Hong Kong & Macau

My wife and I recently visited both Hong Kong and Macau on our Indian passports. Our passports were brand new with new previous visas from any country. We were issued visas on arrival and allowed entry into both HK and Macau with no questions asked, no visa fees or any other complication. We got 14-day stay permissions. Both regions no longer stamp visitor passports, but instead give you a small paper slip with details of how long you can stay – try not to loose this slip.


Where Aryan (Hrithik Roshan in Dhoom2) can go on visa-free crime sprees

I was watching ‘Dhoom 2’ yesterday. How the heck is Aryan (the character played by Bollywood super-hunk Hrithik Roshan) such a far-reaching international criminal, when he is clearly an Indian? Doesn’t he need a visa for each country he’s planning a robbery in?

Here are the top 8 places where Mr. Aryan can go on a visa-free crime spree, and enjoy beautiful vistas too.

This middle-eastern country is known for pearls. Mr. Aryan can steal pearls and enjoy views of a majestic skyline. If travelling for business purposes, visa can be obtained on arrival by Indian passport holders.

Beautiful Island nation, famous for its ‘triangle’ where ships & aircraft are fabled to go missing. Mr. Aryan can rob one of the wealthy off-shore banks, where rich Brits & Americans stash their dosh. Visa not required for upto 6 months, generally speaking, for Indian passport holders.

Hong Kong
International financial hub with excellent food, nightlife and city views. Mr. Aryan can hold a rich Chinese businessman to ransom and earn millions of Renminbi. Indians don’t need a visa for upto 14 days.

Home to one of the world’s oldest civilizations, and owner of large oil reserves. This fascinating country is full of history. Also great views near the Caspian sea and the Azerbaijan border. Mr. Aryan can come to steal one of the WMDs that Iran is allegedly developing (though I’m not aware of any proof of existence). Visa on arrival available for tourist visits of upto 7 days, for Indian passport holders.

Beautiful Caribbean nation, known for reggae music and stunning beaches. Not much for Aryan to steal, but he can come here to relax. No visa required for upto 14 days for Indian passport holders.

Casino Island off the coast of China, near Hong Kong. Has a charming old Portuguese part of the city. Mr. Aryan can come to pull an Oceans-11 at one of the ginormous casinos here. No visa required for visits upto 30 days for Indian passport holders.

British Virgin Islands
Laid back Caribbean archipelago, famous for being a tax-haven and for local resident Richard Branson. Mr. Aryan can hob-nob with Branson and chill on the beach. 1 month visa-free access for Indian passport holders.

Famous for the Galapagos Islands with all their fauna. Additionally, Mr. Aryan can make vital contacts with local mafia, near the Colombian border. Visa free for 90 days for Indian passport holders.

Ireland visa waiver for Indian Passport Holders

There’s been some buzz on the internet about being able to travel to the Republic of Ireland if you have a UK Visa in your Indian passport. For a while my Wife and I have been quite excited about this, since we both want to see Ireland.

But I checked up the exact wording of the visa waiver programme. It seems that you can only visit Ireland on a UK visa if you have a Tourist or Short term business visa. Bit of a bummer for us. I am here on a work visa and my wife on a dependant visa. Looks like we will need to get an Irish visa!

Here is the link to the exact wording on the Irish embassy website:

Three of my friends have recently entered The Republic of Ireland under the visa-waiver programme, on a UK tourist visa. Also, my wife, who is on a UK resident visa (Tier-1 Dependant), had to apply for a tourist visa to Ireland (they gave her a single-entry visa). Note: The visa was issued to her FREE of cost and took 1 week to process.

More on Turkey Visa on Arrival for Indians

Update – 13 Nov 2013 Looks like the Visa on Arrival has been replaced by an e-visa that has to be obtained at least 24 hrs before arriving in Turkey. https://www.evisa.gov.tr/en/

Old post:
I have been getting questions about visa on arrivals for Indians in Turkey. While I don’t have personal experience in this matter, I can only quote official sources.

Here is what CIBT have to say:

The traveller must:
* Hold a valid UK, Schengen or USA visa
* Hold the minimum of US$50.00 in cash on entry, per day of stay
* Hold a passport valid at least six months on entry with one blank visa page
* Hold proof of sufficient funds
* Hold proof of onward/return flights
* Hold all documents required for the next destination

Here is what the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has to say:

India: Diplomatic passport holders are exempt from visa for their travels to Turkey up to 90 days. Ordinary, Special and Service passport holders are required to have visa to enter Turkey. Ordinary, Special and Service passport holders with a valid Schengen, UK or US visas may get their one month single entry visas at the Turkish border gates upon their arrival.

I hope this helps!

If you have personal experience with VOA in Turkey, please comment on this post

First Time Cruising – Indian in the Caribbean

Being Indian, two things struck me soon after I boarded the Celebrity Summit in Puerto Rico:
1. My wife and I were part of a small minority among the passengers (under 45 years old, non-white, childless couples).
2. The staff on the Ship was predominantly Hindi speaking.

This was unsurprising. Indians tend to put up with a lot of hardship, to make a living. But we, as a nation, are not as happy to spend our hard earned money on luxuries. The staff on the ship typically spends 6 months at sea, at a stretch. Living in cramped quarters, getting shore leave once every 2 or 3 weeks for half a day. Not an ideal life.

It was easy to feel out of place, but at the same time completely ignore everyone else on the ship. The population was predominantly white republican Americans, aged over 45. We couldn’t really find anything in common with them, and after the first day, stopped going to ‘social events’ on the ship. It was funny when the ship’s stand-up comedian asked “who here likes Obama”. The theatre echoed with “boos”.

The ship was luxurious though. A bit excessive even. The service was impeccable and we were made to feel very welcome and well looked after. But we also had to cough up $25 a day in tips, in addition to the cost of the cruise. They had an excellent Gym & Spa. The pool was boring and small. The food was good, but not so good if you are vegetarian like us.

Top tips for first time cruisers (especially Indians):
1. No need for visas (or even passports) in Caribbean ports. But carry photocopies of your passport anyway.
2. Bad idea carrying passports to shore excursions — it can get wet or stolen. I managed to drench my drivers license and about $20 cash.
3. Carry a photo ID other than your passport — will need that to get back on the ship.
4. No need to buy a ‘drinks package’ in advance, unless you plan on heavy drinking.
5. All food was included, at least on this ship. Except for one fancy restaurant.
6. Avoid ship organised shore excursions when you can — crowded and generally not worth the price. Explore on your own.
7. Plan a budget before going, and then double it. Your holiday is guaranteed to turn out to be VERY expensive.

Pirating the Caribbean – Visas on the high seas

My wife and I had planned to honeymoon in the Caribbean, but had some rather funny visa problems ( see old post ). So we ended up going to Hawaii instead.

Now we plan to pirate the Caribbean sea once again. We have signed up for a cruise on Celebrity Solstice, departing Puerto Rico (USA) and returning to Puerto Rico. The table below lists destinations the ship is visiting, and the visa situation.

Destination Visa on Cruise Visa Otherwise Motivation to go
Puerto Rico (USA) Need a valid US visa to enter Puerto Rico. The cruise starts from here, and we arrive here by air. Valid US visa needed Old San Juan
St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands Valid US visa needed. The cruise company has advised us that we require a US visa for the US Virgin Islands, despite going there for 1 day on a cruise. Valid US Visa Needed Trunk Bay, St. John, US Virgin Islands
Sint Maarten / Saint Martin Cruise Ship passengers do not require a visa for stays of less than 48 hours. The Dutch embassy in London (and I assume other cities around the world) issues visas to Sint Maarten. Not sure if the French Embassy issues visas for Saint Martin. FYI, the island is shared by Netherlands and France. Phillipsburg Harbour, St. Maarten
Antigua Cruise Ship Passengers do not require a visa to Antigua & Barbuda Tourist visa required by Indian passport holders. There is no Antiguan embassy in India. However, their High Commission in London will accept applications from Indian nationals. Boat in Antigua
St. Lucia Cruise Ship Passengers do not require a visa to St. Lucia I have written to the High Commission to find out. I have read somewhere that Commonwealth citizens do not require a visa The Pitons, St. Lucia
Barbados Cruise Ship Passengers do not require a visa to Barbados Tourist visa required by Indian passport holders. There is no Barbados embassy in India. However, their High Commission in London will accept applications from Indian nationals. Thunderclouds

Hope this helps you plan your travels to the region!

I am just finishing up this trip. I had no trouble at all with visas. My US B1/B2 visa was perfectly valid for Puerto Rico (this was my 3rd entry to the USA on this visa). I have had no trouble using the B1/B2 visa for business and tourism. No other country on this trip demanded a visa (or even a passport).

St. Maarten: http://www.dutchembassyuk.org/consular/index.php?i=538
Antigua & Barbuda: http://www.antigua-barbuda.org/Agtip01.htm
St. Lucia: http://www.stlucia.gov.lc/faq/do_i_need_a_visa_to_enter_saint_lucia.htm#Visa_Fees_And_Exemptions