SUMMER BRINGS with it blistering heat, but also a chance to get away from work and travel to exotic destinations in a bid to escape the high temperatures. It’s that time of the year when everybody starts visualising and planning their summer vacations with great gusto.
But gone are the days when vacationing only meant taking in the sights and sounds of the place you were travelling to. These days, it’s all about the experience. In fact, an increasing number of people, especially young parents, in Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi are opting for offbeat and adventurous destinations like jungles and deserts, exploring activities like trekking, paragliding, etc.
This increasing hunger for ‘experiential’ holidays is now leading travellers to opt for destinations like Gangtok and Manali, which are emerging as the most preferred adventure spots for family vacations.
Another interesting trend being noted by industry experts is that of people opting for shorter vacations (less than three days). “In 2013, 39% of travellers opted for jungle and desert destinations, while in 2015, 50% are exploring these new destinations,” says Sharat Dhall, president, Yatra.com, an online travel agency, adding, “Travellers from non-metros are splurging—the budget of travellers in the metros is close to R14,681 as compared to R 16,219 by travellers in non-metros.” We bring to you the most popular domestic and international holiday getaways this season.
Kashmir consists of three regions: Jammu, the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh. While pilgrims opt for Jammu, families and groups will find a lot to like in the Kashmir Valley. Ladakh, on the other hand, will interest the younger travellers. Tourism in the state has been improving every year. Nearly 11 lakh travellers visited Jammu & Kashmir in 2014, of which only 50,000 were foreigners. The maximum number of people travelling to J&K within India are from the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra and West Bengal.
* Skiing at Gulmarg, Pahalgam and Thajiwas glacier in Sonamarg
* Gondola ride in Gulmarg, Asia’s highest and longest cable car project
* Shikara ride through Dal and Nagin lakes
* Packages start from Rs 16,499 for three nights/four days
Kerala, or God’s Own Country, has emerged as one of the top destinations for family vacations. And why not? Amid the lush greens, you can spend some peaceful time here in houseboats with your entire family. Munnar and Wayanad are two of the most preferred destinations.
* Boat rides in lagoons and lakes
* Overnight stays in houseboats
* Spice plantation in Thekkady
* Packages start from Rs 12,299 for three nights/four days
Often referred to as the land of gods, Uttarakhand is nestled in the foothills of the mighty Himalayas. You can try yoga, white-water rafting and bungee jumping, among other adventure sports, here.
* Trekking in Dehradun, the capital of Uttarakhand, which is situated at the Himalayan foothills
* Candle-making in Nainital, famously referred to as the ‘Lake District of India’
* Located at an altitude of 6,000 ft, Mussoorie, the ‘Queen of Hills’, provides beautiful and picturesque treks as well
* White-water rafting and bungee jumping in Rishikesh
* Packages start from Rs 18,959 for three nights/four days
Sikkim, the only brother of the seven sisters, is aiming to be a completely organic state by the end of 2015. Lonely Planet even named it the best place to visit last year. In fact, tourist inflow has increased to 19% ever since.
* Trekking in Goechala Trek, one of the most amazing trails of the Himalayas
* River rafting on the Teesta river
* Bird watching in Kewzing village
* Cable car ride in Gangtok
* Packages start from Rs 16,000 for three nights/four days
The Andaman & Nicobar group of islands are a group of scenic islands nestled in the eastern part of the Bay of Bengal. Altogether, there are some 572 islands, tiny islets and rocks—some inhabited and some not—all with rolling terrain, ridges and spurs all over with subterranean inlets and creeks due to underwater gorges.
* Radhanagar beach
* Snorkelling at Elephant beach, Havelock
* Bharatpur beach is famous for its coral reefs and white shores
* Also known as Kaala Paani, the cellular jail is perhaps one of the most infamous remnants of India’s struggle
* Head to Jolly Buoy Island or Red Skin Island for the best view of those multi-coloured coral reefs Andamans is
so famous for
* Port Blair houses some fantastic museums like the Anthropological Museum, which portrays the islands’ indigenous tribes
* Packages start from Rs 9,999 for three nights/four days
Switzerland, one of the most frequented destinations by Indians in summer, has a diverse landscape, customs and cuisine. You can also enjoy a jaw-dropping view of mountains, wildflowers, and also experience paragliding, skiing, mountaineering, mountain biking, etc, here.
* Trekking on Matterhorn, a famous peak
* Situated on Lake Geneva, Château de Chillon, a 13th-century oval-shaped fortress, is a maze of courtyards, towers and halls filled with arms, period furniture and artwork
* Swiss National Park, part of the worldwide Unesco Biosphere Reserve
* Zentrum Paul Klee museum, dedicated to the artist Paul Klee
* Packages start from Rs 54,000 for six days/five nights
Spain, the second most-visited country after France in the world, as per industry experts, has the most extensive sandy beaches of the Mediterranean Sea and Arctic Ocean. It has two beautiful archipelagos as well.
* Bull-fighting is an inescapable part of Spain’s history
* Antoní Gaudí’s architecture is famous, daring and unique. The Spanish Catalan architect’s works reflect an individualised and distinctive style
* Flamenco, a traditional form of folk music and dance
* Packages start from Rs 43,000 for six days/five nights
It is one of the world’s most romantic honeymoon summer destinations with beautiful archipelagos. While more than 1.2 million tourists visited it last year, it is estimated that half a million would have visited by the end of this year.
* Biyadhoo Island Resort, a haven for divers, offers a variety of water sports
* Hukuru Miskiiy, also known as the Old Friday Mosque, is the oldest mosque of the country, established in 1956
* National Museum of Maldives in Male
* Packages start from Rs 23,000 for six days/five nights
Blessed with 333 islands, Fiji has the best rainforests to trek in and white sandy beaches to explore. Provisional numbers show that the number of visitors for March 2015 totalled 51,047, an increase of 8.3% over the last year.
* Fiji’s largest isle, Vitu Levu, is home to the official capital Suva
* At Nadi’s open-air souvenir market, you can pick up traditional Fijian handicrafts such as wooden kava bowls and handpainted saris
* A helicopter tour from Nadi International Airport to the Mamanuca Islands is a must
* Beqa Lagoon is home to more than 100 dive sites
* Packages start from Rs 37,000 for six days/five nights
Mauritius is an all-season destination and sees major crowds. A volcanic island nation in the Indian Ocean, it is known for its beaches, lagoons and reefs.
* Mauritian street food is among the best in the world. A unique mix of Creole, African, Indian and Chinese influences, the dishes offer bursts of intricate flavours
* Tea plantations
* A walk through the vast expanses of sugarcane fields
* Mauritian rum. While there is no shortage of things to do in Mauritius, your visit is incomplete without you having tasted the variety of rums on offer
* Packages start from Rs 28,000 for six days/five nights