Peters Post: Which is better - Bali or Phuket?
Our travel expert answers questions about routes and destinations around the world
We will be going on honeymoon in December and would like a luxurious, relaxing holiday but do not want to spend a fortune. Between Bali and Phuket, which do you think would be better? - Nilisha Padayachee
I am afraid there are few bargains over the Christmas/New Year period anywhere in the world. Bali and Phuket are no exception. However, if you travel in the early part of December, before Christmas Day, you can find some reasonably priced packages. There is little to choose from between the two islands. Both have beautiful beaches and fabulous resorts and are considered prime honeymoon destinations. Your choice really comes down to what packages are on offer from South Africa.
You will probably have the best chance with Bali, where peak season only starts around December 20 at many resorts. Weather-wise, the high season for the island is July and August. December can be rainy and, outside of the Christmas/New Year period, is considered low season. The high season in Phuket runs from November to April, so prices will already be pretty high in December. They will go even higher in late December.
In Bali, head for Kuta if you want to be in the centre of the action; otherwise try areas such as Jimbaran Bay, Legian, Seminyak and Tuban. In Phuket, Patong Beach is busiest, so aim for Karon, Kata or Surin beaches if you want quieter resorts. Sites you can check for packages include www.seekers.co.za, www.thompsons.co.za, www.holidaytours.co.za and www.harveyworld.co.za. Check out reviews on the resorts on www.tripadvisor.com and if you are not satisfied, ask the agent to suggest an alternative hotel.
I am due to visit Oman in May. Is alcohol freely available there? - Heinrich Els
As with Dubai, alcohol is available in licensed hotel bars and a few restaurants, especially those frequented by foreigners. You can also buy 2l of alcohol at the airport duty-free shops in the arrivals hall, but no drinking is allowed in public. Alcohol is not freely available in shops; residents have to get special licences to buy alcohol, which is sold at special stores in Muscat.
A group of friends and I, 16 people in total, are considering travelling to Victoria Falls in October. Can you recommend reasonably priced places to stay for three nights? We are interested in bed-and-breakfast accommodation or special packages. - Brenda Mohulatsi
One way of staying within a reasonable budget and keeping your group together is to opt for one of the backpacker hostels on the Zimbabwe side of the falls. Some offer excellent accommodation and facilities, attracting interesting and well-travelled guests. Shoestrings Backpackers, close to the town centre and the falls, is regarded by many as the best budget accommodation available at the falls. Brightly-painted and clean, it offers shared rooms with shared bathrooms, as well as single and double rooms with their own bathrooms. It has a reputation for having the most lively bar, so you will have to decide whether this suits your group. Prices range from only R75 per person in a shared dormitory to R132 per person in a private room. You can book through www.hostelworld.com.
Alternative backpacker-style accommodation is available at Victoria Falls Backpackers. Recommended by the Lonely Planet guide, this lodge offers double rooms, dormitory-style rooms and camping from R113-R189 per person per night.
Another choice is the Savanna Lodge, also close to the town centre, which costs R190-R235 per person per night. You can find both these establishments on www.hostels.com.
You could also book accommodation on the Zambian side of the falls. An option for your group could be Bushbuck River House, which is set in 42ha of bush on the banks of the Zambezi. It sleeps only 14 people, but maybe you could persuade the management to fit in another two beds and rent you the entire property. It is a beautiful game estate with a swimming pool, a boma for outdoor dining and a viewing platform overlooking the river. Prices range from R240 to R420 per person per night. You can book this through www.safarinow.com.
Another good option on the Zambian side is Kay's Guest House, which lies just a few kilometres from the falls. Accommodation, which ranges from rooms in the main house to chalets and self-catering rooms, is from R150-R300 per person. Rooms have air conditioning, TV and tea- and coffee-making facilities. You can book it on www.kaysguesthouse.com.
If you would like to stay in a regular hotel, one that may fit within your budget is the Sprayview Hotel, about 2km from the falls on the Zimbabwe side. It is regarded as the most economically priced hotel in the area. It has a swimming pool and the en suite bedrooms are fitted with air conditioning and fans. Double rooms are offered at around $100 (about R715) per night. Book through www.hostels.com.