I'd just like to be drunk on a beach, please.
September 24, 2017 7:56 AM   Subscribe

I'm an early 30's woman, currently living/working in an extremely conservative city abroad. I must cover myself head to toe, have no access to alcohol, must avoid friendships with men, and actually am not even allowed out of the building more than once every 6 weeks, due to major security concerns. BUT, I have vacation coming up!! Help me release my inner heathen.

I have 10 vacation days (weekdays) to use, and will likely go from around November 25th to December 9th (I don't have much flexibility on the days, unfortunately), and I'll be flying out of Islamabad. I'd like to go somewhere close, likely Thailand or Sri Lanka. India is off limits due to my visa. Honestly, after living in such strict conditions, all I'd really like to do is lay on a beach (or occasionally next to a pool), drink a lot of alcohol, eat street food and drink fresh juice, and maybe go dancing/clubbing (and maybe hook up with a fellow tourist/expat?). A day tour or something would be nice, but NO major hiking or trekking.

I'd like to stay under 750 Euros for the flight, and under 600 Euros for the hotel, food, and local transit, if possible. My standards aren't very high, but I'd like flush toilets, wifi, and bug/mold-free rooms. A/C would be a bonus. I'd prefer a private room, but a dorm/hostel would be ok. I have little interest in cultural stuff this time around, though seeing temples or something in the distance would be nice. I'd like to be able to wear a bathing suit, or shorts and a tank top without causing offence. I'd be up for potentially splitting the 2 weeks between two different cities/countries. I don't want anything over-crowded, but don't need to be isolated.

I've traveled quite extensively, including to Phuket (which was ok), and Koh Phi Phi (which was nearly perfect) in 2010, but I'd like to see somewhere else this time. Not interested in Vietnam, as I've lived there before and didn't like it. Singapore is too expensive. Otherwise open to most anywhere within my budget!

Any suggestions at all in terms of where to go, and what flights/accommodation to book would be appreciated! Thanks!
posted by hasna to Travel & Transportation (20 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Interesting. Is Tel Aviv also problematic? It would match pretty much all your criteria . . .
posted by aspersioncast at 8:35 AM on September 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Come to Bali. It might be a wee bit rainy but that's a slow period, lots of availability. If you want to stay close to the beach, check out places starting in Legian and going north, Seminyak, Kerobokan, Canggu. On the opposite side of the isthmus, Sanur. There are more isolated beachy areas dotted around and there're the tiny, more rustic Gili islands reachable by ferry.

Fantastic local food and plenty of expat restaurants if you're craving western food. No issue with wearing shorts on the street (but not to a temple of course). Absolutely gorgeous scenery. Friendly people. No visa necessary for most countries. Frequent Air Asia flights.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:37 AM on September 24, 2017 [9 favorites]

I'd say go to Boracay in the Philippines.
posted by wolfr at 9:15 AM on September 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Tel Aviv (or anywhere in the European mediterranean) is likely not warm enough for the beach in December.
posted by caek at 9:17 AM on September 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yeah, Tel Aviv would be perfect right about now but in December temperatures are generally in the high 50s-low 60s - still lovely, but not great for a beach. You also might have trouble getting flights between Israel and your country, depending on which ultra-conservative country you're in right now.
posted by Itaxpica at 9:56 AM on September 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Sharm El Sheikh seems like it might work. Particularly on a food and alcohol inclusive resort deal.
posted by howfar at 10:28 AM on September 24, 2017

seychelles is really beautiful, although your timetable does coincide with the beginning of the rainy season, which translates to extremely high humidity outside of the mountainy areas.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:40 AM on September 24, 2017

Sharm's also not that warm in January.

It's peak season for Cambodia - have you considered a resort in Siem Reap/Angkor or somewhere like that? Decent weather, and some amazing spa/pool hotels.

Otherwise I'd look at Bali or the Maldives. Qatar has flights from Islamabad to Male for E475 return (via Doha unfortunately).
posted by tinkletown at 11:26 AM on September 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

I don't have first-hand experience but have heard good things about the Maldives and Goa.
posted by stillmoving at 11:58 AM on September 24, 2017

Oh sorry, you said India was off-limits! I stand by my Maldives suggestion as the weather will be great.
posted by stillmoving at 12:15 PM on September 24, 2017

I'll be in Tanzania if you'd maybe like to meet up in Zanzibar and split accommodations for some of that time to keep it cheaper? I'm a mid-30s woman and I'll be traveling alone. I like both alcohol and bikinis a fair amount, for what it's worth.
posted by adiabat at 2:09 PM on September 24, 2017 [3 favorites]

(Though as Zanzibar is mostly conservative Muslim I understand how that might not appeal.)
posted by adiabat at 2:11 PM on September 24, 2017

Bali is having issues with mt agung erupting atm. Not a very reliable time to book a flight there. Probably all sorted by dec but I'd wait and see if I were you. Otherwise it is a fun place to do those things, though the beaches do not have white sand and are not so pretty. They are heaps of fun though! If you want to do party/luxuriating type stuff I'd go Seminyak, Kerobokan or Canggu.
posted by jojobobo at 2:28 PM on September 24, 2017

Maldives is absolutely heaven on earth, but the resorts tend to be pretty pricey. I was going to say Kata Beach, Phuket, but you've already been there (not sure which beach you stayed at). Some of the southern Thailand resorts are getting quite popular - check Thorn Tree for some ideas.
posted by bluesky78987 at 2:38 PM on September 24, 2017

Sri Lanka is amazing (especially the food); Galle has a bit of an expat scene & I thought prettier/more laid-back than Colombo. Sundowners @ the Wijaya Beach restaurant highly recommended.
posted by scyllary at 3:21 PM on September 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've never been to any of these places, but why not a place like Greece? About as far as Thailand, but I don't think you'd have any troubles drinking, dancing and eating to your heart's content. On Google Flights, it appears to be in your price range. The weather might not be great, but I think you will run into that a lot of places. Since it will be the off season, maybe hotel accommodations won't be as pricey.
posted by AppleTurnover at 8:52 PM on September 24, 2017

What about flying to Bangkok and then heading down to an island like Ko Pha Ngan? Thai Airways fly to Bangkok from Islamabad four times a week and getting to Ko Pha Ngan is enough of a bother (domestic train/flight then ferry) that it's nowhere near as busy as Phuket. There are full moon parties, but also plenty of chill bits of the island like the northwest coast with not much going on other than beach time and sunsets at smallish 'resorts'.

Bangkok also fits all your non-beach requirements and you can definitely find hotels (and serviced apartments and even airbnbs!) with pools in your price range if you don't need to be right on Sukhumvit/the Skytrain/the metro; the same is true around Thailand; you'll do better checking the accommodation's website or calling about longstay/weekly rates.
posted by mdonley at 5:20 AM on September 25, 2017

Yes, Mt Agung is problematic. Two years ago, a volcano on Lombok was raising havoc with flights, lots of ash in the atmosphere. Cancellations depended on the prevailing winds. Daytime flights were generally okay but evening flights were cancelled, Jet Star in particular had a lot of complaints. It took a couple weeks to sort out.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 6:51 AM on September 25, 2017

Returning to Islamabad with a Tel Aviv stamp in the passport may prove problematic.
posted by k5.user at 8:24 AM on September 25, 2017

Israel no longer stamps passports on entrance for visitors (tourist visas are given on a small separate slip of paper instead - this used to be provided as an option, but now just happens by default), and even when they did Pakistan wasn't one of the countries that blocked people with Israeli visas from entering (Israeli passport holders are a different story, but visas generally aren't a problem).
posted by Itaxpica at 3:48 PM on September 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

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