient cities, Cairo, and also the pyramids. But the Great Pyramid of Giza’s proximity to the city is a little shocking – tower block, tower block, last remaining wonder of the ancient world, KFC, tower block – but remains a must see.
For a slightly cramped shuffle through history, The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities (Midan El Tahrir, +202 579 6948, www.egyptianmuseum.gov.eg) is home to the most extensive collection of Egyptian relics in the world, including the mask of babyfaced Pharaoh Tutankhamun.
The best fish in Cairo can be found at Samakmak (92 Ahmed Orabi St, +202 347 8232), the Egyptian branch of the famed Alexandrian eatery. The philosophy is simple – catch fish, grill fish, eat fish – but with lots of tomatoes, onions and herbs, and served with Egyptian salads and flatbread; simplicity has never tasted so good.
Flights from Abu Dhabi to Cairo with Qatar Airways are available around Eid from Dhs1,800