The annual celebration of Eid al-Adha falls on the 10th day of the 12th and final Islamic month – Dhu al-Hijah. During the ‘festival of sacrifice’, Muslims honour the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH) to sacrifice everything for his religion, including his own son Ismael. The celebrations fire up after the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca – and this year it’s predicted to begin on Sunday November 6. This could mean a five-day weekend for those in the private sector. While travel prices admittedly spike during the period, we’ve found five good-value three- to five-night packages to ensure you don’t get ripped off. Book today and you can daydream about it for three whole weeks…
Why go? This breathtakingly beautiful island is by no means off the tourist track (you’ll hear as many ‘g’days’ as ‘selamats’), but its unfailingly friendly people and colourful artistry mean it’s still worth the trek. Yes, it’s small (you can drive around it in a day) but there’s so much to offer: rice paddies, raves, surf, massage, crafts, shopping and more.
The deal: Head to this lush island for three nights with Sharaf Travel and you’ll get return economy flights, three nights’ accommodation (from three to five star, depending on the package), airport transfers and a half-day tour to the Monkey Forest and Tanah Lot Seaside temple. Prices quoted range from Dhs3,450 to Dhs3,650 depending on the class of hotel.
www.sharaftravel.com (04 397 6161).
Galle, Sri Lanka
Why go? The capital of southern Sri Lanka is home to a magnificent 400-year-old Dutch fort, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and feels like a time capsule to Sri Lanka’s Dutch era. From now until April is also the best time to visit this charming spot as it’s when the famous monsoon hovers over the north-east of the country, leaving the south sunny and blue.
The deal: Book with Emirates Holidays and stay four nights for the price of three (with breakfast) at the Fortress Hotel, which sits along the southern coast just outside of Galle. Four nights of boutique luxury, as well as return flights, cost from Dhs4,210 per person, valid from November 4-20.
www.emiratesholidays.com (800 5252).
Why go? This heady, sweaty and smelly city is a traveller’s sensory delight – sure, there are plenty of classic ‘tourist traps’, but venture into the backstreets and you’ll see beautiful temples and artisanal workshops, and meet genuinely friendly people. Don’t leave without visiting the three Durbar Squares, which are UNESCO World Heritage-listed areas and have been in use since around 1,000 AD: they best exemplify ‘old Kathmandu’.
The deal: Book with Air Arabia Holidays and the package will include your flights, private airport transfers, three nights in the five-star Soaltee Crowne Plaza, daily buffet breakfast, a half-day city tour and all airport and hotel taxes. The quoted price on the website is Dhs1,940, but the taxes are about Dhs1,000 and the prices change depending on dates.
www.holidays.airarabia.com (06 507 4400).
Why go? This famous island is many things at once: it’s scenic and tranquil in corners, seedy in others and verging on cosmopolitan in parts. It’s heavily developed, but the beaches are still as beautiful as they’ve always been, and the advantage is that those who seek lively action won’t be bored senseless.
The deal: Spend five nights in a deluxe room at Amari Coral Beach Phuket and pay Dhs2,900 for the whole stay per room (so that’s for two of you). The package includes round-trip airport transfers, fruit and flowers in your room and Dhs120 food credit. The hotel is beside the sea and features tennis courts, swimming pools, diving and a beautiful spa; the offer is valid from November 1-December 20. Flights aren’t included, but return flights to Phuket with Qatar Airways during the period start from Dhs3,353.
www.amari.com (+66 763 401 0614).
Why go? First, Omanis are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. Second, the landscapes – from deserts and mountains to beaches – and the small hidden villages of Oman make it one of the most picturesque countries in the region. And third, the six-day Eid trip with carbon-zero travel company Wild Guanabana covers everything from zip-lining and exploring caves to meeting the locals. Also, the company’s ethos is fresh and green, so your fellow travellers are likely to be good sorts.
The deal: It goes like this – you arrive at Muscat and check out the Mutrah Souk before heading off to Jebel Shams for climbing, zip lining and a barbecue. You’ll then venture to Wadi Bin Khalid for a wet canyoning walk, explore the water pools at Wadi Shab then back to Muscat, before jumping on a dhow and ambling to Bander Khayran for more beach and barbecue time. The Dhs4,400 fee includes all transfers, four nights’ camping, one night in a hotel, professional guides, national park fees and adventure activities. Flights aren’t included, but return flights with Flydubai during the period start at Dhs527 – or you can drive!
www.wildguanabana.com (+2 016 040 0070).
Insure your trip
Travel insurance may not be glam, but it’s essential, and surprisingly affordable.
• Book by credit card Most banks in the region offer credit cards that insure trips when paid for on plastic. Citibank’s Emirates Ultimate Credit Card helps you rack up Skywards points and also entitles you to travel accident insurance, and will compensate inconvenience caused by delayed flights and lost luggage.
• Short-term insurance Book medical and travel inconvenience cover with a company such as Flight Centre and you’ll pay only Dhs130 for a five-day trip. It’s worth it for peace of mind.
ae.flightcentre.com (04 325 5205).
• Add the cost to your flights Most airlines have now teamed up with insurance companies so you can book your flights and opt for insurance at the same time – two birds with one stone.