With a long weekend coming up to mark the occasion of Eid al-Fitr, many of us will be thinking of travel. These nearby destinations offer a change of scene, with beaches, culture, shopping, sight-seeing and more.
Georgia offers the ideal quick get-away, with direct flights to Tbilisi International Airport. A great starting point, the capital city is home to Tbilisi Botanical Garden, which blooms in spring. There are thousands of native and global varieties of plants, as well as waterfalls to explore.
If you’re extending your holiday into early May, then you must not miss the annual grape festival – Georgia is known for its grapes. More than 100 merchants present their many varieties and you can also enjoy a food market and live music.
Visit the resort town of Borjomi, which is about two hours from Tbilisi. It’s famous for its centuries-old mineral springs that are said to have healing properties. There are many hotels and resorts that offer spa services – a great way to unwind.
Nature and adventure lovers will enjoy exploring Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park, where many cultural and educational tours are organised. You can also hike and camp at assigned sites. Board the Kukushka train or Borjomi-Bakuriani railway, one of the first railways in Georgia dating back to the late 19th century. Sit back and enjoy sweeping views of the nature-clad foothills of the Caucasus Mountains range.
Located about five hours from Borjomi, Batumi, the Black Sea capital of Georgia, is home to beautiful beaches and offers bustling nightlife.
Tourists flock Egypt at this time of the year. However, if you don’t mind a bit of a crowd, you can experience great weather – bright and sunny but not too hot. Take a direct flight to Cairo International Airport. Start off with a relaxing felucca – traditional Egyptian sail boat – cruise on the Nile, which offers beautiful views of this capital city.
It would be shameful not to visit the pyramids and the Great Sphinx at Giza, which is about a 10-minute drive from Cairo. We recommend going at night when there are relatively fewer people. Book your spot for the Sound and Light show when these wonderous structures are lit up, showcasing the rich pharaonic history from the mouths of the rulers themselves.
Interact with the locals at Khan el-Khalili market. It’s one of the oldest with foundations dating back to the 14th century. Teaming with vendors selling traditional fabrics, jewellery and other items, it’s a great place to shop especially for souvenirs. Make a pitstop at a traditional coffee house, enjoy the local street food or simply unwind with a hookah. A caveat: weekends can get crowded and make sure you are ready to bargain.
Sharm El Sheikh is about an hour’s flight from Cairo but worth the trip. This beautiful beach town offers plenty of aquatic adventures. Ras Mohammad National Park is a popular diving and snorkelling site. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, the Red Sea is teaming with rich marine life to explore including coral reefs. Continue the adrenaline rush at Naama Bay’s beautiful beaches with parasailing, kayaking, banana boat rides and more. Not the adventurous type? Simply sunbathe on the golden sands or take a dip in the clear turquoise waters.
Dubbed as a teardrop in the Indian Ocean because of its shape, Sri Lanka is a heavenly island destination offering myriad experiences. This eco-tourism paradise lets you relax on nature’s green lap and watch wildlife in their natural habitat. Plan a trip to Yala National Park, which is about 300km from Colombo airport; there are direct flights available. Book a safari for some elephant- and leopard-spotting or even stay overnight at one of the park’s lodges or beach resorts – the park is flanked by coastline.
Sri Lanka is well-known for its tea plantations and the local Ceylon leaves are revered by tea drinkers around the world. Popular plantations are located at Nuwara Eliya, Kandy and Ella. There are organised tours available so, you can see how the tea is harvested, visit the factories and even sample this aromatic elixir. Ayurveda is big in Sri Lanka, which is home to many wellness resorts and spas. Santani in Kandy is globally renowned and offers a restorative experience with a range of wellness treatments including massages and food prepared by Ayurvedic principles. Book a one- or two-night stay at their garden or mountain view chalets and rejuvenate.
The climate’s usually hot and dry this time of the year but Sri Lanka spoils you for choice with its many white sand beaches. Popular ones include Mirissa, Hikkaduwa, Unawatuna, Weligama and Tangalla. Splash around in the sea or enjoy water activities such as snorkelling and surfing.