10 Budget-Friendly Destinations Under Rs 2 Lakh

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10 Budget-Friendly Destinations Under Rs 2 Lakh
10 Budget-Friendly Destinations Under Rs 2 Lakh
Sutirtha Sanyal - 29 November 2023

If you are getting ready to pack your bags this travel season, we’ve got you covered. We not only have recommendations on destinations but also all the information, right from the details of the flight, accommodation, places to see, the local delicacies and how much the trip will cost you

Every once in a while, Nilanjan Biswan, 46, who is an officer in the Indian Railways by profession and a naturalist by passion, takes a solo trip. He loves those few days of solitude and wanderlust, away from the daily grind of administrative work and household responsibilities of grocery shopping and attending parent-teacher meetings at his son’s school.

Early this year, he took a whirlwind trip across Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia and came back after 21 days with lots of stories and souvenirs. A week before his trip, he saw a documentary on Lolong, the largest saltwater crocodile recorded at 6.17 metres (20.24 feet) long and weighing over a tonne, that was captured around the Bunawan Creek in the Philippines, and the reported sightings of even bigger specimens that still lurk in the waters around SE Asia. Though he managed sightings of saltwater crocodiles at nature parks, the big one was elusive.

Human beings have been explorers by nature and have unearthed hidden places over centuries. It was the unknown continents and sea routes during Columbus’ time, the hinterlands of Africa during the Victorian Age, the poles during the Golden Age of Polar Exploration or space exploration, which started in the aftermath of World War II on the back of advances in rocketry, and which remains an ongoing pursuit, as does the exploration of the deepest parts of our oceans, which has fascinated our interest since the times Jules Verne came out with his seminal science fiction novels more than 200 years ago, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and Mysterious Island.

Most of us look for that little window to unwind ourselves and rush off to our own El Dorados in quest of our passion, wanderlust, tranquility or solitude or to simply take a break from the daily humdrum of life. The Covid-19 pandemic did put the brakes to our journeys, but only for so long.

As the first signs of normalcy returned, we were back on the road. The number of domestic Indian travellers was recorded at 1.73 billion in 2022 as against 677.63 million in the preceding year, while the number of Indians who travelled abroad in 2022 was 21.09 million, as against 8.55 million in 2021, according to data from the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India. The figures for the first three months of 2023 for international departures by Indians come to 8.47 million.

Lure Of Foreign Travel

More Indians are now travelling abroad for a holiday as some of the destinations could cost you as much as some domestic destinations. Go through the social media timelines of your friends and relatives, and you will find ample evidence of it. Reports also suggest the same.

Pune-based Shirish Joshi, 48, for instance, decided to travel with his family to Bali because the cost was equivalent to a trip to the remote corners of India, such as Ladakh and Dzuko Valley in Nagaland.

“The flight ticket to Ladakh in peak season can go up to Rs 25,000-plus, which is more than the flight ticket to Dubai or Kazakhstan,” he says.

According to travel aggregator Booking.com’s How India Travels report, a five-day international package can be as affordable as a domestic one, which makes foreign travel more appealing.

Says Saujanya Shrivastava, chief operating officer, flights, holidays and Gulf, MakeMyTrip, a travel aggregator: “In the last couple of years, many affordable international destinations have gained popularity among Indians with the introduction of more direct flights, easing visa protocols in some countries and, of course, the increasing appetite of Indians for explorations.”

How To Plan Your Trip?

Domestic travel, especially short weekend trips or those stretching over a day or two on either side of a weekend can be an impromptu affair. But a trip abroad, however small, requires meticulous planning, right from selecting the destination, the mode of travel, stay and, more importantly for Indians, the food.

You have two choices: you can do it yourself or go through an aggregator. Joshi, who went for a week-long trip to Bali through an aggregator, believes doing it yourself is cheaper in a lot of cases. “I spent abound Rs 80,000-85,000 for my 7-day trip to Bali, excluding air fare. But if you do it yourself, you will manage it within Rs 50,000-55,000,” he says.

Joshi says it is preferable to plan your trip in advance. “The airfare to Bali is very dynamic. It could be as low as Rs 40,000 per person two-way ex-Mumbai to as high as Rs 70,000-80,000 depending on the season,” he says. Joshi got an itinerary from the aggregator, did his own research and then had the places he wanted in his trip to be included in the itinerary.

Says Nupur Singh, founder, Triponary, which organises experiential travel: “The best way to do international travel is by following travel forums and do a bit of online research. Choose an itinerary with activities you like. Understand local food availability and then check the pricing offered by operators in the market. Book tickets well in advance to get good pricing.”

But what if you aren’t that well-versed with preparing an itinerary, or you are travelling for the first time, or, you do not have the time to do the research and make an itinerary. It is here that an aggregator could help.

Aggregators will help you with bundled price for the entire trip, right from picking you up at the doorstep to dropping you back after your trip. This would include a pre-determined itinerary, food of your choice, visa assistance, and tour manager for sightseeing, depending on what you choose.

Says Santosh Kumar, country manager for India, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Indonesia, Booking.com: “Today, around 40 per cent of travellers are seeking platforms that offer a connected trip experience, seamlessly integrating all aspects of a journey, including transportation, accommodations, activities and services, into a unified and interconnected itinerary for enhanced convenience, efficiency and immersion as per our Travel Confidence Index 2023. From culinary trails to city tours as well as immersive experiences, such as living like the locals, everything can be booked on our platform and app.”

Your Handy Guide

If you are getting ready to pack your bags this travel season, we’ve got you covered. To ensure you get to enjoy within a budget, we have compiled a list of 10 international destinations that the discerning traveller in you could consider for your next vacation. These destinations would set you back by a mere Rs 1-2 lakh, give or take a few thousands more. Says Shrivastava, “The budgets required to plan a trip to popular destinations such as Thailand, Bali, Dubai, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, and other CIS countries (central Asian nations) are in the range of Rs 1-2 lakh.”

The destinations we have chosen are geographically close to India, with many providing on-arrival visas, or not requiring a visa at all. They also have direct or stop-over flights from Indian metros and air hubs.

You can also choose these destinations as per the month of your choice. Says Shrivastava: “During the summer months (April, May, June), travellers tend to gravitate toward destinations like Thailand, Europe, Dubai, Bali, Maldives, Singapore, and Mauritius. These locations offer a diverse range of experiences, a combination of cultural exploration, idyllic beach getaways and vibrant city life. In the festive season (October, November, December, January), destinations such as Thailand, Dubai, Maldives, Bali, Singapore, Europe, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Bhutan are popular, as they align with various festivals and holidays in India, and the weather is also good then. For those seeking a winter escape (December and January), Thailand, Dubai, Maldives, Bali, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka are the top destinations for budget international travels.”

So, turn through the next few pages to get transported to the serene Steppe pastures of Kazakhstan, where you can experience the adventures of a nomadic Central Asian life, the mountainous forests of northern Thailand, the verdant fields of Cambodia, and the forested highlands of Vietnam, where 1,000-year-old ruins and sculptures peek in from the dense foliage as you soak in the country’s rich history and heritage. Bali, Dubai and Singapore will also offer you more than just the sun-kissed beaches, the gold souks and wadis of the desert, and the iconic Merlion Park, respectively. Other destinations include Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka.

We have all the information, right from flight details, accommodation, places to see, and culinary delicacies. We believe local food adds to the wholesomeness of the travel experience, but for those with inhibitions or allergies to certain food, we have tried our best to provide options of Indian food as well where they might be available. The choices could be limited though.

So, here’s to your wanderlust!

Punakha Dzong


This tiny landlocked Himalayan kingdom is a picture postcard from whichever angle you see it. It is also the only carbon negative country in the list. Indians don’t need a visa for Bhutan.


Fly to Paro from Delhi or Kolkata or drive to Pheuntsholing on the India-Bhutan border.


Pheuntsholing:Places of interest include the Bhutan Gate, Karbandi Monastery, Amo Chhu crocodile breeding centre, Zangto Pelri Lakhang monastery and park, and Pheuntsholing Market.

Paro: This beautiful town by the banks of Paro Chu is home to Bhutan’s most iconic landmark, Paro Taktsang, or the Tiger’s Nest Monastery. Other sites are Paro Dzong, where the Little Buddhamovie was shot, National Museum of Bhutan, Kyichu Lhakhang, and the ruins of Drukgyal Dzong.

Thimphu: At 7,650 feet-plus above sea level, Thimphu counts among the five highest national capitals in the world. Visit the Tashichho Dzong, the city’s grandest building, the National Institute For Zorig Chusum or the painting school, the National Textile Museum, Changangkha Lhakang temple, National Memorial Chorten, Simply Bhutan, which is an interactive living museum concept, Bhutan Postal Museum, Motithang Takin Reserve, the Buddha Dordenma statue, and other dzongs, museums, as well as the weekend market north of Changlimithang Stadium.

Hikes: The hike to Cheri Monastery (7,500 feet above sea level), through a 4 km trail on the back of a ridge overlooking the green rolling hills on either side is very pleasant.

Punakha: This was the former capital till 1955. Visit the 17th century Punakha Dzong on the banks of the Mo Chu. Further up on the Po Chu, you will find the Punakha Suspension bridge. At 160 metres, it is one of Bhutan’s longest suspension bridges and will sway as you cross it.


Ema datshi, which is a mix of red and white rice served with cheese stew flavoured with chillies, is the national dish. Other popular dishes are jasha maru, a spicy chicken stew; zow shungo, a kind of mix vegetable; puta (traditional noodles); and dumplings. Ara is a local drink made of rice wine. Suja (butter tea) is widely consumed. There are good Indian restaurants in Bhutan.


Visa: None for Indians.

Tourism Fee: Rs 1,200 per day; 50% discount for children aged 6-12.

Flights: Delhi to Paro (two-way): Rs 42,000.

Green Tax: Road trip with Indian vehicle: Rs 4,500 per day.

Entry Fees: Tiger’s Nest Monastery, Simply Bhutan Museum: Rs 1,000 each; Others: Rs 100-500.

Accommodation: Hotels: Rs 3,000-5,000.

Meals: Rs 200-1,000; Indian meals: Rs 400-600.  

All visa, flight, taxi, bus, train, meals, tickets, camping and activity costs are per person.

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan

Bali, Indonesia

This is an island province in Indonesia known for its beautiful beaches. In fact, it is Indonesia’s most famous tourist destination. According to local tradition, the island gets its name from King Bali, the brother of Sugriva, from the Hindu mythological epic Ramayana.


Fly to capital Denpasar, via Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, or Singapore.


Jimbaran: It’s 20 km south of Denpasar. Originally a fishing village, it is now a well-known tourist resort and a culinary destination. Explore the lime caves or surf in the gentle waters.

Ubud: 20 km north of Denpasar, this picteresque town is set among paddy fields in the ravines of the surrounding hills. Visit the local coffee plantation, Tegunungan Waterfall, Ubud Monkey Forest and the two art museums.

Jatiluwih: It’s 21 km north of Ubud. Go for walks, cycle, experience terrace farming, or swing in gravitational swings 40 metres above earth.

Temples: Pura Ulun Danu Bratan is located within the beautiful surroundings of a lake in the mountains near Bedugul, 24 km north of Jatiluwih. Move 78 km further east to visit the Mother Temple of Besakih on the slopes of the Mount Agung volcano.

Scuba Diving: The waters off the islands of Lembongan, Ceningan and Penida are best for scuba diving and snorkelling.


Night markets and warungs (family owned food stands) are well-known for serving local delicacies. Try betutu (steamed/roasted duck or chicken served with rice and green vegetables), and nasi ayam and nasi campur (Balinese chicken rice dish). Jimbaran is famous for its seafood. Brem is a native rice wine that is consumed either as solid cake or as a beverage. Another beverage is daluman, made with coconut milk, palm sugar syrup, shaved ice and cincau jelly leaf. There are many Indian eateries here.


Visa: Rs 2,500.

Flights: Delhi to Denpasar (two-way): Rs 40,000-70,000 (seasonal).

Taxi: Rs 15 per km.

Scooter: Rs 600 per day.

Ferry: Sanur to Nusa Lembongan: Rs 750 one-way;

Island tour: Rs 6,400-8,500; Scuba Dive: Rs 3,000.

Accommodation: Jimbaran: Rs 1,000 (inland), Rs 3,000-13,000 (beach); Ubud: Rs 1,200-3,000; Jatiluwih: Rs 2,000; Pura Ulun Danu Bratan: Rs 1,600-2,500. Homestay (Besakih Temple): Rs 1,500-6,500; Nusa Lembongan: Rs 800-1,000.

Meals: Rs 300-700; Indian meals: Rs 700-plus.

Angkor Vat


Beautiful beaches, ancient temples that exude a whiff of rich history and heritage, a rugged and war-torn history that could send shivers down one’s back, and thick rainforests that envelop misty hills in large swatches of uninhabited greenery—that’s Cambodia in a gist.


Take a direct flight to Phnom Penh.


Phnom Penh: Visit the Royal Palace, the Silver Pagoda, also known as the Temple Of The Emerald – Crystal Buddha and the National Museum, all located in the Chey Chumneas quarter. The National Museum houses many priceless relics from Koh Ker and Angkor Vat. Also visit the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum.

Siem Riep: The best way to reach Siem Riep is to take a ferry down the Tonle Sap River and into Tonle Sap Lake and then onward by road. On the lake, explore the floating villages. In Siem Riep, visit the War Museum and the Angkor National Museum. Also, pick up a bottle of Sombai-infused rice wine, which are hand-painted with motifs of Angkor.

Angkor Vat: A trip to Cambodia without a visit to this UNESCO World Heritage temple city is unimaginable. Other places of interest nearby are the ruins of Prasat Preah Khan, Angkor Tham, Ruolos and the ancient temples of Banteay Srei. There are also nice waterfalls nearby. Explore the ancient rock carvings along the river path in the middle of dense jungles.

Koh Ker: Lying 120 km north east of Siem Riep, this ancient capital of the Cambodian Empire has 180 sanctuaries on the slopes of the Dangrek, Kulen and Tbeng mountains. The seven-tiered Prasat Tham is the most iconic of these ruins.

Battambang: Visit the 1,000-year-old Baset Temple, the 12th Century Prasat Banam, Battambang Museum, Wat Kor village, the 19th century Governor’s House, French-era train repair sheds, Norry or Bamboo Train, and the abandoned rail station where the clock stands still at 8:02.


Try fish amok (fish in coconut milk), nom banh chok (soupy noodles with fish), kuy teav (noodle soup with chicken broth), nhoim troyong chiek (banana flower salad with vegetables, herbs and nuts), saraman curry, samlor cari, and other Khmer cuisine. Indian food is widely available.


Visa: Rs 3,000.

Flight: Delhi to Phnom Penh (two-way): Rs 45,000.

Taxi: about Rs 30,000 for overall trip.

Ferry: Phnom Penh to Siem Riep: Rs 5,000.

Ticket: Water falls: Rs 1,500.

Accommodation: Hotels: Rs 1,500-4,300; Hostels: Rs 400-1,000; Community homestays: Rs 700-2,000 (Siem Riep); Koh Ker: Rs 2,500-8,000.

Meals: Rs 500-1,000; Indian meals: Rs 300-1,200.

Wat Arun


Sandwiched between Myanmar on the west, Laos on the east and Cambodia in the south east, Thailand is known for its beautiful temples, pagodas and natural beauty in the form of wonderful beaches in the south and verdant rain forests in the north and centre.


Take a direct flight from Indian metros to Bangkok.


Bangkok: Visit Grand Palace for a tour of the palace, Grand Palace Hall, Temple of The Emerald Buddha, and Queen Sirikit Museum. Also visit Wat Arun by the Chao Phraya River, Golden Mount, and the Wat Pho temple.

Ayutthaya: 75 km northwest of Bangkok, this is the site of the former capital of Thailand. A few iconic ruins here are the Chedi Wat Phra Sri Sanphet, Wat Yanasen, Wat Phra Ram, Wat Chaiwatthanaram, Wat Mahathat, and Wat Ratchaburana. Visit the Chao Sam Phraya National Museum to see the relics excavated at Ayutthaya.

Chiang Mai: Old wooden temples, forests, nature parks and mountains, Chiang Mai offers a blend of all and more. Doi Inthanon National Park is named after Doi Inanthon, the highest mountain in Thailand. Chiang Mai has some unique festivals too, such as Chiang Mai flower festival and Songkran. There are other parks and ruins in north Thailand.

Phuket: The Soi Romanee Street in Old Town has some nice boutique cafes set in old Sino-Portuguese houses. Laem Phromthep on the southernmost tip of Phuket offers the best view of the sunset over the Andaman Sea. Also visit the Big Buddha statue at Nakkerd Hill, Shrine of Serene Light, Jui Tui Shrine and Phuket Thaihua Museum.


Thai cuisine is listed among the world’s best cuisine, and has a distinct flavour and taste compared with other oriental food. Try out pad thai (stir-fried rice noodles served with fish), pad krapow or thai basil chicken, tom yum soup, green curry, larb, khao pad, tod mun pla, green papaya salad, dry noodle soup, sticky rice with mango, etc. There are many well-known Indian restaurants in Bangkok.


Visa: Rs 2,500-4,800.

Flights: Delhi to Bangkok (two-way): Rs 28,000; Bangkok to Phuket: Rs 6,000.

Ticket: Grand Palace: Rs 1,200.

Taxi: Bangkok to Ayutthaya: Rs 2,500.

Train: Ayutthaya to Chiang Mai: Rs 1,300-4,500.

Accommodation: Hotels: Rs 1,000-2,500; Phuket: Rs 10,000-plus (on beach);

Meals: Rs 300-plus; Indian meals: Rs 750-1,500.

Asy Plateau


Vast steppes and cold deserts where temperatures drop to sub-zero in winter, and where natives still live the life of their Turkic ancestors in yurts as they lived 1,000 years ago, the azure blue waters of the Caspian Sea, and a lake that’s almost dead, that’s Kazakhstan for you.


Take a direct flight from Delhi to Almaty.


Almaty: Check the Abay Opera House and Kazakh Museum of Folk Musical Instruments for a distinct flavour of 19th century Soviet architecture. Visit the Big Almaty Lake, 8,240 ft above sea level on the Trans Ili Altai Mountains, Kaindy Lake with its submerged forests or Kolsay Lake. Stop by at guest houses for a homestay experience. Visit the 120-metre-high Burkhan Bulak waterfall. At Asy Plateau and Shalkodesu Valley, experience a slice of the ancient life of Kazakh people, complete with yurts (traditional homes), horses, archery, and horse riding on the flat plains surrounded by high mountains. Don’t miss out the singing sand dunes of Altyn-Emel National Park and the ancient rock paintings of Tamgaly Tas Tract, and Issyk Lake.

Turkestan: The historical region is home to the blue-domed Yasaui Mausoleum, a UNESCO World Heritage site, the namesake history museum and the Hilvet underground mosque. The ancient ruins of Sauran, 50 km further, are among the best preserved ruins of the ancient Silk Route.

Eastern Wonders: Travel 950 km east of Astana to reach Oskemen. Try for a glimpse of the snow-capped Belukha Mountains, the highest point in the Altai Mountain Range or the Kiin-Kerish tract (315 km from Oskemen), which is also known as the city of spirits because of the Red Martian landscape.


Besbarmaq, made of boiled mutton or horse meat, is the national dish. Other popular dishes include varieties of bread, horse, camel, sheep and cattle as meat and dumplings and flatbreads. There are a few Indian restaurants in both Almaty and Astana.


Visa: 14 days free for Indians.

Flight: Delhi to Almaty (two-way): Rs 17,000; Almaty to Turkestan: Rs 10,600; Turkestan to Astana: Rs 6,000; Astana to Oskemen: Rs 8,000; Oskomen to Almaty: Rs 9,000.

Train: Almaty to Turkestan: Rs 900; Oskomen to Almaty: Rs 1,000.

Taxi: Almaty city tour: Rs 600-800; City Centre to Big Almaty Lake: Rs 1,000; Almaty to Issyk Lake and Assy Plateau and back (1-day): Rs 7,000; Turkestan to Sauran (two-way): Rs 1,800; Oskomen to Kiin Kerish: Rs 25,000.

Accommodation: Hotels in Almaty, Oskomen, Turkestan: Rs 3,000-plus, Astana: Rs 2,000-plus; Hostels: Rs 1,500-plus.

Meals: Rs 300-750; Indian meals: Rs 700-1,500.



This little desert country is home to the most modern engineering marvels of the 21st century, while in the maze of terraced mud-baked roofs and labyrinth of narrow lanes in the Bastakiya district of Old Dubai, time stands still as it were in the 1890s.


There are direct flights to Dubai from both New Delhi and Mumbai.


Dubai: In Dubai, visit the Burj Khalifa, the tallest man-made structure (829.80 metres), Palm Island, Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo. The Deira district houses the famous souks of Dubai—Gold Souk, Spice Souk, Perfume Souk and Textile Souk. Go for 3-5 hour walk, eat at local tea houses, and stop by at the historic Deira Creekside for a whiff of nostalgia.

Mleiha Archaeological Site: This UNESCO World Heritage site near Sharjah is home to one of the earliest human habitations, around 8,000 BC, during the Palaeolithic Age. Other places of interest are Faya Caves, Wadi Caves, Bronze Age tombs of Umm An Nar, and fort ruins. You can camp for stargazing here.

Hatta Heritage Village: 123 km southeast of Mleiha, this is a heritage village set between craggy mountains and farming communities and offers ample opportunities for  walks, mountain biking, camping and stargazing.

Wadis And Desert: Most of the wadis (dry riverbeds), are on the rocky east coast of Ras Al Khaimah. Wadi Bih, Wadi Ras Al Khaimah, Wadi Shis, Wadi Ham, Wadi Wurrayah, Wadi Showka, Wadi Shat Al Rashid, are a few well-known ones. Go for camping, hiking, swimming or a desert safari and a night stay.


Khuzi, a rice dish with roasted lamb, dry fruits and spices, is the national dish. Other popular dishes are kabsa, harissa, and khubz. Dubai has many Indian restaurants.


Visa: Rs 7,500.

Flights: Mumbai to Dubai (two-way): Rs 26,000.

Taxi: Dubai to Sharjah Rs 2,500; Sharjah to Mleiha (two-way): Rs 5,000; Sharjah to Hatta: Rs 8,000; Sharjah to Ras Al Khaimah: Rs  6,000; Ras Al Khaimah to Dubai: Rs 10,000.

Tickets: Burj Khalifa: Rs 3,800-9,000; Aquarium: Rs 4,500. Adventure Trip: Ras Al Khaimah to Wadi (two-way): Rs 12,000.

Accommodation: Hotels: Dubai: Rs 6,000; Ras Al Khaimah: Rs 3,000; Camping: Mleiha: Rs 5,000; Hatta: Rs 10,000.

Meals:  Rs 500-1,000; Indian meals: Rs 750-1,500.

Singapore as seen from Skypark Observation Deck


The tiniest country on this list, or for that matter any list, this city state on the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula is the perfect getaway for a short trip. There's a lot to explore, too.


Take a direct flight from any Indian metro city.


Singapore Zoo: Spread over 69 acres, it is among the best rainforest zoos in the world, and has a variety of exhibits native to the rainforests. Check out the orangutan island and the nearby River Wonders, which is a river-themed zoo and aquarium. At night, take the night safari, which is the world’s first nocturnal zoo, and is set in a tropical rainforest.

Universal Studio: Try the open-air rides first as the park stops operating them in the event of a rain, which is rather frequent here. There are separate theme zones, such as The Lost World (Jurassic Park movies), Ancient Egypt as well as moviemaking.

Sentosa Island: Rides, walkaways and Fort Siloso, Singapore’s only preserved military museum, which hosts a delightful display of WWII memorabilia—coastal guns, fortified structures, tunnels, and interactive video and wax figures documenting the Fall of Singapore in 1942. Check out the SkyHelix Sentosa if you aren’t afraid of heights to enjoy open air dining along with a running narration of  Singapore’s history.

City Tour: Check out the Indian National Army (INA) Memorial at Esplanade Park in Downtown Singapore. The foundation stone of the original monument was laid by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose to honour the martyrdom of INA soldiers who had fought for India’s Independence War. Other landmarks you should not miss are the Marina Bay Skypark Observation Deck, which offers a panoramic view of the bustling city on one side and the ocean waters of the Indian and Pacific Ocean, and the Merlion at the Merlion Park.  


Check out hawker centres for authentic Singapore street food, which were popularised by international celebrity chefs Gordon Ramsay and Anthony Bourdain. Popular dishes include hainanese chicken rice, chilli crab, black pepper crab, bak kut the, and char kway teow (stir-fried rice noodles served with prawns, sausages, bean sprouts). The Little India district has ample of Indian food options.


Visa: Rs 2,500.

Flights: Bengaluru/Chennai to Singapore (two-way): Rs 25,000.

Taxi: Rs 300 per km.

Prepaid metro card: Rs 1,500.

Ticket: Singapore Zoo: Rs 3,000; Combined ticket (zoo, aquarium and night safari): Rs 8,000; Universal Studio: Rs 5,000; VIP Pass: Rs 13,000 extra.

Accommodation: Hotels: Rs 6,500-8,000; Sentosa Island: Rs 12,000-18,000.

Meals: Rs 500-1,500; Street food: Rs 250-500; Indian meals: Rs 500-1,500.

Ha Long Bay


There are few places in the world that have been the scene of so many movie franchises–Tomorrow Never Dies from James Bond series and Kong: Skull Island from the King Kong Series. But Vietnam is much more than Ha Long Bay or the images from the 1970s US-Vietnam War.

How To Reach

Take a direct flight to capital Hanoi or a stop-over flight to Ho Chi Minh City in the south.


Ho Chi Minh City: Take a tour of the Jade Emperor Pagoda, War Remnants Museum, Independence Palace, Saigon Opera House, Municipal Theatre, the Gia Long Palace, Ho Chi Minh City Museum of Fine Arts, Ho Chi Minh City Museum of History, and other pagodas.

Hanoi: Places of interest include the One Pillar Pagoda, Perfume Pagoda, Temple of Literature, Tonkin Palace, Hanoi Opera House, Saint Joseph’s Cathedral, National Museum of Vietnamese History and the Lotte Observation Deck, which gives a lovely view of the cityscape.

Sapa: It’s 300 km north-west of Hanoi. Stay in a mountain lodge, go for a hike, cycle or take a cable car ride to 3,143 mt high Mt Fansipan for a splendid view of the landscape. On Sunday, visit the local market as neighbouring villagers in colourful clothes sell their wares.

Mai Chau: It’s 140 km south of Hanoi. Experience ethnic Vietnamese lifestyle at villages of Lac and Pom Coong. Live in stilt houses with local families in beautiful villages surrounded by hills, jungles and rice fields. Hike, cycle, eat fresh farm food and shop for local craft.

Ha Long Bay: Take bus, taxi from Hanoi to Ha Long city. From there, take a cruise, sea plane, or kayak out if you are that adventurous. Explore floating villages nearby.


Check out the old quarter of Hanoi for authentic cusine. Try cha ca la vong, a Vietnamese coal-grilled fish native to Hanoi; pho, a noodle soup with vegetables and meat of your choice; banh mi, which is a Vietnamese bread served with grilled meat, pickled vegetables and herbs; goi cuon (spring rolls), bun cha, bun bo Hue and banh xeo. Indian food is widely available at Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.


Visa: Rs 4,500.

Flights: Kolkata to Ho Chi Minh City (two-way): Rs 20,000; Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi: Rs 12,000.

Train: Hanoi to Sapa: Rs 1,200-3,500; VIP cabin: 6,500.

Taxi: Hanoi to Sapa: Rs 6,000-8,500; Hanoi to Ha Long city: Rs 7,000.

Bus: Hanoi to Sapa: Rs 1,100-2,000; Hanoi to Ha Long city: Rs 500.

Ha Long Bay Cruise: 1 Day: Rs 8,000; 2N1D: Rs 16,000-24,000;

Accommodation: Hotels: Rs 2,500-plus; Hostels: Rs 500-1,000; Homestays in Sapa and Mai Chau: Rs 600-1,500.

Meals: Rs 200-1,500; Indian meals: Rs 750-1,500.

Swayambhunath Temple


Sandwiched between two Asian giants, this landlocked nation sits high with 8 of the world’s 10 highest mountain peaks. But there is a lot more to Nepal than Mt Everest, khukuris and the temples of Kathmandu for travellers and adventurers alike.


Take a direct flight to Kathmandu from Delhi.


Kathmandu: One of the oldest inhabited capitals, the colourful city has everything to keep the visitor engrossed—ancient temples with spires that melt into the snowclad mountains in the distance, a buzzing tourist hub that is a must for mountaineers to do last-minute shopping for 8,000-metre expeditions, and nightlife with cafes, teahouses and souvenir shops. Visit the Pashupatinath Temple, Swayambhunath Temple, Mahakal Temple, Hanuman Dhoka, Tribhuvan Museum, Garden of Dreams, Kaiser Mahal, Naryanithi Palace, Itum Bahal and the Asan Tole market square. If you are a mountaineer or an outdoorsman, do not miss the Thamel district. In the evening, check out the cafes, and tea houses in Thamel for some quick bite and refreshment.

Patan: Many in Nepal, call this place by the old name of Lalitpur. Visit the Durbar Square, Golden Temple, Mul Chowk, Patan Museum, Royal Palace, Golden Gate, Sundari Chowk and Krishna Mandir.

Pokhara: It’s 200 km northwest of Kathmandu on the banks of Phewa Lake and serves as a gateway to the Annapurna Circuit trail. Pokhara has everything that one could ask for in a vacation trip —scenery that will leave you spellbound, adventure activities that will give you an adrenaline rush, Pokhara ticks all the boxes on the list. Visit the Old Town, Phewa Tal, which is the second-largest lake in Nepal, Devi’s Fall, Varahi Mandir and lastly, two museums—International Mountain Museum and Gurkha Museum.


Nepalese food is very similar to Indian food. One of their staple dish is, guess what, dal bhaat tarkari—yes, lentils, rice and vegetables. Try out sel roti, gundruk, yomari, wo, choila, gorkhali lamb, thukpa, noodles, dumplings (typically very spicy), and if you have the stomach—the quintessential 84 byanjan (which is basically a rice platter with 84 different types of Nepali dishes. Lastly, water everything down with tongba, which is a millet-based beer, served in bamboo mugs.


Visa: No visa required for Indians.

Flights: Delhi to Kathmandu (two-way): Rs 10,500; Kathmandu to Pokhara (two-way): Rs 6,000.

Taxi: Kathmandu city tour: Rs 3,500; Kathmandu to Patan (two-way): Rs 1,500; Kathmandu to Pokhara (two-way): Rs 6,500.

Accommodation: Hotels: Rs 1,000-4,000.

Meals: Rs 300-600; Indian meals: Rs 750-plus.


Sri Lanka

This tear-drop island by India’s southern borders may not evoke much interest, but it’s a destination you won’t regret to visit. Iconic Buddhist relics, historic sea forts, and tea gardens where you can sip the finest of teas as you while away time, that’s Sri Lanka in short.


Fly to Colombo from any Indian metro.


Colombo: Visit the National Museum, Dutch Hospital, Dutch Period Museum, Old City Hall, Wolvendaal Church, Viharamahadevi Park, Galle Face Green, and Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara. Lord Buddha is believed to have visited the site of this temple. Don’t miss the market.

Buddhist Circuit: In Anuradhapura, visit the Abhaygiri Dagoda, which dates back to 1st century BC and Abhaygiri Musuem, Sri Maha Bodhi tree, Samadhi Buddha Statue, Archaeological Museum. In Dambulla, visit the cave temples and the Clock Tower. About 16 km further from Dambulla lies the iconic rock fortress of Sigiriya. In Kandy, visit the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, which houses the tooth of Lord Buddha, and the Dalada Museum. Also visit the Ceylon Tea Museum and Kandy Lake.

Nuwara Eliya: Nestled at a little over 6,000 feet above sea level, this hill station is famous for its tea gardens (orange pekoe), parks, lakes, colonial buildings and salubrious weather. The train ride from Kandy winds through some lovely green hills. Galway Land National Park and Horton Plains National Park are close by.

Galle: Visit the Galle Fort, Lighthouse, Old Gate, Flag Rock, Dutch Governor’s House, National Maritime Museum, the bastions, and the Dutch Market in this historic city. Return to Colombo by train.


Kiribath is a traditional dish made by boiling rice in salted coconut milk. Try kool, a seafood broth of fish cooked with vegetables and seasoned with tamarind, and thickened with palmyra root flour. It is a delicacy from the northern parts. Lamprais is a Dutch influenced dish of chicken, egg, fried eggplant and rice that is cooked twice over, first separately and then baked together in banana leaf. Other dishes you can try are pittu, mallung and  roti, but it is different from the Indian version. Indian food is widely available.


Visa: Six months free for Indians.

Flights: Chennai to Colombo (two-way): Rs 12,000.

Taxi: Colombo to Kandy (Buddhist Circuit - Anuradhapura, Dambulla, Sigirya, Kandy): Rs 25,000; Nuwara Eliya To Galle: Rs 4,000.

Train: Kandy to Nuwara Eliya: Rs 400-1,400; Galle to Colombo: Rs 600.

Accommodation: Hotels: Rs 1,000-4,000; Nuwara Eliya: Rs 2,500-5,000.

Meals: Rs 300-600; Indian meals: Rs 750-plus.


Then And Now
Old Age Travel: Things To Check Before You Hit The Road