By Maram Sharif ’22
Are you planning a summer vacation? Whether you’re going on a weekend getaway or a month-long vacation, you’ll want to know about these three places that have risen to the top of my personal must-see list.
The summer of 2019, I traveled to Istanbul for a two-weeks long trip with my father. As foodies, we both loved this city so much since there was never enough of the wonderfully delicious cuisine they had to offer. Taksim Square has a bustling nightlife, retail, and a dining district that I loved. I definitely recommend visiting one of the local kebab doner stands, the well-known Hafiz Mustafa pastry shop which serves delicious Turkish delicacies (Kunafa and Baklava are my personal favorites), and Hatay Medeniyetler Sofrası Aksaray restaurant, which serves Kebabs like no other.
Balat is a lovely historical city that is sometimes overlooked by tourists, yet it is one of my favorite locations to visit since it has beautiful colorful corners that provide joy to your life. It’s also only 10 minutes from Faith, where you can marvel at Hagia Sophia’s architecture, visit the Blue Mosque, and dine on the rooftop of Arya Lounge during sunset. Make a point of stopping by the Grand Bazaar to shop for antique apparel and jewelry.
If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of Istanbul for a few days, I recommend booking a trip to Sapanca, Sakarya, through one of the local travel agencies. It not only features stunning vistas and tranquility that will leave you feeling rejuvenated, but you can also go on an exciting Safari ride if you want to have some fun. Plan to spend one to two days there.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
I spent three weeks of 2018’s summer with friends in Kuala Lumpur. We made a road trip to Pahang, where we picked strawberries at a strawberry farm and visited the Cameron Highlands, where we enjoyed the finest matcha latte with a stunning view at BOH tea garden.
A day spent at Sunway Lagoon was another highlight of the vacation. The rides at this waterpark will give you an immaculate sense of adrenaline. If you’re feeling particularly daring, you could also bungee jump from this vantage point. Skytrex Congak, where you sweat your way around treetop ropeway circuits in a rainforest, is another must for adventure seekers. After this experience, you’ll be hungry, so I recommend delving into some tasty Chicken Satay from a nearby local restaurant.
The Batu Caves are a renowned tourist destination where you’ll come across a swarm of monkeys who will try to steal your goods if you’re not careful on your route to the temples, so consider yourself warned. Malacca is another city well worth visiting during your stay in Malaysia. You’ll never forget its antique shops and retro attractions, so make sure to head there. Going to a fish spa, eating Uncle Tetsu’s Japanese Cheesecake, and walking around Tokyo Street at night are all activities you must also make room for in your trip.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Dubai is yet another popular tourist location. Last summer, I went there on a shorter trip with my best friend. We had dinner on the rooftop of the Address Sky View Hotel on our first day there, and enjoyed a spectacular sunset view of Burj Khalifa.
The following day was spent at Jumeirah Beach Residence, where we went parasailing (which is one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had) and had lunch at CZNBurak for a gourmet meal afterwards.
I strongly encourage you to visit IMG World– but only if it is not on a public holiday when it may be overcrowded. Plan on spending five to six hours there. If you enjoy water rides, the Atlantis Waterpark is another must-visit. You’ll be starving after a full day spent there, so plan to eat some mouthwatering pizza at Fi’lia restaurant, which also has an amazing rooftop sunset view, or, if you’re on a tighter budget, have a delicious burger from SALT, which is located right outside the Dubai Mall.