Friday 18 January 2019

Cheap holiday destinations for 2012

Koh Samui in Thailand: a perennial budget favourite
Koh Samui in Thailand: a perennial budget favourite

Jolyon Attwooll

Ideas for an affordable holiday in 2012, including post-Arab Spring deals, cheap cruises, skiing trips and beach breaks.

Beaches on a budget: Thailand

Thailand is a perennial favourite for those on a budget, and that looks set to remain the case in 2012. With great beaches, excellent food, and high standards of service, it will continue to attract bargain-hunters – especially as visitor numbers have been affected by recent (and now retreating) floods.

What the experts say

Lucy Balding from Trailfinders ( mentions the country first when asked about affordable destinations. Contributing factors for its value include the weak baht, and an extensive, well-established hotel network, which encourages operators to be competitive. Trailfinders is currently offering an eight-night trip to Thailand in May costing €899, including flights, transfers and three-star accommodation.

Cruising: Caribbean

Cruising is often billed as a good option for those on a budget. The headline price might look more expensive, but the cost of food, drink and other entertainment will normally be included. Caribbean cruises in particular offer the chance to go to a series of idyllic destinations, with your accommodation and transport all arranged in advance.

What the experts say

Douglas Ward, Travel cruise expert, said: "Going to the Caribbean by cruise ship offers a chance to visit several islands in the space of a week or two, whereas trying to do the same thing by flying and staying in hotels and paying for island transport takes a lot more work – and is always more expensive. In other words, a Caribbean cruise offers fantastic value."

Post Arab Spring destinations

Established sun and sea destinations before the political upheaval at the beginning of the year are now desperate to re-start their tourist industries. Tunisian officials have been working particularly hard to attract visitors back (including extending an invite to the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge). The situation there seems to have settled, and there are certainly plenty of deals. Sunway currently has a seven-night deal for €332 per person in May, including half board and flights. Consider Egypt too - the occupancy rates are very low in the Red Sea, which is far removed from the troubled areas of the country, and that should mean plenty of good deals.

What the experts say

Travel writer Michelle Jana Chan said: "Not once did I have to queue to enter a tomb at the usually overcrowded Valley of the Kings. I even had to myself tomb number 62, which holds Tutankhamun's mummy."

Skiing on a budget

If you are on a shoestring budget, Bulgaria is one of the cheapest destinations you can choose, although you get what you pay for.

Whatever your destination, Marion Telsnig from Crystal Ski recommends timing your visit for March for good value and empty slopes if you have the flexibility to do so (and check the likely snowfalls first – resorts in more budget friendly resorts such as Andorra and Bulgaria are likely to be light on snow by mid March).

For families, consider booking for the week before Christmas in 2012. Brochures are already out for some ski operators, and if you book now you can often take advantage of the same prices charged this year.

What the experts say

Chris Gill and Dave Watts, authors of Where to Ski and Snowboard, said: "Happily, there are places in Austria, France and Italy where the extras cost half what they would in the most expensive resorts."

Tropical luxury: Sri Lanka

Since the political situation has stabilised, tourists have been going to Sri Lanka in greater numbers – although some readers still express misgivings about visiting. Its good-value, however, is incontestable, especially in comparison to other Indian Ocean destinations.

What the experts say

Travel writer Fred Mawer said: "It's not just accommodation that is cheap in Sri Lanka. In a recent analysis by the Post Office of day-to-day holiday costs in 28 long-haul destinations, the country came out as the least expensive by far…. "

City break: Lisbon

The Portuguese capital, with its alluring combination of hills, heritage and coastline, is one of the most affordable short-haul city breaks you can take. One note of caution: A reasonable level of planning is needed to offset the cost of flights, which are relatively expensive when compared to accommodation and eating out.

Lisbon also came top of a list comparing value for those seeking a more luxurious stay.

What the experts say

Guyan Mitra, a Lisbon expert, said: "Rarely too hot or cold, Lisbon is a year-round destination. The first buds of spring usually appear around late February while the last puffs of the Sahara-warmed winds keep the mercury high well into November. "

La Belle France: Normandy and Brittany

Beyond their historic connections and picturesque landscapes, there is one clear reason for Brittany and Normandy's enduring popularity: they are close, with flights and ferries allowing easy access, making them relatively easy and cheap to get to. Accommodation and eating out can be significantly cheaper than in Ireland too.

What the experts say

Travel France expert, Anthony Peregrine, said: "Bretons and Normans share much. They both live in places with long and often crinkle-cut coastlines, by turns beguiling and savage. Both have a marked taste for shellfish, cider and butter. They have the same colour scheme – grey and green through white and blue, with a constantly changing sky. And both have deep, ambiguous links with the British Isles."

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