We love Dubai, but a few days off is the perfect time to make the most of the UAE’s convenient position, slap bang in the middle of the world, and visit some of the most fascinating places on the planet. With many deals on flights, you can go whitewater rafting on the Nile, or be pampered in the Seychelles with flights for less than Dhs3,000. The Eid al-Adha holiday is due to fall on Wednesday September 23, so get your leave request in and book the holiday of a lifetime now.
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Combine the culture of Addis Ababa with a trekking trip to the highlands of the Semien Mountains. Spend a day or two checking out the chaotic markets, and the awesome Ethnological Museum at the Addis Ababa University. Then take a seven-eight hour scenic private drive out of the city toward Bale Mountains National Park, one of the highest parks in Africa. Explore the landscape by horseback, go fishing and taste real Ethiopian coffee.
Where do I stay? For a base in Addis Ababa, stop off at the Sheraton Addis before making your way to the countryside. From Dhs1,905 per night. www.sheratonaddis.com.
How do I get there? Fly direct with Flydubai. From Dhs1,296. www.flydubai.com.
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Tanzania is full of natural beauty, wildlife and heavenly archipelagos. The city of Dar es Salaam welcomes visitors with a heady and eclectic cultural mix of sights; from the traditional fish market at Kivukoni to the open-air Village Museum, to its lively night life scene and clubs playing ‘Bongo Flava’ hip-hop. Holidaymakers can get a short ferry from Dar to the island paradise of Zanzibar, and enjoy the best of both sides of Tanzania.
Where do I stay? DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Dar es Salaam – Oyster Bay. A beachfront hotel with a tropical garden and decorated with traditional African arts and crafts. From Dhs716 per night. www.doubletree3.hilton.com/en/hotels/tanzania.
How do I get there? Fly direct with Emirates From Dhs2,065. www.emirates.com.
Djibouti City, Djibouti
Get off the beaten track and discover this tiny country in the East of Africa. Bordered by Ethiopia, Somali and Eritrea, Djibouti is a multicultural country and its landscape is wonderfully varied. Apart from the capital, Djibouti City, much of the land remains undeveloped making now a great time to explore the salt lakes and canyons, and dive alongside enormous whale sharks in the Gulf of Tadjoura.
Where to stay? Djibouti Palace Kempinski. Close to the port and the airport, the resort offers luxury and comfort. From Dhs1,123 per night. www.kempinski.com/djibouti.
How do I get there? Fly direct with Flydubai. From Dhs2,000-2,500. www.flydubai.com.
Considered one of Africa’s safest tourist spots, Uganda is an underrated destination for adrenaline-fuelled adventures. Go white water rafting at the source of the River Nile, bungee jumping or quad biking in Jinja, or for a relaxed conservation trip, visit Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary where guests can stay overnight to observe and interact with the resident chimps.
Where do I stay? Lake Heights Hotel A smart hotel with its own restaurants and pools, close to the Entebbe Wildlife Education Centre. From Dhs860 per night. www.lakeheightshotel.com.
How do I get there? Fly direct with Flydubai. From Dhs1,726. www.flydubai.com.
Mahé Island, Seychelles
Mahé is the largest and most developed of the 115 Seychelles islands and is a picture of paradise with its tropical azure waters, tree-covered mountains and masses of thick jungle. Mahé is ideal for watersports and while the waters might be a bit choppy for swimming, they’re perfect for surfing. Land lovers can trek in the mountains, or go bird watching, or just chill with a cool drink by the beach and soak up the natural beauty.
Where do I stay? Banyan Tree Seychelles. If you’re going to The Seychelles, why not go all out. From Dhs3,000 per night. www.banyantree.com/en/em-seychelles.
How do I get there? Fly to Mahé with Kenya Airways, with a one- to three-hour stopover in Nairobi. From Dhs1,800-3,000. www.kenya-airways.com.
Kenya’s big draw is safari holidays, and in September visitors can witness the greatest natural show on earth as the Great Migration takes place across the plains of the Serengeti. But before getting out of Nairobi city to get your binoculars out on the Big Five, it’s worth spending some to get beneath the skin of this vibrant city. Have high tea in the Central Business District, try Carnivore’s all-you-can eat barbecue or go to the Nairobi National Park – home to the world’s densest concentration of black rhino.
Where do I stay? The Governor’s Camp Luxury Tent on the Mara River. These comfortable safari camps put you at the heart of the action and all tents have en-suite bathrooms with hot and cold running water and flushing toilets. From Dhs2,809 per person, per night. www.governorscamp.com.
How do I get there? Fly direct with Kenya Airways. From Dhs1,742. www.kenya-airways.com.
Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt
Considered one of the best scuba diving spots in the world due to the Red Sea's diverse marine life, Sharm el-Sheikh is ideal for an active traveller. If the life aquatic isn’t for you, there’s also great shopping from the designer brands of Soho Square, and The Iberotel Il Mercato (which bears a very striking resemblance to our very own Mercato Mall), through to the riotous Old Market where you can banter for bargains on spices, perfumes and kaftans.
Where do I stay? Stella di Mare Resort & Spa. A stylish beachfront resort with a private beach. From Dhs532 per night. www.stelladimare.com
How do I get there? Fly EgyptAir to Sharm el-Sheikh with a one- to four-hour stopover in Cairo. From Dhs2,500-3,000. www.egyptair.com.
Despite the recent atrocities in Bangkok, the city continues to be an attractive destination for travellers of all budgets. Governments have warned travellers to the city to remain alert to the political issues, but Bangkok remains a tourist-friendly destination. Embrace the Thai capital’s vibrant culture, haggle at the floating markets and experience the unique nightlife.
Where do I stay? Phranakorn Nornlen Hotel. This cosy eco-guesthouse melds bygone styles of Thai wooden-house living with art and green sensibilities. There are no TVs, guests use a nearby laundry and there’s a common fridge for all guests so they can save on electricity. Dhs185 per night. www.phranakorn-nornlen.com.
How do I get there? Fly with Jet Airways with a one- to four-hour stopover in Mumbai or Delhi. From Dhs2,689. www.jetairways.com.
Cebu, the Philippines
Have an island-hopping break in the Philippines. Fly into Cebu, a province made up of hundreds of tropical islands. Cebu City is small, busy and loud, but a short boat trip transports you to Mactan Island, a great destination for water sports, snorkelling, diving and relaxation.
Where do I stay? Shangri-La Mactan Resort & Spa. A smart beachfront resort with a private beach that’s ideal for snorkelling. From Dhs1,233. www.shangri-la.com/cebu/mactanresort.
How do I get there? Cebu Pacific Air flies direct. From Dhs2,705-3,000. www.cebupacificair.com.
Colombo, Sri Lanka,
Sri Lanka’s capital city is considered the gateway to this beautiful island country. September is the beginning of the second rainy season, so while you may catch a downpour it’s also a great time to get around the city without there being the usual throng of tourists. The city of Colombo has much to offer history lovers who will enjoy the National Museum, the colonial forts and the Dutch Period Museum. Get on board a train and ride southward along the coast to Mount Lavinia, for beautiful, wide and secluded beaches.
Where do I stay? Tintagel Colombo. This centrally located chic heritage hotel offers some seclusion and peace from the busy city. From Dhs870 per night. www.paradiseroadhotels.com.
How do I get there? Fly direct with FlyDubai. From Dhs1,865. www.flydubai.com.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
The most populated city in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh offers visitors a glance at Vietnam’s past, as well as its burgeoning present. Located in the south of the country, its architecture reflects a varied heritage with influences from France and America as well as traditional Asian pagodas such as Giac Lam, the oldest pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City. City types can get measured up for tailor-made suits from the Hai Ba Trung area, and family travellers will be entertained with any of the three amusement parks within the city. Food is literally in every street corner in Ho Chi Minh, and a visit to the bustling Ben Thanh night market for fresh hot bowls of pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) and bánh mì sandwiches (meat in a Vietnamese baguette) is a must.
Where do I stay? Sofitel Saigon Plaza Check in here for a luxurious stay, that’s close to the main attractions of the city. From Dhs530 per night. www.sofitel.com/ho_chi_minh_city.
How do I get there? Fly direct with Emirates. From Dhs2,895. www.emirates.com.
Currently in the dry season, September is a popular time to visit Indonesia’s mega city. Jakarta has many faces and with a week to explore you can experience its hustle and bustle, colourful nightlife, and the tasty delights of Chinatown. Culture vultures will be enthralled by the National Museum as well as the Masjid Istiqlal and Jakarta Cathedral, while foodies can spend evenings grazing their way along Jalan Sabang, sampling popular street food such as chicken satay, fried noodles and nasi goreng.
Where do I stay? Artotel Jakarta – Thamrin Hotel. An urban boutique hotel bedecked with modern art from local designers, that’s walking distance to Jalan Sabang and Grand Indonesia for shopping. From Dhs195 per night. www.artotelindonesia.com.
How do I get there? Fly direct with Emirates. From Dhs2,915. www.emirates.com.
Kochi (Cochin), India
The coastal city of Kochi in southwest India is a serene city. As the Eid break occurs just after the monsoon season you may get the odd seasonal shower, but temperatures should be a pleasant 30°C. With its history of trade and spices, there’s influence from Europe, Arabia and China evident in its varied architecture. Kochi is a good strategic point to discover the rest of Kerala. For a chance to see elephants, antelope and even bears, drive 190km out to Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary in Thekkady, or head north of Kochi to Cherai beach for sunbathing and dolphin spotting.
Where to stay? The Malabar House, Fort Cochin. A boutique hotel with outdoor pool, and spa. Close to many of the city’s attractions you can even rent a bike from the hotel to explore the Kochi like a local. From Dhs500 per night. www.malabarhouse.com.
How do I get there? Fly direct with Emirates. From Dhs2,905. www.emirates.com.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Malaysia’s cultural and commercial capital, Kuala Lumpur is a vast city with a huge foodie culture and vivid nightlife. Home to the iconic Petronas Towers, KL, as it’s known by its inhabitants, has many aspects for an intrepid visitor to discover. For heritage, meander around the Dataran Merdeka, get a free tour around the city hall, and then climb the 272 steps to the Temple Cave at Batu Caves. Enjoy Malay street food at Jalan Alor. No trip to KL is complete without a selfie in front of the Petronas Towers.
Where do I stay? The Yard Boutique Hotel. A former hostel that’s been done over and become a hip spot. Close to the hustle and bustle of Jalan Alor and the bars of Changkat Bukit Bintang. Dhs155 per night. www.theyard.com.
How do I get there? Fly Royal Brunei, with a one- to four-hour stopover in Bandar Seri Begawan. From Dhs2,143. www.flyroyalbrunei.com.
Located in the western state of Rajasthan, Udaipur is famous for its glittering lakes and majestic palaces – and has become known as the ‘Venice of the East’. There are five major lakes in this region, some of which are considered the most beautiful in all of India.
A scenic boat trip along Lake Pichola is essential, and more active types can go horseback riding in the Aravalli hills.
Where do I stay? The Leela Palace. A grand location with views across Lake Pichola and the Aravalli Mountains. From Dhs 1,675 per night. www.theleela.com.
How do I get there? Fly Jet Airways with a two- to three-hour stopover in Delhi or Mumbai. From Dhs2,300-3,000. www.jetairways.com.
Just two-and-a-half hours away from Dubai, the capital of Azerbaijan is an emerging tourist destination. As a nation that is predominantly Muslim, Eid will be a big celebration here. The city is a maze of alleys, mosques and palaces, and just a few hours’ drive out of the city are rolling hills and greenery, ideal for sporty, outdoors types and families.
Where do I stay? The ultra-modern Fairmont Baku. The design of the Flame Towers are a landmark in themselves. From Dhs759 per night. www.fairmont.com/baku.
How do I get there? Fly direct with Azerbaijan Airlines & Azal. From Dhs980-1,500. www.azal.az.
Bodrum is a summer hotspot and the back end of September sees some of the usual summer family madness subside. Bodrum has something to offer all kinds of travellers – families can enjoy walks along the battlements of St Peters Castle, while the night owls will relish the party vibes of nearby Gumbet. Head to Bar Street (need we say more) for kilometres of late-night bars and nightclubs that keep thumping until 5am.
Where do I stay? Aegean Gate Hotel. Set back from the main streets of Bodrum this smart boutique hotel has views over the town and across the Aegean Sea. From Dhs439 per night. www.aegeangatehotel.com.
How do I get there? Fly to Bodrum with Air Pegasus with a two-three hour stopover in Istanbul. From Dhs2,919-Dhs3,000. www.flypgs.com.
A cosmopolitan city where you can further explore the Southern Rhineland of Germany. Frankfurt is Germany’s financial centre and while in the city you can stroll around its parks, admire the baroque architecture and explore the many museums. Get on a boat cruise out of the city through the Rhine Valley, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, sample grapes from the local vineyards and discover the medieval castles that line the river’s banks.
Where do I Stay? Villa Kennedy. A renovated and ornate 1904 grand house just 12-minute walk from the Städel art gallery, with a luxurious spa. From Dhs1,007 per night. www.roccofortehotels.com/hotels-and-resorts/villa-kennedy.
How do I get there? Fly Lufthansa direct. From Dhs2,740. www.lufthansa.com.
Foodies with a sweet tooth and a penchant for pistachio should discover this epicurean city in the south-east of Turkey. Gaziantep has more than 180 pastry shops and is famed for its baklava or ‘fistkik’ as it is known locally. There’s a thriving café culture amid its narrow winding cobbled streets and no visit to this historic city should be complete without a stop off at Orkide Pastanesi for a brunch of local cheeses, jams, Turkish tea and sweet katmer.
Where should I stay? Check into the historical guesthouse of Anadolu Evleri. The restored Anatolian mansions have a courtyard and rooms with characteristic original Turkish features. From Dhs145 per night. www.anadoluevleri.com.
How do I get there? Fly Turkish Airlines to Gaziantep with a two- to three-hour stop-over in Istanbul. From Dhs2,500-3,000. www.turkishairlines.com.
English author Samuel Johnson famously said: ‘When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford,’ and Johnson was as right in the 1700s as he would be today. England’s capital city offers refreshingly cool weather (pack an umbrella, just in case), a host of long-running theatre shows, quirky festivals and top restaurants. Film fans looking for a truly unique experience should check out Secret Cinema on September 20-27. Sign up online and get treated to a spectacular film and action presentation in a secret location.
Where should I stay? Try the smart urban, design-focussed Ecclestone Square Hotel in Belgravia. From Dhs1,108 per night. www.ecclestonsquarehotel.com.
Who should I fly with? Fly British Airways direct to London Heathrow. From Dhs2,720-3,000.
This city enthrals with its history and grandeur at any time of year. Tour the cobbled streets of the iconic Red Square and the Kremlin, and discover the new creative arts areas of the city such as Gorky Park, where you can inline skate or cycle along a riverside path during the day and enjoy dinner and drinks when the sun sets.
Where do I stay? If you don’t have the disposable income of an oligarch but still want a touch of style, check into the Mercure Moscow Baumanskaya. A new city hotel that’s just two metro stops away from Red Square. From Dhs209 per night. www.mercure.com.
How do I get there? Fly direct with Aeroflot. Flights from Dhs1,597. www.aeroflot.com.
The ancient city that’s steeped in history, civilisation, fine arts and architecture and great food. The timing is perfect as the weather cools a bit in the busy city and Romans begin to return from their holidays so you can meet and mingle with the city’s charismatic inhabitants as you tuck into Roman pizzas. Football fans will do well to book a ticket to watch either AS Roma or SS Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico.
Where do I stay? Hotel Art By The Spanish Steps. In an artful city, stay surrounded by beauty in this converted chapel. The hotel is walking distance to the Piazza di Spagna. From Dhs1,039 per night. www.hotelart.it.
How do I get there? Fly to Rome with Aeroflot, with a three-hour stopover in Moscow. Flights from Dhs2,637-3,000. www.aeroflot.com.
A place where history abounds, relics, museums and bulbous cathedral spires and Ottoman mosques dominate the skyline of this city. Sofia is a busy city but take a day trip further out and visit the Vitosha Nature Park for trek through the picturesque mountains.
Where do I stay? Sense Hotel Sofia, the first design hotel in Sofia located in the heart of the historic centre right next door to the National Assembly. From Dhs342 per night. www.designhotels.com/hotels/bulgaria/sofia/sense-hotel-sofia.
How do I get there? Fly direct with Flydubai. From Dhs1,500-2,000. www.flydubai.com.
A culture vulture’s haven, Zurich has 50 museums, and 100 art galleries, including some odd collections, such as the bizarre collection of wax body parts at the Moulage Museum. Although the vision of chocolate box towns and cuckoo clocks may be considered outdated, it still adds to the destination’s allure. For pampering and wellness be sure to have a spa day at one of the city’s thermal water baths, while a day out in the Alps travelling by cogwheel train to Europe’s highest railway station, Jungfraujoch, will make it a refreshing change of scenery for weary Dubaians.
Where do I stay? Widder Hotel. Combining new and old this boutique hotel in downtown Zurich is made up of nine historical houses and each of the 34 rooms are individually designed. From Dhs3,200 per night. www.widderhotel.ch.
How do I get there? Fly Ukraine International, with a two-three hour stopover in Kiev. From Dhs2,276. www.flyuia.com.
For a long weekend of relaxation that isn’t too far from Dubai, Muscat is a sound bet. Oman’s port city on the Gulf of Oman is surrounded by desert and mountains. Visit the Souq at Mutrah Corniche, and the Grand Mosque during the day and feast on local seafood in the evenings.
Where do I stay? The Chedi Muscat. An elegant beachside resort with views of Al Hajar Mountains. From Dhs900 per night. www.ghmhotels.com.
How do I get there? Fly direct with Oman Air. From Dhs395-Dhs500. www.omanair.com.