The next public holiday is almost upon us and as the UAE celebrates its Golden Jubilee, most people are set to enjoy a long weekend.
There's plenty going on across the Emirates if you're sticking around on National Day, but if you're craving an overseas trip, there are also several holidays you can still book today.
From river rafting on the Zambezi to soaking up some Maldivian sunshine or feeling the winter chill in Georgia, here are nine holidays worth considering this coming National Day.
1. Go wild in Kenya's national parks
Take your holiday itinerary up a level with a trip to Kenya this National Day weekend. Air Arabia Holidays has a three-night trip on offer that takes in Nairobi and the country's Amboseli National Park.
Fly from Sharjah to Kenya on Wednesday, December 1 where you’ll spend one night at the Ibis Styles in the Westlands district of the city, not too far from the Nairobi National Museum. After breakfast on the next morning, you’ll set off on a scenic drive towards Amboseli, which is nestled in the foothills of Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain. This will be your base for the next two nights, and guests will enjoy a full-board meal package, unlimited game drives and a safari guide during each stay.
Get set to marvel at Sub-Saharan Africa’s incredible wildlife, including a large number of African elephants, buffalo, wildebeest, zebra, impala, giraffes, warthogs, lions, cheetahs and more. Travellers need to have a negative Covid-19 test to enter Kenya, and it must have been taken within the last 96 hours.
Rates from Dh4,134 per person, including flights, transfers and park entrance fees; www.airarabia.com
2. Indulge in tropical luxury in the Seychelles
With a flight time of little more than four hours from the UAE, the Seychelles offers a picture-perfect location that comes with plenty of tropical sunshine and endless views of the Indian Ocean to enjoy your National Day holiday.
Raffles Seychelles on the beautiful island of Praslin offers a luxury escape that's perfect for families and couples. The all-villa resort guarantees guests privacy and luxury, with each accommodation offering its own plunge pool, outdoor pavilion and shaded sundeck. Nearby, enjoy palm-fringed beaches, the Unesco World Heritage Site of Vallee De Mai and unrivalled marine life.
There's no need to worry about quarantine in the Seychelles, all you need to do is make sure you have a negative Covid-19 test taken with 72 hours of departure, and valid travel insurance for your trip. Etihad has direct flights available to the Seychelles over National Day weekend from Dh3,738, and the UAE's national airline also gives passengers free Covid-19 insurance when they travel.
Rates from Dh4,999 per night, including breakfast; www.raffles.com
3. Take in mountain views in Georgia
If you’re already feeling wintry and want to embrace colder climes, Holidays by flydubai's winter package trip to Georgia let's you do exactly that.
It's a short three-and-half-hour flight from Dubai to Tbilisi, where you'll be collected and driven to Bakuriani in the country’s Borjomi region, one of Georgia’s most famous ski destinations. While December is still early for ski season, you may be lucky and see some snowfall and there are also amazing mountain peaks and winter walks to enjoy.
Spend two nights at your hotel in the mountains, then head back to the capital where you'll be taken on a tour of Old Tbilisi to get an insight into the city's rich historical and cultural heritage, as well as modern life and the most popular tourist attractions in town. Spend the evening in Tbilisi before your flight back to Dubai the next morning.
Depending on your budget, you can take your pick from a three-star, four-star or five-star hotel with property details listed on the airline's website.
Rates from Dh7,563 for two adults, including flights, accommodation, tours and transfers; holidays.flydubai.com
4. River rafting and waterfalls in Zimbabwe
Fancy ticking off some bucket-list dreams this National Day? How does a visit to one of the seven natural wonders of the world sound? UAE adventure travel company Trekkup is running a five-day trip to Zimbabwe and Zambia that takes in Victoria Falls, Angel Falls and plenty of safari action.
This trip starts with guests flying to Zimbabwe via Addis Ababa. Tourists are welcome, but you need a PCR test to avoid quarantine. Checking in to a luxury lodge on the edge of the Zambezi National Park, there's a nearby waterhole that attracts an endless procession of wildlife, including buffaloes, elephants, hyenas and several bird species. A boat ride on the Zambezi with a traditional dinner service eases travellers gently into the African way of life.
Next day, it's time for the falls. Victoria Falls are twice the height of North America's Niagara Falls and travellers on this trip will get the chance to see them up close with a boat ride and an optional helicopter tour over the thundering water. Afterwards, a bush adventure takes guests out in search of the highly endangered rhino. A game drive along the Zambezi river, a visit to a rural village to learn more about traditions in this part of Africa also await, as well as a trip across the border to Zambia for a visit to Angels Falls.
Rates from Dh8,925 including flights, accommodation and most meals; but excluding visa costs, insurance and PCR tests; www.trekkup.com
5. Have a laid-back stay in Oman
Named the seventh best country to visit in 2022 by Lonely Planet, the Sultanate is a good choice this National Day if you are looking to get out of the Emirates, but don’t want to take a long flight. Fully vaccinated travellers can fly to Oman without quarantine so long as you have a negative Covid-19 test result taken within 72 hours of travel.
Take your pick from visiting Muscat, the Omani capital famed for its rich culture and bustling markets where you can stay at the Crowne Plaza Muscat for a relaxing break surrounded by the Gulf of Oman. The hotel is home to the city’s only two-tiered infinity pool, and also has a private beach and some of the best sunset views in the city. Book the Weekend Escape deal and you’ll get breakfast for two adults and up to two children, as well as late checkout at 4pm.
For something with a slightly more tropical vibe, head to Dhofar for a stay at the Alila Hinu Bay. This newly opened hotel offers sea views and a mountain backdrop and GCC travellers can book a special rate this National Day, which includes an overnight stay in a Terrace Room, daily breakfast for two, and complimentary children’s activities, including face painting, foosball and yoga. Other activities – including an Omani picnic on the beach, a day trip to Wadi Darbat or a visit to Jabal Samhan, home to one of the world’s largest sinkholes – are also available and guests will be given free daily resort credit of OMR 25 per night to spend on an activity of their choice.
Several airlines fly from the UAE to Oman with flights from Abu Dhabi over National Day weekend starting from Dh858 with Wizz Air.
Crowne Plaza Muscat rates start from OMR 86 per night, excluding taxes; www.ihg.com
Alila Hinu Bay rates start from OMR 90, excluding taxes. A valid UAE ID must be presented to avail of the special rate; www.alilahotels.com
6. Discover the deep blue in the Maldives
Famed for its tropical islands and luxury resorts, the Maldives has long been a favourite with honeymooners, couples and families, but it can also be a great place for a spot of adventure.
This UAE National Day, Trekkup is organising a five-night trip to the Indian Ocean holiday hotspot packed with sun, sea, sand and much more. Travellers joining the group trip will fly from Dubai to Mahe, where you can check in to your four-star accommodation then head out on a boat ride to one of the country’s most popular beach resorts where sunbathing, water sports and shark feeding are on the cards.
On day two, it’s your chance to go swimming with whale sharks – these impossibly huge underwater creatures are year-round residents in the Maldives and are as gentle as they are massive. The next day, there’s a trip to the Vaavu Atoll in the south of the country, one of the island’s least-developed atolls, which is largely inhabited by fisherman and boat builders. It's the ideal place to spend some time to uncover some authentic insights into the traditional Maldivian lifestyle.
Travellers flying to the archipelago don’t need to be vaccinated, but you will need a negative PCR test, taken no more than 96 hours before travel.
From Dh5,900 including flights and accommodation (on a sharing basis), but excluding meals; www.trekkup.com
7. Shop 'til you drop in France
If you’re seeking luxury this National Day, why not head to France where you can get a head start on your festive shopping in the ever-romantic capital city?
Checking in at the renowned Hotel Lutetia in the heart of Paris, guests can enjoy a luxurious stay where retail therapy takes centre stage. Bedding down in an Eiffel Deluxe room located on the top floors of the hotel and commanding coveted views of Paris's most famous tower and the Left Bank, guests will enjoy a festive welcome basket inclusive of bubbly. There's also daily American breakfast for two served either in-suite or in the hotel’s brasserie. Shopaholics can splurge during a VIP shopping experience in the historic Le Bon Marche Rive Gauche, the world's first department store located in Saint Germain-des-Pres neighbourhood.
Guests will enjoy a personalised welcome at the store, inclusive of refreshments, and can also request a personal shopper to assist with retail therapy. There’s also a complimentary €200 gift card to spend in store and a scented Le Bon Marche candle to take home.
Air France operates direct flights from Dubai to Paris, with fares over National Day starting from a little more than Dh2,000. The UAE is on France’s green list, so travellers can visit with or without a vaccination, but tourists need a negative PCR test taken a maximum of 72 hours before travel.
From €1,900 per room, per night, inclusive of the shopping experience; www.hotellutetia.com
8. Explore Thailand's capital with riverside views
Having recently reopened to vaccinated tourists, the world’s most-visited city is open for National Day visits for travellers from the UAE. Fly with Emirates to Bangkok to take advantage of the airline’s UAE Golden Jubilee fares, where you can find reduced fares and half-price flights for children.
Once in Thailand, enjoy a stay at the Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort, where you will need to reserve your first night under the hotel’s "test and go" rate. This includes a transfer from the airport, your compulsory on-arrival PCR Covid-19 screening test and a complimentary antigen test. Remaining nights at the riverside resort can be booked on a regular rate, with prices starting from under Dh500 per night for two adults and one child if you sign up to Anantara’s free loyalty programme.
Nestled on the banks of the Chao Phraya and surrounded by about 4 hectares of tropical gardens, the hotel is a peaceful retreat that's also home to an Anantara spa, large family swimming pool and several dining outlets. And when it's time to go explore, there's a free shuttle boat to take guests in and out of the city.
Emirates fares to Bangkok over National Day start from Dh2,700 for adults, and Dh1,350 for children. Test and Go rates at Anantara start from Dh702; www.anantara.com
9. Book a bargain break in Nepal
Having reopened to vaccinated travellers, the kingdom of Nepal is a magical destination that’s less than a five-hour flight from the UAE and well worth a visit.
From the chaos of Kathmandu city and the ancient city of Bhaktapur in the valley to Pokhara’s gleaming lake and unrivalled trekking, not to mention the Annapurna mountains and, of course, Mount Everest, Nepal offers something for everyone.
The newly opened Hyatt Place Kathmandu is located in the Kalimati region of Nepal's capital, and is just a few kilometres from the city centre where travellers can visit a wealth of World Heritage Sites including the ancient Swayambhunath Stupa, and the sacred Hindu temple in Pashupatinath. Be one of the first to stay at this new hotel and you’ll enjoy free Wi-Fi, a buffet breakfast and special opening rates.
There are bargain flights available from Dubai to Nepal with Himalayan Airlines with fares starting from Dh1,400 over the National Day weekend. Don’t forget to factor in costs for a PCR test, which you’ll need to take within 72 hours of flying to Nepal.
Hotel rates from $72 per night; www.hyatt.com