Hacks For Year-End Travel Destinations in India
You’re with your friends, you chug industrial amounts of booze, and stagger out to some ‘happening’ joint where you’ll have to pay through your nose to first enter and then get a drink. Oh and did we mention people spilling out from every corner while you’re trying to get a peck at that overprized chicken tikka?
If this is how you’ve been spending your New Year eves, you need to do something about it. Think about starting the New Year in a beautiful tranquil space where you can actually spend some quality time with your loved ones! That’s what you truly deserve.
Some places where you can actually do that have been listed below and all the details you would need. Do getaway!
1. Find peace in Pondicherry
Puducherry or locally known as Pondy might be the best option to choose this season. From a number a beautiful beaches, French colonial streets, mouth-watering food, rich culture and heritage – this town has things that are waiting to be explored!
- Best time to visit: November to February, when the climate is cooler and pleasant
- How to get there: Since there is no direct flight (from New Delhi) to Pondicherry, You’ll have to make a pit-stop at Chennai first. If you plan in advance, the flight tickets can go down to Rs 3600. The distance of 155 kms from Chennai to Pondicherry can be covered by bus or car in about 3.5 hours, with bus tickets from just Rs 299!
- Where to stay: Pondicherry offers budget homestays & guesthouses which exude old-world charm and luxurious 5-star hotels and beach resorts. If you don’t mind shelling out some extra bucks, then opt for Windflower Resort and Spa, Le Pondy, the Promenade or The Dune Eco Village and Spa. You are expected to pay about Rs 5000 per night
- What to eat: Pondicherry has a diverse culture with French and Portugese influences that reflects in the food! From local South Indian to French & European and even Asian – you can eat your heart out here in this beautiful place. In Auroville, try Brother’s Pizzeria for the yummiest thin crust pizzas!
- Places to visit: The Promenade, Paradise Beach, Jawahar Toy Museum, Auroville, Pondicherry Botanical Garden, Gingee Fort, Chunnambar River, French War Memorial, Manakula Vinayagar Temple and Shri Aurobindo Ashram
2. Try snorkeling in Lakshadweep
Lakshadweep is a cluster of 36 islands out of which only 10 are inhabited and 7 of them are accessible to tourists. Located off the Kerala coast in the Arabian Sea, the Lakshadweep islands are favoured when looking to get away from hustle and bustle of city life in to serenity. White sandy beaches, coconut palms, beautiful beach resorts and stunning marine life are what define most of the experience in Lakshadweep.
- Best time to visit: October to mid-May
- How to get there: There’s only one airport at Agatti and the flight from Kochi to Agatti is an hour and a half long. You can also take a ship from Kochi to the islands. The connecting flights from New Delhi to Agatti are from Rs 8000 and may take about 6 hours. Every visitor to the islands also needs an entry permit from the authority in Kochi or can be arranged through travel agents prior to departure.
- The flight from Kochi to Agatti is just an hour and 30 minutes and the flights operate six days a week! The passenger ships from Kochi to Lakshadweep take about 15-20 hours.
- Where to stay: Cottages, homestays and beautiful resorts. The accommodation is mostly around the islands, so every hotel will give you a stunning view of the ocean. Kavaratti and Kadmat have AC and non AC rooms while Bangaram and Thinnakara have non AC tents & cottages from Rs 4000
- What to eat: Since coconuts are an integral part of the islands, you’ll find coconut flavour in almost all local dishes. The food in Lakshadweep consists mostly of spicy non-vegetarian food – seafood with a dash of coconut. It offers a variety of seafood which you just cannot afford to miss!
- Things to do: The Lakshadweep tourism is mostly based on water sports of all kinds – snorkeling, scuba diving, canoeing, kayaking, parasailing, kite-surfing, knee boards, glass bottom rides, fishing, turtle watch tour and cruises.
3. Go fishing in Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Consisting of nearly 300 islands, Andaman and Nicobar Islands is known for white sandy palm-lined beaches, mangroves, tropical rain forests and a rich marine life which is home to coral reefs, sharks and rays. For white sandy shores, crystal clear waters and calm, relaxing & breathtaking environs, this is the place to be in!
- Best time to visit: January to April. Though you can visit any time of the year as the place has only small fluctuations in temperature and the weather is quite pleasant
- How to get there: The only airport is in Port Blair and is connected with Kolkata and Chennai. Voyage ships from Chennai, Vizag or Kolkata take about 50-60 hours
- There is also a flight to Port Blair from Delhi via Kolkata and you can reach in about 5 hours. You can either fly from Port Blair to Havelock in just 20 minutes or take an air conditioned catamaran ferry which takes 90 minutes
- Where to stay: Emerald Gecko Eco Resort in Havelock Island, which is beautiful & luxurious and gives you the perfect combo of stunning beach view and delicious food, Pearl Park Beach Resort in Neil Island and Hotel de Marina in Port Blair. You can also choose eco huts from Rs 500 only
- What to eat: Andaman and Nicobar Island is the melting pot of Indian culture. Seafood, undoubtedly, is the best here. Relish Malabar, Andhra and Kerala food!
- Places to visit: Havelock Island is the most visited and Radhanagar Beach, Elephant Beach and Kala Pathar Beach are the must-see beaches on Havelock. The less commercialized Neil Island. Twin islands Ross and Smith to see turtle nesting grounds. While in Port Blair, visit Chidiya Tapu, Baratang Island and Bay Island
- Must-do: Snorkeling, scuba diving, sea walk at North Bay Island, trekking to Limestone Caves, fishing trip to Cinque Island
4. Plan a musical sojourn in Goa
As mainstream as it may sound to visit Goa for a vacay, it won’t be wrong to say that there are still a lot of places that are unexplored! Goa is as much about tranquil environs as it is about good food, booze, bikini and beaches. So pack your bags and head to Goa for an ultimate beach holiday and book your dates for Sunburn Festival from 28th to 31st December!
- Best time to visit: October to January
- How to get there: Goa is well-connected by road, rail & air and is well-connected to all major cities. There are two main railway stations in Madgaon and Vasco da Gama and one airport in Dabolim. You may find skyrocketing prices during the holiday season with fare starting from Rs 5000 (it works out much cheaper to take a connecting flight during this peak holiday season as direct flights tend to soar)
- Where to stay: Budget homestays, B&B, guest houses, beach resorts and 5-star hotels. India’s only Hard Rock Hotel is in Goa – about 38 kms away from the airport, you are expected to pay Rs 10,000 for a night. Good beach resorts start from Rs 3599/night
- What to eat: When it comes to food, Goa never disappoints, from local food joints to beautiful restaurants – you’ll find restaurants serving the best of everything. Do try the famous prawn balchao, crab xacuti and chicken cafreal with the Goan pao…it will have you craving Goan food even when you’re back. For those who stay in south Goa, hike to the famed Martin's Corner wherever you are - you will not be disappointed. If around Panjim area, do stop by Mum’s Kitchen for the most amazing food at a place that feels very much like home. North Goa starting with Candolim’s Bomras to Bhatti Village to further north where Chef Chris makes subliminal food at Sublime are all a must try
- Of course, Thalassa is an absolute must-visit over sunset for drinks as is the night market which is just fun to hang out and listen to bands. Should you make it to Ashwem, do book in advance for La Plage which is a must-try but always booked
- Places to visit: Apart from the regular beaches that you’d head to, do visit Dudhsagar Waterfalls, Salaulim Dam, submerged villages of Kurdi and Kurpem, Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, Cumbarjua – the Crocodile Dundee, Lamgau Caves, Dona Paula, Bats Island and Mollem National Park
5. Feel alive in Rajasthan
Rajasthan is the perfect concoction of colours, tradition, culture, heritage, royalty and romance! You can cover all of Rajasthan in a week. Jaipur is the most popular tourist destination and is closely followed by Udaipur, Jodhpur, Pushkar, Jaisalmer and Bikaner. Since the temperature rises up to 48 degrees centigrade in summers, it is best to go during colder months when it’s cooler and pleasant. You may find the place a bit crowded, but it’s good for spending time away from home!
- Best time to visit: November to February
- How to get there: All major spots are well-connected by road, rail and air. The air tickets are as low as Rs 1222. Plus, Delhi peeps, the bus runs efficiently from Bikaner House every day
- Where to stay: If you’re visiting Jaipur and Udaipur, stay at budget and luxury hotels starting from Rs 1500. If you’re planning on desert camping, you can opt for tents with all basic amenities that also start from Rs 1500
- What to eat: Experience its rich culture through food and don’t leave without trying dal baati churma, laal maas, gatte ki subzi, papad ki subzi, ker sangri, onion kachori, raab, panchkuta and ghevar
Already started to pack your bags? Me too!