As a new year dawns, travellers and vacationers are gearing up for their next holiday. Klook, a leading travel activities and services booking platform, predicted several travel themes of the year – where cashless travel, Instagrammability, and independent adventures top the list. They say the best destinations for Indians this year are Dubai, Thailand and Singapore.
While Europe has been India's favourite summer destination, the US and New Zealand are also in demand.
Balu Ramachandran, Head of Air and Distribution of Cleartrip, says that since last year, there has been up to 40 percent increase in the overall solo travel this year. Short-haul destinations have also been popular. "Dubai retained its number one spot in the list of top international destinations that Indians are travelling to across seasons," he adds.
While Europe, Thailand, Indonesia remain a favourite for Indians, YSWeekender lists offbeat places that one must visit in 2019...
To learn some art and get your creative juices flowing, head to Shanghai in China. Many places offer painting classes, not only help tourists adapt to the usage of the Chinese paint brush (which is as difficult to use as the chopsticks), but also teach them how to master the technique of oriental painting.
Manama, an Arabian Gulf island city, is also the modern capital of Bahrain. For centuries, it has been the centre of trade routes. One of the most sought after destinations in the Gulf, Manama offers a mix of Arabic and Persian cultures. The city has some of the most luxurious hotels, traditional restaurants and shopping centres, overflowing with precious pearls, fabrics and spices.
Manama also has several fine monuments and archaeological sites. The Beit Sheikh Isa Bin Ali Khalifa takes you back to the 1800s. The geometrically clean monument that was once home to one of the Kings of Bahrain, gives us a glimpse of the art and architecture of the era.
Similarly, the Al Fateh Grand Mosque, is not your regular mosque but a part of an Islamic centre, comprising a library and a department for studies of the Quran.
Once the capital city of Dilmun civilisation, Qal'at al-Bahrain is an archaeological site with remains from Islamic and Portugal cultures. The Portuguese once used the port to protect trade routes between India, Africa and Europe.
Having gained 72 percent popularity in the last year, "Manama has many hallmarks of modern Gulf prosperity as a key attraction," says Balu.
Skip the high-rises of New York City and Chicago and head to California's Colorado Desert if you're a fan of great music. With offerings ranging from rock to pop, hip-hop to EDM - the Coachella annual music and arts festival hosts live music of various artistes and genres. The festival, which started in 1993 with popular rock band Pearl Jam's performance, will be held in the month of April this year.
You can also head to the Death Valley National Park - which has some beautiful viewing points to offer. Besides that, you can visit the Kelso Dunes to see the sand dunes, spot some desert tortoises and eat some pancake pear cactus too.
Every dance music lover has one thing common in their bucket-list - attending Tomorrowland - the biggest electronic dance music festival that brings the best DJs from around the world to Belgium every summer. Boom - the mecca of music lovers offers mythological wonderland with its unique stage designs and surprises. The festival will be held in the month of July but the tickets will be sold in February.
These are sold out overnight, so you might like to mark your calendars. Boom is very close to Brussels, so you can easily extend your holiday to enjoy the historical Grand Place and get a taste of Europe (without actually having visited all the places!) in a miniature park.
Thailand is famous for being quirky, bizarre and out of ordinary. The country, known for its insane street food, celebrates a vegetarian festival every year called the ‘Nine Emperor Gods Festival’. It’s an auspicious festival that is celebrated at the end of September and in early-October, in the island of Phuket.
During the nine-day festival, spectators get to encounter extreme activities including climbing razor-blade sharp ladders, walking on burning coal and unusual body piercings to demonstrate their devotion to the gods. There are long processions on streets, accompanied by fireworks, lion dancers and vegetarian food stalls.
The Bali Spirit Festival is meant for individuals looking for an opportunity to find their inner selves. With more than 300 workshops to offer, the Spirit festival takes one back to Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love.
To be held on the last week of March, the Spirit Festival has a wide range of offering - including personal development, conscious movement and healing and sessions on building connection with oneself. So let your hair loose and relax in Bali's craft and dance centre, Ubud.
As according to Cleartrip, the city of Denpasar gained 47 percent popularity among tourists in the last year. “These destinations have become popular due to favourable developments in travel infrastructure and efforts by the respective governments to boost tourism,” Bala notes.
With beaches getting overcrowded with tourists, travellers hardly get any space to relax and get the perfect tan. This year, book your tickets to Greece's best kept secret - Messinia. The capital and largest city of Messinia is Kalamata - one of the most beautiful coastal cities of Greece.
Famous for its picturesque coastline, Messinia offers 10 beautiful beaches to select from. The most famous ones being Kalamata, Pylos, Stoupa and Koroni. The beaches are lined with bars and cafes that are open all day.
Continuously ranked as the happiest country in Asia, Bhutan is to be visited if you want to know what counts as 'happiness.' In Bhutan, you will not only get to 'shut down' the Internet but will also be awestruck at the greenery the country has to offer. Set against the magnificent Himalayas, more than 60 percent of the country is untouched and as much as 50 per cent of Bhutan is protected as national park.
The Paro Tshechu or festival is Bhutan's famous dance festival held over five days in the month of March. It not only gives the visitor a picture of the rich and colourful culture of the country but also gives them an opportunity to get dressed in vibrant colours and rejoice in the finery.
Sunil Gupta, MD and CEO of car rental company Avis, says, "We are seeing a lot of domestic travellers reserving their ground requirements, both in India and abroad." Customers are increasingly booking self-driven and chauffeur-driven cars to make their ground travels in foreign lands stress-free, he adds.