Something To Declare: London digs and cheap tickets; Indonesia; Kenya
Where to go, how to save, what to avoid
Saturday 11 July 2009
Bargain of the week: Scouting for London digs – and cheap tickets
For summer visitors to the capital, one of the best accommodation deals is to be found at Baden-Powell House in South Kensington – a couple of minutes' walk from the Natural History Museum, Science Museum and V&A. This is the home of the Scout Association, but you need not be a Scout (nor a Guide) to stay: the building houses a clean, well-equipped hostel run by the German company, Meininger (020-3051 8173; meininger-hostels.com). It promises "the quality of a hotel at the prices of a hostel". Dorm beds are available for as little as £13, though £18 is a more common rate; single rooms are available from £55. Breakfast is an extra £3.
London remains the leading city-break choice for British visitors, and so The Independent Traveller has compared the best prices for a trip from Newcastle to the capital, travelling south on Saturday 8 August and north a week later. The cost in petrol for an average family car would be around £90, not including wear and tear on the vehicle.
By air, British Airways charges a total to Heathrow of £357 for the family; easyJet to Stansted is £250. Buses and trains offer city centre-to-city centre travel. National Express's coach division will transport a family of four with a Family Coachcard (£16 annually) for £102 return; but the best deal is on a National Express East Coast train, costing only £79 return with a Family & Friends Railcard (£26 annually), if you choose off-peak trains.
Destination of the week: Indonesia
Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, is due to begin on 21 August this year. Muslims are obliged to refrain from eating, drinking or smoking between dawn and dusk. This is the first time since 1981 that the ninth month in the Islamic calendar has coincided with the main summer holidays in Britain, and it could have an effect on non-Muslims travelling to countries such as Morocco, Egypt and Indonesia before it ends on 20 September.
After that, though, there are some excellent deals to Indonesia. For example, the online agent Opodo is offering a return fare of just £397 from Manchester to the capital, Jakarta, on Etihad via Abu Dhabi on 21 September; Heathrow fares are slightly higher.
Trailfinders (0845 050 5871; trailfinders.com) has a week in the (largely Hindu) island of Bali, pictured, from £599 for departures on 22 September from Heathrow via Kuala Lumpur with Malaysia Airlines, staying at the three-star Hotel Sanur Beach, with breakfast. Book by next Monday, 13 July.
Warning of the week: Kenya
"While Kenya is generally a safe destination, there are still plenty of pitfalls for the unwary or inexperienced traveller," says the new edition of Lonely Planet's East Africa (£17.99).
"Even the staunch-est Kenyan patriot will readily admit that the country's biggest problem is crime. It ranges from petty snatch theft and mugging to violent armed robbery.
"As a visitor you needn't feel paranoid, but you should always keep your wits about you, particularly at night. The best advice for when you're walking around cities and towns is don't carry anything valuable with you.
"Cheap digital watches and plastic sunglasses can be bought in Kenya for under 100 shillings [80p] and you won't miss them if they get taken."
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