Ten Places You Never Thought You Could Afford

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
While visiting her boyfriend, Jon, in Dubai during his deployment with the Navy, Associate Editor Jessica Labrencis found the most exotic place she'd ever been to. She says, "I expected Dubai to be Disney-esque—artificial and contrived—and while some of it is undeniably designed for tourists with gobs of money, we were also able to escape the chain restaurants and shops when we wanted to. Dubai is typically very expensive for airfare and accommodations, but travelers can save on luxury accommodations by traveling in the summer when hotel rooms are deeply discounted (and temperatures are unbelievably hot)." 

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 (Photo: Index Open)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on January 21, 2011. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: adventure travel, airfare, Barbados, beach, Cook Islands, destination, Dubai, Ecuador, Hawaii, hotel, Istanbul, Morocco, Nepal, New York City, Sarah Pascarella, Shanghai, shopping, vacation package.

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With the arrival of 2011, you may be dreaming of a big, once-in-a-lifetime trip, but are concerned about how to pay for it. We've got the answer. Here are 10 hand-picked destinations that may be far-flung, but also offer unexpected values.

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What's a metropolis known for excess, luxury, and big spending doing on our list? Sure, there are plenty of opportunities to spend (and splurge) in Dubai. But beyond the glitz and glamour, the city holds countless entertainments that won't cost much at all. The key is to embrace the art of being a savvy spectator, and not a big spender. Window-shop around the city's malls, haggle for bargains at souks (e.g., local markets), and compare prices across vendors to make sure you're getting the best deal for your souvenirs.

Then, take a few days to get away from the commercial centers. You can soak up the sun on Dubai's public beaches, or spend an afternoon among the locals in the historic Bastakia neighborhood. While away a few hours in Creekside Park, then watch the dhows (traditional wooden boats) and abras (water taxis) crisscross the waterways. Or, grab your binoculars and go birdwatching—you may spot some of the 400-plus species around the region.

At publication time, Virgin Holidays was offering Dubai Holiday Packages starting at £473 per person (approximately $736 USD, see XE.com for current exchange rates) for four-night vacations with service from London.

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