There are times (not too often though), when I really envy those people (read Americans, British, Canadians, EU nationals, Singaporeans and a few others), who can just pick almost any destination off the world map, book tickets, hop on to a plane and be off. No pre-planning required, no gathering together of a long list of documents, no queuing up outside embassies and consulates and definitely no waiting with bated breath, fingers and toes crossed, hoping to see the all elusive visa stamp. But thankfully, despite these travails, the travel bug in K and me trumps each time and we continue to plan exciting holidays – with or without the visas!
However, occasionally there are situations when we have the holidays and the opportunity to travel, but not enough time to plan and apply for requisite visas – at least 2 months for Europe and longer for the US. The UK is quicker, if you have been before, either to the UK, Europe or the US. These times have been ideal for exploring India – which is so vast and diverse that despite having travelled extensively, there are tons of places we are yet to visit. The same goes for South Africa – since having moved here, we have taken several holidays (as you would have seen from the numerous blog posts), and are no where close to being done. We haven’t even had the time to venture ‘outside’ SA – until now! Soon K and I will be off to an amazing destination – more on this when we are back (yeayy!).
Coming back to the lack of time and the need to apply for visas, etc., there are several countries that people with Indian passports either do not require a visa for or can get one on arrival. According to the 2014 Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index, a global ranking of countries according to the travel freedom that their citizens enjoy, the Indian Passport is ranked 76th in the world (out of 94, sigh), and Indians have access to visa-free or visa on arrival to 52 countries (yeayy??).
Some of the most promising and beautiful holiday destinations where we can go with next-to-no hassles are:
A beautiful Himlayan country, Bhutan is the world’s last remaining Buddhist kingdom, and is known for its strong sense of culture and tradition. Indian citizens who want to visit this magical kingdom do not need a visa. Only a valid passport or a voters’ ID card need to be carried.
Located to the south of India, surrounded by the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is a lush tropical island of golden beaches and blue waters. From lazing on the beach to exploring ancient temples, Sri Lanka makes for a great holiday. Visa can be applied online by all.
A South-East Asian country, known for its temples (Angkor) and rich history. Cambodia has had a long association with India and after years of political instability and dictatorship, tourism is flourishing. Indians can get a visa-on-arrival or can apply for one online.
3) Hong Kong
Most people think of Hong Kong as a small city where one must go only for work or business. But this small city has much to offer to tourists as well – the amazing views from the Peak, night markets, ladies’ markets, Disneyland, multitude of restaurants serving international and local cuisines, street food, ferry rides, day trips to Macau and much more. Indian citizens do not require a visa if visiting for 14 days or less.
City of malls and skyscrapers and a paradise for shoppers. Dubai attracts thousands of tourists on the promise of a shopping extravaganza! Since Emirates has become one of the most convenient and comfortable airlines connecting Asia to the rest of the world, a lot of us find ourselves stopping over at the Dubai airport every now and then. If you have the time, exploring the city does not take much effort – if flying Emirates, you can apply online for a visa.
Abundance of sun, blue waters of the Caribbean, white sands and RUM! That’s what Jamaica brings to mind. Unlike other Caribbean islands, Jamaica is known for its African-ness and history. Indian do not need a visa to visit this paradise.
Among the Middle East countries, Jordan is often left out by tourists as a holiday destination. But from the ancient city of Petra to the modern sights of Amman, from the mesmerizing deserts to the secrets of the Dead Sea – Jordan has much to offer. And the good news is Indians do not need a pre-clearance and can get a visa on arrival.
Since having come to South Africa, Madagascar features high on my list of places to visit. Tourism is said to be still quite under-developed, but the island promises one of the most memorable holidays to the intrepid traveller. Lemurs, Grand Tsingy, rain forests, baobabs, canoe rides – Madagascar is much more than the animated movie! Visa on arrival is available to anyone visiting for 90-days or less.
These islands, located in the Indian Ocean, are very popular with honeymooners. Depending on the budget, any of these three islands are perfect for a typical beach holiday. Snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming with dolphins, under sea walk – all these activities are available on all three islands. Maldives offers a 30-day visa on arrival for all. For Mauritius, no visa is required by Indians and for Seychelles, no visa is required, irrespective of nationality.
Kenya and Tanzania are synonymous with the wild and the great migration. Anyone wishing to simply explore the wild and see animals in their natural and really wild habitat should head to either of these two African nations. Visa can be obtained on arrival for both countries by Indians.
Miles and miles of white sands, pristine blue waters and untouched beauty. Mozambique, on the east coast of Africa has for long been a popular tourist destination for South Africans. But it is slowly capturing the attention of the other world travelers as well. Visa can be obtained on arrival by Indians.
The South Pacific Ocean Islands of Samoa are located halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii. Known for its rugged volcanic mountains, cascading waterfalls and white sandy beaches, Samoa offers easy access to all its visitors by providing a visa on arrival.
The above list is by no means exhaustive. I have listed the above countries based on either my travel experience or my lust for travel! Do you know of any other places that are great for travel without the additional visa headaches?