13 ideas for your Diwali vacation

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Whether you’re travelling solo or with kids, looking for a foodie haunt or hoping to get your pulse racing, we’ve picked the destinations that are sure to add some sparkle to your festive break:

ARUNACHAL PRADESH

The best time to trek in this beautiful state is between October and April.
Explore this beautiful state with a trek. Photo: Daniel J. Rao / Alamy

Best for: Adrenaline junkies
October—April is the best season for sports lovers to visit this beautiful state. You can trek around Tawang Chu, kayak or raft along the Subansiri River amid Grade IV-plus rapids, or fish for golden mahseer in the upper Brahmaputra and Siang. RiverIndia offers these experiences for small groups.
Getting there: Fly to Dibrugarh in Assam with IndiGo or Jet Airways from most major Indian cities. From there, it’s at least a six-hour ferry ride to the town of Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh.

BALI

Paraglide above craggy cliffs and blue-green seas. Photo: Mj 1903 | Wikimedia Commons

Best for: Adrenaline junkies
Skip lazing on the beach and add action to your holiday this Diwali. Go paragliding off the southern coast of the Bukit Peninsula. The bird’s-eye views of craggy cliffs, pristine blue-green seas and powder-like beaches will make your heart race, as you soar above them. Book your paragliding experience through Fly Bali or Temple Pilots.
Getting there: Fly to Bali with Malaysia Airlines (stopover in Kuala Lumpur) or Singapore Airlines (stopover in Singapore) from most major Indian cities.

THAILAND

Rafting on River Kek in Thailand.
Go white water rafting on rivers like Kek. Photo: 123Rf

Best for: Adrenaline junkies
If you’re looking for adventure that’s closer home, there’s a range of river-rafting festivals to choose from here during Diwali. Both, the Kaeng Hin Phoeng Whitewater Rafting Festival and the Kek River Rafting Festival are on until 31 October. Details
Getting there: Fly to Bangkok with Japan Airlines or Bangkok Airways from most major Indian cities. From there, it’s a three-hour drive to Kaeng Hin Phoeng. For the Kek River Rafting Festival, fly to Phitsanulok from Bangkok with Thai AirAsia.

HIMACHAL PRADESH

Take a break from the regular and go camping. Photo: Dmitry Rukhlenko – Photos of India / Alamy

Best for: Adrenaline junkies
Take a break from the regular and go camping this Diwali. Pitch a tent and fall asleep trying to identify constellations under the open skies. The days can be reserved for more adventurous activities—rock climbing, rappelling, river rafting and trekking—in places such as Manali, Shoja, Beas Kund or Solang Valley. Another great destination is Mashobra, where you can sign up for camping holidays, organised by Great Escape Routes.
Getting there: Fly to Delhi with GoAir or IndiGo from most Indian cities. From there, a drive to most camping sites takes up to 10 hours, but the views along the way are spectacular.

LONDON

James Bond’s Aston Martin at the Bond in Motion exhibition.

Best for: Kids
Apart from the perennially fun London Eye, the city offers a riot of attractions for children. First, there’s Horrible Histories: Spies, which brings to life the secret world of World War II spies. Kids can even set out on their own spy mission. This exhibition is on till 4 January 2015 at the Imperial War Museum. You could also take your young ones to the Sherlock Holmes exhibition, which starts on 17 October at the Museum of London. If your kids prefer fast cars to solving mysteries, there’s the Bond in Motion exhibition at the London Film Museum. And Harry Potter fans should not miss the Warner Bros Studio Tour London, which takes you through displays of the sets, props and costumes used in the popular movie series.
Getting there: Fly to London with British Airways or Virgin Atlantic from Mumbai or New Delhi.

HONG KONG

At Hong Kong Disneyland, a mega-festival awaits you.
At Hong Kong Disneyland, a mega-festival awaits you. Photo: Best View Stock / Alamy

Best for: Kids
Combine Diwali with Halloween for a mega-festival at Hong Kong Disneyland. At Disney’s Haunted Halloween event (from early October until All Hallows’ Eve on 31 October), gorge on a Halloween-themed menu and get photographed with Disney’s most loved characters.
Getting there: Fly to Hong Kong with Jet Airways or Cathay Pacific from any major Indian city.

SINGAPORE

Marina Bay Street Circuit with Singapore Flyer.
Meet characters like the Minions from Despicable Me at Universal Studios.

Best for: Kids
Enter the world of your favourite films at Ride The Movies at Universal Studios, where rides are themed on films such as ShrekThe Mummy and Jurassic Park. Afterwards, plunge into a 3D battle at TRANSFORMERS: The Ride, based on the mega-hit movie franchise. Should your kids tire of the action, there’s a calmer Sesame Street ride, too. Do check the height requirements for the rides.
Getting there: Fly to Singapore with Singapore Airlines or Qantas Airways from most major Indian cities.

ODISHA

Watch spectacular formations of egrets at Chilika Lake.
Watch spectacular formations of egrets at Chilika Lake. Photo: ephotocorp / Alamy

Best for: Kids
October marks the arrival of hundreds of migratory bird species to the state, some of them from as far as Siberia and Iraq. Chilika Lake and Bhitarkanika National Park are particularly good birding spots and kids will love watching the spectacular flying formations of flamingos, herons, egrets, spoonbills and storks. Another great option is checking out sand sculptures created by local artists on Puri Beach. You can also take your children out on a day trip to the village of Raghurajpur, a 15-minute drive from Puri, to admire traditional mural art and Pattachitra paintings.
Getting there: Fly to Bhubaneshwar with IndiGo or Air India from major Indian cities.

AMRITSAR

Head to the Golden Temple to watch fireworks illuminate the night sky.
Head to the Golden Temple to watch fireworks illuminate the sky. Photo: Tony India / Alamy

Best for: Diwali lovers
The foundation stone of the Golden Temple was laid in 1577 during Diwali, and in 1619, the sixth Sikh guru, Hargobind Sahib, also arrived in Amritsar on Diwali, making the connection between the town and the festival of lights stronger. Head to the Golden Temple to watch fireworks illuminate the night sky and try Diwali treats at local eateries.
Getting there: Fly to Amritsar with SpiceJet or Jet Airways from New Delhi and Mumbai.

JOHANNESBURG

The suburb of Newtown is also the venue for an annual Diwali event. Photo: Africa Media Online / Alamy

Best for: Diwali lovers
During Diwali, the suburb of Newtown doubles as the venue for the Joburgers’ own take on the festival. The Newtown Diwali Festival is an annual event that serves as a stage for performances by community groups, fusion bands and dance troupes. Also be on the lookout for Bollywood-themed street parties, fairs, dance workshops, fashion shows, fireworks displays, a mini market, children’s art workshops and a retail-therapy area.
Getting there: Fly to Johannesburg with South African Airways or Qatar Airways from any major Indian city.

VARANASI

Ganga aarti ritual.
A Ganga aarti ritual in session. Photo: 123Rf

Best for: Diwali lovers
Diwali is a time to go back to one’s roots and rediscover traditions, and Varanasi is one place that allows you to do just that. You can enjoy Dhrupad and thumri recitals, kathak performances and some lovely renditions of the Ram Leela and Krishna Leela at various venues across town. Areas such as the Assi and Tulsi ghats also host a range of cultural events.
Getting there: Fly to Varanasi with SpiceJet or IndiGo from most major Indian cities.

GUJARAT

Somnath Temple in Saurashtra, Gujarat.
The shoreside Somnath Temple in Saurashtra with its sandstone architecture. Photo: Dinodia

Best for: Diwali lovers
The state is famous for its temple tours, and Diwali is the perfect time to go on one. Make Rajkot your base and drive to Junagadh to visit Girnar’s temples. You could also drive to Dwarka—one of Hinduism’s important pilgrimage centres—to the Dwarkadhish Temple, dedicated to Krishna. Rajkot is also a three-hour drive from the historic shoreside Somnath Temple in Saurashtra, a shrine to Shiva with wonderful sandstone architecture. Don’t miss the temple’s sound-and-light show, which takes place daily from 8—9pm. If you have the time, you can also visit the Akshardham Temple in Gandhinagar. Visit Gujarat Tourism for itineraries.
Getting there: Fly to Rajkot with Jet Airways or Air India from any major Indian city.

TAIWAN

Taiwanese meatballs.
Taiwanese meatballs. Photo: IMAGEMORE Co., Ltd. / Alamy

Best for: Foodies
With autumn setting in, October is the perfect time to do justice to the country’s rich food scene—think restaurants devoted exclusively to dumplings or seafood, and magical night markets. Sample Taiwanese meatballs (rice or tapioca dough stuffed with pork, bamboo shoot or shiitake mushrooms), tofu with cellophane noodles, and iron eggs (eggs stewed in soy sauce with their shells on). To get a taste of coastal cuisine, hit the stalls at Kungshen Wangye’s Salt for Peace Festival in the Yunlin-Chiayi-Tainan City region on 25 and 26 October.
Getting there: Fly to Taipei with Cathay Pacific (stopover in Hong Kong) from any major Indian city. To go to Tainan City, take the High Speed Rail from Taipei, which is approximately a two-hour journey.