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December 22, 2011 11:07 PM   Subscribe

Where to take a 5-7 day international (from the US) vacation next late September? Some restrictions apply . . .

I will be turning 30 next September and would like to do so not in the USA -- I'm hoping you all can help my boyfriend and I brainstorm some great travel destinations! We don't have a ton of time, which probably rules out countries that don't have direct flights and that require lots of in-country travel in order to really 'see' it. We would be leaving from San Francisco. We're open to pretty much anywhere outside the US and Canada, though we have the following preferences:

-- Possible to pay $100/night max (and preferably less) for a decent hotel that's not in the farthest-flung suburb. I was really interested in Hong Kong but it's looking like we may be too poor for the hotels. If you think it could be do-able, please let me know!

-- Other daily expenses ~$75 a day each

-- Relatively safe. Like, no beheadings of tourists and such.

-- A fun city with interesting neighborhoods to explore; awesome food; markets; people watching

-- Beautiful scenery in the city or nearby with the possibility of hiking/biking

-- Options for a day trip or two

-- Not solely beach-focused

-- Not in the following places: the PRC, France, Italy. I've been to those places and loved them but would like to try something new.

posted by imalaowai to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Ireland fits all your requirements perfectly.
posted by rom1 at 11:23 PM on December 22, 2011


Sadly no direct flights from SFO, but you can take Lufthansa through Frankfurt/Munich or Turkish Airlines through LAX (and probably others, but I try to stick to Star Alliance and those are the two best to IST from SFO)
posted by alaijmw at 11:27 PM on December 22, 2011

Bangkok. You'll love it!
posted by superfille at 11:28 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh and also Buenos Aires. I second Istanbul too, although hotel costs seem to be rising fast there.
posted by superfille at 11:29 PM on December 22, 2011

May I suggest Germany, specifically around Munich. Awesome place, with Bavarian forests nearby, great history, wonderful food, great transportation, bustling town and it is possible to find decent accommodation without breaking the budget.

Ireland and Scotland are wonderful destinations too, for that matter, especially for food, beer and great scenery.

If you want a bit exotic, Thailand is good, but not sure on the hotel locations.
posted by theobserver at 11:41 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Here's the current list of non-stop destinations from SFO. Mexico City and Seoul sound like they'd hit a lot of your criteria.
posted by mdonley at 12:30 AM on December 23, 2011

You can stay just outside Amsterdam for about $100/night, and you can easily spend less than $75/day if you don't eat every meal at a restaurant. You can rent bikes and cycle all over the city, and there are many nearby rural areas, easily reachable by train, where you can cycle. You can do day trips to other Dutch cities such as Utrecht, or to national parks like De Veluwe (also a great place to bike).
posted by neushoorn at 1:00 AM on December 23, 2011

How about Antigua in Guatemala? It's relatively close to you as well - and with a < 1 week trip, you don't want to spend two days flying.
posted by rhymer at 1:53 AM on December 23, 2011

Check out Kayak Explore to see how much it costs to fly different places from a given airport.

I just got back from Spain because Madrid was one of the cheapest cities in Europe for me to fly into. From Madrid, we took the high speed train down to Sevilla, which was incredibly interesting and full of great gardens, parks, and historical sites to visit. So, I'd recommend Sevilla.
posted by losvedir at 3:01 AM on December 23, 2011

Seconding Bangkok - - as a short, inexpensive urban vacation, it'll knock your socks off.
posted by fairmettle at 5:22 AM on December 23, 2011

Just a warning about Buenos Aires if you were considering it, it's now impossible to find a night less than $100 in a half decent place. Prices have gone up across the board around 50% in the last year or so.
posted by jontyjago at 5:23 AM on December 23, 2011

I would recommend staying in either Berlin or London.

- Both are beautiful and historic with tons of fun things to do.
- Both provide a great opportunity for trips to other cities (You could travel to the equally beautiful cities of Bonn or Cologne; Edinburgh or Belfast)
- Both are very safe, and in Berlin's case mostly everyone speaks English so you wouldn't have to worry about a huge culture gap or language problems.

The only difference is that Berlin is super super cheap, I mean, incredibly inexpensive. London, not so much, but still doable on your suggested budget.

Good luck!
posted by _superconductor at 7:42 AM on December 23, 2011

Response by poster: losvedir -- I'm loving Kayak Explore. It seems like the map is still fairly empty for September/October next year, so I'll have to go back every so often to check it out. Anyone have a general idea of when's a good time to buy plane tickets for that time of the year?

Thanks everyone for your suggestions. So far I'm particularly liking the ideas of Istanbul, Ireland and Spain. Probably not Bangkok, but I'm curious if anyone has any thought about Hanoi given my preferences?
posted by imalaowai at 10:14 AM on December 23, 2011

Granada, Spain. It's a wonderful city in the south of the country, and it meets all of your criteria and is one of my favorite cities. We stayed at this cheap(er), very nice hotel that was an easy bus ride from many attractions, including one of the most beautiful palaces in the world, the Alhambra. And there are so many unique neighborhoods, including the Albaicin and Sacromonte. You can also take daytrips to nearby cities in Andalucia. Man, now I really want to go back! Feel free to message me if you have any questions about the area!
posted by emilyv at 8:49 PM on December 23, 2011

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