Qatar Airways reveals huge sale on Doha flightshttps://www.timeoutdoha.com/travel/396229-qatar-airways-reveals-huge-sale-on-doha-flightsSun, 03 Feb 2019 07:28:35 +0400Qatar Airways has revealed a huge sale on flights from Doha in celebration of the country’s Asian Cup win.

The roads of Qatar came alive last night with thousands of cars taking to the streets and celebrating Qatar’s historic feat.

Against all odds, the team brought home the coveted AFC Asian Cup football trophy after a legendary victory against six teams over six games where not a single goal was conceded.

The players showcased the true spirit of sportsmanship and teamwork, making every single resident in Qatar very proud.

The national team, managed by Félix Sánchez, showed resilience, dignity and great skill.

Qatar Airways is a major investor in several high-level global sporting sponsorships, and to celebrate the incredible win it is offering a discount of 25 percent on its fares.

Anyone who purchases a ticket between February 3 and February 14 gets to avail this discount and the period of travel during which the tickets can be used lasts until August 31.

We’re already making plans for our summer vacation.

Privilege Club members will earn double Qpoints and Qmiles on all of these purchases.

And in case you love shopping as much as you love travelling, Qatar Duty Free is offering an additional 20 percent on all purchases during the sale period from any of the QDF stores.

The two-week long sale is valid from February 3 to February 14.

With over 160 destinations to choose from, this sale is going to keep us busy for a while.
Until Feb 14. www.qatarairways.com.

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Khartoum, Sudanhttps://www.timeoutdoha.com/travel/features/85096-khartoum-sudanMon, 31 Dec 2018 20:00:00 +0400Once the biggest country in Africa, Sudan is not your typical holiday destination – many people wouldn’t even be able to point to it on a map.

However, the nation’s capital Khartoum is a bustling, flashy metropolis built where the Blue and White Nile rivers meet and its tourism trade is on the up. And with good reason: there are more pyramids than Egypt (without the crowds, too), buzzing markets and souks, fascinating art exhibitions and the chance to sail along the world’s longest river.

The city itself is one of the continent’s safest, with the locals famed for their laid-back attitude and jovial hospitality. And with a flight time of around six hours from Qatar, it should certainly be one of your must-do short breaks.

SIGHTSEEING AND CULTURE
The huge, spread-out city is actually made out of three distinct cities (Khartoum, Khartoum North or Bahri, and Omdurman). Sudan has just as much history as Ancient Egypt, except no one knows about it. Your first stop should be the National Museum of Sudan (www.sudannationalmuseum.com), which has some exceptional exhibits – and you’ll pretty much have it all to yourself, especially if you’re visiting in the morning. The ground floor covers the rise and fall of the kingdoms of Kerma, Kush and Meroe, and houses 3,500-year-old artefacts and statues. Upstairs you’ll find several works of medieval art and murals taken from church ruins, while outside there are temples, stone tomb statues and hieroglyphics. No trip to Khartoum is complete without visiting this.

When booking your trip to the city, be sure to be there for a Friday as you’ll be able to witness the incredible Sufi ritual at the Hamed al-Nil Tomb in Omdurman. Every week at around 4.30pm, a colourful local group of dancing and chanting dervishes draw large crowds with their ceremony. It’s a circus-like atmosphere and starts with a procession towards the mausoleum, with the dancers carrying green banners as they chant, bob, clap and bang the drums. Their robes are a vibrant patchwork of green and red, often topped off with leopard skin, chunky beads and dreadlocks.Tourists are welcome to attend this ritual, and they often do in their droves.

As the night draws in the temperature drops and, much like in Qatar, that’s when the night markets spring into life.

Stay in Omduran and head to the camel market, where the chaos of merchants and buyers, and just generally befuddled out-of-towners, is a sight to behold.

Wander the stalls of Souk Shabi – the most famous and the largest in Sudan. It’s abuzz with noise, activity and colour, and a couple of hours’ exploration is bound to turn up all manner of surprises. You’ll be amazed as you peruse the many food, clothes, jewellery, fabric, homeware and spice stalls.

FOOD AND DINING
One of the best ways to get accustomed with ancient history’s most celebrated stretch of water, the River Nile, is by having some tea at Nile Avenue. With the extension of Nile Avenue to Manshia complete, the stretch of road between Mak Nimir and Manshia bridges has become the place to be for Khartoum’s evening life. Sit on the grass and watch the world go by, as countless tea ladies keep the hot drinks flowing faster than the nearby river.

For one of the city’s best-loved “secrets”, essentially just where the locals love to go, head to Fish Wok (+249 92 222 2352). Tucked behind a row of buildings, chefs serve delicious fish dishes – with some of the country’s best bulti (Nile perch), served with bread and salad.

Or keep it local by heading to Al-Housh (+249 92 481 4002), where Sudanese food attracts everyone from cabbies to politicians. It’s a legendary restaurant where you dine like a king, but pay like a pauper. Fish and meat is cooked over charcoal and the huge dining room is always lively.

Gad (+249 18 346 0856) sells hearty local dishes including roasted meats, shawarma, kebabs and meatballs. And it’s close to the airport for anyone in need of a tasty quick-fix before flying home.

NIGHTLIFE
Khartoum is a Muslim city and is dry, so while the nightlife scene isn’t as lively as other capital cities, there is still a young generation of students who enjoy the nightlife in the city.

Jazz Café (+249 12 200 0200) is a favourite with locals and tourists alike as it’s pretty much the only live music venue in the city. You’ll find local hipsters hanging out with friends and quite often strangers, as they’re famed for their welcoming approach to newbies. There’s an open mic night on Wednesdays and live music almost every night of the week for you to enjoy.

WHERE TO STAY
The Acropole (www.acropolekhartoum.com, +249 18 377 2860) is the oldest existing hotel in Khartoum, founded in 1952, and with that comes an abundance of charm. It’s a run by a Greek family and all the rooms are basic, but clean and tidy. Three rooms have a large terrace and the owners are always happy to help arrange visas. It’s right in the middle of the city centre and guests can enjoy free city tours on Fridays, too. Or try the Khartoum Plaza Hotel (www.khartoumplazahotel.com, +249 18 379 2986) for its central location, large rooms, good wi-fi and excellent buffet breakfast. Like the Acropole, it won’t win any style awards, but it’s clean and tidy enough for anyone keeping costs down. For those on a bigger budget, check in to the Corinthia Hotel Khartoum (www.corinthia.com/en/hotels/khartoum, +249 18 715 5555) where five-star luxury awaits. Spread over 18 floors, the building is a stunning architectural masterpiece, with breathtaking views over the Nile to match its beauty.

GETTING AROUND
One of the easiest ways to get around is by taxi – try Sudan’s Uber-style service Tirhal or Mishwar. Otherwise standard yellow taxis operate 24 hours, although be aware of reduced services on Friday. Ensure you agree the correct destination and price beforehand. For short rides, there are rickshaws, however they are not allowed in Downtown or to cross the bridge.

GETTING THERE
Qatar Airways runs daily flights from Hamad International Airport to Khartoum International Airport. Flights start from around QR3,100 for a return.

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Kathmandu, Nepalhttps://www.timeoutdoha.com/travel/features/85040-kathmandu-nepalTue, 04 Dec 2018 06:55:20 +0400Too many people leave the Nepalese capital as soon as they’ve arrived. While the appeal of Nepal’s unique wildernesses – most notably the Himalayas – are undeniable, it’s a mistake not to allow yourself at least 24 hours in this remarkable city. Battered and bruised, there are certainly prettier, cleaner places in Asia, but you’ll struggle to find any friendlier or quite so packed with quirks.

The past few decades have seen the population swell to over three million, which is more than much of the infrastructure can stand. The problems in the capital, Kathmandu, were compounded by the devastating earthquakes in 2015, which saw yet more people abandon rural homes in favour of life in the city, despite the damage that had occurred here, too.

Nonetheless, Kathmandu is a charming place, one that feels much warmer and quainter than those raw facts imply. Packed with temples and pagodas, its old streets have the feel of a place that should feature in a yet-to-be-made Indiana Jones film that will certainly be better than Crystal Skull and perhaps Temple of Doom, too. By all means see more of Nepal, but don’t leave before you’ve taken a look around this fascinating, troubled city.

Sightseeing and Culture
One of the most obvious sights to see from Kathmandu are the mighty Himalayas that appear in the distance whenever the smog and weather allow. If you don’t have the legs or time for hiking, though, the best option is to take a mountain flight with Buddha Air (www.buddhaair.com, +977 1 5521 015). Lasting 45 minutes, taking off and landing from the international airport, it allows you to gaze on the world’s tallest mountains, including the ultimate peak, Everest.

Back on terra firma, it’s perhaps best to talk to your hotel about hiring a driver for the day in order to squeeze in as much in as possible. Definitely worth the detour is the Swayambhunath, which translates as sublime trees, but is more commonly referred to as the Monkey Temple, owing to the hundreds of primates that have taken up residence at this magical spot. There’s been some place of worship at this site for 1,000 years, but none have been quite so vibrant and monkey-focused as the incumbent.

Swayambhunath survived the 2015 quake admirably, but the same sadly cannot be said for some of Kathmandu’s other main attractions. Formerly an irresistible tourist magnet, Durbar Square still draws crowds, but while plenty of its original its 500-year-old charm remains, it’s now worth seeing in part to understand just how dreadful the earthquake was for this luckless city.

Nearby the royal palace known as the Hanuman Dhoka (hanumandhokamuseum.gov.np, +977 1 4258034) has fared a little better, as has its museum.

Food and dining
Nepal is wedged in between the titans of China and India and most of its indigenous cuisine reflects this confluence of cultures. It’s essential to try momos, the Nepali-Tibetan dumplings not unlike Japanese gyoza. Which eatery offers the best of these is a subject of hot-faced debate among locals, but definitely visit Yangling (+977 1 4257 408) which specialises in Himalayan dishes.

If you’d prefer to treat yourself to a higher level of dining, while still soaking up a local atmosphere, then head to the sensational Dwarika’s Hotel’s Krishnarpan (dwarikas.com, +977 1 4479 488). It may essentially be serving Nepali dishes that you could find elsewhere in the city, but no other establishment has quite the same lavish setting, nor dedication to presentation and service. Don’t fancy local food? Then Third Eye (thirdeye.com, +977 1 4260 289) is the best Indian restaurant in Kathmandu. Questions need answering about why it has chicken kiev on the menu, but ignoring that, its selection of thalis wouldn’t be out of place south of the border.

Elsewhere, if you’re simply looking for a decent cup of coffee or a spot of breakfast, then seek out Gaia Café (gaia-restaurant.com, +977 1 4261 633). Excusing the fact it uses Comic Sans on its homepage, it’s a quiet little spot that offers respite from the crowded city streets and meals through the day.

Nightlife
Unsurprisingly for the capital of a developing nation in the years following a major earthquake, Kathmandu is not exactly the Ibiza of the east. No prizes are won for guessing that the city has its own Irish bar, and fewer still are awarded for guessing that it’s called Everest (+977 984 1329 003) but it’s still a lively spot. Expect to meet plenty of tourists and travellers enjoying a post-trek brew, or backpackers hashing out some grudges on the pool table.

There’s a similar vibe in Sam’s Bar (+977 981 9280 538) but arguably the night-time hotspot is the Tom and Jerry Pub (tomnjerryktm.com) which has been on the go since 1989 and offers live music as well as pool and a pretty reasonable selection of drinks, all things considered.

Where to stay
Such is the quality at Dwarika’s (dwarikas.com, +977 1 4479 488) that other Kathmandu establishments probably regard it as a little unfair. As well as having three of the city’s best restaurants, this historic, family-run business is stand-out accommodation.

The much-loved Oasis Kathmandu (oasiskathmanduhotel.com, +9771 4414 258) is the first obvious alternative, with excellent value rooms found in a tranquil setting in the heart of the city centre.

If you feel more comfortable in an international chain, then Crowne Plaza (www.ihg.com, +977 1 4273 999) and Hyatt Regency (hyatt.com, +9771 5171234) both have slightly sterile options in the city, though just like everywhere else, they’re susceptible to Kathmandu’s periodic blackouts.

Getting around
Public transport doesn’t exist in any meaningful way. Rickshaws are available, as are cabs, but it’s probably wisest to ask the hotel, bar, or restaurant to book one for you.

Getting there
Himalaya Airlines and Qatar Airways fly direct to Kathmandu for QR1,330 and QR1,500 respectively. Travel time is around four hours.

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Mumbai, Indiahttps://www.timeoutdoha.com/travel/features/84958-mumbai-indiaWed, 31 Oct 2018 20:00:00 +0400Not for no reason is Mumbai known as Maximum City. Old Bombay has almost every facet of Indian life contained within its mighty borders. Here you can rub shoulders with Bollywood stars, attend a cricket match in the world’s richest league or try and spot wild leopards in the neighbouring Sanjay Gandhi National Park. On the roads you’re likely to see Jaguars, but you may well spot camels too – or elephants. Every sense is constantly engaged in this city of more than 22 million people – the smell of street vendors cooking, the noise of a million auto-rickshaws honking, the feel of monsoon rain washing over your feet, the incredible taste of myriad Bombay dishes.

Sightseeing and Culture
To simply walk the streets in Mumbai is an exercise in exhausting sightseeing, but there are a few places every visitor should try and squeeze in. The Taj Mahal Palace (www.tajhotels.com) has nothing to do with the actual Taj Mahal, but it is decidedly palatial – a colossal 115-year-old hotel that dates back to the British era. In a similar vein, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is surely the grandest train station anywhere in India, a shabby-chic relic left by the Victorians.

To try and make sense of everything, be sure to head to the Dr Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum (www.bdlmuseum.org), which has a staggering array of artefacts detailing the history of the city and India at large. Before the end of 2018, a new wing will be added to the 140-year-old central building.

It won’t be for everyone, but if you want to try and understand Mumbai, then you should take the chance to go on a slum tour. This isn’t a poverty safari – cameras are banned – but rather a chance to see how millions of Mumbaikars live every day. Reality Tours (www.realitytoursandtravel.com) offers daily ethical tours and profits go back to the communities you visit. Be prepared for surprises – the slums have industry, electricity, and even a hotel. As preparation, or as a post-script, be sure to read Katherine Boo’s electrifying, Pulitzer Prize-winning Behind the Beautiful Forevers.

At the other end of society, you could also try and catch a Mumbai Indians IPL match at the famous Wankhede Stadium. The three-time champions have some of the most famous names in world cricket playing for them during their short, fraught season and demand for tickets can be high.

Food and dining
Given its population is larger than most countries in the world, let alone cities, Mumbai has a hugely diverse selection of food – and some wildly varying quality. Starting at the very top, if you decide to visit the Taj Mahal Palace then absolutely try to get a table at Wasabi by Morimoto (www.tajhotels.com). As you can guess from the name, the food here is Japanese – in a country of diametrically opposed food (subtle flavours there; aromas so pungent they feel like a punch in the nose here) it’s remarkable that head chef Sanchin Poojary has done such an excellent job. How excellent? He managed to get Wasabi onto the hallowed 50 Best Restaurants in Asia list, one of just two India-based restaurants to do so.

There are literally thousands of mid-range choices too, with the great Bombay Canteen (www.bombaycanteen.com) a stand-out selection. However you can’t visit Mumbai and not try the street food. It’s only natural to feel a little apprehension with this – debilitating food-poisoning is not a myth – so to keep on the right side of everything, book a culinary tour with the reliable Mumbai Moments (www.mumbaimoments.com).

Nightlife
In the home of Bollywood you won’t be surprised to hear that people absolutely love to dance, or at the very least stay out late in the hopes of seeing one of the beloved stars. One of the best chances of that comes at the Olive Bar and Kitchen (www.olivebarandkitchen.com), which is an ideal place to go before heading out into the city.

If you’re looking for a nightclub, then Trilogy (www.trilogy.in) has good music, trendy patrons and a beachside location. However, if you’re after something a lot more refined, with beats a good deal less banging, then you could take in some jazz at the National Centre for Performing Arts (www.ncpamumbai.com).

Where to stay
If you’re happy just to look at the Taj Mahal Palace, then the obvious top-line alternative is the luscious Oberoi (www.oberoihotels.com), which sits out on the Nariman Point with commanding views of the Indian Ocean. If you’d instead like a property that gently nods to India’s colonial past, then the ITC Maratha (www.itchotels.in) is an excellent option. Half the price of the Taj Mahal Palace, it has every amenity expected by the modern traveller, set in an awesome Victorian frame.

Getting around
With so many people moving around, there’s a lot of pressure on transport. The addition of a metro system in 2010 helped, but assuming you don’t have a private driver, then yellow-top cabs, or those at your hotel, are fine options. Alternatively, if you want go completely native, then jump in a three-wheel autorickshaw. Their drivers see lanes others do not – and closing your eyes until it’s over is totally fine.

Getting there
Qatar to Mumbai is approximately less than four hours and there are many ways to get there. IndiGo flies directly for QR999 or you can fly Jet Aiways for QR1,600. Qatar Airways flies from Doha to Mumbai for QR1,700 (starting).
www.qatarairways.com.

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Larnacahttps://www.timeoutdoha.com/travel/features/84894-larnacaSun, 30 Sep 2018 07:54:16 +0400If you’re looking for a holiday where you can sunbathe on sandy beaches and also delve into history, then Cyprus has to be on your must-go list. And Larnaca, where your plane lands, is a great place to start. Set on the southern coast of the island, Larnaca is the third largest city in Cyprus, after the capital Nicosia and Limassol. The city is home to Cyprus’ main airport and the only one flown to from Qatar.

The city is named after the many larnakes – sarcophagi – that are found in the area. There are supposedly around 3,000 tombs. It is built on the historic site of Cition and ruins are still seen today. With a moderate climate year-round, it’s a pleasant place to visit with highs of about 32°C in summer. With a palm tree lined seafront there are plenty of swanky beach clubs, while the town centre houses a number of historical buildings as well as a bustling nightlife scene and some traditional tavernas.

Sightseeing and Culture
If you’re a wildlife-lover, don’t miss a trip to Larnaca Salt Lake (www.larnacareguin.com). Made up of four salt lakes with a surface area of 2.2 sq km, from November to March it fills with water and is visited by up to 12,000 flamingos on their migration path. It is home to more than 80 species of bird, and it’s one of the most important wetlands in Cyprus. On the banks lies Hala Sultan Teke or the Mosque of Umm Haram, an important historic Islamic landmark. From here take a stroll along a 4km nature trail that leads all the way up to Kamares Aqueduct, which was built in 1747 to transport water up to six miles.

Other historic sites include Larnaca Castle, which was built in the Middle Ages to defend the southern coast of Cyprus. It has since been used as a prison, a store for weapons and is now a museum, housing antiques and paintings from Byzantine Cyprus, as well as medieval pottery, utensils and weapons. There’s also the Larnaca District Archaeological Museum if you fancy learning some more about the history of the city.

For a more active break, the Troodos Mountains are just a two-hour drive away, where you can ski in winter. Cyprus Ski Club (www.cyprusski.com) caters to everyone from beginner to advanced skiers, plus you can hire equipment. There are also a number of kite surfing schools along Bervolia beach where you can hire equipment or book lessons. You can also scuba dive and explore the MS Zenobia, which sank in 1980 just 1.5km off the Finikoudes coast. If you’re more into sunbathing than exploring, then there are plenty of beaches, including Makenzie Beach, with a sandy coastline and a host of great restaurants and clubs.

While you’re in the area, it’s worth renting a car and driving an hour and a half to Paphos, the 2017 European City of Culture. Paphos Archaeological Park (www.visitpafos.org.cy) is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the remains include four large Roman villas complete with mosaics, as well as a theatre and tombs.

Food and dining
If you’re after a grab-and-go kind of meal, head to one of the many bakeries around the city to get a Cyprus loaf with feta and olives. For a romantic meal visit Zephyros Beach Tavern (+357 24 657198), a fish tavern behind the old fishing shelter. It’s a bit of a walk from the centre, but worth the trip for the seafood mezze. If you’re downtown, longstanding eatery The Blue Pine Bar & Restaurant (www.thebluepine.com, +357 24 646553) has dimly-lit wooden interiors and serves international cuisine. For something more traditional visit seafront restaurant Militzis (+357 24 655867), a low-key taverna with authentic Cypriot mezze and views over the Mediterranean. For other authentic eats, head to To Kazani Traditional Tavern, which is all whites and blues and serves up classic dishes. If you’re after something a little different, head to 1900 Art Café (www.artcafe1900.com.cy). Set in an early 20th century building there are heaps of traditional dishes and a massive selection of drinks at the bar.

Nightlife
The party capital of Cyprus is undoubtedly Ayia Napa, which is hugely popular from June to August, with everything from hip-hop and house to R&B and cheesy tunes. Famous clubs include The Castle Club, which has five different arenas (www.thecastleclub.com), and longstanding disco spot Carwash (www.carwashcyprus.com). Larnaca shouldn’t be sniffed at when it comes to nightlife though, boasting a large range of bars, clubs and pubs. Ammos (www.ammos.eu, +357 24 828844) at Makenzie Beach is popular. Lounge in the sunshine, or dine at the chic restaurant and after dark the party picks up. Lush Beach Bar (www.lushbeachbar.com, +357 24 658088) is also a good choice in the same area. Similarly, it’s all white furnishings, chilled-out beats and, by night, popular DJs playing mainstream hits. Both have an exclusive vibe if you’re looking for something upmarket. If you’re after cutting some shapes on the dancefloor then Club Deep (+357 70 007950) in the centre of town plays mainstream, R&B, house, old school and Greek hits.

Where to stay
There are plenty of decent hotels in Larnaca at a range of prices. If you’re looking to stay in the centre of Larnaca, then Hotel Opera (www.operahotelcyprus.com) with 13 en-suite rooms should be on your list. With pretty décor, white-washed walls and Cypriot hospitality, you’ll have a comfortable stay. Prices start at around QR350 a night. It’s in a prime position, too, in the heart of Old Larnaca on the square of Ayios Lazarus, making it the perfect place to explore from. Also in the town centre is Rise Hotel (www.therisehotel.com), another boutique spot boasting modern luxury. With rooms starting at around QR400 a night, it’s just a short stroll to Finikoudes promenade and the main shops. If it’s luxury you’re after then beachside resort Palm Beach Hotel & Bungalows (www.palmbeachhotel.com, +357 24 846600) is for you. The longstanding four-star hotel has recently been renovated and boasts 184 rooms and six suites, as well as lush gardens, beach loungers, a gym, three restaurants, coffee shop, bars, tennis courts and three swimming pools.

Getting around
Larnaca is an easy city to walk around, however there are also public buses and taxis, which are metered.

Getting there
Qatar Airways flies direct to Larnaca airport from around QR3,460 return. Middle East Airlines flies via Beirut from around QR2,250 return.

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Almatyhttps://www.timeoutdoha.com/travel/features/84816-almatySun, 02 Sep 2018 04:33:41 +0400Astana, the Kazakh capital, has hit international headlines in recent years for colossal investment and outlandish buildings hastily constructed for the administrative centre. But it was only established in the 1800s and only designated capital in 1997. For 1,000 years prior to that, the major city in this territory was Almaty, which remains the historic and cultural capital of this former Soviet state. While Astana can feel clinical in its design, Almaty boasts tree-lined avenues, ornate historic buildings, and sensational views of the Zailiyskiy Alatau mountains. With a population of 1.8 million, it’s the largest city in the country.

Sightseeing and Culture
Your itinerary in Almaty will largely depend on what time of year you arrive. In winter, the world-class facilities outside of the city limits offer winter sports of almost every variety, including new ski runs and lifts. The infrastructure – improved for the 2011 Games – has a very modern feel, but there’s a folkloric quality to the Medeu ice rink (www.medeu.com.kz, +7 727 232 6848), which was opened at the height of the Soviet Union and saw almost 50 world records broken.

If you fancy a hilltop a little closer to town, then rising up from Almaty like a green shoulder is the 1km-high Kok Tobe or “Green Height”. For those with sufficient calf muscles and willpower, the journey to the top is free, but for a small fee gondolas make the scenic journey. On clear days, views of the city are marvellous, but regardless of the weather, a series of cafés and restaurants are arrayed around chintzy tourist attraction at the summit.

Back at street level, you’d be unwise to miss out on Panfilov Park, which is ideal for an afternoon stroll, and is also home to an unforgettable war monument that depicts Soviet soldiers defending the nation during the Second World War. Nearby the spectacularly gaudy Ascension Cathedral (www.cathedral.kz, +7 727 273 0539) has been dazzling passers-by for the past 112 years.

Also in this part of town, if you want to get an idea of how Kazakh history differs from Russian, then it’s time to head to the Kazakh Museum of Folk Musical Instruments (www.dostoprim.almaty.kz, +7 727 291 6917). It’s unmissable in a building slightly older than the Cathedral, designed by the same bold architect, Andrei Pavlovich Zenkov.

Food and dining
There’s no mistaking Kazakh food for haute cuisine – in truth it doesn’t have the variety or flavours of neighbouring China.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t come here and sample some local delicacies, however. In the days of Genghis Khan, who rampaged through these lands en route to dominating the known world, it was said that “a fast horse was weaved by the wind”. Presumably slow horses were revered a little less, and eaten a whole lot more. While there are a great many Russian and Chinese-inspired dishes around Almaty, if you want something properly indigenous and are okay with the idea of nibbling on Seabiscuit, then horsemeat is cooked in a variety of ways.

To sample some of it, try Zheti Kazyna (+7 727 273 2587), which has food from across Kazakhstan and wider Central Asia (as well as some pretty woeful Japanese offerings) or head to the ever-popular Venetsia (+7 727 293 8167), which like its nominal rival serves the national dish of beshbarmak. This hearty fare – pasta, broth, and a meat of your choosing – would be a perfect staple before you head out across the plain to conquer the next kingdom.

The local drink, like some of the food, requires a little bravery to engage: kumis is fermented mare’s milk. The fermentation process removes all lactose and leaves it with a light fizz, so… yum? Kazakh Restaurant Gakku (www.gakku-restaurant.kz,
+7 727 315 0967) serves it along with other local specialities.

Nightlife
An almost single-handed declaration that Kazakhstan is a modern nation comes from Line Brew (www.line-brew.kz, +7 701 742 0686), a trendy microbrewery and restaurant in the heart of town. That theme of a multi-discipline venue is continued at the Soho (www.soho.kz, +7 727 323 1040), which describes itself as “bar-concert and meat”. With those bases covered there might not seem much need to go anywhere else, but if you’re feeling adventurous, then you could always move on to the Club Underground (www.metro-club.kz, +7 727 392 2102), which isn’t subterranean in a figurative or literal sense, but which does have a karaoke battle.

Where to stay
What’s the most famous hotel you’ve ever stayed in? Was it one so famous that it’s on the nation’s banknotes? If the answer is no, then you’ve got a chance to change that at the wonderfully batty Hotel Kazakhstan (www.kazakhstanhotel.kz, +7 727 291 9600), which is depicted on the 5,000 tenge (QR55) note. If you don’t fancy staying in that Soviet relic, however, then Almaty’s growing prominence on the international scene means it now boasts a Ritz-Carlton (+7 727 332 8888) an InterContinental (+7 727 250 5000) and a Ramada (+7 727 344 9999), none of which were there just a decade ago and all of which are reliable choices.

Getting around
For years, public transport was a chaotic business in Almaty, with unlicensed taxis the only viable option. That all changed in 2011 with the much-needed addition of a shiny new metro system just in time for the Asian Winter Games. If you’d like to try a more local approach, there are crowded trams and trolley buses or, if you fancy a bit of an adventure, just stick out your hand – one of those unofficial taxis will stop in moments, just be sure to agree a price before the journey starts.

Getting there
Currently, there are no direct flights to Almaty. Turkish Airlines flies via Istanbul with an average of 18 hours of travel time for QR3,400. The fastest way to get there is with Qatar Airways and Air Astana with an average travel time of approximately 11 hours for QR6,182. Other flight combinations average at QR4,000.

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Bucharest, Romaniahttps://www.timeoutdoha.com/travel/features/84755-bucharest-romaniaTue, 31 Jul 2018 20:00:00 +0400Often overshadowed by its noisy neighbour Budapest, Romania’s capital Bucharest is fast becoming one of Europe’s most popular destinations. And with good reason: rich in culture and benefitting from a modern food and drink revolution, the city has never been more dynamic, energetic and fun. Bucharest is breaking free of its communist past and transforming into an edgy, youthful member of the European Union. Like its neighbour Budapest, the city is a contrast of Soviet Union history and Latin spirit – most evident in its mix of old romance languages and Slavic. However, unlike Budapest it’s a city often bypassed by travellers, meaning prices are more affordable and there are smaller queues at its abundance of major sights. There’s a splendid blend of art nouveau architecture, parks, al fresco dining and worthwhile museums dotted throughout the city. Perhaps Bucharest’s best feature is its vibrant nightlife – where many of the watering holes keep going until sunrise, every day of the week. Noroc!

SIGHTSEEING AND CULTURE
Start with the unmissable – seriously it’s enormous – Palace of Parliament (cic.cdep.ro/en, +40 733 558 102) so big it’s still being built almost 35 years after construction began in 1984. It has more than 3,000 rooms and covers 330,000 sq m. To put that into perspective, it’s 20,000 sq m more than the entire Burj Khalifa – despite standing only 12 floors tall.

You can visit the world’s second-largest administrative building (after America’s Pentagon). Book at least 24 hours in advance and take your passport. There are several tours – including of the main rooms, hallways, terrace and basement – which last from 45 minutes to one hour.

Culture vultures will be awed in the National Museum of Art (mnar.arts.ro/en, +40 213 133 030). Housed inside the Royal Palace and split into two galleries – one for national art and one for European masters – the museum is stocked with stunning pieces including Auguste Rodin and Claude Monet.

FOOD AND DINING
Romania has embraced modern café culture and its winding, cobbled, sometimes crumbling streets are lined with ultra-cool spaces serving an endless variety of cuisines and strong coffee. Start with breakfast at Pukka Tukka, a short walk from the National Museum of Art. No this isn’t Jamie Oliver’s Romanian double, although it was the country’s first organic store when it opened in 2008.

Enjoy lunch while rubbing shoulders with locals at Caru’ cu Bere, meaning “hop cart”. Here you’ll find authentic Romanian dishes such as mittitei (grilled spiced sausages) and tochitură (meat stew). A house band plays folk tunes, too.

For dinner, take your pick from one of the city’s few, but exceptional, fine-dining restaurants. Kane is a seasonal bistro serving dishes created from 100 percent local produce in a gorgeous sun-kissed setting near Piata Romana.

NIGHTLIFE
Bucharest is a party city, standing head and shoulders over its Balkan neighbours: there are pubs, clubs, outdoor terraces, sleek and chic spots for all. Start in La 100 de Beri in the city’s Old Town. As the name suggests, it serves more than 100 pints. It’s an extensive, old-fashioned hall and is surrounded by other lively and cheap spots including Club A and Argentin.

Just north of the Old Town things become a little calmer. FixMad is a chic bar with a creative menu.
For an all-night party head to world famous Player Club. A regular haunt for top DJs, the nightclub hosts pool parties until the early hours through summer.

WHERE TO STAY
It’s hard to say enough good things about Athénée Palace Hilton (hiltonbucharest.com), which was formerly a hotbed for espionage in the city’s communist era. From QR1,200 a night.

For mid-price rooms head to Rembrandt Hotel (rembrandt.ro). It’s tucked away in the Historic Centre and has 16 rooms of three different sizes. From QR350 a night.

Budget travellers will find plenty of options from hostels to cheap hotels like the charming Flowers B&B (flowersbb.ro). From QR150 a night.

GETTING AROUND
Bucharest is served by trams, buses and trolleybuses. You can buy an Activ card and load it up with credit to be used on all three services. Most of the city’s sights are walkable.

GETTING THERE
Qatar Airways flies directly to Bucharest for QR3,695. Average travel time is five hours.
www.qatarairways.com.

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London callinghttps://www.timeoutdoha.com/travel/features/84373-london-callingSun, 01 Jul 2018 04:56:56 +0400For many, London can feel familiar before you’ve even set foot inside the city. Like New York, it is packed with iconic buildings and sights and has been the setting for many a famous film and TV series. What they don’t give you is any idea of just how varied life is in England’s capital. From the City of Westminster (where Parliament and Big Ben stand) to the markets and music bars of Camden, the hipster enclaves of Hoxton and Shoreditch or the designer boutiques and pattiseries of Kensington, there’s plenty for you here. Since July is also summere here, it’s the best time to explore the city. So here’s your guide to what’s what, and how you can join in.

Highlights
Kew Gardens

While there are huge parks closer to the centre of London, the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew are worth the trip westwards. They may be 250 years old, but there’s plenty here for the modern outdoor adventurer, too. You can still wander the old Victorian Palm House but these gardens are a base for research and education into botanical studies. As summer arrives the surroundings are perfect to relax outside in the sun.
www.kew.org.

National Gallery
It’s free, it’s right on Trafalgar Square and you’re welcome to simply swing by and stand before artistic greatness whenever you like. Perfect, whether you’ve got ten minutes in your lunchbreak to check out Van Gogh’s ’Sunflowers’ or time to wander the entire, glorious collection of Western European paintings. It’s worth checking out the National Portrait Gallery next door, too.
www.nationalgallery.org.uk.

South Bank

There’s loads to see and do on the Southern side of the Thames. Start at Westminster Bridge and you’ll pass Shrek’s Adventure, SEA LIFE London Aquarium and The London Dungeon before getting to the London Eye. The slowly revolving wheel gives everyone (who dares) views to the north, south, east and west, making this a brilliant way to get the measure of the city (www.londoneye.com).

Walk further and you’ll come to the Southbank Centre, BFI Southbank, Royal Festival Hall and striking, modernist National Theatre before reaching Shakespeare’s Globe, where you can see theatre like Londoners in Tudor times did. The Globe has been carefully recreated to show the kind of setting Shakespeare would have written all his plays for (www.shakespearesglobe.com). At that point you can reward yourself for all that culture and walking by visiting nearby Borough Market, a foodie’s dream.

Where to stay
ME London

Modelled on the lines of the 1920s Marconi House next door but with modern styling inside (see the nine-storey pyramid atrium and rooms featuring triangular windows with views onto Aldwych). The tenth floor roof-terrace bar offers exceptional views and good people watching of the glamorous crowd it attracts.
www.melia.com.

Rookery
This small but charming Clerkenwell townhouse is as creakily calm as a country manor, with individually decorated rooms kitted out in sumptuous old-fashioned furnishings. Rooms are all named after characters from Clerkenwell’s past so you can find our more about the history of the area while you’re there. Smithfield Market and St John’s Gate are right on the doorstep as well as loads of great bars (check out Zetter Townhouse) and restaurants (St John).
www.rookeryhotel.com.

Getting There
There are several direct flights a day from Hamad International Airport to London Heathrow and Gatwick. For a cheaper option, Fly Pegasus flies via Istanbul to London Stansted for around QR2,570 return. Average flight time is 11 hours (www.flypgs.com). Direct flights are available via Qatar Airways Flights are, on average, around QR4,300 return.
www.qatarairways.com.

Getting Around

It couldn’t be easier. There’s an extensive network of public transport including buses, the London Underground (or the Tube), overground trains and pick-up and drop-off bicycles. We strongly recommend walking as much as possible, it’s often much quicker than getting the Tube to a nearby place, you can see more of the city and it given you the opportunity to see how the different parts of the city are stitched together.
Visit www.tfl.gov.uk for more information.
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London travel guidehttps://www.timeoutdoha.com/travel/features/84344-london-travel-guideSun, 01 Jul 2018 00:12:44 +0400For many, London can feel familiar before you’ve even set foot inside the city. Like New York, it is packed with iconic buildings and sights and has been the setting for many a famous film and TV series. What they don’t give you is any idea of just how varied life is in England’s capital. From the City of Westminster (where Parliament and Big Ben stand) to the markets and music bars of Camden, the hipster enclaves of Hoxton and Shoreditch or the designer boutiques and pattiseries of Kensington, there’s plenty for you here. Since July is also summere here, it’s the best time to explore the city. So here’s your guide to what’s what, and how you can join in.


Highlights

Kew Gardens
While there are huge parks closer to the centre of London, the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew are worth the trip westwards. They may be 250 years old, but there’s plenty here for the modern outdoor adventurer, too. You can still wander the old Victorian Palm House but these gardens are a base for research and education into botanical studies. As summer arrives the surroundings are perfect to relax outside in the sun.
www.kew.org.

National Gallery

It’s free, it’s right on Trafalgar Square and you’re welcome to simply swing by and stand before artistic greatness whenever you like. Perfect, whether you’ve got ten minutes in your lunchbreak to check out Van Gogh’s ’Sunflowers’ or time to wander the entire, glorious collection of Western European paintings. It’s worth checking out the National Portrait Gallery next door, too.
www.nationalgallery.org.uk.

South Bank
There’s loads to see and do on the Southern side of the Thames. Start at Westminster Bridge and you’ll pass Shrek’s Adventure, SEA LIFE London Aquarium and The London Dungeon before getting to the London Eye. The slowly revolving wheel gives everyone (who dares) views to the north, south, east and west, making this a brilliant way to get the measure of the city (www.londoneye.com).

Walk further and you’ll come to the Southbank Centre, BFI Southbank, Royal Festival Hall and striking, modernist National Theatre before reaching Shakespeare’s Globe, where you can see theatre like Londoners in Tudor times did. The Globe has been carefully recreated to show the kind of setting Shakespeare would have written all his plays for (www.shakespearesglobe.com). At that point you can reward yourself for all that culture and walking by visiting nearby Borough Market, a foodie’s dream.

Where to stay

ME London
Modelled on the lines of the 1920s Marconi House next door but with modern styling inside (see the nine-storey pyramid atrium and rooms featuring triangular windows with views onto Aldwych). The tenth floor roof-terrace bar offers exceptional views and good people watching of the glamorous crowd it attracts.
www.melia.com.

Rookery
This small but charming Clerkenwell townhouse is as creakily calm as a country manor, with individually decorated rooms kitted out in sumptuous old-fashioned furnishings. Rooms are all named after characters from Clerkenwell’s past so you can find our more about the history of the area while you’re there. Smithfield Market and St John’s Gate are right on the doorstep as well as loads of great bars (check out Zetter Townhouse) and restaurants (St John).
www.rookeryhotel.com.

Getting There

There are several direct flights a day from Hamad International Airport to London Heathrow and Gatwick. For a cheaper option, Fly Pegasus flies via Istanbul to London Stansted for around QR2,570 return. Average flight time is 11 hours (www.flypgs.com). Direct flights are available via Qatar Airways Flights are, on average, around QR4,300 return.
www.qatarairways.com.

Getting Around


It couldn’t be easier. There’s an extensive network of public transport including buses, the London Underground (or the Tube), overground trains and pick-up and drop-off bicycles. We strongly recommend walking as much as possible, it’s often much quicker than getting the Tube to a nearby place, you can see more of the city and it given you the opportunity to see how the different parts of the city are stitched together. Visit www.tfl.gov.uk for more information.

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Island retreathttps://www.timeoutdoha.com/travel/features/83838-island-retreatWed, 30 May 2018 20:00:00 +0400For the ultimate in holiday luxury, the Maldives is where you need to go. Palm trees, white sandy beaches and clear blue sea make this a destination to get away from it all. Popular with both families and honeymooners, the Maldives islands are less than five hours from Doha, making it an ideal place to put on your holiday hit list. If you can tear yourself away from your beach towel or sun lounger, this Indian Ocean nation also offers some of the best snorkelling and diving in the world, guaranteeing unrivalled visibility and bath-warm waters teeming with life.

Highlights

Try watersports
If you’re into diving, you’ll be in your element. There are a plethora of watersports centres where you can rent equipment or take lessons. There are plenty of day trips to truly awesome dive sites including Nilhandhoo Kandu, Ekefaru Kandu, Vadhoo Thila and Maarehaa Kandu, and die-hard divers can opt for a live-aboard experience, which is the best way to get acquainted with the abundant sea life that surrounds you. From June to September, the southwest monsoon brings with it large swells, adding surfing to the catalogue of watersports already on offer. Expect waves ranging anywhere between three and eight feet tall, meaning there are activities to suit both intermediate and advanced wave riders.

See the capital
If you’re looking for an experience beyond palm trees and sundowners, head to the Maldives’ capital, Malé. It’s where all of the islands’ imports are received and bartered over, where the nation’s politics and reforms are debated and where residents go about their everyday business, far removed from the blissful existence of sun-seekers and tourists. You’ll find a decent number of restaurants as well as attractions here, too, including the National Art Gallery, National Museum and picturesque Sultan’s Park with its vast array of flora and fauna.

Where to stay

Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

With seven restaurants (including Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, set underwater) and four bars, foodies will love this spot. There are two spas, making it a perfect place to relax and unwind, plus there’s a kids’ club for families. There’s plenty of diving to do, boat trips to take and other watersports or snorkelling. Or, you could just sit back and chill by one of the many pools.
www.conradmaldivesrangali.com.

Anantara Veli Maldives Resort
While all the rooms at this island resort are beautiful, we recommend you check into one of the extra-special Ocean Pool Bungalows. Perched on small cliffs, and all with ocean views, they have a bright, airy, open-plan feel and unlike most of the other accommodation options, they also have their own plunge pool and deck. Even the bathrooms have views that look out through floor-to-ceiling windows to the ocean.
www.veli-maldives.anantara.com.

JA Manafaru

Set on its own tropical island, this resort will leave you feeling completely relaxed. Lounge about in hammocks on the beach, with the sea just a couple of footsteps away. There are seven restaurants serving food made with local ingredients, so you won’t get bored when it comes to dining out. And there’s a luxurious spa to add another layer of relaxation to a stay at this peaceful hotel.
www.jaresortshotels.com.

Kanuhura Maldives
Visit this beautiful hotel with villas looking out over the water. Laze in a hammock with a good book, soak up the sun or head to the KOKAA Spa for the ultimate in rest and relaxation. Or, you could enjoy a meal at one of the many exclusive restaurants.
www.kanuhura.com.

Getting There

Qatar Airways flies non-stop from Doha to Malé with flights costing from QR3,100. Flight time is five hours.
www.qatarairways.com.

Getting Around

Nowhere in the Maldives is more than a 90-minute flight from Malé, which makes seaplanes, or air taxis, the preferred mode of transport. Taxi boats are also commonly used, especially for travelling to the North and South Malé Atolls. When you’re on the islands, you’ll be able to walk to most places.

Travel Tip

The perfect time to visit is between January and March, with the latter being the hottest month. Temperatures peak at around 29°C. In June, prices are lower. September is the wettest month, with 243mm of rainfall.

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