These days, my Facebook timeline is generally filled with three kind of posts:
- People getting married and married people celebrating anniversaries.
- People producing kids and people with kids celebrating their birthdays.
- People checking in to colorful café and exotic destinations.
I never want to see myself in either of the first two categories. But definitely the third one! A large part of India (both in terms of places and practices) still remains unexplored to me but every once in a while, I also like to visit and experience foreign lands, stay there until they feel familiar.
So, instead of cribbing about the terrible Indian passport that allows us to travel to only 18 countries without a visa (no, not even an e-visa is required), I would just shut up because I haven’t been to even half of those. If you can relate, here’s a handy list of countries/regions you can just fly/walk into:
- Bhutan – Cross the border on foot from border town of Jaigaon, West Bengal or fly into Paro, the capital city. Either way, you just need to get a permit that can be obtained by filling a form, showing your passport and 2 photographs. The maximum you can stay in one visit is 30 days upon a renewal of initial 7/14 day permit.
Read more: Lessons from Bhutan
- Ecuador – For a small country, Ecuador seems to have a lot, from Yasuni National Park in Amazon rain forest to coastal town of Manta on the Pacific coast. Once in the country, you can stay for as long as 90 days at once, which is worth going the distance I think. What say?
To manage the expenses better, try Personal loan for travel.
- Fiji – Rugged landscapes, palm-lined beaches and coral reefs with clear lagoons. If any or all of that excites you, it’s time to visit this archipelago of more than 330 islands and not come back before 4 months. No questions asked. They love Indians, or what?
Fun fact: Only 10% of this country is land.
- Hong Kong – Even though it is officially called the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) which is a part of China, it retains its own systems (economic, governmental, political, etc.) Look beyond its malls and skyscraper-studded skyline, you will find that 2/3rd of the country is actually made up of the countryside. Indian passport holders are allowed to roam around freely for 14 days.
- Indonesia – If I wasn’t journeying through rural India right now, trying to understand how development sector in this country works, I would have probably been in Indonesia. It sounds like a fascinating mix of nature and culture with coffee plantations to hike through, volcanic islands, hidden temples, Komodo dragons, Gamelan music and jungle sheltering animals. Just arrive and enjoy the bliss for 30 days.
- Maldives – With more than a thousand islands, busy fish markets and coral stone mosques, Maldives offers 30 day visa free stay which can be extended for a total of 90 days by paying a fee.
Important information: With the exception of the capital city Malé, tourists are generally prohibited from visiting non-resort islands without the express permission of the Government of Maldives.
- Macau – Again a part of China, this autonomous region was once a Portuguese territory which still reflects in a mix of cultural influences. It would be a good idea to combine this with Hong Kong as it’s just an hour’s boat ride away from the former. There are historical ruins, fancy casinos as well as old colonial settlements to spend the day(s) at. Visa free duration – 30 days.
- Mauritius – Explore the ocean beds on Blue Safari submarine. On countryside, take breathtaking views on foot, on bike or kayak; or go trekking through fields, rivers and forests on all terrain quad bikes. Discover the magnificent views of the south-eastern coastal regions. Precisely, chill out for 90 days straight.
- Nepal – Citizens of India do not need a visa to enter Nepal, and can reside permanently as Nepali citizens with no restrictions, as Article 7 the 1950 Indo-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship allows free movement of people between the two nations on a reciprocal basis. Only thing you need to carry is a valid ID proof. How cool is that!? Himalayas seem to be more alluring than ever.
- Jamaica – Firstly, they allow us to stay for 180 days without a visa, more than any other country. Yes, that’s almost half a year. With lush green mountains, rain forests, reef lined beaches, British colonial architecture, numerous diving, snorkeling sites and one of its kind – Bob Marley museum, even that long a time wouldn’t be enough.
No more excuses now, right? Grab that carefully kept passport, pack a few essentials, book the tickets and leave!
© 2016, Swati. All rights reserved.