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Ideas for Some Christmas Get-Aways

its-holiday-timeThe festive season in Dubai is one of the best times to be in Dubai with great weather and the Christmas shopping is actually quite enjoyable as you are not wrapped up in a million layers trying to negotiate the crowds in over-heated shops!

However, for many families this is a time that they all have holiday leave at the same time and so this is an ideal time to take advantage of living in a country which literally has air-connections to all over the world.

Here are some ideas of destinations to help you with your holiday planning.

stick-fishermenSri Lanka

Known as the Pearl of the Indian Ocean and just over 4 hours flying time from Dubai, Sri Lanka offers stunning landscapes with green mountains draped in tea plantations, 1,330 km of coastline, 15 national parks, 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and 250 acres of botanical gardens.

Sri Lanka is a fantastic destination for the whole family.  The children and adults will love a visit to Pinnawela which is home to orphaned elephants. You can accompany the elephants to the river & see them enjoying their daily bath.

For the adventurous try your hand at white water river rafting at Kitulgala on the Kelani River (Bridge over the River Kwai was filmed here). Tours can be arranged for anything from 1 hour to half a day including lunch. After lunch take a stroll through the tea plantations set high above the river.

Head down to the south of the island for laid back beach life. If you and the children are still feeling adventurous grab a surf board and hit the waves at Hikkaduwa. Or if you are looking for a more restful beach holiday head further on round the south coast to Unawatuna where you will find golden sandy beaches to relax on. When you can pull yourself off the sun lounger take the children turtle watching at Rekawa Beach home to the most important sea turtle nesting sites in Sri Lanka.

haolong-bayVietnam

You can now fly direct from Dubai to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in just under 7 hours.  Ho Chi Minh City is located in the south of the country.  It is not the capital but is the biggest city of Vietnam.  Like many of it’s neighbouring Asian cities it is hot, busy, chaotic and noisy so you maybe only want to spend a couple of days here but make sure you visit The Cu Chi Tunnels and The War Remnants Museum.

Hoi An
This ancient Town lies at the mouth of the Thu Bon River. Having escaped the destruction of all the successive wars in Vietnam, the old town of Hoi An was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO (in 1999)  and is a well-preserved example of an ancient South-east Asian trade port. Many visit Hoi An for its numerous art and craft shops and tailors, who manufacture made-to-measure clothes for a fraction of the Western price

Halong Bay
(literally: Bay of Descending Dragons;) A UNESCO World Heritage site  with some of the most beautiful natural sceneries worldwide. The bay features thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various sizes and shapes. The Ha Long bay, dotted with some 2000 limestone islets rising from emerald waters, is the best known natural wonder of Vietnam.

Hanoi
This has to one of my favourite cities.  It is the capital of Vietnam with a historical Old Town,  colonial French Quarter, ancient temples of more than thousand years of age and various scenic lakes and landmarks all make up one of the most fascinating cities of South-east Asia, with a mix of Chinese and French influences enriching the vibrant Vietnamese culture. It is very easy to walk about or even more enjoyable exploring the city in one of the many cyclos.  The shopping is great and the artwork beautiful.

Travelling between Ho Chi Minh/Hoi An/Hanoi can be done by internal flights and Halong Bay/Hanoi can be done by road.

mauritiusMauritius

Mauritius takes just under 7 hours by direct flights from Dubai and  is on the same time zone (so no jet lag).  It is an island located in the Indian Ocean just off South-East Africa.  The island is quite large measuring over 2000 square kilometres and is fringed by beautiful beaches with top-class hotel accommodation to match the standards of Dubai that we have all become accustomed to.

Don’t be fooled to thinking Mauritius is just for honeymooners as there are lots of activities on offer for all ages including diving, golfing and shopping.  Many of the hotels offer an all inclusive deal which are great value for money as many of them include water-sports which keeps the kids entertained for hours (and the Dads!).

A great family favourite is a visit to Casela Park.  Casela is an area of 14 hectares of lush greenery which is now home to a big variety of fauna and flora. Some 1,500 birds, a selection of wildcats, zebras, giant tortoises, long-tailed monkeys, among other species, can be watched on site.  Activities in the park include canyoning or hiking Via Ferrata, double and triple ziplines and the adventurous cable bridges.

A visit to the west coast will bring you to the town of Tamarin.  This is where many tours depart for whale watching and swimming with dolphins.  The Dolphins, the Bottlenose Dolphin and the Spinner Dolphin, have made of the West Coast of Mauritius a place for them to rest and sleep before going to the deep sea for their fishing.  It is possible to find many different types of whales in Mauritius. The most common whales are: Blainville’s Beaked Whale, Gray’s Beaked Whale, Dwarf Sperm Whale, and the Sperm whale which is the most famous Whale in Mauritius is the Sperm Whale.

One of the most famous attractions on the island is the Botanical Gardens opened for nearly 300 years.  It is populated with more than 650 varieties of plants among which are the famous Baobabs, the Palmier Bouteille, the ineluctable Giant Water Lilies, dozens of medicinal plants, a large spice garden and many more.



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