There's no denying that a trip to the Unites States of America is a right of passage for every traveller. But what is also true is that popular American destinations are expensive and can set you back quite a bit financially.
Rather than travelling all the way to America, why not enjoy the serenity of a few dream destinations closer to home? These destinations can guarantee new sights at a reasonable price, without sacrificing the level of comfort and hospitality you'd expect at an exotic American vacation spot.
1. For Untarnished Beaches
For many of us, the mere mention of Bali evokes a sense of paradise. The Island of the Gods is more than a place, it's a feeling, a desire, a tropical state of mind.
Things to do in Bali: Enjoy the art of Balinese massage at La Joya; Visit Bedugal Waterfalls; Cleanse your soul at Pura Tirta Empul, the temple of the holy water; Chill out at lesser known beaches such as Nyang Nyang Beach, Gunung Payung Beach, Green Bowl Beach and Atuh Beach.
Where: Jl Batu Mejan, 80361 Canggu, Indonesia
Air tickets: Around ₹13,000 if booked at least a month in advance.
Tip: Fly from Kochi and book through Skyscanner.
2. For Crazy Parties
The capital of Thailand welcomes more visitors than any other city in the world and it won't take you long to see why!
A bewildering puzzle of colourful cabs, towering skyscrapers and busy pedestrians, Bangkok is an amalgamation of sights and sounds that reward travellers handsomely.
Things to do in Bangkok: Visit the Grand Palace; Ride the Sky Train; Try all the street food your stomach can handle; Take a trip around Chatuchak Market; Treat yourself to dinner at Vertigo; Get a foot massage around Khao San Road
Where: 128/1 Sukhumvit Soi 4, Klongtoey, Khlong Toei, Bangkok, Thailand
Tip: Book at least a month in advance and fly from Kolkata.
3. For Celebrity Spotting
Instead of Los Angeles → Go to Mumbai
This mecca for all things celebrity is the centre of India’s film and television industry. Mumbai, a city that never sleeps, can bewilder even the savviest of traveller, but once you settle into its melody, you'll be won over. It's aggressively modern, with a few corners staying in the medieval times; it's supremely glamorous, yet rough-edged; it's dazzlingly cosmopolitan, yet quintessentially Indian.
Things to do in Mumbai: Taste authentic Iranian cuisine at the Parsi cafes of the city; Get everything you will ever need under Rs 500 at Chor Bazaar; Visit Uttan Beach; Indulge in betting at Mahalaxmi Race Course; Do some celebrity spotting at Marine Drive.
Where: 17, Shri S.R. Marg, Ballard Estate , Mumbai
4. For World-Class Architecture
It's described as a little red dot, but the ultra-luxurious Singapore has big things to offer. From incredible rooftop restaurants to an iconic skyline, Singapore is a melting pot of cultures. There isn’t anywhere else on Earth where people blend like the way they do in Singapore.
Things to do in Singapore: Visit the Singapore Botanical Gardens; Relax at Quayside Isle; Visit the Legendary Singapore Zoo; Go on a river tour and get to know about the Singapore river and its famous quays – Clarke Quay, Boat Quay, and Robertson Quay; Fly a kite at Marina Barrage; Go cycling at Pulau Ubin.
Where: 2 Town Hall Link, Jurong East, Singapore
5. For Skiing
Gulmarg, Jammu and Kashmir
Looking for skiing destinations? Then Gulmarg is your dream winter sports destination. Located 56km south west of Srinagar, Gulmarg offers natural slopes, inclines and abundant snow to satisfy your skiing fetish. Due to Gulmarg’s geography and its extreme amounts of snowfall, it is often regarded as the best ski resort in the Himalayas and it's my guarantee that you’ll be hard-pressed to find better runs anywhere else in the world.
Things to do in Gulmarg: Go sledging; Learn to ski; Take a ride on a Gulmarg Gondola; Spend a day at Alpather Lake; Explore Gulmarg Biosphere Reserve; Try the flavourful Qahwah tea.
Where: Khilan Side, Heaven Retreats Road, Gulmarg, India
How to Reach
By Air – The airport nearest to Gulmarg is in Srinagar.
By Train – Jammu is the nearest railway station, at a distance of 290 kilometres.
By Bus – Gulmarg is well-connected to Srinagar, Sonmarg and other neighbouring towns in Kashmir via regular bus services.
6. For Unmatched Wilderness
Instead of Yellow Stone National Park → Go to Kanchenjunga National Park, Sikkim
Kanchenjunga National Park, Sikkim
In July 2016, Kanchenjunga National Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, making it the first mixed heritage (combining both natural and man-made) site of India. Named after the mighty Kanchenjunga mountain, the national park is home to several endangered animals as well as highly popular trekking trails.
Things to do in Sikkim: Attempt the Goecha La Trek; Take a Yak Ride near Tsomgo Lake; Visit Rumtek Monastery; Visit Banjhakri Waterfalls.
Where: Sichey, Coopertaive, Gangtok
How to reach:
The airport nearest to Gangtok is Bagdogra in Siliguri. The nearest railway station is New Jalpaiguri in Siliguri, situated 124km from Gangtok.
7. To Get High on Food
Often cited as one of the world's great food capitals, Hanoi is the birthplace of many quintessential Vietnamese dishes, such as pho and bun cha. There's a plethora of options in Hanoi for those who want to eat like a local. A street food lover's paradise, dishes in Hanoi often feature fish sauce, chilies, lemongrass, cilantro and other fresh herbs.
Things you must try:
Bun cha – Pork patties grilled over hot coal and served with tangy vinegar, fish sauce, sugar, lime and eaten with rice vermicelli.
Pho – Fragrant rice noodle soup served with fresh herbs.
Bun rieu cua – Tangy tomato soup prepared with round rice vermicelli and topped with deep-fried tofu and pounded crabmeat.
Where: 50 Hang Be Street, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Vietnam
Note: The flight rates mentioned here are subject to change according to season and other factors. Flight rates were last updated on 22 March, 2017
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