Set your sights on the Eastern Hemisphere this travel season and explore these top destinations in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. With such a varied selection, you’re sure to discover new adventures no matter what your travel experience.
Luxury Shopping in Dubai
Known for its affluence and commanding skyline, Dubai is also a veritable shopper’s paradise. Among the city’s most exclusive retail destinations, the ultra-modern Dubai Mall features more than 1,000 storefronts and a collection of over 200 luxury brands. For traditional goods, such as Persian rugs and vibrant shawls, the souks in Old Dubai offer a more authentic cultural experience. In winter, the annual Dubai Shopping Festival further incentivizes shoppers with deep discounts on brand-name goods.
Take a break from your shopping to admire the city’s contemporary architecture, catch a musical water show from the world’s tallest fountain and enjoy stellar views of one of the Emirates’ prized gems, the 160-story Burj Khalifa, currently the world’s tallest building.
On the coast just to the south is Palm Dubai, a palm-shaped, man-made island that’s home to some of the region’s most high-end residences and hotels, including Fairmont The Palm, where you can get the best combination of beachside resort and luxury urban adventure.
The Crystal Blue Waters of the Maldives
An idyllic island nation in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives is renowned for beautiful white sand beaches and crystal-clear turquoise waters. Its vibrant coral reefs, teeming with colorful fish, sharks and rays, offer exceptional opportunities for snorkeling, diving and other water sports.
For a gorgeous beachfront villa stay, book Fairmont Maldives, a beautiful 55-minute seaplane ride from the capital city of Malé. You’ll see why the Maldives has a reputation as one of the world’s most lavish island getaways.
Between the days spent on the powdery beach or sailing along the coast, schedule an excursion into Malé to take in sites such as the National Museum (once the royal palace), historic mosques and open-air markets. The Old Friday Mosque, the nation’s oldest, dates back to 1656 and features intricate coral stone carvings, and the beautiful Grand Friday Mosque dominates the city center with its gold dome. If you’d like to tour inside either, plan to visit during non-prayer times, get permission and dress appropriately.
Culture, Cuisine and Clubbing in Seoul
Start your exploration of the South Korean capital with a trip up N Seoul Tower for a panoramic view of the city. If you come at mealtime, you can enjoy the best views while dining at n.GRILL, a French restaurant at the top level. Then head out into the city itself to visit one of its historic palaces.
Changdeokgung Palace is known for its beautiful grounds and garden, while at Gyeongbokgung Palace, you can also visit the National Folk Museum and witness the changing of the royal guard (at the Gwanghwamun Gate). Continue your cultural foray with a home-taught cooking lesson that includes a traditional market tour.
To check out the legendary Seoul nightlife, head to the Gangnam club district and hit premier spots like Club Octagon and Club Double 8. Don’t worry about partying late; Fairmont Ambassador Seoul makes it easy to sleep in, and you can spend the next day relaxing at the on-site ESPA.
Urban Garden Tours in Singapore
Known as Garden City, the island city-state of Singapore is filled with parks and pristine tree-lined streets. The urban-nature ethos is on immediate display with an indoor forest and the world’s tallest indoor waterfall at Jewel Changi Airport, which doubles as a culture and entertainment hub.
Start your journey at Fairmont Singapore, which sits just steps away from the harbour and features great views of Marina Bay. Nearby, you can travel the spiraling walkways of the Cloud Forest at the Gardens by the Bay and view cutting-edge and digital exhibits at the National Museum. After exploring, stop by The Eight pool bar (reservation required) at the hotel for a refreshing dip and a Singapore Sling, the city’s historic signature cocktail.
Round out your visit with a stroll through Kampong Gelam, a district that blends historic Muslim heritage with hipster bohemia for an eclectic experience.
Arts and Animals in Nairobi
Kenya’s capital city offers visitors a fusion of modernity and African tradition. Visit Bomas of Kenya to witness a traditional music-and-dance performance, and enjoy an authentic meal of savory nyama choma (roasted goat) or mild ugali (porridge) at the adjacent Utamaduni Restaurant.
Browse the Maasai Market for traditional beaded jewelry or bowls and wooden carvings of Kenya’s “Big Five” (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and Cape buffalo). Just a few miles from the city, you can glimpse live versions roaming the open grass plains of Nairobi National Park. Out of Africa fans can learn more about Karen Blixen at the museum bearing her name followed by a jaunt through its gardens and nature trails.
For a touch of Kenyan nightlife, drop into the Mulberry Project at Alchemist Bar for the all-night happy hour on Thirsty Thursday. If you’re looking for a nightcap, Cin-Cin Bar offers an array of drinks around the clock at Fairmont The Norfolk.
The Coast and Culture in Doha
Rich in both heritage and opulence, Qatar’s capital city is famous for arts and culture as well as its luxury sites. An easy way to dive into the traditions of Doha is an immersive Heritage Tour, a six-hour excursion through historic museums and Souq Waqif, the city’s oldest marketplace.
See Doha from a different vantage point and soak in stunning views of the city’s ultramodern skyline while taking a dhow cruise. You can also stroll along The Corniche’s palm-lined walkway and pop into numerous restaurants, clubs and parks to enjoy a bite, drink or bit of outdoor recreation.
For a more global cultural perspective, take in a performance, exhibit or festival at the beautiful Katara Cultural Village. If you’re looking for adventure, a dune-bashing romp through the sands combines desert sights and thrills. When it’s time to unwind, you’ll find relaxation in the sumptuous rooms and spa at Fairmont Doha, housed in the landmark Katara Towers.
Whatever corner of the world you’re looking to explore this year, start with luxury accommodations at Fairmont.