Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Honeymoon destinations

Outlook Money helps you zone in on six foreign destinations that come at less than Rs 2 lakh for a week.

Koh Samui, Thailand. With its cheap and exquisite cuisine, Thailand has been a honeymoon favourite for the last few years. Koh Samui, a 75-minute flight from Bangkok, draws not only food lovers but also people who love fishing, deep sea diving and cable rides. It is also a shopping heaven. These apart, don’t miss out on the Chaweng Beach, the Na Muang waterfall, the butterfly garden and the Big Buddha statue. After all this travelling and shopping, treat your aching body to a luxurious Thai massage.

“Two nights in Bangkok and four nights in Koh Samui, inclusive of airfare, airport transfers, breakfast and sight sightseeing, will cost around Rs 75,000 for a couple,” says Vikas Suda, managing director of Delhi-based travel company, Vdoit4u. You can stay at the three-star First Bungalow Beach Resort at Chaweng Beach or the four-star Bandara Resort at Bo Phut.

Male, Maldives. You won't blame us for recommending Male, even if you're a ‘no-beach’ person. The capital of Maldives is not only an island of exotic beaches but also has amazing marine ecosystems and wildlife. To get there, you can go from Delhi to Colombo and then on to Male, six hours by air.

A perfect destination to roll in the sand, soak in the sun, and take long walks along the coastal stretch that is home to over 700 varieties of fish. “To set your heart racing and your blood pumping, try out some of the adventure activities here-parasailing, scuba diving, snorkelling and windsurfing,” say Manisha and Sanjeev Nangia of Delhi-based Saltours. A sunset cruise or a castaway lunch will give that perfect Male experience. What this will cost you is around Rs 1.15 lakh for six nights and seven days.

Barcelona, Spain. Soccer fans, this one’s for you. Barcelona is the Mecca of European football. A match with rivals Real Madrid at the Camp Nou stadium is a huge crowd puller and, for an Indian, this will be quite an experience. This soccer crazy state, situated in Catalonia, Spain, is also ideal for connoisseurs of modern art. Pay homage to Pablo Picasso, by visiting the museum dedicated to him. Savouring a bottle of the very popular Catalan champagne, Cava, would make it a perfect dream tour that you would never want to see get over. “The city is for the young. Unlike some of the other European cities, it exudes youthfulness and vivacity exemplified by the architecture of the great Antonio Gaudi,” says Richa Goyal of Delhi-based Stic Group.

Barcelona is not a very big city in terms of size, 100.4 sq km, so it is possible to explore it and its surroundings in a short span of time. The beautiful fresh water lakes near the city makes it a romantic place for long walks. As Barcelona has a rich cultural heritage in architecture and is a sports hotspot, it is fast becoming a popular travel destination.

Strasbourg, France. This European city is located on the northeast border of France with Germany. Apart from a rich cultural heritage, the city has many small, picture-postcard beautiful villages around like Colmar and Obernai. Says Goyal, “These villages are about an hour’s drive from Strasbourg city.” Lodging can become very affordable if couples live in service apartments and not luxurious hotels. “The service hotels are very popular and one can get a room for €85-100 per day,” says Goyal. Next to Strasbourg is a popular tourist attraction called Le Petit France, which literally means ‘The small France’. It has preserved historically significant artefacts for years. “It will make people feel that they have gone back in time,” says Goyal. Another must-see is the world’s largest replica of the Statue of Liberty in Colmar. Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, the sculptor of the Statue of Liberty, was born here.

Turkey. This Eurasian country holds sway with its beaches, artefacts, food and wine. To truly enjoy the rich cultural heritage of Turkey, your stay should cover Istanbul, Ephesus and Cappadocia. A five-hour flight from Delhi will not tire you too much. Once there, you must visit the Zelve Open Air Museum, the ancient cities of Aphrodisias and Pergamon, Virgin Mary’s House and Pamukkale, the sacred spring. “Turkey is an epic drama, an awesome land with a rich culture that forever charms and delights,” says Suda of Vdoit4u.

A six nights seven days trip to Turkey covering three nights in Istanbul, two in Ephesus, and one in Cappadocia, inclusive of airfare, airport transfers and breakfast would cost around Rs 1.2 lakh for two.

Egypt. Famous for its ancient civilisation and some of the world’s most famous monuments, including the Giza pyramid complex and the Great Sphinx, Egypt is a land of archeological wonders. It’s an eight-hour flight, via Dubai, from Delhi. A seven-nights eight-days trip, covering three nights in Cairo and four on a cruise covering Luxor, Aswan, Esna and Edfu, including airfare, accommodation, and travel to and within cities, would cost a couple around Rs 1.4 lakh.

Satisfy your historical palate, devouring the beauties of the 4,500-year-old Sphinx, a national symbol of Egypt, Karnak temple, Khan el-Khalili, once known as the Turkish bazaar during the Ottoman period and ancient cities of Memphis and Sakkara.

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