Explore These Undiscovered Cities At Half The Price Of A Euro-Trip

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Photo of Explore These Undiscovered Cities At Half The Price Of A Euro-Trip by Varun Suchday

Smoke rises from the shisha mingling with the desert wind, a camel kicks up some dirt on an empty street, the bazaar kicks on with the scent of itars, a shawarma spins attracting drops of fire, a pair of bronze eyes gaze at you just as the speakers on the tall minaret call for the azaan. Welcome to Arabia! The old Arabia. The one that decided to skip the rat race and lives on in a thousand and one nights. These Arabian cities will fill your heart with content. These cities are for the real travelers and not the tourists who flog Dubai, Muscat, Paris, Barcelona and Amsterdam with their selfie sticks.

Let's begin with a city that seems out of place in Arabia. Salalah is surrounded by verdant hills, spectacular waterfalls and the turquoise sea. Oman's second largest city is also relatively cooler than other Arabian cities. Catch the sunset from the Taqah Castle, built in local Dhofari style; photograph the strange Al Marneef Blowholes where the ground spits sea water like fountains; take a boat trip to the crystal waters of the Sea of Oman in a traditional wooden Omani boat; visit the Sumhuram Archaeological Site belonging to the 1st century CE; and relax those weary bones on the powdery sand of Al Hafa Beach.

How to get there: Round-trip flights from Kochi to Salalah cost ₹19,000.

Daily budget: The average daily expense is ₹3,500 including accommodation, transportation, food and entrance tickets.

Best time to visit: The best time to visit Salalah is from November to March. The temperature ranges from 14 to 26 Celsius during this time.

Where to stay: Sama As Sadah (₹1,888 double), Al Nile Hotel (₹2,800 double). For more options, check here.

What do you get when you combine Athens, Rome and Vienna? Shiraz - The city of civilizations, culture and poetry. Fill your Instagram with stained-glass windows, meticulously painted tiles, arches, Persian rugs and carved pillars of Nasir ol-Mulk Mosque; pay homage to Shiraz's favorite son and Iran's most loved poet Hafez at the Tomb of Hafez; visit UNESCO World Heritage Site of Persepolis, the pinnacle of Persian architecture and its ancient capital; follow the footsteps of Alexander the Great to the Tomb of Cyrus the Great rising sitting amidst unforgiving terrain; and walk the labyrinths of Vakil Bazaar and shop for rugs, spices and jewelry.

How to get there: Round-trip flights from New Delhi to Shiraz cost ₹30,000.

Daily budget: The average daily expense is ₹1,280 including accommodation, transportation, food and entrance tickets.

Best time to visit: The best time to visit Shiraz is May, June, September and October. The temperature ranges from 10 to 37 Celsius during this time.

Beirut! It engulfs you in its charms and then leaves you confused. You can't decide whether you fell for its modern marvels, ancient wonders, energetic vibe or a bit of all three. Start with the Pigeon Rocks, Beirut's iconic rocks rising out of the sea; visit the ruins of ancient Roman Baths in downtown Beirut; check out the art galleries and farmers' market of French Colonial styled Saifi Village; be charmed by the magnificence of Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque; learn about medieval Lebanese architecture at Beit Ed-Dine Palace; head to the magnificent 18th century Saint George’s Greek Orthodox Cathedral; and learn about the horrors of the Lebanese civil war by visiting the abandoned Holiday Inn and Beit Beirut, a sniper base during the war.

How to get there: Round-trip flights from New Delhi to Beirut cost ₹21,400.

Daily budget: The average daily expense is ₹2,616 including accommodation, transportation, food and entrance tickets.

Best time to visit: The best time to visit Beirut is from May to October. The temperature ranges from 15 to 32 Celsius during this time.

Where to stay: Embassy Hotel (₹2,500 twin), Beverly Hotel Beirut (₹5,000 double) For more options, check here.

Amman, the capital of Jordan, is a pleasant mix of art, history and modernity. Start your Amman adventure by exploring Roman, Byzantine, and Omayyad ruins sitting atop Jebel al-Qala’a Hill; get a dose of Jordanian folklore at the Jordan Folklore Museum and Museum of Popular Tradition; click photos of the Ottoman-styled King Hussein Mosque; sample the local flavors by dining on baklava and falafel at Souk Al-Sukar; and shop for souvenirs, lanterns, jewelry, and antiques at Souk al-Bukharia.

How to get there: Round-trip flights from New Delhi to Amman cost ₹23,400.

Daily budget: The average daily expense is ₹1,948 including accommodation, transportation, food and entrance tickets.

Best time to visit: The best time to visit Amman is from April to July. The temperature ranges from 13 to 30 Celsius during this time.

Where to stay: Cliff Hotel (₹1,000 twin), Larsa Hotel (₹5,000 twin). For more options, check here.

Unique culture, proud people and a city in defiance, Ramallah is a rare opportunity to experience and understand Palestine. Capture different aspects of Palestinian life at the Al-Manara Square; check out the Ottoman-era buildings of Tahta, the old city; visit the Tomb of Arafat to pay homage to Yasser Arafat; see how Ramallah changed over the years at the photo gallery in Dar Zahran Heritage Building; sip some Palestinian beer at the Taybeh Brewery; shop for authentic Palestinian wares at Noora Heritage House; and head to the outskirts of Ramallah for rock climbing.

How to get there: Round-trip flights from Mumbai to Ben Gurion Airport, Jerusalem cost ₹35,500.

Daily budget: The average daily expense is ₹5,000 including accommodation, transportation, food and entrance tickets.

Best time to visit: The best time to visit Ramallah is from May to July and September to November. The temperature ranges from 14 to 30 Celsius during this time.

Where to stay: Hostel In Ramallah (₹1,127 dorm bed), Retno Hotel (₹4,725 double). For more options, check here.

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