FLIGHT TIME: 5 HOURS (FROM KOLKATA)
Known as the Las Vegas of the East, Macau is notorious for its buzzing nightlife. Just off the coast of Hong Kong, the city’s skyline is littered with OTT casinos that make a stark contrast for its well-preserved colonial sites. The amazing thing about this teeny-tiny peninsula is that the larger-than-life resorts here offer everything under one roof. If you want a great weekend getaway with your girls, The Parisian Macao is one property you’d absolutely love! From their own (scaled-down) version of Eiffel Tower to Moulin Rouge, and Champs-Élysées (offering all the luxury brands you can think of) to a gigantic casino, this Paris-theme hotel is as glitzy as it gets. The hotel also has a host of dining options, from cafés to patisseries and fine-dining restaurants, and a spa to bring you back to life after a night of partying. If you somehow manage to explore every nook and cranny of this massive hotel, Macau is home to some beautiful, well-preserved colonial sites, Sino-European architecture, and mixed heritage (the locals embrace both its Chinese and Portugese roots). The hotel’s Macao Discovery Tour will take you to all the historically significant landmarks like the 388-metre tall Macau Tower, the A-Ma Temple (the city’s oldest shrine for the goddess of the sea), the Ruins of St. Paul’s, St. Dominic’s Church, and the Senado Square among others.
FLIGHT TIME: 2 HOURS, 35 MINS (FROM MUMBAI)
This unexplored sultanate is truly the hidden gem of the Middle East. While one’s most obvious choice would be to head to the coastal capital of Muscat, there are other fabulous cities that are just waiting to be explored. Al Jabal Al Akhdar, which is just a two-hour drive from Muscat, is a great city if you’re a nature enthusiast or into adventure sports. If you want to stay right in the lap of nature, head to the Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort. Located in the rocky contours of the Saiq Plateau, this five-star resort is perched right next to the great canyon, and offers a spectacular view. The property, which has a contemporary design inspired by the region’s ancient forts, has 82 rooms facing the canyon (perfect for witnessing the stunning sunrise and sunset) and 33 villas with private pools (#bliss). If you’re craving an adrenaline rush, the Jabal Activity wall has plenty of options—from rock-climbing to abseiling on the edge of the resort. The resort also has a traditional hammam, which offers amazing Arabic cleansing rituals. To get an authentic taste of the sultanate, the ancient city of Nizwa is a great option too. Just an hour’s drive from the property, it’s known for its forts and traditional souks. Another Omani city that you must check out is Salalah. While the temps starts soaring in the entire country during summer, the southeast monsoon keeps things prett-ay cool here. The Al Baleed Salalah Resort by Anantara, set in a dreamy location (between a beach and a freshwater lagoon), is like a doorway to the country’s cultural treasures. The hotel’s beachfront oasis blends nature with luxury perfectly. And if you want crazy #InstaWorthy tan lines, the private shore at the hotel is where you should be at! Salalah’s very famous Al Baleed Archaeological Park is also just a stroll away from the hotel—check out the UNESCO World Heritage Site of citadel and grand mosque ruins or the Museum of Frankincense, a tree Oman is known for.
FLIGHT TIME: 4 HOURS (FROM BENGALURU)
It might not be as popular as its Emirati cousin, but Abu Dhabi has so much fabulosity to offer. Just an hour away from Dubai, this city has its own Guggenheim and Louvre (yes!), some very luxurious hotels (like Emirates Palace, which was meant to be the Sheikh’s residence, and it has a gold-dispensing ATM), the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, and theme parks like the Ferrari World and Yas Waterworld. One place that you must see while in the city is the Yas Viceroy Hotel, the only five-star property in the world to have an F1 race track (the Yas Island Marina Circuit) built half on land and half over water. Along with all these landmarks, the city is also home to some fabulous (and gigantic) malls and spice souks—for an authentic Emirati experience.
FLIGHT TIME: 5 HOURS (DELHI-BANGKOK-CHIANG MAI)
By now you’d think that everything that’s worth seeing in Thailand is out there and already been spoken about. But, you’re wrong! Pai, a quaint li’l town in northern Thailand, is still a virgin territory. Just hours away from Chiang Mai, it’s the kind of place that makes you switch off your phone and admire its picturesque beauty. Surrounded with mountains, the city has a lot to offer—you can go trekking with the hill tribes, explore tonnes of beautiful waterfalls, chill at hot springs or watch the sunset at Pai Canyon—the city’s answer to the Grand Canyon. Do check out Pai’s Walking Street, a cool street market offering everything from thrifty clothes to local delicacies. Another spectacular thing about Pai is the Tham Lod Caves, a natural limestone stalactite formation. A river flows through the caves and you can hire a guide to float through them on a bamboo raft—which makes for a pretty surreal experience.
FLIGHT TIME: 3 HOURS, 10 MINS (FROM DELHI)
The great thing about the capital city of Uzbekistan is that it’s so unexplored, you’ll be surprised (in a good way) at every step. If you’re an art enthusiast, prepare to fall in love with Tashkent. Its ancient museums and buildings are a perfect amalgam of modern and Soviet-era architecture. The Amir Timur Museum is one of the major sites in the city—it houses weapons, manuscripts, and other relics from the Timurid dynasty. Apart from that, the Tashkent Tower, Museum of Geology, and the Museum of Arts of Uzbekistan are some other prominent landmarks that you must visit. If you’re a foodie, then belly up—the food here is to die for. Chuchvara soup, samsa, eggplant salad, and naryn are some of the dishes that the country is famous for. If you want to take a break from all the history lessons, the city’s nightlife is quite buzzing. Touted as the Thailand of the Middle East, there are plenty of belly-dancing bars, and the vibe is pretty young, so you wouldn’t really feel out of place.