Friday, November 23, 2012

Whether you’re so caught up planning your wedding that you’ve forgotten about the honeymoon or simply want go for a second honeymoon, Gargi Bansod & Priyanka Singh make planning your holiday easier by listing out some of the best destinations and give you insider tips

It’s almost December, which means only one thing in India — wedding season! Whether it’s women having their Bridezilla moments or grooms suffering from panic attacks with the bills, preparing for a wedding has quite a few rollercoaster rides. Amidst all this frenzy, picking a honeymoon spot is sure to have made it to the bottom of your list of things to do. Well, worry not. We narrow down a few honeymoon destinations which might just fit your bill.

A honeymoon in Hong Kong will be a lifetime experience for newly married couples. With numerous sightseeing spots, amusement parks, chic shopping destinations and several other places of interest, you will surely have a great honeymoon here. Stay in a swanky hotel, enjoy romantic seafood dinners on the waterfront, indulge in shopping for exclusive designer goods, dance the night away in each other's arms, explore the colourful back streets and temples, hike up hilltops or stroll on the beach at sunset. Hong Kong has it all! The South Bay Beach and Lantau Island are quite popular with couples.

Cost bracket An average trip to Hong Kong will cost you around `60,000 per person. This includes the return airfare as well as accommodation and a few days stay in Macau.

Inside tip Priya Khosla loves to travel and picked Hong Kong and Macau as her honeymoon destinations as she loves to shop, party and eat good food. The Wadala resident says, “Hong Kong is a paradise for shopping enthusiasts. Times Square, IFC mall, Pacific Place, Harbour City and Lee Gardens are some of the most famous shopping spots. If you’re a foodie, try Knutsford Terrace on Kowloon side, SoHo or Lan Kwai Fong in Central. Hong Kong also has a great nightlife, as the city literally never sleeps.”

This relatively unexplored country lies on the eastern part of the Indo-Chinese peninsula and the country’s strip of land is shaped like the letter ‘S’. Vietnam’s lovely hills, seascapes and ancient culture is marvelously preserved only because it’s just become a popular tourist destination. You must visit the Red River Delta in the north and the Mekong Delta in the south; almost the entire coastal region is a patchwork of brilliant green rice fields. The beautiful beach town of Mui New, Phan Tiet and finally to popular party beach town of Nha Trang in South Vietnam are must-visits.

Cost bracket A trip to Vietnam will cost a minimum `65,000 per person for a week, including air fare.

Inside tip Goregaon residents Harshal and Ketaki Kallyanpur picked Vietnam as their destination as it was relatively unexplored and mysterious. Ketaki elaborates, “The five must dos are: Try the Vietnamese food, especially the traditional Pho (beef noodle soup) and Bánh Mì (local bread), taste the delectable red Da Lat wine, go kite surfing at Mui Ne beach, party till the wee hours at Nha Trang and go for a bike ride along the coast south of Mui Ne. However, the locals, though friendly, are not very proficient in English, so it’s better you know a few basic words of their local language.”

A highly underrated destination for honeymooners, we suggest you head down there for an idyllic romantic getaway. From secluded beaches and exotic rainforests through to geothermal wonderlands and snow-capped mountains, New Zealand’s landscapes are varied. You can indulge in special romantic activities for couples such as contemplate the Southern Cross or the Milky Way at Lake Tekapo, go for a stroll as the sun sets on one of the wild black beaches of Auckland’s West Coast, listen to a bird song concert at Zealandia in Wellington, soak up the ambience created by millions of glow worms in the Waitomo Caves or feed your adrenaline with sky diving or jumping. New Zealand also hosts lots of wineries where you can enjoy the best food and wine with your better half while sitting across scenic landscapes.

Cost bracket This might be a slightly luxurious trip as you’d have to shell out a whopping `1.30 lakh per person. Plus the transportation in New Zealand can get expensive, mainly because you have to rent a car to see anything as most spots are away from the cities.

Inside tip Kalina resident David Pinto says that it is the best honeymoon destination for an adventurous couple. He says, “New Zealand isn’t a popular honeymoon spot, but it should be right up there with the best of them. Even the cities are quiet and close to weekend getaway spots, such as Taupo and Rotorua, if scenery and adventure sports are at the top of your list. But, the countryside is idyllic. Don’t miss out on the LOTR trail.”

God’s Own Country is a must visit, whether it’s for your honeymoon or a vacation later in your married life. It’s a soulful place for couples to re-kindle their romance. You can explore exotic Ayurveda spa centres, go trekking across lush hill stations and enchanting house-boats in the backwaters and of course, enjoy the scrumptious local cuisine. It will be a perfect, relaxing treat.

Cost bracket A trip to Kerela is inexpensive. It will cut you back around `40,000 per person at the most.

Inside tip Newly weds Dipshika and Martin Selva chose Kerela as they had a tight budget. Kharghar resident Dipshika tells us, “We went to Munnar and Athirapally waterfalls and spent a day in a house boat in Allepey. It’s truly beautiful and breathtaking. And you must go for the traditional Ayurvedic massage, which surely helps you rejuvenate after the mad rush of your wedding.”

This one’s for the beachcombers. If spending some quality time getting to know each other is the main motive, then the romantic islands of Maldives is for you. You can choose any of the 90 resorts islands across the Maldives for your honeymoon, allowing yourself the freedom to explore everything this amazing tropical wonderland has to offer. There are exclusive honeymoon suites available and in many resorts you can get your own personal beach with white sand and clear lagoon waters.

Cost bracket Maldives comes under a moderate budget trip and will cost you around `48,500 per person for four days, including air fare.

Inside tip Gopal and Riya Chandka, residents of Kharghar opted to go to Maldives because both of them love the sea. Gopal says, “Maldives is a place that’s relevant only for people who love the beach. However, boredom can creep in, so make sure your stay isn’t for more than four to five days. You must not miss scuba diving, air taxi (a sea plane) and staying in a water villa where your villa is in the middle of the sea and you can see fish go by when you look at the flooring of your hotel room.”

Italy is amongst the few diverse places in Europe. There is historically rich Florence and Rome, and then there’s Venice, which is a totally different experience altogether with its canals and water bodies. The stunning mountains, lakes and beaches will drift you into another world. While you’re soaking in the bliss, don’t forget to go for a skiing trip in the Dolomite region. Few miles away from the city lie the glorious beaches, among which the surreal coastline of Isole Tremiti shouldn’t be missed. An Italian romance cannot be complete without a mention of Italy’s amazing countryside that consists of Tuscany, Calabria, Basilicata, Molise, Veneto, and Friuli-Venezia Giulia. However, don’t visit Italy in April to August. Temperatures are above 36 degrees and it’s very humid.

Cost bracket It will cost a minimum of `1 lakh per person for eight nights and nine days, including air fare.

Inside tip It was Colaba resident Disha Arora’s filmy dream to hop on to a gondola ride and she fulfilled it with Ashish on their honeymoon. Disha says, “Try visiting South Italy, which is often ignored, because it is much prettier than anything else you’ll see in mainland Europe. Venice is the most expensive place in Europe after Switzerland, but certain must-do’s here are buying a Venetian mask and taking a gondola ride! Don’t miss the pizzas at Naples or Piaza da navone and Rome.”

Victoria in Australia will take your breath away! Start your trip with the Yarra Valley that will tantalise your taste buds with sumptuous cuisine and of course, the classic varieties of wines. While you’re there, you can take off on a sunrise hot air ballooning experience over the rolling vineyards, followed by a champagne breakfast! The next stop should be the scenic Mornington Peninsula. The spas here are also quite popular wherein you’ll find naturally heated mineral water pools. If you’re ready to splurge, Victoria will never disappoint you on your romantic getaway.

Cost bracket It will cost you around `1.3 lakh per head for nine nights and 10 days.

Inside tip Rutuja and Vivek Dey, residents of Juhu, always wanted a luxurious honeymoon. Vivek says, “Victoria is a place where you can decide the pace of your trip on your own. When we were there on our honeymoon, the first three days we did the usual running around like tourists but for the last three days we decided to just walk in the city as even the lanes are so full of romance.”

Andaman & Nicobar islands are a perfect destination to unwind and unleash if you two are a little adventurous. You can visit Port Blair, Havelock and Neil Island and do nothing but laze around in each others company and have the perfect de-stress vacation post the wedding. Apart from the picturesque views, Andamans offers activities such as scuba diving, snorkeling and sport fishing. The best part is that you get to go on a secluded island and don’t have to bother about getting a permit or visa.

Cost bracket This destination is ideal if you have a low budget and want to make the most of it. A round trip will cost you around `40,000 per head. This includes travel, accommodation and the activities.

Inside tip Michael Saldanha, a resident of Santa Cruz, says, “In a word, Havelock Island is paradise. With just three roads traversing the island, justifiably slow internet and little or no cell phone coverage, you will have indeed left the big city life behind. Havelock is a recreational diving hotspot with 5 star rated PADI dive facilities and more importantly, pristine waters rich in marine biodiversity. Radhanagar beach a.k.a. Beach #7 is among the best beaches in the world. For those who prefer terra firma, picturesque and relatively undisturbed landscapes make hiking across the island nothing short of pleasurable (I recommend the hike to elephant beach).”

* The information and pictures are courtesy Makemytrip.com, Hong Kong Tourism Board, New Zealand Tourism and Tourism Victoria.

Beach basket built for two on Hiddensee Island, Germany: Walk across the peaceful dunes and long stretches of sand or tuck in into the Strandkorb, also called the beach basket that shelters you from wind and lets you snuggle while you watch the waves.

Gorilla safari in Bwindi Forest National Park, Uganda: If both of you are animal lovers and have a streak for adventure, then these guided walks will let you meet the gentle gorillas amidst valleys and scenery. In the evening, stargaze while sitting around the campfire before settling into tents built into the jungle canopy.

Cruise Alaska’s coast on a small ship: Just the two of you, in a small boat with a cabin, looking at gigantic icebergs and snow-capped mountains. You can also head for a kayak to wade amidst green coves and wildlife.

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