10 festive getaways under Dhs2,000
It’s that time of the year again when your Instagram timeline gets bombarded with stunning holiday destinations – each of your mates unashamedly trying to outdo each other. And if you want to compete this year (or simply have a normal, relaxing holiday and social media hiatus), we’ve got good news. The experts at travel search site skyscanner.ae have found a number of great deals on last-minute Christmas getaways. Start packing!
For culture vultures this Christmas, we recommend a trip to Jordan. Sleep under the stars in a Bedouin tent, relax in one of the world’s most spectacular phenomena, the Dead Sea, and of course visit one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, the Rose City of Petra.
Insider tip: Whilst for international visitors the entrance fee to Petra is quite high, Arabic nationals only pay 1JD per person so be sure to bring your valid residence card. Also, to enjoy Petra before the crowds hit (tour coaches get to Petra by 10.30) set your alarm and get there for when it opens at 6am.
Price: Return flights on skyscanner.ae from Dubai to Amman on 23 December, returning on 30 December start from Dhs1,005 per person.
Why not ring in 2018 with a New Year’s trip to Istanbul? Come rain or shine, the Turkish city has loads to offer. If it’s cold outside, visit Grand Bazaar for a day of shopping indoors and take a break at the Şark Kahvesi to have some Turkish coffee. Alternatively, head to Istanbul Modern Museum or Sabancı Museum for a day indoors. Both have amazing restaurants with great sea views. On warmer days, take the Vapur (boat) to the Asian side of İstanbul which offers great views of the Bosphorous. And if you’re more into hipster cafes, restaurants and shops, be sure to visit Kadıköy.
Money-saving tips: Use public transport as much as possible - especially the underground and the tram. Save cash on lunch and delve in to the street food scene – pick up a ‘simit’ (Turkish bagel) from one of the many stands on the street.
Price: Return flights on skyscanner.ae from Dubai to Istanbul on 28 December, returning on 3 January start from Dhs1,113 per person.
Lapland has to be the ultimate Christmas holiday (for adults and kids alike). Finnish Lapland offers the whole package: you can Aurora gaze from the comfort of your own glass igloo, and even stay in a traditional log cabin complete with sauna and open fire. By day, try snowy activities such as a reindeer safari, snowmobiling or rent some walking skis. And of course, it goes without saying, there’s Santa Claus!
Money-saving tips: Jump on the sleeper train from Helsinki to Lapland and wake up to the ultimate winter wonderland (for a fraction of the cost of an internal flight). Also, try to buy groceries on the way up to Lapland as food can get expensive in the northern regions.
Price: Return flights on skyscanner.ae from Dubai to Helsinki on 24 December, returning on 31 December start from Dhs1,280 per person.
For a colourful New Year’s celebration, head to Delhi. A short flight from the UAE and you’ll find two cities in one! The Old and New ensures there’s something for everyone, from bargain hunting at Dilli Haat (an outdoor handicraft village) and watching the light and music historical show at the Red Fort to having a suit tailormade at Khan Market.
Insider tip: Visit Cottage Industries in New Delhi at the end of your trip with a spare empty case (or two) for a vast emporium of gorgeous goods from across the country. Prices are fixed, but it's a stress-free shopping experience and hugely reasonable.
Price: Return flights on skyscanner.ae from Sharjah to New Delhi on 28 December, returning on 2 January start from Dhs1,287 per person.
Kenya is full of seductive landscapes, world-class wildlife and some of friendliest, warmest welcomes on the planet. From beaches to bargain shopping, and of course the epic Great Rift Valley, embark on a trip this Christmas you’ll never forget.
Money-saving tip: While safaris have historically been synonymous with ready-made packaged tours, there is another (much more affordable!) way to spot the big five. Self-drive safaris are becoming increasingly popular, so hire yourself a 4x4 instead and start your own adventure.
Price: Return flights on skyscanner.ae from Dubai to Nairobi on 23 December, returning on 30 December start from Dhs1,314 per person.
Knock off one of the bucket list destinations this festive period and tackle the trek of all treks to Mount Everest base camp. As the highest mountain on Earth, you can guarantee a White Christmas here. You may have a job boiling your Brussels though – low air pressure at the top of Everest means that water boils at around 69C – so you may have to eat your sprouts semi-raw.
Insider tip: There is a cheats’ alternative – there are helicopter tours from Kathmandu who will fly you out to Everest Base Camp in just a few hours, snap the obligatory selfie and hop back on board, with enough time to enjoy your Christmas dinner back in the city.
Price: Return flights on skyscanner.ae from Dubai to Kathmandu on 23 December, returning on 30 December start from Dhs1,323 per person.
Much of Sri Lanka and its surrounding islands lay untouched by tourism, so it's the perfect alternative to well-trodden routes through other nearby Asian destinations, India and Thailand. In Sri Lanka you'll find historical walks, local cultural attractions, safari tours, and plenty of extreme sports activities like kitesurfing and surfing - all thanks to an almost absurdly luxurious tropical climate.
Money-saving tip: As you travel further away from Colombo prices start to drop, so for a bargain beach getaway jump on one of the (very!) cheap buses down the coast to towns like Mirissa.
Price: Return flights on skyscanner.ae from Dubai to Colombo on 23 December, returning on 30 December start from Dhs1,340 per person.
Fancy a safari with a twist this festive season? Entebbe, Uganda, is fast becoming a popular destination for wildlife enthusiasts. Built on the beautiful shores of Lake Victoria, the city’s wildlife centre offers the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the big five including, lions, leopards and elephants. Uganda is also home to almost half of the world’s gorilla population.
Insider tip: If you don’t have the time or money to splash out on a gorilla trek, take the short trip to Ngamba Island on Lake Victoria and visit the chimpanzee sanctuary, home to 49 orphaned chimps. Overnight stays are available at their tented camp, which comes with evening camp fire, music and dancing.
Price: Return flights on skyscanner.ae from Dubai to Entebbe on 23 December, returning on 30 December start from Dhs1,419 per person.
Tick every beautiful box on the winter sun holiday checklist in Zanzibar. The beaches are spectacular, like Bwejuu, with its classic coconut palms, turquoise waters and wide white sands, while the snorkelling is awesome, especially the reef around Mnemba Island. You can even realise that cherished dream of swimming with dolphins – although getting acquainted with magnificent manta rays may be even more amazing.
Insider tip: Whilst holding off booking your hotel and negotiating room rates when you touch down on Zanzibar is common practice throughout the rest of the year, don’t leave it to chance over New Year’s Eve. This is a peak travel period and hotels get booked up fast.
Price: Return flights on skyscanner.ae from Dubai to Zanzibar on 26 December, returning on 2 January start from Dhs1,556 per person.
Made forever famous by film stars Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in the eponymous 1942 film, Casablanca is the picture-perfect backdrop to welcome in the New Year. Make the most of its unique blend of Arabic, Roman and French culture and take in the splendour of the Hassan II mosque and the tree-lined boulevards of the Parc de la Ligue Arabe. The art galleries are up there with any European city, with the Villa des Arts a particular hit for its Art Deco facade and collections from prominent Moroccan artists.
Insider tip: Don’t miss lunch or dinner at Rick’s Café, a replica of the Bogart, Bacall and pianist Sam’s saloon. Head to the upstairs lounge where they screen the original film.
Price: Return flights on skyscanner.ae from Dubai to Casablanca on 27 December, returning on 3 January start from Dhs1,719 per person.