Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Top 3 Must See Sub-Continent Destinations During Eid Holidays


Nepal is known for its natural beauty and rich culture. Spend Eid in Nepal with a splendid view of the Mount Everest.
  • Flights:  Air Arabia, Fly Dubai, Etihad airways, Oman Air, Qatar Airways      
  • Weather:  Max - 28 deg; Min -19 deg
  • Flight time: 4 hours


  • Budget: Hotel Mums Home
  • Luxury: Hyatt Regency 
  • Sightseeing and attractions:  Bodnath Stupa,  Kopan Monastery, Himalya Treks and Hiking, Changu Narayan, Temple of dreams, Pashupatinath temple, The Crematoria, Hanuman Dhoka Square, Durbar Square, Kumari Chowk, National Botanical Gardens.


      Road trip from Kathmandu to Pokhara is majestic. Take at least two days for the journey and don’t miss      out on some of the hidden gems of Nepal. Even if you don’t wish to stop between the two cities the drive       is scenic with some beautiful view of the river valleys, stone houses, ancient temples, gorges and plenty of bridges.

  • Travel: Tourist Bus, private chauffeur, or flight
  • Travel time: Bus or car -7 to 10 hours; private flights: 25 minutes
  • Overnight: Stay at the Gorkha Crown resort
  • Tundikhel: It’s all about the views. Don’t miss the spectacular Sunrise.
  • Siddha Gufa: It’s the largest cave in Nepal - 437 m deep and 50ft high. A popular half day tour
  • Manakamna Mandir: Oldest temple and an important destination for the Hindu pilgrimage           
  • Gorkha Durbar: Magnificent architecture and scenic views of Annapurana and Ganesha Peaks.
  • Old Town: Shop at the bazaar and see the Ratna Temple

Sri Lanka

  • Flights: Emirates, Sri Lankan Airlines, Fly Dubai, Etihad Airways, Air Arabia
  • Weather:  Max - 31 deg; Min - 25 deg
  • Flight time: 04 hours and 45 minutes


  • Budget: Omega Regency Hotel
  • Luxury: Cinamon Grand Hotel 
  • Sightseeing:  Mount Lavinia, Ganagramaya Buddhist Temple, Viharamahadevi Park, Diyatah Uyana, Kelaniya Rajamaha Viharaya, Kithulgala, Colombo National Musuem, Old Parliament Building, The Light Tower, St Anthonys Church


  • Budget: Sundaras Resort
  • Luxury: Heritance Kandalama 
  • Sightseeing: Sigiriya, Dambulla Cave temple, Aluvihara Rock Cave Temple, Golden Cave Temple, Popham’s Arboreturm, Sunrise in Lanka Ballooning


  • Budget: Amaara Sky Hotel
  • Luxury: Amaya Hills 
  • Sightseeing: Knuckles Mountain Range, Commonwealth War Cemetery, Temple of tooth, Kandy Lake, Uddawateke Sanctuary, Kandy Viewpoint, Royal Palace of Kandy, Tea Museum, Galmaduwa Temple Kandy, National Museum Kandy

Nuwara Eliya

  • Budget: Grand Hotel
  • Luxury: Heritance Tea Factory 
  • Sightseeing: Tea Country, World’s End, Bluefield Tea Gardens, Lover’s Leap falls, Gregory lake, Shanthipura, Devon falls, Victoria Park, Holy trinity church, Nuwera Elia golf course.


  • Budget: Nilamanel
  • Luxury: Heritance Ahungalla 
  • Sightseeing: Maduganga Lagoon, Mirala Duwa Island discovery, Galle, Sinharaja Forest, Buddhism and Craftwork, Turtle Farm     


Golden Triangle - Visit the Icons of India if you are short on time.

  • Flights: Emirates, Etihad Airways, Indigo, Spicejet, Air India, Jet Airways, Qatar Airways
  • Weather: Max: 35 deg; Min: 26 deg.
  • Flight time: 3 hours 30 minutes


  • Budget: Shanti Home, Hotel City Star
  • Luxury: The Leela
  • Sightseeing: Connaught place (Shopping), Jantar Mantar, Market of Janpat, Indra Gandhi museum, Birla Museum, Lodi Gardens, Raj Ghat, Humayuns Tomb, Qutab Minar, Red Fort, India Gate, Saffron Palate, Swaminarayan Akshardham, National Gandhi Museum, Rashtrapati Bhavan, Iskcon Temple, Bahai Lotus Temple


  • Budget: Gateway Hotel
  • Luxury: Oberoi Amarvilas
  • Sightseeing; Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Agra Heritage Walks, Wildlife SOS, Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah, Ram Bhag, Taj Museum, Khas Mahal, Panch Mahal ,Musamman Burj, Moti Masjid, Fatehpur Sikri- Jami Masjid



  • Budget: Flute Hotel
  • Luxury: Oberoi Raj Vilas 
  • Sightseeing:  Amber Fort, Hawa Mahal, City Palace, Elefantastic, Hall of Mirrors, Anokhi museum of Handwriting, Jantar Mantar, Hanuman Temple, Panna Meena Ka Kund, Albert Hall Museum, Jai Mahal

Photo credit: Creative Commons - www.galuzzi.it, Andrew from Sydney, www.theflightdeal.com, Julie Anne Workman, McKay Savage, www.shadowsgalore.com, www.deviantart.com - ChippedMug, Benjamin Vander Steen, www.breathedreamgo.com, www.waumsley.info

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Top 5 Must See Middle East Destinations During Eid Holidays

With Eid around the corner, residents have already started planning a short getaway to make the best of their Eid Break. Travel agents and tour companies have started advertising their all inclusive packages and flight deals on offer for the long weekend. Short haul regional destinations like Salalah are very popular during the Eid break but the availability of three airport terminals, wide range of flights, and Dubai’s global strategic location makes any destination  just a flight away for residents. Residents will be spoilt for choice during the long weekend with various options that suit all budgets from value holiday destinations to ultra luxury.   

Below are the top 5 regional destinations where residents can travel during Eid:

Amman, Jordan:

Amman is one of the fastest growing cities in the world with a unique blend of modern and ancient culture

  • Flights: Fly Dubai, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Royal Jordanian, Qatar Airways, Air Arabia
  • Weather:  Max - 27 degrees; Min - 19 degrees
  • Flight time: 3 hours
  • Budget: Ibis Amman 
  • Luxury: Four Seasons Amman
  • Sightseeing: Roman Theater, Cultural district, The Nymphaeum, Citadel with its Roman Temple of Herakles, 5th Century Byzantine Church,  Ummayad Palace, Cantaloupe, Balad District, Nightlife, Shopping, and Souk Jara. 

Beirut, Lebanon:

Beirut is often referred to as the Paris of the Middle East. Its famous for its Nightlife, history and scenery.

  • Flights: Fly Dubai, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Middle East Airlines, Air Arabia
  • Weather:  Max - 30 degrees; Min - 23 degrees
  • Flight time: 3 hours 20 mints
  • Budget: Gefinor Rotana 
  • Luxury: Phoenicia Hotel
  • Sightseeing: Jumayzeh district - Famous for its nightlife, Zaytouna Bay, Ashrafeey eh, Riviera Beach Club, The Corniche, West Beirut, Solidere, Beirut Souks, Roman Baths, and Bliss Street.

Salalah, Oman:

Head to Oman’s second city to escape the summer heat and experience the cool temperature, lush green plant life, mountains, Leopards and Hyenas.

  • Flights: Oman Air
  • Weather:  Max - 29 degrees; Min - 25 degrees
  • Flight time: 2 hours
  • Budget: SalalahPlaza Hotel 
  • Luxury: SalalahRotana Resort
  • Sightseeing: Al Husn Souk, Museum of Franckincense Land, Marneef Cave, Salalah0 Gardens Mall, Wadi Darbat, Al Mughasyl beach, Water Springs at AinSahnawat, Greenery, Beaches, Waterfalls and wildlife.

Muscat, Oman:

The capital city of Oman with rich history, ancient forts, souks, and wadi’s all set against the mountain backdrop.

  • Flights: Oman Air, Emirates, Fly Dubai, Air Arabia, Etihad Airways
  • Weather:  Max – 33 degrees; Min – 29 degrees
  • Flight time: 1 hour; or 6 hours by car.
  • Budget: Samara Hotel  
  • Luxury: The Chedi Muscat
  • Sightseeing and activities: Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Royal Opera House, Bayt Al Zubair, Sultan’s Armed Forces Museum, Ancient Mutrah Souk, Scuba diving, Snorkeling, Natural History Museum, Wadi Al Arbaeieen, Planetarium

Musandam, Oman:

Musandam is a picturesque region separated from the rest of Oman with its scenery being quite attractive to tourists.

  • Travel:  2 hours by car
  • Weather: Max - 43 deg. ; Min - 31 deg.
  • Budget: Atana Khasab
  • Luxury: Six Senses Zighy Bay 
  • Sightseeing and activities: Oman Fjords, diving, Dolphin experience, Bimmah Sink hole, Dhow cruises, Snorkeling, Kayaking, and Water sport.

Picture credit: Creative Commons - http://nomadic-me.com,  Imbabah22 (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported), Jerash Jordan. Author Jan Smith. Licensed under the creative commons Attribution, http://www.omantripper.com, austinevans.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Dubai ranked 5th most popular destination in the World

Dubai has been recognized as the 5th most popular city in the World according to Master Card Global Destination Cities Index released on 9th July 2014. London retained its position on number one for the third time in four years followed by Bangkok, Paris, Singapore and Dubai. Dubai was ranked ahead of New York and Istanbul - both of which were ranked higher last year. This index provides a ranking of the 132 most travelled cities from around the world.

The increasing popularity of Dubai is due to the increasing international travel due to the expanding middle class income, the innovation in travel and the availability of Dubai international airport as the Middle East airline hub. The Real Estate boom in the region has opened up the gateway for companies to set up their MENA headquarters in the emirate, which in turn has facilitated increasing business travel. Dubai’s global strategic location, investment friendly economy and rising infrastructure will play a great role in driving visitors to the emirate. Dubai is doing its best to attract both leisure and business tourists which has fuelled the need for more hotel rooms in the country.

According to the study, Dubai is projected to receive 12.47 million visitors, an increase of 7.5 percent since 2013. Dubai is one of the fastest growing cities in the world and is expected to overtake Paris and Singapore within 5 years. Dubai also generates more international visitor expenditure per resident than any other city. It was also ranked as the fourth air hub in the world by international connectivity. In fact, Dubai is only city among from Middle East and Africa to be ranked among the top ten air hubs lists.

The MasterCard index ranks cities based on the total international visitor’s arrivals and cross-border spending by a visitor in each of the 132 destination cities using custom made algorithms.

Picture credit: Copyright Jan Michael Pfeiffer (Creative Commons)

Friday, July 11, 2014

Travel tips during Ramadan

If you are planning on travelling to Middle East during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan then here are some tips for all visitors.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and Muslims worldwide observe this as a month of fasting, one of the five pillars of Islam. During this month Muslims refrain from consuming food, drinking liquids, smoking and refrain from other behavior which could be perceived as sinful. The Muslims fast for 15 hours that starts from dawn and ends at sunset. At Sunset, families gather for Iftar (A sumptuous meal that breaks the fast) followed by a meal, Suhoor (Pre fast meal). The working hours are reduced and everything slows down during the day. That being said, Ramadan is the time for generosity, kindness, Charity and extending a helping hand to the needy. 

Customs and culture:

It is illegal to eat, drink and smoke in public during the fasting hours, the daylight hours during Ramadan. There are serious implications (hefty fines and jail time) if someone is caught eating, drinking or smoking in public during the fasting hours. This law also applies to people travelling in cars, busses and public transport. The visitors are expected to dress moderately in malls and in public places. It’s simply a courtesy extended to fasting Muslims. For a list of do’s and dont’s during Ramadan please visit the SMCCU website for Ramadan Etiquette.  

Food and Drink:

Plan your day time meals in advance as Restaurants and cafes are closed during the day but Malls and Supermarkets operate during the regular day time hours with extended night time hours. Four and five star hotels have some facilities for the non-fasting guests. So, you can always order a take away meal but must find a private place to eat it. All eateries open up a few hours before Iftar and offer great deals on an all-inclusive buffet in Ramadan Tents.  The Ramadan tents in UAE are very popular places to spend time snacking, smoking shisha and playing games.  Non-Muslims are welcome to join Iftar and hang out in tents until wee hours. 

Bars and clubs:

During the holy month of Ramadan all live music performance will stop and bars will serve alcohol after 8 PM. Some Restaurants don’t serve alcohol in any of their outlets during Ramadan while most night clubs will remain closed until the end of the month.

Hotels, Tours and Transportation:

As working hours are reduced during the month of Ramadan, many venues operate with limited hours so book your tours and accommodation in advance to avoid disappointment. Ramadan can be a challenge for many visitors but it is also an opportunity to visit this region as Hotels drop their prices during this month. Various packages are available through tour operators and travel agents during Ramadan.

Shopping Malls:

Most of the shopping malls in UAE are open during the day with extended night time hours. To attract tourists, there are price reductions and discounts during Ramadan. So, don’t miss out on the deals and head to the Shopping malls after a good breakfast in the morning.