Planning a New Year holiday? Top international destinations to visit

Updated on Dec 15, 2021 02:13 PM IST

As the holiday season kicks off, double vaccinated travel enthusiasts are itching to pack their bags and head to international destinations.

With Christmas and New Year round the corner, people are looking for destinations to relax and rejuvenate(Sandip Hor)
With Christmas and New Year round the corner, people are looking for destinations to relax and rejuvenate(Sandip Hor)
BySandip Hor | Edited by Parmita Uniyal

With international border restrictions easing and more international flights in the sky, double vaccinated people with an itchy foot have started taking the dust off from their passports and looking for recommendations where to travel offshore without much of a hassle. 

As the holiday season is upon us with Christmas and New Year round the corner, people are looking for destinations to relax and rejuvenate.

Listed below are five such places which are pledged to blow mind.

Dubai

Endless shopping, inspiring food options, hordes of entertainment and most importantly direct flights with Emirates Airlines from many Indian cities makes Dubai a perfect holiday destination for Indian travellers.

ALSO READ: What are the Covid entry rules for travellers to European countries?

The second-largest city of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), it lives with the never-ending desire of building icons, best described with superlatives such as tallest, largest, first, only and so on. The best example is the Burj Khalifa Tower, the world’s tallest building where visitors drop in first to enjoy a spectacular view of the cityscape before indulging into anything else.

A paradise for shopaholics, Dubai boasts of multiple shopping avenues(Sandip Hor)
A paradise for shopaholics, Dubai boasts of multiple shopping avenues(Sandip Hor)

A paradise for shopaholics, Dubai boasts of multiple shopping avenues from myriad avant-garde shopping malls to traditional souks and bargain hunting bazaars.

Among several shopping malls, Dubai Mall the world’s largest shopping arena and the humungous Mall of Emirates are the front runners. All the name brands that one can possibly come across has been assembled under one roof in these two areas where retail therapy is complimented with thrilling entertainment. While Ski Dubai in the Mall of Emirates offers skiing, snowboarding and other snow-filled entrainment, Dubai Aquarium inside Dubai Mall draws a huge crowd in front of its 50 m long glass tank to watch an incredible diversity of marine life.

No visit to Dubai is complete for someone from India without a trip to the gold souk – the world’s largest gold market said to hold 10 tons of the metal at any given time.

Malta

Located in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea between Sicily in Europe and Tunisia in North Africa, Malta as a destination became popular among Indians when Bollywood superstar Salman Khan while shooting there for his film ‘Bharat’ stated it to be a ‘lovely country’.

Filled with 7000 years of history influenced by the presence of many conquerors, from the Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs and the Normans to Knights of St John in the 16th century followed by the French and the British, this sunbathed archipelago comprise of three main inhabited islands, Gojo, Comino and Malta.

The landscape of Malta still displays a medieval character.(Sandip Hor)
The landscape of Malta still displays a medieval character.(Sandip Hor)

Present capital Valletta and other tourist throbbed quarters like historic Mdina, Rabat, the Three Cities - Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua and the fishing town of Marsaxlokk are all located in Malta Island while much smaller islands of Gozo and Comino are a short ferry ride from its shores.

What is seen today were built by the Knights during their 268-year reign. This includes forts, palaces, cathedrals, gates and mansions, some expressing the best of baroque design in the world. Two top examples are St John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta and St Pauls Cathedral in Mdina which is dedicated to the apostle St Paul who introduced Christianity in Malta in 60AD.

While Valletta is famous for its fortification embraced stunning waterbodies and church-dome dominated skyline, modest townships of former capital Mdina where once Maltese nobles lived, next door Rabat and the Three Cities are characterised by golden yellow limestone architecture flanking narrow cobblestone alleyways opening to piazzas where once nobles socialised, soldiers paraded, priests talked, kings fought and now films shot.

The landscape of Malta still displays a medieval character. So, it’s not unusual for outsiders to often imagine it as ancient Rome or Greece or even 19th century Marseilles and 1960’s Beirut. Because of this, the destination has appeared in many blockbuster movies, television dramas and documentaries from the silent version ‘Sons of the Sea’ in 1925 to ‘Bharat’ lately. In between there are many big names – ‘Casino Royale’, ‘Eye Witness’, ‘Gladiator’, ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’, ‘Troy’, ‘The Da Vinci Code’ ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Thugs of Hindostan’ are few from the list of over fifty.

Singapore

Close to home Singapore has always been a favourite of Indian travellers. Perhaps the main reason for this preference is a home away from home feeling generated by the presence of millions of Singaporeans with Indian heritage. 

This feeling escalates when at the Little India quarter – the city’s most culturally vibrant precinct packed with saree stores, jewellery shops, Indian grocery and spice shops, temples, mosques and hordes of desi eateries serving fish curry rice for Bengalis, biryani for Hyderabadis, rogan josh for Kashmiris and idli, sambar, dosa and filter coffee for people from South India. The iconic attraction there for the Indians is the 24 hours open Mustafa Store, a shopper’s haven to find everything mind can think of. The shopping experience intensifies when visiting some of the glittering, expansive and trendy shopping malls.

Besides retail therapy, there are hordes of other things to do and see in Singapore(Sandip Hor)
Besides retail therapy, there are hordes of other things to do and see in Singapore(Sandip Hor)

Besides retail therapy, there are hordes of other things to do and see in Singapore from gravitating along Orchard Road, wandering in Chinatown and Arab Quarter and going through artistic collections at many of the city’s world-class museums to jumping into one of those bright yellow hop-on buses for a ride through lush tree lined boulevards, flanked with manicured gardens and skyscrapers, at some places sharing space with well-preserved British colonial buildings. A highly recommended experience is to visit Sentosa Island – a gateway of fun and entertainment for the entire family.

Bhutan

Indian nationals don’t need any visa to travel to the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan which presents awe-inspiring nature, a strong sense of spirituality and endless smiling faces of friendly Bhutanese people, all aptly weaved together to justify it as "Land of Happiness". Discerned travellers from around the globe step into this tiny nation to get a little share of their unspoilt happiness.

Indian nationals don’t need any visa to travel to Bhutan(Sandip Hor)
Indian nationals don’t need any visa to travel to Bhutan(Sandip Hor)

The mountainous land is full of many interesting things to see, experience and enjoy. An odyssey covering cities of Paro and former and present capital Punaka and Thimpu grants a good taste of what Bhutan has to offer. These settlements are dotted with royal quarters, temples, monasteries and religious monuments and reflect a quaint lifestyle with practice of age old customs and traditions at its centre stage.

One of the most adventurous activities is to visit the Tiger Nest Monastery near Paro hanging from a cliff at around 3000 metres above sea level. This famous mountainous shrine was established by Guru Rinpoche from India, who is revered in the land as the “Second Buddha."

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