Everyone in the United Arab Emirates is no doubt excited about the long Eid Al Adha break, with private sector workers off from Sept. 9 to 13 and public sector employees scot-free all the way until Sept. 18.
It's time to get away from it all and explore some new terrain. So while your mind may be wandering to the usual choices (Turkey, Paris, Rome...), we think you should go somewhere no one else you know has been. You'll come back with not just souvenirs, but amazing stories.
Fortunately, budget travel options cater to our inner wanderlust and you can make a fantastic holiday to unique travel spots without breaking bank. While visa regulations may be an issue for some, most of these destinations also have fairly open borders to UAE residents.
Here are our 4 top picks for your Eid Al Adha escape:
1. South Korea
Although the ticket may be a bit pricier than most, you'll be less nervous about your budget when you arrive. South Korea is affordable, with great Airbnb options for less than $30 a night and hostel beds under $10, you can sleep in comfortably.
Explore the unique mix of traditional culture and modern sophistication that defines South Korea's largest city and capital, Seoul. Enjoy some kimchi and tofu stew as you explore the sprawling metropolis, home to nearly 10 million inhabitants. From the historic Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung palaces to the N Seoul Tower to the green Namsan Mountain Park, there is so much to do and see.
And the best part? South Korea grants visas on arrival or visa free access to a wide range of countries including the Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar, Tunisia and Morocco. Last minute planning shouldn't be a problem.
Home to Transylvania, the land of vampire folklore and the sinister Dracula, Romania's green landscape will relax you, in spite of its nerve-wracking legends. Situated about two to three hours from the capital Bucharest, Bran Castle (or "Dracula's Castle") is near the northern city of Brașov. This formidable fortress is linked to the infamous Vlad the Impaler, whom Bram Stoker is said to have loosely based Dracula off of.
Even if the trendy Vampire craze isn't your thing, you'll find lots to do in Romania. Whether exploring Bucharest or the smaller city of Sibiu, you'll be charmed by this Central European country's natural wonders and unique culture.
Note: Romania is part of Europe's Schengen Area, meaning most Arab nationals, besides Emiratis, require visas.
However, if you have the visa, you'll find this a convenient option since prices are very affordable. Whether your preference for accommodations is hotels, hostels or Airbnb, Romania is an ideal destination for budget travelers.
It's a bit of a haul if you're a private sector worker, but if you're working in the public sector, why not journey somewhere a bit further? Whether you want to explore Ecuador's unique cities, enjoy the nightlife or relax on pristine beaches, this South American gem is your oyster. The ticket will cost a chunk of change but accommodations, food and entertainment are all very cheap. Lonely Planet estimates up to $30 daily for budget travelers.
From the capital Quito's Ciudad Mitad el Mundo to the equator--the country's namesake-- to the Cotopaxi volcano, sandy beaches and green mountains, there's something for everyone. We suggest you head to Baños and check out the Swing at the End of the World located at La Casa Del Arbol. It's definitely a thrill, and a great photo opportunity.
Ecuador also happens to have one of the most lax visa policies of any country in the world, so most travelers don't need to worry about long applications and trips to the embassy.
Everyone is talking about Azerbaijan and its rapidly developing capital city, Baku. You can explore historic palaces, peruse vibrant museums and take in the city's modern architecture. Interestingly, you can also tell your friends that you've visited the lowest-lying national capital in the world. The city sits at 28 meters below sea level.
While the glamorous architecture might fool you into thinking you're going to have to whip out your cash, Airbnb rentals can be found for under $30 per night and hostels for less than $15. Of course, if you're looking for a more luxurious experience, you can check hotels as well.
GCC citizens can enter Azerbaijan with a visa upon arrival.