Deepavali (Diwali) is the second to last public holiday left this year, a stark reminder that 2018 has somehow ended as fast as it began. While Singapore has many interesting things to do during the Festival of Lights, some people may want to take advantage of Deepavali falling on a Tuesday and take a well-deserved long weekend holiday. In fact, this can be the perfect time to not only explore a new destination, but also see how other countries around the world celebrate this festive Hindu holiday. Below, you'll find some of the top destinations to visit if you want to celebrate Deepavali outside of Singapore
Destinations in the ASEAN and Asia
Without a doubt, the most exciting place to be for Deepavali will be in India. What's fantastic about travelling there for Deepavali is that not only is it affordable, but the vastness of the nation allows you to pick and choose how you want to celebrate the holiday. For instance, you can travel to Goa—the party capital of India—where resorts are known for throwing beach parties if you want a high-energy, party atmosphere. Alternatively, you can consider Varanasi if you want to stick to traditional Deepavali celebrations where you can participate in the Ganga Snan ritual and shop for traditional Deepavali goods. Regardless of where you choose to go, India is relatively cheap with 4-star accommodations costing between S$25 and S$65 per night.
For affordable locations outside of India, you can stick close to home by travelling to Kuala Lumpur, where 4-star accommodations cost around S$88 per night. The main celebrations will be happening in the neighborhood of Brickfields and along Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman. Those looking to splurge can consider Triolet in Mauritius, especially if you want to celebrate Deepavali while also enjoying the beach. While airfare is expensive, you can save on accommodations by opting for a 3-star hotel, which cost 50% less than 4-star hotels. Regardless of your budget and where you choose to go, all of these destinations are a great way to mingle with celebrating local families, try out traditional Deepavali treats like coconut burfi and gulab jamun and take in the decorations.
Destinations in Europe & Beyond
Destinations beyond Asia also have opportunities to be a part of exciting Deepavali festivities. Due to the large Hindu populations, Leicester, UK and Melbourne are also great options for those who have the time and budget to travel a bit farther. Unlike London—which is quite one of the most expensive destinations in the world—Leicester is much more affordable with 4-star accommodations costing around 65% less than in London. Furthermore, it hosts one of the most famous Deepavali festivals in the entire UK. You can also fly to London and take the train to Leicester for around S$36 to save 25% off airfare.
If you want to stay a bit closer to Singapore, Melbourne is another great, affordable destination for Deepavali celebrations. 4-star accommodations are relatively affordable, costing between S$130 and S$220 per night and you can find free festivals and attractions happening all over the city. Adventurous travellers who want to combine Deepavali with some great animal sightseeing can consider flying out to Johannesburg, South Africa. There, you can treat yourself to a safari (which can cost as low as S$400 per person) before or after enjoying out local Deepavali festivities including performances, fireworks, street parties and more. Furthermore, Johannesburg has affordable accommodations, with prices for a 4-night hotel costing less than S$100.
How to Reduce Your Travel Costs
Regardless of how affordable a particular destination is, there are always ways to save even more money. For instance, you should compare Airbnb and hotel rates to find out which accommodations are more affordable. While Airbnbs can be around 20% cheaper than typical 5-star accommodations, you may find 4-star accommodations to be cheaper depending on your destination. Furthermore, you should stay away from touristy areas that tend to overcharge for food and souvenirs and instead consider shopping at local markets. Not only will you be supporting local businesses, but you will also be fully immersing yourself in what these festivals have to offer.
Furthermore, it pays to invest in travel insurance to avoid paying for costly emergencies such as lost baggage and sudden illnesses. To get the best rates and avoid overspending, you should make sure you compare policies before purchasing. For example, you can find high value policies offering comprehensive medical and trip inconvenience benefits for under S$25 for a week's worth of coverage in the ASEAN, compared to the industry average cost of S$31. Travel insurance is especially important if you are going to a brand new destination where you'll be spending most of your time doing adventurous activity or venturing outside of typical tourist zones. Lastly, this trip can be a good time to use up all the points you've accumulated on your credit card. If you don't have enough points to cover the full cost of your trip, some cards may provide special discounts at online booking sites.