Budget Stamps on Your Passport

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Budget Stamps on Your Passport

Ten destinations around the world that are child-friendly, wife-friendly and above all, pocket-friendly.

Making the most out of a holiday is always a tricky spot to be in. especially if you have a shopaholic wife at one end and theme-park frenzied kids on the other. And God only can save you if your spiritually-inclined mother-in-law decides to tag along. Satisfying the wants and needs of your family while ensuring your own sanity is left intact and your bank balance hasn’t run dry isn’t that difficult. Especially, if you plan your trip well and research your destination to the fullest.

If your annual leave in pending and you’ve managed to save a decent amount, it’s time to face the big question: Where to go? We give you a quick whirl through 10 of the most popular options for Indian travelers, especially when you’re holidaying on a budget.

1. Nepal

Just a few hours away by flight, Kathmandu is a colorful pit stop to try some local Newar cuisine, get lost in the streets of Thamel and Freak Street while shopping for silverware, clothes and other accessories, and try your hand at gambling if you dare. You could also trek at Nagarkot or take an early flight to say ‘good morning’ to the Himalayas.

For the adventure-seekers, you could head south to Pokhara Lake to try some paragliding, bungee jumping or parachuting. By Pokhara Lake, you can inquire about treks that go up to the snow peaks where you might even be lucky enough to see snow leopards. And when you’re done jumping off cliffs, shopping and eating momos, do your soul a favor and give the many gorgeous temples a visit.

Nepal

How to go

Best way to reach Nepal is to catch a flight from New Delhi.

Where to stay

You’ll find many guesthouses that are very reasonably priced. Plus, more often than not, you can also work out a deal with the owners for a discounted fare if you plan to stay a while.

Visa

Visa not required for Indians.

 

2. Bhutan

Labeled the modern day Shangri-la, this small country is a Buddhist haven that’s serene and breathtakingly beautiful. The best time to go would be in the summer months from May onwards when it’s considered to be off-season and a lot cheaper. The locals are extremely warm and friendly and you can truly experience Zen-like calm that reverberates in the entire place. Guesthouses are cheap and most offer house meals. Trekking is a really popular option for those visiting Bhutan, but it’s most monasteries and architecturally exquisite dzongs that are a must-visit.

Bhutan

How to go

The closest airport to Jaigaon in Bhutan Bagdogra from New Delhi and Guwahati and daily flights from Kolkata. From the airport, taxis can be easily hired to get to the border town.

Where to stay

In Bhutan, there’s no star categorization of hotels. However, all tourist destinations and establishments are approved by the Tourism Council of Bhutan. The popular destinations such as Thimpu, Paro, Punakha, Wangduephodrang, Bhumthang, and Phuentsholing have good standard hotels and lodges.

Visa

No visa required for Indian passport holders. An initial 14-day permit is issued, which can be extended at Thimpu.

 

3. Jordan

A very popular tourist destination, especially amongst a few pilgrims from India, Jordan is yet another fantastic Middle Eastern holiday destination. One of the most fascinating places to visit is the Hercules temple. Amman, the capital, is a modern trendy city with plenty to do. Food is typical Arab fare of koftas, lamb curries, and bread. Do sample some Arabic pastry which can be bought for minimal prices on the streets and are to die for.

There are plenty of reliable tour operators that chalk out interesting schedules and if you’re on a tight budget and strapped for time, these guides can make your holiday experience extremely wholesome. But don’t forget to add Petra and the Dead Sea as places you absolutely can’t miss.

Jordan

How to go

Take a flight from Mumbai to Riyadh. From there, you can get direct, cheap flights to Amman.

Where to stay

Most of the hotels in Amman are expensive high-rises that cater mainly to a business clientele. Downtown is where you’ll find budget options. The best among the lot are the Farah Hotel and the Cliff Hotel.

Visa

Visa must be applied before travel and will be issued upon arrival.

 

4. Egypt

The land of the Pharaohs and the Sphinx, Egypt attracts a large number of tourists keen to peek at a nation with a glorious past. Besides the tour of the historical sites, you have to indulge in the local cuisines of Cairo. Local buses are a foolproof way to travel and taxis are a good option too. Most locals speak only Arabic so it would be useful to carry a small phrase-book around.

The Valley of the Kings is a must-see as it has tombs of some of history’s most glorified Egyptian emperors. Make sure you check behind for any mummies on the run. A trip to Egypt would be incomplete without a tour of the many museums and art galleries and usually, a decent ticket fare is all you shell out for a day of time surfing.

Egypt

How to go 

You can take a flight from Mumbai to Jeddah. From there, you can get direct, cheap flights to Cairo.

Where to stay

Hostel brothers, Paris Hotel, Isis Hotel, Windsor Hotel, and Hotel Longchamps are all good budget options. Most of them are also situated in central Cairo.

Visa

A 14-day visa can be obtained free of charge upon arrival.

 

5. Sri Lanka

Across a small distance from South of India, sits the gorgeous island country – Sri Lanka – a dynamic and pretty nation that has colonial traces running through its veins. Known for its dual Buddhist and Hindu cultures, it offers you a great chance to see some ancient ruins and historical sites. Go crazy at the Dehiwala Zoo where kids can get up and close with animals or be a part of the daily elephant show which is an impressive performance by the gentle giants.

Besides a must-do tour of all the major Buddhist attractions, you could even visit the local fishing villages which are beautiful, especially the lagoons, and savor a very affordable meal of spicy sea-food curries and rice hoppers. Taste the salty sea and go scuba diving and surfing at Hikkaduwa beach. Back in the capital, there are numerous things to keep the kids occupied like visits to the National Museum and adventure theme parks. All in all, Sri Lanka packs in a quality family vacation at a smooth operator rate.

Sri Lanka

How to go

You can take a flight to Colombo from Chennai, New Delhi, and Mumbai.

Where to stay

Sri Lanka is full of charming cottages and hotels for relatively cheap rates. Budget travelers can access many hostels along the airport road. There are also homestays and apartments for those longing for a homely feel.

Visa

Visa can be obtained upon arrival.

 

6. Thailand

Even though the Far East has a couple of good choices to visit, Thailand is still, perhaps, the most popular. Bangkok is a fashionista’s shopping heaven where you can get brilliant deals on clothes, shoes, bags, etc. Bangkok is very kind to your pocket and you can enjoy a good week’s worth of leisure time in and around the city.

Their street food is the best but remember to double-check the meat you’re eating unless you’re a budding Zimmern! Islands around can be reached by a short ferry ride and shacks on the beach offer cozy stay options and mouth-watering food. Visit the famous Snake and Crocodile farm or if you’re in the mood to unwind, head to Koh Tao and rent a beach villa. Tuk-tuks are the Thai version of rickshaws and are extremely convenient to get around.

Thailand

How to go

You can take a flight to Bangkok from Mumbai, Kolkata, and New Delhi.

Where to stay

In Bangkok, choosing the right hotel depends entirely on the purpose of your visit. Enthusiastic shoppers will feel right at home in Siam, where mega-malls are just a few steps away from every hotel whereas Khao San and Silom are the epicenters of Bangkok’s nightlife and both offer hotels that cater to different budgets. If culture and history are what you’re looking for, then stay close to the riverside for easier access to the old city’s attractions, including Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Arun, the Grand Palace, and Wat Pho.

Visa

Visa can be obtained upon arrival at select ports such as Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Hat Yai, Phuket, Samui, Sukhothai, Surat Thani, and Utapao.

 

7. Cambodia

Risen from the ashes and keep to shake off the terrible tragedy that it’s known for, Cambodia is a different take on the far easter dream holiday. Very affordable for the average Indian traveler, Siem Reap is dotted with Anghor temples and the Cambodians are very welcoming. The old market is a good place to grab a bite and get rides and local programmes help you get a taste of true Cambodian culture.

Don’t forget to check out the Floating Village with its wooden houses on the stilts – it is one of the most distinctive places you’ll visit. For a feistier experience, head to Sihanoukville which is on the southern coast to get your share of fine beaches and accessible luxury. Great casinos and bars give this place a zesty, foreign influence but the local charm remains in the cuisine which is fresh out of the sea.

How to go

You can take a flight to Bangkok from Mumbai, New Delhi, and Kolkata. From there, you can get connecting flights to Phnom Penh or can travel by train or bus.

Where to stay

While the majority of visitors to Cambodia still prefer the guesthouses, more upscale inns have recently sprung up. In Phnom Penh, DV8 Guesthouse, Rory’s Guesthouse and Top Banana Raffles Le Royal is good too. Additionally, there are many guesthouses near the riverfront and also near Boeung Kak.

Visa

Visa can be obtained upon arrival.

 

8. Malaysia

The popular ad campaign sang ‘Malaysia Truly Asia’, and it couldn’t have said it better. Malaysia is a true melting pot with colonial leftovers and a scramble of Asian influences including Japanese, Indian and Chinese. All of this against a very sophisticated backdrop. Even though it’s an IT-driven city, don’t let the modern facade fool you. There’s plenty of nature waiting to be discovered in the Bird Park, Butterfly Park and Batu Caves plus the many jungle trips that you can take with the help of a guided tour. If you’ve had enough of Kuala Lumpur, head to the tropical island of Langkawi where you can take a cable car ride and enjoy its great nightlife with plenty of shoreline bars and restaurants.

Malaysia

How to go 

You can take a flight from Chennai, Bengaluru, Mumbai, New Delhi, and Hyderabad to Kuala Lumpur.

Where to stay

Good budget options in Kuala Lumpur are Tune Hotels – Kota Damansara and the conveniently situated Alamanda Hotel Petaling Street. The Andaman Langkawi are comfortable options in Langkawi.

Visa

A 30-day visa can be obtained upon arrival.

 

9. Turkey

A juxtaposition of modern Islamic culture and the rapidly-changing western world, Turkey is a country that excludes charm. Cobblestone streets are lined with beautiful houses and little shops. The main tourist and local area, Taksim square, is full of restaurants, bars, and clubs. Everyone is friendly even though few speak English. The winters are pretty cold but April onwards is the best time to visit.

There’s great shopping to be done for ceramics, art, jewelry, clothes and random knick-knacks. For a glimpse of its history, visit the incredibly beautiful Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. If you walk around, you’ll stumble upon non-touristy churches and mosques that are hundreds of years old and absolutely breathtaking. Istanbul has an Asian side and European side divided by the Bosphorus Strait and you can take a boat ride to look at all the castles and little riverside homes.

Turkey

How to go

You can take a flight to Dubai from Chennai, Mumbai, New Delhi, and Hyderabad. From there, you can get direct, cheap flights to Istanbul.

Where to stay

The historic peninsula of Istanbul is home to many four-star properties as the old buildings limit the options available to developers and hoteliers. Budget hotels can also be found anywhere with numerous motels, camps, boarding houses, and other accommodations.

Visa

Visa required for travel.

10. The UAE

Comprising of seven emirates, each unique in their own way, the UAE offers scintillating shopping, mixed with Arabic and Western influences with an amazing serving of fun. Dubai is a great holiday destination with numerous activities to keep the entire family busy. Getting around is very convenient thanks to the efficient metro system and when it comes to eating out, you have the world on your fingertips. From Lebanese shawarmas to traditional tikkas and kebabs to whopping large burgers, there are many delicious restaurants that serve up an exciting fare.

Wild Wadi, the famous water park, and the indoor skiing and snowboarding arena, Ski Dome, are must-visits. Abu Dhabi too has its share of fun-filled happenings to keep you entertained. Towards the eastern coastal emirates, you’ll find camping spots and places to scuba dive too.

The UAE

How to go

You can take a flight to Dubai from Chennai, New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad.

Where to stay

Jumeirah beach in Dubai also has some lower priced hotel options such as the Holiday Inn Express Dubai – Jumeirah and the Regent Beach Resort. Al Diar Mina Hotel and International Rotana In in Abu Dhabi are good three-star hotels in the heart of the city.

Visa

Visa required before travel.  

Related Article: Ten Reasons to Visit Milan.