Guide to Plan Vacation to the Maldives

The shopping scene in the Maldives is not very happening, but it can be tempting. On some of the local islands, you will find really interesting handicrafts to buy as souvenirs. However, know that they are not only outrageously expensive, but also made outside the Maldives.

In the Indian Ocean, to the south-southwest of India lies the Maldives, a pristine archipelago comprising some 1,192 coral islands. The Maldives is regarded as one of the most luxurious holiday destinations in the world, and there are several reasons for this. For one, it boasts of absolutely stunning white-sand beaches, which are perhaps amongst some of the very best in the world. Moreover, it also offers some of the world’s best underwater activities and a fascinating marine life. What is even more compelling about these islands is the fact that virtually every resort in there has its own private island, and the facilities and services that these resorts offer just seem to be unparalleled.

Maldives on a Budget
Alright, let us get this straight―the Maldives is expensive. It never was a typical backpacker-type destination; however, there are ways to save money on your Maldivian vacation if you research well and know the tactics of spending wisely. Buzzle brings you this brief guide to help you plan, not a cheap, but an affordable vacation to the Republic of the Maldives.

Visit in the off-season.

The off-season in the Maldives runs between the months of May and November. This is the time when the islands experience heavy rains and storms. During the off-season, there are fewer tourists around, and the resorts tend to lower their rates to a considerable extent.
So, if you are not very choosy weather-wise, the off-season is the best time to travel on a budget in the Maldives. Those interested in surfing should note that the surfing season in the country ranges from March to October. So, by traveling in the off-season, you will be getting the best of both worlds―you will save money as well as get a fantastic surfing experience.

Book your flights and stay online.

Making all your bookings on the Internet can be both convenient and affordable at the same time. Booking for flights and accommodations online, more often than not, entitles you to certain benefits and discounted offers, which cannot be found otherwise. Moreover, you can always compare prices quoted on different travel websites, and acquire the cheapest possible bargain. However, remember to check all the details carefully before making payments, and also look for any sort of hidden costs, taxes, etc. Moreover, it is also a good idea to read customer reviews for the hotel/resort, and then decide on whether or not to opt for the same.

Look for last-minute deals.
While it is an extremely good idea to plan your vacation well ahead in order to get the best deals, sometimes, last-minute deals may also do the trick for you. Often, resorts and even airlines offer tempting discounts on last-minute deals to attract people. Although these may not be very cheap at all times, you will definitely be saving a certain amount of money of such deals. Especially, if you are intending to travel during the high season, it is a good idea to look for such deals. They might not be available at all times due to the large number of tourists traveling during the peak season; however, you can always test your luck.

Go for an all-inclusive package.

Everything in the Maldives comes for a price, and it is not one of the most suitable destinations for those on a budget. However, one of the best ways to save money on your Maldivian vacation is to go all-inclusive. There are a number of resorts out there, which offer all-inclusive packages that include, apart from lodging, lunch and/or dinner buffets, activities, excursions, and sometimes, even transport. Moreover, if you intend to consume a lot of alcoholic drinks, opting for an all-inclusive package will be the only worthwhile option at your disposal. It will strictly restrict you to house drinks, rather than buying them at splurging prices outside.

Stay on a local island, instead of a resort.

As mentioned before, virtually every resort in the Maldives owns an island for itself. This means that these resorts offer you exclusive facilities and activities, which in turn also means that you will be ending up breaking your bank. If you are visiting in the low season, you might be able to afford a stay in one of these resorts, but even then, there are other less pricey options available. A good number of B&Bs, inns, and guest houses are available in the inhabited atolls of the Maldives, which provide pretty good facilities at affordable rates. And, staying in the inhabited atolls also have an added advantage. You will get to experience the local fervor of the country, something that you will miss out on in the resorts.

Some local guest houses and B&Bs offer cheap activities.
This is, by far, one of the best advantages of opting to stay at a local guest house or a B&B. The owners of these facilities almost always tend to double up as your tour guides, and you can buy their courteous services at pretty affordable prices. Added to this, some guest houses also offer water sporting activities like scuba diving, snorkeling, and fishing at less than half of the resort rates. All you need to do is to book them in person with your lodging facility―it may not be a very luxurious experience, but a memory worth cherishing.

Travel as the locals do.

The main modes of public transport available in the Maldives include boats and air taxis. The only places where you will need to travel by road on the islands are the capital city, Male and the archipelago’s southernmost atoll, Addu. At these two places, you can hire private cars and motorbikes―there are various local companies offering these services―however, these are again pricey. You also have an option of hiring bicycles at these places, which are available at affordable prices, and walking is of course free. On all the other atolls, water transport is the only reliable mode. Inter-island ferries are available; prices depend on the distance, but are still not very pricey. If you are traveling in a group, you may also go for chartering a boat/water taxi, which might seem affordable as the total amount will get divided amongst your group members.

Do not opt to stay very far from Male.

There is only one international airport in the whole of the Maldives, which is the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport in Male. This means that no matter in which corner of the Maldives you opt to spend your vacation, your first and last stop in the country is going to be Male. So, the closer your destination is to the country’s capital, the lesser you will have to spend on your transfers.
The resorts which are more far off from Male generally require expensive seaplane transfers both ways. Plus, it is also time-consuming, in that you may have to spend a night on one of the domestic airports from where you may be getting a connecting flight. On the flip side, if you choose an island/atoll that is not very farther apart from Male, you will save a substantial amount of money on getting to your destination and back.

Traveling to the Maldives on a budget can be a big challenge; however, it is not impossible. It is very important that you are extremely careful while planning your budget, as the country is never going to turn out to be cheap, especially by Asian standards. The best way to avoid busting your budget in the Maldives is to stick to your plans and control your splurging urges.

Overrated and Underrated Travel Destinations

There’s certainly no place like home for everyone out there. But for reasons known best to us, we set out to see the world, perhaps to understand why other people choose to call certain places their home. Being human, we invariably carry our expectations to each destination, packing it in a suitcase called ‘hope’, only to make matters worse.

Well, certain places rise to our expectations, whereas others tend to disappoint. Again, reasons for liking or disliking a place are always personal. To some, the sheer beauty of Venice may seem mesmerizing enough to warrant multiple visits; but if you’d ask me, I’ve had my fill of the sometimes smelly, perpetually crowded, rather expensive, pigeon-infested city. I can imagine bricks being hurled at me as I type, but rest assured, there are quite a few who would also agree.

Bottomline―this list is just a list, and just a sodding list. The underrated places are those that don’t prominently pop up in common minds when one thinks of going on a vacation. The overrated places indicate the ones that are so out-of-this-world amazing, that they have been done to death. So, take a look.

Underrated Places
Puerto Varas, Chile
Flores, Indonesia
Ålesund, Norway
Bukhara, Uzbekistan
Lycian Way, Turkey
Sarajevo, Bosnia
Semuc Champey, Guatemala
Delft, Holland
Haifa, Israel

Overrated Places
Bangkok, Thailand
London, Paris, New York
Las Vegas, USA
Dubai, UAE
Switzerland
Ibiza, Spain
Venice, Italy
Bali, Indonesia
Berlin, Germany
Dublin, Ireland

Try these places if you haven’t already
Okay, as far as ‘underrated’ is concerned, these places aren’t tranquil pieces of paradise. These simply are the ones that one doesn’t normally consider, with the frequency of, say, London, Paris, or Rome. Neither should these be taken as a recommended replacement for the overrated destinations.

Uggh. Never was there a bigger killjoy than these keep-in-mind-lest-I-commit-the-ghastly-crime-of-not-living-up-to-your-expectations points.

Puerto Varas, Chile

In a far-flung corner of the Southern Hemisphere lies Puerto Varas, a picturesque German-influenced town, with the waters of Llanquihue Lake lapping its shores. Postcard-perfect is what best describes Puerto Varas, which, at last count, was relatively calm and not as touristy as, say, Pucón. The hulking silhouette of the conical Osorno volcano completes the landscape along with the snow-capped Mt. Calbuco and Mt. Tronador. Also called “La ciudad de las rosas” or “the city of roses”, the town’s beauty is what makes it worth a visit.

Why come here:
The water sports facilities are fantastic, with canyoning and kayaking taking precedence.
Skiing is a popular activity here, with some committed skiers even making a visit in the harsh winter.
The dramatic scenery in an out-of-place destination is what brings people here.
The German influence is seen widely―be it the architecture, or the cuisine.

Flores, Indonesia

Indonesia has a lot to offer than Bali, Bali, and more Bali. Flores, is one of Indonesia’s best kept secrets, and it’s even ceasing to be a secret rather fast. This island was once the gateway to the Komodo National Park, where visitors would go to see those ferocious man-eating lizards. But what escaped them then were the pristine, sunny beaches of Flores, along with the multi-hued volcanic lakes.

Why come here:
Clear waters that are so sparklingly brilliant, that you can’t help but snorkel.
None of the madness that is Bali; you’ll actually encounter cleanliness, along with some peace and quiet.
Infrastructure in Flores is supposedly developing at the speed of light, so you shouldn’t really waste time, and get here right away.
Flores is one of the few places, apart from Komodo Island where you can spot the reptilian monster called the Komodo.

Ålesund, Norway

Art Nouveau ahoy! Ålesund counts itself among Norway’s lesser known spots; no less in beauty than Bergen. This charming little seaport owes much of its existing glory to the fire that razed the town to ashes in 1904. What followed was a complete rebuild by some of Germany’s finest young architects, who yanked up the town’s hotness by several notches.

Why come here:
If Art Nouveau was your thing, there wouldn’t be a better place than Ålesund.
The Sunnmøre Museum is the town’s biggest attractions, where you can view the amazing Viking vessels, along with some gorgeous traditional structures.

Bukhara, Uzbekistan

Coming to Bukhara is like taking a trip back in time. This grand dame of a city has a history spanning two millennia; it even shared a spot on the ancient Silk Route. The Uzbeks seem to have taken utmost care and restored much of Bukhara’s structures, so much so that you’re transported into a time-warped capsule, a thousand years back in time.

Why come here:
The city center is where Bukhara’s treasures lie―the complex is full of madrassas, a hulking royal fortress and the remnants of what used to be a bustling marketplace.
The city is central Asia’s most prominent Islamic landmark.

Lycian Way, Turkey

It may not have the Hollywood-esque glamor of the Amalfi Coast, but Turkey’s youngest tourist attraction makes up for it in terms of history. This 400-mile walk way begins in Ölüdeniz, takes you along the Mediterranean, and ends up just short of Antalya, in Turkey’s southwest. Pristine, pollution-free, and breathtakingly beautiful are adjectives to sum it up.

Why come here:
The walk will be unpredictable, a little tiresome, sometimes downright exhausting, but the views along the way will more than make up for it. As they say, “no pain, no gain”.

Sarajevo, Bosnia

Lonely Planet voted Sarajevo as one among the top 10 cities to visit in 2010. Hmm, not enough to extract a visit out of you, isn’t it? It’s understandable, owing to the long running political tensions in the area. Dubbed as the ‘Jerusalem of Europe’, you’d find the local populace comprising adherents of Islam, Orthodoxy, Catholicism, and Judaism.

Why come here:
The city is charmingly tourist-friendly, and is en route to becoming a major entertainment hub in the Balkans.
Sarajevo has places of religious, architectural, and commercial interest, making it an appealing destination for all kinds of travelers.

Semuc Champey, Guatemala

What we have here is a limestone bridge, with the Cahabón River flowing underneath. The limestone bridge has these giant steps that double up as swimming pools, with clear turquoise waters. And all of this is 100% natural. Beat that.

Why come here:
Semuc Champey is one place in this list that can rightfully don the crown of obscure.
Guatemala is not one of the topmost popular destinations out there, and within that, Semuc Champey is a hidden natural wonder.
Whether it stays so for long is highly doubtful, so fellas, pack your bags and get here soon.

Delft, Holland

Delft is the one European city that hasn’t been murdered by summertime backpackers (including yours truly) as yet. The city is basically an assimilation of each of the things we associate with Europe―beautiful buildings, amazing museums, a rich history, locals commuting on bicycles, delicious food served in street side cafes, a connection with royalty, cobbled streets, all of which sit prettily above a series of canals.

Why come here:
You mean you’d rather go elsewhere after reading the above paragraph?

Haifa, Israel

It’s natural to only consider a visit to Jerusalem when planning a trip to Israel. A quick float in the Dead Sea, and it’s pretty much it for most people coming here. But Haifa is like a breath of fresh air. This port city is located on the slopes of Mount Carmel, and one can’t help but be reminded of the gorgeousness of San Francisco while roaming the streets here.

Why come here:
Haifa is blessed with an awesome location, and has amazing weather all year round.
A visit to the Hanging Gardens of Haifa provides spectacular views of this beautiful city.
Don’t be fooled by its reputation of an industrial port city, as the city also happens to have a lively cosmopolitan atmosphere, and is the hub of cultural activities.

And now to the done to death places
Not saying that these places aren’t worth a visit, but it’s just that the hype surrounding them has simply stolen their thunder. As a result, most of your first time visits to these places end up being as insipid as stale champagne.

Bangkok, Thailand

The days of hedonism are thankfully past us, which is why we’d just want Bangkok to move on as well. Don’t get me wrong; it’s still a vibrant, exciting city to be in, provided one looks at it as being more than Khaosan Road, which quite frankly, is a downright depressing place to be in, and rather seedy too. The Chao Phraya River is overwhelmingly polluted (not too different from other major rivers in the world), and as for the beaches, there are far too many cleaner and better options in the rest of Thailand.

The summer triumvirate of London-Paris-New York

Just hear me out before you shoot me.

Never in a lifetime would anyone advice you not to visit these cities, or that they are overrated, but this is just a fervent request to urge you to get over the clichés when you get here. These beautiful, wonderful cities have so much to offer beyond the Bridge/Tower/Square, that will make you keep coming back for more. So if you’re planning a trip to any of these cities, we beg you to do justice to it. By all means, do visit the mainstream tourist attractions; but also spare some time to scratch the surface, and make a real connection.

Las Vegas, USA

As much as The Hangover may have inspired you to come to Vegas (and you definitely should), you’ll find that your expectations may crumble on knowing the fact that much of the hype is centered on one neon-blitzy strip. 24 hours are more than enough to do all things Vegas-y, including getting hitched; but stay longer, and you’ll only be nursing the mother of all hangovers.

Dubai, UAE

Ostentatious as far as the eye can see, Dubai is an engineering feat. After a point though, the charm of the tallest building, the biggest airport, the largest shopping mall begins to wear out, as you get sucked into the consumerist abyss. Stay away, unless you’re one of those who can actually make use of those ATMs here that dispense gold bars.

Switzerland

Just ducked a cannon ball that was hurled at the mention of Switzerland. Beautiful? Undoubtedly. Coming back for more? Umm … not unless I’m a serious skier. Sterile Switzerland has the precise consistency of their home-grown cuckoo clocks, so much so, that a first timer may have trouble discerning whether it is Lucerne or Bern or Basel that has those snow-capped mountains, with the pretty wooden houses, and the quaint bridges. Wait a minute, it’s probably Zürich, or Interlaken … where the #%$* am I?

Ibiza, Spain

All my friends, are going to Ibiza / but not me (no), but not me (no) / All my friends, are going to party
with a lot of (girls), but not me (no)
All my friends, are carrying diseases / but not me (no), but not me (no) / All my friends, are going to die / I hope it will be soon, but not me (no)

A rather harsh song, isn’t it? Ibiza finds favor among the partying lot for various reasons known best to them. To add to it, the land also boasts of some very fine beaches and fantastic weather. But most people visiting Ibiza have little plans of seeing the sun. They’d rather be cooped up in a disco with several like-minded people, having a rollicking time. If this isn’t your idea of fun, steer clear of Ibiza.

Venice, Italy

Again, not the city in its entirety, but yes, there are a few things that you can surely waive off. The zonkingly expensive gondola ride immediately comes to mind. So does the pigeon-poop land that is the Piazza San Marco. Do yourself a favor, and forgo the gondola ride for a visit to the Murano glass factory. Watch the historical Venetian glass-blowing here, and buy a pretty Murano gondola to take home. And as far as the Piazza is concerned, an early morning visit is the time to actually do justice to this ancient square.

Bali, Indonesia

The Bali of yore may manage to make an ex-hippie all misty-eyed. But not anymore. The heavy influx of tourists over the past two decades has overturned its charm, and made way for untidy beaches, over-zealous ware peddlers, and way too many bugs. Flores, mentioned above would definitely score over Bali. But don’t tell everyone about it.

Berlin, Germany

If there ever was a yawn-worthy place in Europe after Helsinki ;-), it’s got to be Berlin. Too staid, too steely, and too business-like. Kudos to the city for having risen from the pounding it received in WWII, but it’s still not up there with the hotshots of Europe. Want a more sterling experience in Germany? Take a drive along the Bavarian Romantic Road from Würzburg to Füssen, and you’ll get your money’s worth.

Dublin, Ireland

When you have an Irish city that frequently gets labeled as the most un-Irish city there is, you know something’s amiss. Dublin is the city to receive that dishonor from several travelers who’ve been there, and that’s saying something. The recommended course to take would be to pick any other city/town/village in Ireland to get your heart’s fill of all things Irish.

Exotic Green Travel Destinations in the World

In recent years, a rise in ecotourism has been observed the world over. These days, people look for exotic and green destinations to spend their vacations. In spite of rampant urbanization witnessed in the past few decades, there still are many places where you can spend some quality time in the green settings of nature. Green travel destinations are characterized by diversity in flora and fauna. Some of these places are declared as World Heritage Sites. They are given special status and extra protection because of their natural wealth. It also means that the tourists who travel to these protected ecosystems on earth need to show a sense of ‘Eco-consciousness’.

Green Travel Destinations Around the World
Ecotourism is promoted by most nations across the globe. The reason behind this, is that it serves the dual purpose of educating tourists about environmental conservation, and providing the local populations with some financial support through conservation activities.

Daintree Rainforest, Australia

Australia’s Daintree is the oldest continually surviving rainforest in the world. This 135-million year old spectacle is characterized by mountain peaks and forests which have a thick cover of exotic plants. Daintree offers a unique combination of high humidity, high temperature, and rainfall throughout the year. Such kind of climate is suitable for the growth of tropical fruit trees. Situated in the coastal regions of north east Queensland, the Daintree rainforest has a total area of 1,200 sq. km. This rain-forest is part of the Wet Tropics of Queensland. The ‘Wet Tropics’ region was declared a World Heritage Site in 1988.

The Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

This place featured in the list of World Heritage Sites in 1978. The Galápagos Islands is an ecologically sensitive area, where conservation measures are strictly followed. Visitors to Galápagos National Park are accompanied by park rangers who make sure they don’t leave any sort of trace behind. Some of the species of wild animals which hold importance from the point of conservation are:

Galápagos Land Iguana
Blue-footed Booby
Galápagos Penguin
Galápagos Tortoise
Waved Albatross

Kenya

Tourism in Kenya revolves around wildlife safaris of the savannas. Kenya is gifted with great natural wealth, and is therefore a very popular travel destination. One of the interesting things about this equatorial country is that, here, you get to experience extreme climatic conditions. The snow-capped peaks of Mount Kenya and savanna grasslands present a unique combination of extreme climatic conditions. Along with grasslands and mountains, the coastal regions of Kenya offer scenic natural beauty. The coral reefs of Malindi and its clear water beaches are excellent examples of Kenya’s natural wealth.

National Parks in Kenya

Nairobi National Park
Lake Nakuru National Park
Amboseli National Park
Kora National Park
Mount Kenya National Park

These are the most popular national parks in Kenya. This country is home to some 50 national parks.

Costa Rica

It is one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in the world. Costa Rica is well-known for its eco-friendly hotels, and ‘Lapa Rios Rainforest Ecolodge’ is a well-known place to stay. The popularity of Costa Rica as a tourist destination has been on the rise since 1988. That year, the number of tourists visiting the country was around 330,000. This number swelled to 2.34 million in 2012. The activities that tourists can indulge in are trekking, visiting rural communities of the country, bird watching, etc. Along with the greenery of the rainforests, Costa Rica also has plenty of beaches.

The Fjords of Norway

Fjords are inlets created in valleys due to glacial activities. They are characterized by cliffs on both sides of the inlets. The important fjord regions of Norway are the Møre og Romsdal, Rogaland, Hordaland, and Sogn og Fjordane. Geirangerfjord is located in the southwestern region of Møre og Romsdal county. In 2005, Geirangerfjord featured in the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. Here, tourists can go on cruises and catch some spectacular views from Dalsnibba (1,500 m above sea level) and Flydalsjuvet. Nordfjord is located in the northern region of Sogn og Fjordane county. Skåla mountain is one of the best places to go on a trek; this place is situated 1,848 m above sea level. Tourists can spend the night in the Skala Tower.

Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia

This region lies to the south of Alaska and north of Vancouver Islands. The Great Bear Rainforest covers one of the largest tracts of temperate rainforests. Most rainforests in the world have had to face the wrath of human developmental activities. However, The Great Bear Rainforest remains largely untouched. This place is home to grizzly bears, cougars, wolves, and the Kermode bear, also known as ‘spirit bear’. In the 1990s, environmentalists had launched a campaign for the conservation of the rainforests of Clayoquot Sound – a part of Vancouver Islands. The government of British Columbia responded by placing a ban on clear-cutting in the rainforests. Inspired by the success of conservation campaigns, several ENGOs (environmental non-governmental organizations) came together for the protection of the Great Bear Rainforest. The region was named so in 1997. This rainforest incorporates the northern and central areas of coastal British Columbia.

New Zealand

Dense rainforests, mountains, and breathtaking scenic views make New Zealand one of the preferred destinations for tourists from around the world. The environmentally-conscious government of New Zealand has done a good job in preserving the country’s flora and fauna. The Abel Tasman National Park in New Zealand is a nice place to go hiking. The white and golden sand beaches of Coromandel Peninsula are amongst the major attractions in New Zealand. Tongariro National Park is known for its active volcanoes, pristine forests, and tranquil lakes. The 144 islands of Bay Islands offer tourists with picturesque views of marine life. Dolphins, penguins, whales, and other marine animals can be found along the shores of the Bay Islands.

Iceland

The birch is a commonly found tree in Iceland. The Arctic fox, Icelandic sheep, Icelandic horse, and Icelandic sheepdog are some of the commonly found animals here. Volcanoes, hot springs, and fjords are some of the notable features of Iceland’s topography. Iceland is known for its environmentally-conscious use of energy. Wind energy, geothermal energy, and hydroelectric power are Iceland’s main sources of energy. The country topped the Environmental Performance Index table of 2010. Tourists can enjoy activities like whale-watching, horseback riding, and boat tours in Iceland.

Botswana

This landlocked African country is known for its great diversity in wildlife. The land of Botswana is characterized by its deltas and grasslands. The Chobe National Park is one of the most popular parks in Botswana. The specialty of this park is that it holds the largest concentration of African elephants in the world. The park is home to some 350 species of birds. The Moremi Game Reserve, along with the Chobe National Park are one of the major tourist attractions of Botswana. This national park lies on the eastern side of the Okavango Delta.

Best Winter Vacation Destinations

Destinations become famous due to various factors. Some are discovered, some introduce new attractions, while some come up with new travel policies. However, what truly makes a great destination is the combination of these factors. In winters, there are two types of places you can visit. One, where the snow is good for skiing and sightseeing. These destinations have been explored and nothing new as such has come up here of late. The second type, with beaches and the sun, are what you should look out for. And then, why stop at one place? You also have an option to take a cruise, which will take you to different destinations in one winter vacation. All these and many more have been listed here for you.

Sydney, Australia

Famous for its golden beaches, rich flora and fauna and architecture, Sydney has a temperate climate with mild winters. It is a famous tourist destination, and can thus get a little crowded. However, if you know the right places, you won’t have a problem. Sydney has something for everyone. Kids can have a great time at Taronga Zoo which houses around 340 species and over 2,600 individual animals. People who want to party will be happy to discover the lively nightlife in Sydney. Adventure junkies can go surfing on the challenging waves of Bondi beach or jet boating on Sydney Harbor. Apart from all this, you have attractions such as the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Tower, Luna Park, Royal Botanical Gardens and the numerous beaches.

Muscat, Oman

Muscat is consistently among the best destinations. It is known for its authentic Middle Eastern experience and stunning architecture. The best time to visit Oman is from November to March. Winter is pleasantly warm and perfect for sightseeing. The Royal Opera House and the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque have breathtaking architecture and are a true example of aesthetic perfection. There are many public beaches you can visit; the stalls along the Seeb beach serve some really good food. But your trip won’t be complete without a shopping excursion to Muttrah Souk. It is a traditional Arabic bazaar, filled with merchants selling local spices, fabrics, handmade jewelry, and perfumes. With its beautiful landscape, aesthetic architecture and rich culture, Muscat definitely earns its spot on this list.

Algarve, Portugal

The southernmost region of Portugal, Algarve is a unique destination. Its winters are comparatively warm than most of Europe which makes it a good choice for your winter holidays. It is said that the population in this region triples during holiday season; evidence of a good holidaying experience. Praia da Marinha and Armação de Pêra are two famous beaches in this region among many others such as Praia da Arrifana, Praia dos Pescadores, Praia da Ilha de Tavira and Praia do Vau.

Bali, Indonesia

Bali has been a famous, global tourist destination since decades. Tourists around the world include it in their must-see destinations. As a winter destination, you couldn’t have asked for more. Must-see places include Sanur, Kuta, Legian, Seminyak, Nusa Dua and Pecatu. Sanur was the earliest recorded tourist spot in Bali. It is also a part of the island of Ubud, which got international acclaim after the release of Elizabeth Gilbert’s movie Eat, Pray, Love. Travel + Leisure awarded Bali the Best Island award in 2010 and BBC Travel declared it the 2nd Best Island in the world after Greece in 2011. Other major attractions are the temples of which Tirtha Empul and Pura Taman Ayun are two famous ones.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Anytime of the year is perfect to go to Rio de Janeiro. It really is temperate all year long. The festive season starts from December and lasts throughout February and attracts many tourists to this beautiful beach paradise. The biggest event is New Year’s Eve. Copacabana hosts some of the liveliest parties and beautiful firework displays in the entire country. If you love to party, this is the best place for you. Another big event is the Carnival. It is truly one of the most spectacular and electric celebration in the world. Nature lovers will not be disappointed as Brazil has beautiful tropical forests. You can also opt for activities like snorkeling and scuba diving.

Johannesburg, South Africa

Johannesburg is pleasantly warm and perfect for traveling and exploring in December, January and February. Like other places in the list, Johannesburg also has many activities that will keep you busy and satisfied. The African Museum in central Johannesburg should be on the ‘must-see’ list. You can also witness conventional South African Theater at the Market Theater. The South African trip will be incomplete if you don’t see the diverse and well-preserved wildlife. Lion Park just outside Johannesburg, where lions can be seen in their natural habitat should not be missed.

Phuket, Thailand

Thailand’s largest island, Phuket has evolved as a famous holiday destination. Due to its location along the southern peninsula in the Andaman Sea, summers in Thailand tend to get a little hot and humid, but winters are pleasant. Phuket has fantastic beaches and vibrant night life. During winters the sea is calm and clear, making it perfect for swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving. With white sandy beaches, stunning resorts, luxurious spas, pleasant weather and Thai hospitality, Phuket makes it on our list of top 10 winter destinations. Kata Noi, Hat Patong, Hat Karon, Hat Kamala and Koh Kaeo Yai are some famous beaches you must visit.

Cuba

Cuba is known for its laid-back nature, faded yet colorful Spanish colonial architecture, vintage cars, cigars and of course the climate. It gets very hot during summers, but winters are comparatively better. Cuba has rich culture and diverse wildlife, not to forget the pristine beach experience. We recommend you stay in casa particulares, which is similar to bed and breakfast. This will give you a chance to interact with the local people. Do not forget to visit Real Fábrica de Tabacos Partagás, one of the oldest cigar factories in Cuba. Here, you can find some of the world’s most famous cigars. Club Habana, Parque Almendares, and Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña are a few other places you can’t afford to miss. All in all, Cuba is a beautiful place with lots of activities, a pleasant climate and friendly people.

Miami, USA

The tropical climate, beautiful beaches and the vibrant nightlife contribute to the popularity of Miami. If you want to celebrate a snow-free, sun-filled Christmas then this is the place to be. The temperature ranges between 17 to 25 degree Celsius in winters. Christmas is a grand celebration in Miami. However, the highlight of Miami winters is New Year’s Eve. The city of Miami Beach hosts its own New Year’s Eve party on South Beach with a fireworks celebration at midnight. You can go to one of Miami’s many nightclubs and/or opt for cruises which have on-board dinner, music and skyline views. Rent bicycles and enjoy the Miami Beach boardwalk or take to the water and swim in the calm waters of the Atlantic Ocean.