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The emirate of Sharjah offers an inviting combination of culture, heritage, art and outdoor activities. Admire the rare artifacts at the Museum of Islamic Civilization, and visit the arts area for a taste of traditional and contemporary art. A walk through the Heart of Sharjah will reward visitors with a glimpse into history, while outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy an exciting 4-wheel drive through the dunes before relaxing on the white beaches or snorkelling through the clear blue waters offshore.
The U.A.E.'s northernmost Emirate offers a wealth of diversions between its miles of white sandy beaches and turquoise sea, majestic Hajjar Mountains and magnificent desert sand dunes. Catch a camel race, try your hand at the shooting range or soar with a microlight aircraft at Jazirah Aviation Club. Taxis and car hire are available, and it's an easy 40-minute drive from Dubai International Airport. Don't miss Ras Al Khaimah Museum, the 120-store Manar Mall or the area's amazing belly dancers.
Al Ain is the Garden city of this Arab nation, an oasis town located next to the Omani town of Buraimi. Al Ain is famous for its lively, bustling Camel Souk, attracting breeders and buyers from all over the UAE, including merchants and shepherds from the Al Rashaidah tribes. Other worthwhile sites are Jebel Hafeet, the second tallest mountain in the UAE; the Al Ain Museum and Fort, built to protect the oasis from the raiders when Sheikh Zayed ruled the Eastern Region; and the Al Ain Wildlife Park & Resort. The Al Ain Oasis is the biggest in the region with thousands of date plams.
Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay), India, is famous for its chaotic streets. For bargains and people-watching, outdoor bazaars top the list of attractions. Popular waterfront destinations are Marine Drive, where visitors go to watch the sun set over the Arabian Sea, and the carnival-like Juhu Beach. More sightseeing options are the Gandhi Museum, in the leader's former home, and the cave temples of Elephanta Island. For tranquillity, Mumbai has many religious sites, lakes and parks.
Matheran is all about the views. Easily accessible via scenic rail from Mumbai, this refuge in the Sahyadri Hills is blissfully free of motor vehicles and affords nearly three dozen lookouts over the Western Ghats and the region's village-dotted plains. Porcupine Point is anything but prickly—rather, it’s an ideal spot for gorgeous sunsets, especially at the aptly named Panorama Point. Avid hikers hit the densely forested and wildlife-rich route to the ruins of Prabalgad Fort.
Laid out by British architect Edwin Lutyens, the Indian capital is a striking modern metropolis. A gracious contrast to Old Delhi's winding streets, the grand avenues and stately buildings of New Delhi are rich with history and culture, from Gandhi's Delhi home (and the site of his assassination) to the tomb of Humayun, a complex of Mughal buildings reminiscent of the Taj Mahal. Chaotic traffic is best left to the locals. Negotiate a good price for taxis or travel on the new Delhi Metro.
East meets West in this sun-soaked state, where Indian culture intertwines with Portuguese influences left over from a 500-year occupation. The beaches have long served as a magnet for serene hedonists. To the north, the tourist-centric scene is prevalent, with an international flair that is now skewing more hip than hippie. Travel south for stretches of unspoiled sand and an escape from large resorts. Temples, mosques and wildlife sanctuaries provide diversions from the beach.
Want a taste of being royal? Eat in Hyderabad, where culinary traditions have been passed down from the Nizam monarchy. Arabic, Turkish and Mughlai influences are easily recognisable. The city is famous for its rich, aromatic biryani made with lamb, chicken or vegetables and served with fragrant basmati rice. Satisfy your sweet tooth with double-ka-meetha, a bread pudding.
Known as both the "Garden City" and "The Silicon Valley of India," Bangalore (officially "Bengaluru") is a techie’s paradise, boasting the highest concentration of IT companies in the country. When you’re done geeking out, there are plenty of gardens, museums, natural features, palaces and temples to fill your dance card. Visit Vidhana Soudha, Cubbon Park and the Ulsoor Lake of Bangalore, well known for its beautiful locales and boating facilities. Bangalore is also a major centre of Indian classical music and dance, and of vivid, cutting-edge nightlife.
The people of Tamil Nadu consider providing food to others a service to humanity. Thus the service in the state capital, Chennai, is first-rate. Treat your senses to some of the richest South Indian flavours in traditional dishes like sambar, rasam, fish curry or kootu. And don't forget to have a cup of full-bodied Tamil coffee, enhanced with chicory—no visit is complete without it.
Want to make your co-workers insanely jealous? Just casually drop "I’m holiday making in the Maldives this year" into conversation, preferably in the dead of winter. Or better yet, go there without mentioning it to anyone—then send them a "Wish you were here!" postcard.
Bali is a living postcard, an Indonesian paradise that feels like a fantasy. Soak up the sun on a stretch of fine white sand, or commune with the tropical creatures as you dive along coral ridges or the colorful wreck of a WWII war ship. On shore, the lush jungle shelters stone temples and mischievous monkeys. The “artistic capital” of Ubud is the perfect place to see a cultural dance performance, take a batik or silver-smithing workshop, or invigorate your mind and body in a yoga class.