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You work hard and you should definitely make the time to play hard! Relish the fact that living in the Middle East allows folks like us to visit a myriad lands that were less accessible from our home countries. Whether your budget is large or small, you’ll want to take advantage of travel opportunities. Choosing a destination is the most difficult part.

If you love Middle Eastern culture…

Drive six hours to the capital of Muscat or fly cheaply in under an hour. Check out the Royal Opera House, Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, and the city centre. Trek into the mountains on a day tour, if you desire outdoor adventure. Adventurous spirits may opt to camp in Salalah, where the stunning Omani southern coastal region is without parallel. From late September until March, the dream climate means the natural beauty of the region can be enjoyed with basic equipment. Add 4×4 capability, and the possibilities are endless. As an added bonus, you’ll find the locals both friendly and welcoming.

If you love to people watch…

Head to Vietnam. Once you arrive, everything is super cheap. Ho Chi Mihn City (formerly Saigon) is teeming with locals weaving around on scooters at all hours. Visit Cu Chi Tunnels, the underground hideouts that were used in the Vietnam War. Tour the Saigon River on a Vietnamese sampan, watch locals make coconut candy, and bargain for wares at the floating markets in the Mekong Delta.

If you love nature, adventure, and animals…

Check out Sri Lanka. Hire a driver/guide for the duration of your trip and he’ll plan a route that includes the sights and attractions of your choice. Wander through the historic capital of Colombo, visit Buddhist and/or Hindu temples, and partake in water sports. Spend an interactive day at Elephant Freedom Project in Kegalle. You may even have the chance to speak English with some nearby local schoolchildren.

If you love meeting people…

Head to Istanbul, Turkey. A breathtaking mix of old and new, Istanbul is a bustling metropolis. However, the locals make time to chill throughout the day. Stop to sip a coffee or tea al fresco and you’ll surely end up in conversation with someone. Take a Big Bus tour, cruise the Bosphorus River, and spend a day in the Sultanhamet area of Istanbul visiting Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace and the underground cistern. At night, Beyoglu/Taksim Square offers nightlife that often lasts until breakfast.

If you love safaris…

Hop over to Sir Bani Yas Island via Rotana Jet. A nature retreat located just off the shore of the western region of Abu Dhabi. HH Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan established this protected area forty years ago. Sir Bani Yas Island, with its lush greenery, is home to thousands of free-roaming animals. Safaris top the to-do list but snorkeling, kayaking, archery, and biking are also popular activities. There are only a few hotels on the island and none are at budget level, but turning this weekend into a group excursion will help keep costs down.

Other wildly popular destinations include Thailand, Zanzibar, Jordan, and Egypt. As an American, I’ve popped into Europe while traveling to and from Abu Dhabi. Why not check out a new city for a day or two if a direct flight isn’t on the cards. Favourite destinations include Prague, Krakow, Berlin, Dublin, Amsterdam, Rome and Paris. Really, you can’t go wrong no matter where you choose to go. There’s a whole world out there waiting to be explored, so enjoy one of the perks of teaching in the Middle East and get packing!

By Suzanne Berg

Suzanne is an English teacher who enjoys traveling and blogging. She is the proud mother of two wonderful daughters.

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