You’ve got to consider what makes a bargain – there are usually a few reasons. Sometimes it’s a country where you have actual or perceived security fears. At the moment, you can get astonishingly cheap holidays to Turkey and Egypt for those reasons. It goes without saying that you should always check the FCO advice. In a lot of cases, certainly in Turkey, most of the country is perfectly safe, but a lot of people are very put off going.
Another reason you’re more likely to get a bargain is because you’ve got an awful lot of hotels in one area competing for tourists, in the Med and so on. They’ll be driving each other’s prices down. Or the alternative is that not many people go there, because they’re off the beaten tourist track so the prices aren’t as high.
“With the Caribbean, you can get some amazing deals if you’re happy to travel in the summer and risk a bit of rain. You’ll get a ten minute downpour but everything’s dry in half an hour”
Or it can depend on when you travel. If you travel slightly out of season, somewhere that would cost an arm and a leg in its peak season could be a bargain. With the Caribbean, you can get some amazing deals if you’re happy to travel in the summer and risk a bit of rain. It’s well before hurricane season and besides, there’s always a chance of rain at any time in the tropics. You’ll maybe get a ten minute downpour and then the sun will come out and everything’s dry in half an hour.
The other question is to ask is about the overall cost. Is it a bargain because you’ve got this all-inclusive deal, so your flight, accommodation, food and drink are in – the whole lot? Or is it a bargain, because once you get there, it’s such a cheap destination you’re not going to spend much money?
All that considered, the first suggestion is perhaps less ‘hidden’ per se, but I would say the Algarve. It’s hidden in that a lot of people don’t know it’s one of the cheapest destinations in Europe. And if you head west along the Algarve you get these amazing, much quieter unspoiled beaches to discover as well. It’s not all high-rise package holidays.
The next one would be the Gambia. It’s been trying to get a name for itself as a winter sun destination for a little while. But it’s now promoting itself a bit differently that there’s actually more than beach – there’s this amazing wildlife, a lot of culture to discover beyond your resort and that of course there’s lovely sunshine in the middle of our winter. You can get some very good deals indeed.
The Gambia Experience specialises in the country and they have deals at the moment which include seven nights for under £400. That includes flights, which is insane. It’s not all inclusive, but it’s the Gambia – it’s not going to cost you a fortune when you get there either.
Similarly, the Cape Verde islands. You can get four star hotels for a week including flights for £650. It’s just a bit off the beaten tourist track. There aren’t loads of resorts, but they are beautiful islands with lots of beach!
Then there’s Sri Lanka. There’s an enormous amount you can do there – there’s the history, culture, wildlife and so on but there are an awful lot of beach resorts in the west and southwest. One of the companies that I’ve come across is Mercury Holidays who have some great winter sun deals. For example, they’ve got a week all-inclusive, at a five star beach resort in Sri Lanka including flights for £750. For what you get, it’s peanuts.
Somewhere that has been rated the cheapest destination in Europe is Montenegro. Croatia is more in the spotlight, deservedly so because it’s lovely, but it’s neighbour is much less expensive. The sandy beaches in Montenegro are down in the south towards Albania. It’s not really a popular with the UK yet – it’s much bigger with Serbians and Russians tourists – so you can get some great self-catering deals at a much cheaper price than Croatia. One of the main beaches is called Velika Plaza near the town Ulcinj – it’s eight miles long, and one of the longest in Europe.
My last would be Burma/Myanmar. Again, it depends how you define bargain. Yes, it’s long haul, but once you get there you have an amazing holiday for your money. If you head over to the west coast, you’re on the Bay of Bengal so you’ve got white sands and turquoise seas but there’s hardly anyone there. It’s because most of the people venturing to Burma now are for the temples and the culture – they’re not normally going to the beach. The main beach is Ngapali which has a whole string of luxury hotels and they are a fraction of the price you would pay for a five star hotel anywhere else in Asia. And you have these gorgeous beaches practically to yourself.