Start next year with a trip of a lifetime and make your plans now
Time Out Bahrain staff
We love Bahrain. We really do. But sometimes you have to jump on a plane and explore the world before you can really enjoy your home life. Here at Time Out we’ve been bitten by the travel bug and after numerous business trips around the Gulf we’re ready for a few days hardcore rest and relaxation.
But where to go? Cultural tour or beachside break? Party retreat or hillside campsite? European excursion or African adventure?
We’ve teamed up with the internationally renowned Time Out travel network to bring your 13 sensational destinations that will make you want to start packing your case straight away.
In each package we’ve selected a hotel that stands out in terms of value for money and also quality of service. From a safari retreat in the Masai Mara to a trendy Berlin boutique hotel no two trips are the same. Book your trip today and don’t forget to send us a postcard from wherever you go.
Cheap breaks Goa, India Why go? Silver sands and turquoise seas offer a fantastic backdrop for whiling away the days, dining only on barbecued fish, spicy Goan seafood curries and fresh fruit. For those looking for a more active getaway, Goa’s renowned (and somewhat infamous) nightlife scene speaks for itself.
Don’t miss: It’s difficult to choose just one attraction, but for culture fans the Cabo da Rama Fort is worth a visit. Those looking for a bargain (and beautiful souvenirs) should head to Anjuna Flea Market.
Where to stay: Villa Anjuna, in Anjuna Beach, offers basic but clean rooms from BD15 a night. It also has a pool. www.villaanjuna.com (+91 832 227 3443).
Airline to try: Fly from Bahrain to Goa with Jet Airways from BD250 return. www.jetairways.com.
Lucknow, India Why go? This vibrant city is the capital of Uttar Pradesh and the heart of culture in northern India. It’s particularly known for its rich cuisine, which has a royal Mughal touch.
Don’t miss: Shia shrine Bara Imambara. Built in 1783 as a tomb due to a large famine, it is a key example of Mughal architecture and is home to the largest arched hall in the world, as well as a mind-boggling labyrinth (hire a guide for this bit – you will get lost).
Where to stay: For BD30 a night at double occupancy, you can stay in the central, reliable but by no means luxury Meera Mann (a hotel that advertises hot and cold running water as one of its main features is never going to blow you away). The heritage-style Vivanta by Taj Gomti Nagar is a more luxury option at BD60 a night. www.hotelmeramann.com (+91 522 263 8181), www.vivantabytaj.com (+91 522 671 1000).
Airline to try: Fly from Bahrain to Lucknow with Jet Airways from BD253 return. www.jetairways.com.
Kathmandu, Nepal Why go? Kathmandu will knock your socks off from the moment you walk out of Tribhuvan Airport. The city, and in particular the central district of Thamel, is enchantingly chaotic and ludicrously budget-friendly, from the stellar eats on every corner to the North Face knock-offs that could fool even the most seasoned trekkers.
Don’t miss: Swayambhunath stupa, also known as Monkey Temple, thanks to its furry residents. An important part of the pilgrimage is the long staircase up the hill.
Where to stay: Ambassador Garden Home is a rare place of tranquility situated in frenetic Thamel. Prices from BD21 per room, per night. www.aghhotel.com (+977 01 470 0724).
Airline to try: Fly from Bahrain to Kathmandu with Gulf Air from approximately Dhs210 return. www.gulfair.com.
Adventurous breaks Masai Mara, Kenya Why go? You’ve just missed the great wildebeest migration (1.4 million wildebeest and 191,000 zebras make their seasonal trek to find water and greener pastures) but there are still plenty of animal attractions to see in Kenya. Whether you get to see the animals awake, asleep or on the attack it is a humbling experience.
Don’t miss: The Masai Mara reserve is also home to lions, giraffes, elephants and more. Lions make for excellent photo opportunities so make sure you have your camera packed for some unforgettable Facebook updates.
Where to stay: Porini Mara Camp in the conservancy of Ol Kinyei is 18km from Masai Mara park. With only six tents, it’s a quiet, spacious and luxury bush experience that has bespoke service to boot. Packages start from BD570 per person for two nights’ accommodation, park fees, Nairobi to Siana airstrip return flights, conservancy fees, game drives, walks with Masai warriors, full board, sundowners and unlimited soft drinks, hops and grape (so yes, pretty much everything). www.porini.com (+254 77 413 6523).
Airline to try: Fly to Nairobi via Sharjah with Air Arabia from BD212 return. www.airarabia.com.
Ethiopia Why go? The vast, mountainous kingdom provides sweeping vistas, rich cultural heritage and fantastic coffee (served absolutely everywhere).
Don’t miss: The capital, Addis, is a buzzing (not to mention relatively safe) city that’s a great start to a tour of the country. Lalibela is home to amazing rock-hewn churches, Gonder boasts art deco buildings and ancient palace ruins, while the Danakil Depression offers some of the most otherworldly, incredible scenery on the planet.
Where to stay: Check out the Asheton in Lalibela, from BD3 for a double room. (+251 333 360 030).
Airline to try: Fly from Bahrain to Addis Ababa with Gulf Air from BD125 return. www.gulfair.com.
Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt Why go? To snorkel or dive in the Red Sea, which boasts perhaps the best range of aquatic wildlife in the world. You can head out afterwards on the busy bar circuit (the Middle East’s answer to San Antonio).
Don’t miss: The 480 sq km Ras Mohammed, one of the best-kept diving parks in Egypt. Ensure your travel insurance covers you, and keep an eye on www.cdws.travel, which provides regular updates on diving conditions or (very rare) dangers.
Where to stay: Camel Divers hotel offers good-value backpacker-style rooms with rates from BD11 per person per night. The hotel also runs diving trips and courses. www.cameldive.com (+20 69 3600 700).
Airline to try: Fly to Sharm El Sheikh via Amman with Royal Jordanian from BD129 return. www.rj.com.
City breaks Berlin, Germany Why go? The city is super-trendy, with affordable restaurants and bars, and it’s also full of interesting cultural elements and educational (but at-times harrowing) museums.
Don’t miss: The Holocaust Memorial, designed by architect Peter Eisenman and engineer Buro Happold, is an eerie and emotionally affecting maze of 2,711 concrete blocks. It doesn’t sound like much, but it is immersing.
Where to stay: Circus Hotel is a trendy inner-city spot with good service, clean rooms, bargain prices and a cosy restaurant and bar, with rooms starting from BD37 a night. www.circus-berlin.de (+49 30 2580 0667).
Airline to try: Fly from Bahrain to Berlin with KLM from BD404. www.klm.com.
Copenhagen, Denmark Why go? Described as Scandinavia’s capital of cool, Copenhagen is a very modern city.
Don’t miss: The neverending nightlife. Things don’t usually kick off until the early hours of the morning, so it’s hardly surprising that brunch is practically an institution here. Head to Vega to hang with the cool crowd (www.vega.dk).
Where to stay: Bertrams Hotel Guldsmeden provides a great location with a rustic yet charming vibe. Rooms from BD10 a night. www.bertramshotel.com (+45 70 20 8107).
Airline to try: Fly from Bahrain to Copenhagen from BD300 return. www.gulfair.com.
Hong Kong Why go? The island prickles with energy, from the striking skyline to its fantastic restaurants and energetic nightlife. Hong Kong’s expat-heavy culture bears resemblance to Bahrain’s, but the former is steeped in its own unique history (and has far more indigenous residents – around 95 per cent).
Don’t miss: It’s a tourist trap, granted, but The Peak (www.thepeak.com.hk) is a fantastic vantage point from which to appreciate just how stunning the city is at night.
Where to stay: Central Park Hotel on Hollywood Road (in the north-west of the island) offers rooms from BD46 a night. www.centralparkhotel.com.hk (+852 2850 8899).
Airline to try: Cathay Pacific flies direct to Hong Kong via Abu Dhabi from BD250 return. www.cathaypacific.com.
Relaxing Breaks Cappadocia, Turkey Why go? For a holiday that’s truly unique, head to this historic area in the centre of Turkey. With its moon-like craters, underground cities and hotels in a cave, you could be mistaken for thinking you’re walking onto the set of a movie.
Don’t miss: A hot air balloon ride over the ‘fairy chimneys’. These chimney-like rocks were formed over thousands of years as a result of erosion by wind and rain, and make for spectacular aerial views. Fly with www.goremeballoons.com from BD85 per flight, including bubbles, breakfast and transfers.
Where to stay: The ultimate experience is to stay in a cave hotel, and one of the best is Esbelli Evi. No detail is too small for owner Suha, who goes above and beyond to make you feel at home. Rooms from BD44 a night. www.esbelli.com (+90 384 341 3395).
Airline to try: Fly direct to Istanbul from Bahrain from Dhs350 return. From there you can get either a second flight to Kayseri with Turkish Airlines from BD240 return, or you can brave the 11-hour overnight bus journey from Istanbul for BD13. www.turkishairlines.com, www.otogaristanbul.com.
Langkawi, Malaysia Why go? An archipelago of 99 islands in the Andaman Sea, Langkawi is a peaceful, sunny haven with the best beaches in Malaysia.
Don’t miss: Take a tour of Gunung Raya, an 888m mountain with awe-inspiring views of the area. Don’t forget your camera.
Where to stay: Berjaya Langkawi in Burau Bay is flanked by a rainforest. It’s peaceful (you’ll stay in an over-water chalet) yet full of activities, from spa treats to golf and watersports. www.berjayahotel.com (+60 4959 1888).
Lopud, Croatia Why go? Quite the hidden gem, Lopud is a beautiful and compact island near Dubrovnik. Take long walks along the numerous scenic pathways and find yourself a secluded beach for a private picnic.
Don’t miss: Giorgi-Mayneri botanical park: peek through the midst of 300-year-old trees to find an oasis of fountains and beautiful flowers.
Where to stay: La Villa waterfront boutique hotel is positively stunning. Guests even have use of the newly acquired boat, which can whisk you off on numerous excursions to local islands. Rooms start at BD37 a night. www.lavilla.com.hr (+385 91 322 0126).
Airline to try: You might need to plane hop a bit to do it but you can get their comfortably with changes in Doha and Frankfurt from BD330. www.lufthansa.com.
Zanzibar, Tanzania Why go? The sand is as white as you’ll ever see. Oh, and it’s the birthplace of Queen legend Freddie Mercury.
Don’t miss: Most people tend to head straight for the picturesque beaches, but make sure you spend a night or two among the hustle and bustle of charming Stone Town.
Where to stay: If snorkelling and fishing is your thing, Matemwe Beach Guesthouse is situated on a quiet, pristine beach near the famous Mnemba Atoll and is ideal for families, costing from BD50 a night for a single room. For something more lively, head north to Ras Nungwi, from BD47 per person per night. www.matemwebeach.com (+44 1306 880 770), www.rasnungwi.com (+255 24 223 3767).
Package/airline to try: Ethiopian Air flies to Zanzibar via Addis Ababa from BD220 return.