If you are a traveller, you will agree that traveling during certain times of the year makes the whole experience worthwhile, and winter is one such time. The calm weather, the festive vibe, and the excitement of a fresh new year (or the ending of it) all add up the experience. And what can be better than going on budget-friendly trips and getaways while enjoying the calmness of the season?
With the air already smelling like winter, here are 5 places you can travel for less than Tk 1 lac this season (including air fare)!
Turquoise seas, white sand beaches, and beautiful aqua horizons — what better way to describe Maldives? If you are trying to avoid the cold winter altogether, but willing to take advantage of the calm sea, then Maldives is the place to be! To make any trip a budget-friendly one, you should always find out how locals live and move around.
Although the private islands are tempting, you can enjoy a similar experience in the public islands where locals live, as this will cut down your accommodation and travelling expenses significantly. You can find good accommodation in bungalows for $70 per night and can easily move around by shared speedboat and ferry.
Apart from enjoying the delectable food, Maldives has one of the cleanest waters, where you can try snorkelling in breath-taking coral gardens, within $40 for three snorkelling points. Fishing is also a fun activity in Maldives that you can do in the open ocean. You will be surprised to see the variety of fish that pop up in different weather conditions!
This is another gem of a country that not only boasts natural beauty, but has a rich history. To explore it all in a cost-effective manner, the first point is to cut on accommodation by booking hotels through the second or third best market players to enjoy great discounts or opt for shared accommodation services such as hostels starting at $10 per night.
To move about, you may want to learn to ride a scooty (and this skill shall benefit you for many other countries). Being surrounded by two oceans — Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean, you will find the best weather during winter to enjoy the country and drive along the never-ending coastline, which by itself, takes 2-3 days to explore.
Mirissa in Sri Lanka is considered one of the best places for surfing and you can also go whale watching (both of which are free of charge). Apart from the beaches, Sri Lanka also has one of the world’s most scenic train rides — Kandy to Ella — which you can enjoy for only $10. Lasting seven hours, it slithers past remote villages, waterfalls, lush green hills, and tea plantations, giving the essence of Sri Lanka’s raw beauty.
There are also several holy places in Sri Lanka you can visit for free, including Adam’s Peak, where Adam is said to have laid his first footstep on earth, the rock plateau at Sigiriya that is said to have had Ravana’s palace, and the natural bridge made of mineral shoals known as The Ram Setu Bridge. Sri Lankans love flavour and local food items include fried rice, kottu roti, dosa, hopper, coconut curry, and seafood that you can have under $5.
Philippines is another Southeast Asian archipelago consisting of over 7,000 islands, and winter is the best time to be there for the calm seas. For accommodation, you can find affordable water cottages for as low as $55 per night. Philippines also houses famous active volcanoes, such as Mayon Volcano, which is said to have the world’s most symmetrical volcanic cone.
Being an island nation, Corong and Palawan islands contain some of the best waters of the Pacific where you can do snorkelling and scuba diving, both of which you can try for about $20 per dive. Philippines also has some of the best lagoons, such as Twin Lagoon and Blue Lagoon, to enjoy boat rides, kayaking, rock formations with greenery, and jelly fishes.
Apart from the calm blue waters and magnificent nature, Philippines has a megacity — Manila. This will give you the true city experience, consisting of both modern and historic places, such as Binondo, which is the oldest China Town in the world and is also great for food excursions, and Intramuros or the Walled City that is the historic core of Manila.
Manila also provides affordable shopping experience, in places like Divisoria, Cubao Expo, and weekend markets. The city also has an exhaustive list of modern museums that you can visit within $8-18, where some of the best picks would be The Dessert Museum, Art in Island, and Upside Down Museum, or you can pay a visit to the Ocean Park. You can explore all this while enjoying the amenities of a city, moving about in jeepneys or MRT.
This time of the year provides the best views in Nepal for sightseeing for its clear skies and breath-taking Himalayan views. Some famous and majestic mountain ranges in Nepal include Annapurna, Damodar, Kanchenjunga, and Langtang mountain ranges.
When in Nepal, make sure to visit Kathmandu with its monuments, medieval temples, and monasteries. You can also do plenty of shopping for jewellery, spices, and woollens in places like Thamel, Aroma Garden, and Sherpa Mall. Another must-visit city is Pokhara, known for its peaceful environment where you can enjoy the calmness and boating in Phewa Lake, or adventurous activities such as paragliding for $72, camping, and mountain biking.
Nepal is popular for many activities that will give you the experience of a lifetime such as river rafting ($55) through white water rivers or enjoy picturesque views in a hot air balloon ($84). You can also opt for calmer activities like a cooking class or painting workshop for under $100.
Accommodation in Nepal is affordable — while exploring the mountains, you can stay in mountain lodges or homestays. While in the city, you can rest in hotels or shared accommodation services. Nepalese food is also well-known to us — with rice, lentil, and momo topping the list. Due to the meagre difference in currency value, travelling in Nepal is quite affordable.
Since Vietnam is an unusually lengthy country, it is best to plan your route ahead from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City and back. You can find various affordable accommodation options in Vietnam, ranging from hostels to mid-range hotels that will cost about $15-60 per night.
Street food vendors here do an excellent job at cooking delicacies that taste luxurious, which you can wrap up within $5 per meal. Banh mi, which is a baguette sandwich and pho, a broth-based soup with rice noodles is the most popular food in Vietnam, where they also enjoy a very strong coffee culture.
Do not miss out on Ha Long Bay to witness its breath-taking views of emerald waters, limestone islands, and rainforests by booking a daytrip for about $40 and enjoy cave tours and kayaking. You can also explore Cu Chi Tunnels under Ho Chi Minh City or Hoi An Town to go back in time. To explore more of their way of living, visit Sapa Rice Terraces and the Mekong Delta floating markets.
Lastly, Vietnam provides a host of affordable options to move around, including domestic flights, buses, trains, scooters, and cable cars. Your choice of vehicle will depend on the route you are taking, after which, you can select the best affordable option.