While the Aussie dollar isn’t as strong as it was at the start of 2013, an overseas jaunt can still be more affordable than holidaying at home. Here’s where you should head for the best bargain holiday destinations for Australians heading overseas in 2014.
Colourful, chaotic and super cheap, thanks to the stumbling rupee. Air India started direct flights to Oz earlier this year, making it even easier to visit this vast and varied country. The well-trodden Golden Triangle route in the country’s northwest is perfect for first-timers. Start in the capital Delhi with its teeming bazaars and magnificent monuments. Then head to Agra, home of the Taj Mahal and massive Mughal fort, before finishing in the pink city of Jaipur. All three cities are connected by good road and rail links.
Where to stay: Intrepid has an 8-day Golden Triangle Overview tour from $725pp.
When to go: November to mid-February when temperatures are a pleasant 20-25°C.
How to get there: Air India flies daily to Delhi from Sydney and Melbourne.
It’s no budget destination, but your dosh does go further these days. That’s because the Aussie dollar has risen 13% in the past 12 months against the Yen. The country’s ski fields offer guaranteed snow and, with lift passes averaging around $60-70 per day compared to $110 at Thredbo, are better value than Oz. The Nagano region, just 90 minutes by bullet train from Tokyo, includes the world-class Hakuba and Shiga Kogen resorts, while Myoko Kogen and Nozawa have quaint villages and onsens (hot springs).
Where to stay: JTB has nine-day packages staying at Jon Nobi inn and onsen from $1,754pp, excluding flights.
When to go: The ski season runs from mid-December until early April.
How to get there: Jetstar flies daily to Tokyo from Cairns and the Gold Coast, with non-direct flights from most capital cities.
While safaris don’t come cheap, cosmopolitan Cape Town and the nearby wine regions offer great value for foodies. According to Trip Advisor’s annual TripIndex report, a four-star hotel with cocktails, followed by a two-course meal with wine and return taxi fare will set you back just $212.49 for two in Cape Town, compared to $445.64 in Sydney. The city is framed by the majestic Table Mountain and historic Robben Island, while the ‘gourmet capital’ of Franschhoek and the renowned wine regions of Stellenbosch and Paarl are around an hour away.
Where to stay: Boutique hotel Derwent House has double rooms including breakfast from $195.
When to go: Cape Town’s climate is comparable to Sydney, with generally warm, dry summers.
How to get there: Qantas flies daily to Cape Town via Johannesburg from Perth and Sydney.
Indonesia remains one of the cheapest travel destinations for Aussies, with affordable accommodation, great surf spots and cheap warungs (roadside cafes) serving up tasty babi guling (suckling pig). Bali’s a perennial favourite , but don’t discount neighbouring Nusa Tenggara. It includes the islands of Lombok and Sumbawa and has scores of secret spots to surf, snorkel and sunbake. And good news for Perth locals: Jetstar has just started flying direct to Lombok four times a week.
Where to stay: Matahari Tulamben Resort on Bali’s northeast coast has 2-nights, all-inclusive with unlimited diving for $145pp.
When to go: April to October is peak season, so March is your best bet for a cheap deal without the crowds.
How to get there: Jetstar has regular direct flights to Bali from Darwin, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.
Granted, prices have risen recently in line with Sri Lanka’s newfound popularity, but the tiny island is still a bargain. Especially when compared to honeymoon hotspot the Maldives, just 90 minutes away by plane. While both have got endless white-sand beaches and world-class dives sites, Sri Lanka is also home to eight UNESCO World Heritage sites. From the capital Colombo head north the ancient cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa and visit the elephants in Minneriya. Then head south through temple and tea country to the sacred city of Kandy, before hitting the historic seaport of Galle.
Where to stay: Tea plantation Ashburnham Estate has double rooms, including breakfast, from $120.
When to go: November to April is the best time to visit the southwest and interior.
How to get there: There are no direct flights. Cathay Pacific flies daily to Colombo via Hong Kong from Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane.