Monday, 5 August 2013

Last minute getaways for Eid holidays...

Countdown to Eid: Last-minute getaways to fit all budgets

From island interludes to cruising the high seas, here are holiday options that will appeal to all tastes and wallet sizes

With Eid Al Fitr holidays finally announced for the government and private sectors, this weekend’s homework will probably include finding the perfect getaway deal to fit your taste and budget. 
If you are a single traveller, looking for a second honeymoon escapade or simply have the entire family in tow for a last-minute vacation before the summer ends, here are five top deals that you can still snap up for the Eid break:

The budget-friendly break

The lush beauty of Sri Lanka beckons, with pristine beaches, historical landmarks and the a fun visit to an elephant sanctuary to round up thislong weekend break.

Depending on the package you select, this former Portuguese, Dutch and British colony, will leave an architectural imprint on you.

Start your visit by transferring to Kandy via a visit to the elephant orphanage at Pinnawala, which is home to nearly 60 of these majestic creatures, out of which some are baby elephants found abandoned or orphaned in the wild.

In the evening, Kandy’s delights include a visit to the Temple of the Tooth where the Buddha’s tooth is on display, along with the museum at the temple and thereafter witness a cultural show featuring traditional Sri Lankan dancing.

On day two, an evening visit to the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens is a must. It was first built as a pleasure garden by a Sinhala king and was expanded by the British.

On the last day, head to Colombo and pass by ‘Pettah’ – a noisy bazaar with a hotchpotch of humanity, ancient vehicles, bargains, mosques and temples.

Package cost: Dh3,295 with Emirates Holidays for four nights, with accommodation with breakfast based on twin-sharing in a 5-star hotel. Bonus offer is if you stay three nights, pay for two nights only.

Meanwhile, internet group buying site Groupon has a three-night package starting at Dh2,190, inclusive of airfares, transfers and tour as per the itinerary by air-conditioned car, micro van and coach throughout the tour, accommodation and breakfast.

Travel dates: August 7-11/12

The week-long splurge

Spend a week of your Eid holiday and then some, in China, where the majestic Great Wall, the Terracotta Warriors of the Forbidden City and a stroll through the historical Tiananmen Square lie in wait.

This seven-night package, with overnights in Beijing, includes guided tours of the above-mentioned sites, along with visits to a jade carving factory and the Ming Tombs, with English speaking guide on seat in coach basis.

Also added to the package is daily breakfast, a couple of lunches, all transfers, complimentary in room Wi-Fi and some like-minded company in the travel coaches to share the wonders with.

Package cost: Dh2,591; internet group buying site, Cobone, is running a special deal online in conjunction with SNTTA Travel and Tours, where you pay Dh99 to reserve your spot. Price is per person for minimum of two persons travelling together sharing a double/twin room.

Flight cost: Dh4,383 on Cathay Pacific, via Hong Kong, with a three-hour layover

Travel dates: August 7-14

The family getaway

If Dora the Explorer has been an inspiration to your children while growing up, then this Eid getaway is just the ticket for an adventure of your own.

Grab the brood and jet off to the lush plains of the Masai Mara to catch the wildebeest migration at its peak.

Think over two million animals racing through the plains, as the herds head north across the Serengeti and the Masai Mara. If you are truly lucky, you will catch the big 5 in all their glory.

Package cost:Dh4,199, for three nights, which includes Nairobi and the Masai Mara, with Cozmo Travels. The price includes return fares on Air Arabia, airport transfers, stay in four-star hotels and daily breakfast.

Qatar Airways is also offering a holiday package for five nights for Dh8,000 all inclusive.

Travel dates: August 7-9/11

The romantic interlude

Known as the land of sugar and smiles, the island of Mauritius is a spectacular natural wonder boasting crystal clear lagoons, endless coral reefs, sandy white beaches and stretches of sugar cane plantations.

Explore the lively waterfront of Port Louis for handmade souvenirs, take in the spellbinding views from Black River Gorges National Park or get your heart pumping with a host of water sports.

As for the evening, spend it by dining under the stars, followed by a leisurely stroll on the island’s pristine beaches.

Package cost:Dh7,305, inclusive of airfare, accommodation in a five-star hotel and half-board basis; stay four nights for the price of two with Emirates Holidays.

Travel dates: August 7-11

Cruising the high seas

If this Eid break you want to try something different, how about setting sail through the bright, azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea aboard a Norwegian Epic cruise liner?

Unwind in the temperate Mediterranean weather, take in the picturesque itineraries that captivate your eyes, take stops in Italy, France, Spain and cruise on this ship of choice offering world-class performers, many different dining options and a new wave of accommodations.

Cities you will visit are Rome, Florence, Pisa, Marseille, Palma Majorca, Barcelona, Naples and Pompeii.

Package cost: Dh7,249 (from Dubai); Dh6,869 (from Abu Dhabi) with Qatar Airways Holidays. The package includes return economy class airfare to Rome, via Doha, seven nights on board the Norwegian Epic in interior stateroom, on full board basis, including taxes.

Travel dates: August 7-13 (sailing dates)

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