7 affordable last minute getaways
It’s a familiar tale: you resolve to spend the holidays at home, baking pies with Auntie Wanda. And then it hits you: You've got to get out of town. So go! Last minute vacations need not be expensive or far from CNNGo’s six featured cities. Here are our favorite quickie destinations.
1. Escape from Mumbai: Party hard in Dubai
Dubai is less than five hours from Mumbai. So why not ring in the New Year in nightlife central? Air-India Express has frequent flights; round-trip tickets are around US$100. Since competition among hotels is fierce, you can nab a three-star room for under US$100 a night. Throw down your bags, glance at Time Out Dubai’s nightlife guide and get the party started.
2. Escape from Tokyo: Conquer Mount Takao
Take a hike. A day-trip to Mount Takao is cheap and convenient. Just ride the subway to Takao Station. Tokyo college student Yukiro Dravarious reached the top after two hours of trekking (there are lifts for those who can’t make it.) He says, “The view was amazing, although it was a bit foggy so you couldn’t see Mount Fuji. On the way up there’s an ape park. We didn’t go because we were scared by the sign. On the way down, we bought a Japanese style candy with soy sauce, fried over a big fireplace. Really tasty.”
3. Escape from Tokyo: Mystical beaches of Enoshima
CNNGo recommended Enoshima as a lively summer getaway. In the winter, the isle turns into a serene retreat, the calm broken only by the call of hawks over crashing waves. Bundle up, take a long walk on the beach, and make cute noises at the cats that pad around the island.
4. Escape from Bangkok: Relax like a royal in Hua Hin
Just 200 km south of Bangkok, Hua Hin is crowned “favorite beach retreat” by the royal family. Winter’s the perfect time to visit: The rainy season’s over and tourists are scarce. I’d make a beeline to the fresh seafood stalls at the Fishing Harbor, followed by a local cooking lesson or a few rounds of golf. Hua Hin is three hours from Bangkok by bus or train; full travel details are found here. A decent hotel room will cost only around 2,000 baht (US$60) per night.
5. Escape from Singapore: Ride the Southeast Asia rails
Adventure-seekers, hop on this train. The two-day jungle rail takes explorers from Singapore through Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Bangkok -- and costs as little as US$50 each way, including sleeper berths. The fleeting scenery is breathtaking, and you can wander off and on as many times as you’d like. Seat61 has schedules, photos and more.
6. Escape from Hong Kong: Baguio’s winter wonderland
Hong Kong’s large Filipino population ensures there are always planes leaving for Manila -- and there's round trip fares on Cebu Pacific for as low as HK$1,000. From there, board a bus and enjoy the spectacular winding roads that lead to Baguio. The much-loved mountain retreat is quiet in December and January, which brings hotel prices down to HK$500 a night. Stroll in one of the gardens, visit the dazzling Christmas displays, then curl up in front of a fireplace. Bliss.
7. Escape from Shanghai: Mystical Huangshan mountains
The Yellow Mountains were the favorite subject of ancient Chinese painters, and the saw-toothed rocks haven’t lost their allure. Winter is the best time to catch glowing sunrises and sea clouds, the iconic swirls of mist that hug the peaks. Take a train from Shanghai to Tunxi (Huangshan City); from there, it’s an hour-long bus ride to Tangkou at the foot of the mountain. (Transportation details and prices are listed on CTRIP.) Accommodation begins at an affordable US$50 a night.
Final tip: Online travel auctions are a great way to grab hotel, car and flight deals at the last minute. CNNGo has a guide to bidding smart.