World Tourism Day: 10 pocket-friendly countries with easy visa rules
One of the most visited places in Malaysia is the Batu Caves | Pics courtesy: Freepik and Wikimedia Commons

World Tourism Day: 10 pocket-friendly countries with easy visa rules

Want a budget-friendly overseas holiday without having to run around for a visa? On World Tourism Day, here are 10 perfect destinations for your next holiday

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Want to go an international vacation but are wary of the pocket pinch and strict visa rules that will make you run from pillar to post and take away half the fun?

Of course, there are those destinations next door — Thailand, Nepal, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka — but you may want something more “exotic”, something beyond India’s immediate neighbourhood.

Put your worries at rest. There are many other interesting countries that are within the reach of the Indian middle class, and their visa rules are simple enough for you to just pack your bags and leave.

So, on International Tourism Day, here are 10 chosen destinations for your next holiday.

1. Malaysia

Winter is approaching is so is the best season for visiting Malaysia (December-February). This Southeast Asian country is a mishmash of a lot of things, including rainforests, wildlife, mountains, beaches, idyllic islands, food, culture, and shopping!

The country is divided by the South China Sea into two regions: Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia. Some of the must-visit places are Kuala Lumpur, Sarawak, Pangkor, and Redang Island. For adventure lovers, Malaysia offers excellent scuba diving spots. The proximity of Singapore makes it an added attraction for a combo trip.

There are numerous exciting things to do in Malaysia and, with a little planning, you can pull off a week-long trip in less than Rs 1 lakh. While air tickets for a round trip can start from Rs 30,000, you can find cheap guesthouses or dorms for as low as Rs 300 per night. You can apply online for an e-visa/eNTRI, which will allow you to stay in the country for 30 days.

2. Turkey

Cushioned between Asia and Europe, Turkey is a unique mix of an Islamic Middle East and Christian Europe. Along with its interesting syncretic culture, the country offers beautiful landscapes, historical structures, lush valleys, massive mountains, a rugged coastline, and quaint villages.

On the other hand, capital Istanbul is known for its traditional markets, their air heavy with the scent of spices, hammams, belly dancers, and a lot more. This is, again, a good time to visit Turkey, with the season being from April-May and September-November.

For Turkey, too, Indians can apply for an e-visa. All you need is a passport with a six-month validity and documents, such as a return ticket, booking details of your stay, travel insurance, COVID 19 vaccination certificate, and a certain amount for expenses per day.

Airfares for a round trip to Turkey may cost you around Rs 40,000 but you can save on accommodation by staying in a dorm or hostel, which cost as low as Rs 500 a day. Eat local Turkish food instead of dining at fancy restaurants.

3. Indonesia

Here is another great destination if you are looking for an international trip under Rs 1 lakh. From the dense rainforests of Borneo to the smouldering volcanoes of central Java to the picturesque rice terraces of Bali to Jakarta’s luxurious shopping malls to the virgin marine biosphere of Rajah Ampat — Indonesia offers an unmatched experience.

Some of the must-visit places in the country are Bali, Java, Yogyakarta, Jakarta, and Sumatra. The best time to visit Indonesia is during its dry season, which extends from mid-April to September. May-June and September are perfect for a visit, thanks to the dry weather and the lack of tourist crowds.

You can get a visa on arrival as long as you have a valid passport with six months to expiry from the date of your arrival, return tickets, and COVID 19 vaccination certificate. Airfares for a round trip may cost you around Rs 30,000 but you can save by putting up in hostels which could cost Rs 700 per night. Food stall meals are very cheap too.

4. Kenya

How about a dose of wildlife for you next holiday? When it comes to wildlife safaris, nothing beats Africa. And Kenya in eastern Africa, which is best known for the Masai Mara National Reserve, is perfect for that.

It is renowned for its wildlife safaris, including the Great Wildebeest Migration in Maasai Mara, the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, and African buffalo) in Amboseli against the backdrop of Mount Kilimanjaro, and the flamingos in Lake Nakuru, among others.

Kenya, again, offers the facility of e-visa, which is valid for 90 days. You need to produce the last page of your passport, a photo, personal details, proof of accommodation, airline confirmation, and vaccination certificates.

Air tickets can be costly but you can save by booking them six months in advance. Look for cheaper safaris, which will include food and accommodation. The best time to visit is July to September during the Migration.

5. Cambodia

The first thing that comes to mind when we think Cambodia is Angkor Wat, isn’t it? But there are numerous other temples in the country, along with lush forests and interesting food and culture. You can plan a 4 Days 3 Nights trip to enjoy the legacy of the Khmer empire which was heavily influenced by India.

You can get both an e-visa or a visa on arrival to stay in the country for 30 days. You need a photo, scan of personal details on passport, and the last page of the passport. The best time to visit Cambodia is from November to March, when rainfall is minimal.

You can book round-trip air tickets for as little as Rs 30,000. Stay is cheap, and a backpackers’ hostel could cost you as little as Rs 300 per day. Local Cambodian food is quite cheap as well as delicious.

Some must-visit destinations include Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Otres beach, and Kampot.

6. Jordan

Jordan is perhaps most well-known for the 2000-year-old city of Petra. Few countries can match the spectacle that is Jordan, which is packed with grand archaeological structures and ancient ruins. And, of course, there are the amazing Dead Sea, desert landscapes, and delicious food.

Sandwiched between Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, Israel, and Palestine, Jordan is one of the cheapest countries to visit from India. The Jordan Pass is a single-entry permit with a maximum allowed stay up to 30 days. You need to produce a credit/debit card or a PayPal account, a valid passport with at least six months’ validity, and a valid COVID 19 vaccination certificate.

You can get air tickets for a round trip for about Rs 30,000 onwards though there are no direct flights from India. Look for budget accommodations online. Some of the must visits in Jordan are Petra, Red Sea, Dead Sea, Amman, Wadi Rum, and Al Khazneh. The best time to visit is March-May.

7. Vietnam

Vietnam is yet another country for a budget international trip. In fact, Vietnam can be clubbed with a Thailand trip or a Cambodia trip too. Its languid lifestyle, picturesque step paddy fields, waterways, history and culture make it a great destination for Indians.

You can take a short boat cruise in Vietnam besides local market tours, island tours, and wildlife tours. Some of the must-visit places include Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Nha Trang, and Ho Chi Minh city.

You can book round-trip air tickets for as low as Rs 20,000 if you plan it six months in advance. Ho Chi Minh City has plenty of accommodation for backpackers at very cheap rates. You can even find a decent hotel for below Rs 1,000 per night. Eat traditional Vietnamese food at street stalls. Indian citizens can apply for e-visa, which is valid for up to 90 days, single or multiple entry.

8. Seychelles

Want a scenic yet low-budget beach holiday in a foreign location? Look no farther than Seychelles. This African island nation, surrounded by the Indian Ocean, is ideal for honeymooners as well as family trips. The most visited islands are Mahe, Praslin, and La Digue.

Seychelles boasts more than 45 beautiful white-sand beaches. The Anse Source d’Argent Beach is considered one of the most beautiful in the world. If you are looking for adventure, Seychelles is great for SCUBA diving and snorkelling, apart from paddleboarding, surfing, and crystal kayaking.

You can get round-trip flight tickets for about Rs 40,000 if you book well in advance. Despite the tourist rush, there are affordable accommodations too. You can travel around by bicycles to reduce costs as well as enjoy the natural beauty. The best months to visit are April-May and October-November.

No visa is required for Seychelles but you need a visitor’s permit. For that, you must produce a valid passport with at least one blank page for passport stamping, valid round-trip air tickets, and yellow fever certificate.

9. Qatar

It may seem that Qatar would be an expensive country to visit but you are mistaken. Thanks to the stunning Persian Gulf, Qatar is a one of the prettiest destinations among the Arab countries. And yet, it is an offbeat place for an international trip that can be kind to your pocket.

In Qatar, you can do all that the other Arab countries are known for, such as dune bashing and camel rides, along with lazing on beaches and going around the markets. The must-visits include Doha, Khor Al Adaid Natural Reserves, Dhal Al Misfir, and the Zubarah Fort.

You can get a visa on arrival which allows a 30-day stay. You need to carry a passport with at least six months’ validity and one blank visa page, return/onward tickets, hotel booking, proof of travel purpose, travel insurance, and COVID 19 vaccination certificate.

December and January are the ideal months to explore the Gulf area. While air tickets, if booked in advance, can be affordable, stay may be slightly expensive. You can plan a short trip of about five days if budget is an issue.

10. Myanmar

The shot of the temples of Bagan is perhaps one of the most popular pictures taken worldwide by travellers. Myanmar’s beautiful Buddhist temples and picturesque lakes make it a tempting destination and it is budget-friendly too. Also, the two countries share very old ties. Therefore, even though it is right next door, you may give Myanmar a thought.

Some of the must-visits in Myanmar are Yangon’s Shwedagon Pagoda, Inle Lake boat trips, and Bagan’s temples. You can book round-trip air tickets for about Rs 25,000 if you do it a little in advance. Hostels and dormitories can be booked for as low as Rs 600 per night. Food is quite cheap. The best time to visit is November to February.

An e-visa will allow you single entry and 28 days of stay. You need a passport with at least six months of validity, a scanned colour copy of your passport’s bio page, a recent colour passport-sized digital photo, credit/debit card or PayPal account, and COVID 19 vaccination certificate.

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