Christmas holiday plans
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Between here and Oz
I am seeking some advice for a two-week holiday over Christmas. We are a family of five (children aged five, three and one). My husband is Australian and we thought we might try to meet his elderly parents half way, somewhere like Thailand or Mauritius.
Our requirements are to be beside a beach and I think self-catering would be better than a hotel. We don’t need the extras such as spas. Also, I would like to avoid resorts. – MB, Dublin
With the parents in mind, and thinking about distances and direct flights, it might be good to consider Bali, a popular Australian holiday destination. Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam or, travelling the other way, South Africa, California, Dallas and Hawaii all have services from Sydney.
The prices at Christmas are higher than at other times of the year and near destinations from Australia will cost in the region of AU$1,500–AU$2,000 return. Low-cost carriers such as airasia.com, virginaustralia.comand jetstar.comoperate in this market to some of those destinations. If you like the sound of Bali, you can travel direct from Amsterdam to Denpasar for around the same price as your relatives will pay from Australia.
I have seen a selection of self-catering rentals on flipkey.comthat would be suitable for you and with prices around €1,000-€1,500 per week. Most have pools and on-site staff for cleaning and catering.
Malaysia would also be a good destination; there are one-stop flights to Kuala Lumpur with malaysianairlines.com, etihad.com, lufthansa.com, and klm.com. The resort areas of Langkawi, Kota Kinabalu and Penang are good-priced destinations with sun, sand and sea. The Malaysia Tourism representative in Ireland is Isabel Oliviera and she can give advice on getting there and places to stay. Email her at email@example.com or tel: 01-2376243.
Dubai as a base
My wife and I are both retired, and we have a son who lives and works in Dubai. He has been home a couple of times since moving there, and we have been out to visit him. He has suggested that, rather than him coming home for Christmas, we meet up with him and explore the wider region for a new experience. – PD, Dublin
The best thing about being based in Dubai is that you have considerable choices of places to go – the Emirates network is huge. When booking flights, use the multicity option as it allows you to stop over. So here is a choice you have to make: do you want a Christian-style Christmas, or are you open to something completely different?
If you want a Christian-type of holiday with decorations, religious ceremonies and the usual festivities, think of places such as South Africa. Cape Town is particularly nice at Christmas, with gorgeous weather and BBQs on the beach. Durban is a lovely city with great beachside life and a chance to explore the Eastern Cape.
Other destinations in Africa that are accessible include Nairobi, Lusaka, Dar es Salaam and Zimbabwe. The islands of Mauritius and the Seychelles have populations that are a mix of religions and you would get a hybrid Christian experience along with a sun holiday.