Singaporeans try to escape the country by taking overseas holidays as often as they can. In fact, we travel much more than our regional and global counterparts. But to be fair, they’re not stuck on a tiny island.
Leaving the country is easy for us, as we are number 5 in travel freedom worldwide, according to the Henley & Partners Visa Resrictions Index which means we get to travel to a huge number of countries and territories without having to apply or pay for a visa.
In fact, we get to holiday visa-free so often that we tend to get taken by surprise when we actually discover we do need a visa to go somewhere, just like that Singaporean family I saw get turned away at the airport because they didn’t know they had to apply for a passport to go to Myanmar.
Don’t let that happen to you!
Before booking your tickets to these six destinations, don’t forget to apply for visas to the below countries.
A few years back, nobody in Singapore ever ventured to Myanmar for tourism purposes, but these days it’s one of the most popular undiscovered locations. The number of photos of Bagan temples on my Facebook feed threatens to drown me on any given day. Still, don’t assume you can get in free just because you’ve done the same thing for other Southeast Asian destinations like Thailand and Cambodia. You’ll have to apply for a visa online before you’ll be allowed to fly.
How and how much? A tourist visa costs $35 and gives you 28 days, extendable by an additional 14 days. The process usually takes only a few days and is fuss-free.
You might already be familiar with the stunning royal couple ruling Bhutan, or maybe you just think of it as the place where Tony Leung and and Carina Lau get married. The mysterious nation is known for its Gross National Happiness quotient, which kind of makes it the opposite of Singapore. However, if you think it’s going to be cheap to go to paradise, think again. Visas to Bhutan will cost you a whopping 200 to 250 USD a day. That’s how they keep the country safe from the ravages of obnoxious tourists.
How and how much? Tourists are only allowed to visit Bhutan with a tour guide, who will help you to arrange for your visa. The price varies depending on whether you’re going in high or low season, but expect to pay either 200 or 250 USD per day.
You might have cheered when Shashlik Restaurant announced it was going to reopen or adored the animated film Anastasia, but unfortunately it’s going to take a little more effort to find out that Russia is nothing like what you’ve imagined. Try to avoid the bitterly cold winters unless you’re gearing up to down lots of vodka.
How and how much? The tricky thing about applying for a Russian visa is that you need to submit a tourist confirmation from an authorised travel agency or hotel. You then apply for your visa by filling up a form and sending it together with your documents ot the Russian Visa Application Centre. Your visa will cost $70.
If you’re a Singaporean of Indian descent who still has relatives in India, you might already have visited multiple times. For first timers, India is about as challenging a travel destination as it gets, but the chaos is oh so rewarding so long as you don’t come down with too awful a case of Delhi Belly. A visit to India is particularly interesting for Singaporeans as we’re familiar with our own brand of Indian iconography, food and customs.
How and how much? Applying for amn E-Tourists visa online is fairly straightforward and costs 25 USD (34 SGD). If you’re of Indian ethnicity you might be able to apply to be recognised as an Overseas Citizen of India, which then grants you visa-free travel to India.
This may come as a surprise, since Australia is one of Singaporeans’ favourite destinations, but Singapore citizens actually do need a visa to visit Australia, along with every other nationality in the world except New Zealanders.
Thankfully, the visa application process is very quick and can be done electronically using the Australian Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) system.
(Update 30/11: There is no charge for the ETA itself, but if you do it online, the service charge fee is AUD20. Reportedly, you pay less if you get it through certain travel agents, though there’s the hassle of applying in person.)
You can usually get your visa in a matter of hours, although you are advised to apply for it at least 3 working days before your date of travel, and it enables you to enter Australia as many times as you like within a period of 12 months.
Visa requirements for Singaporeans travelling to Kazakhstan were recently lifted, but a visa is still required to visit neighbouring Uzbekistan. This Central Asian nation offers many fascinating stops on the legendary Silk Road and a fascinating blend of Islamic and Russian architecture.
Plans to introduce visa-free travel for Singaporeans to Uzbekistan has been postponed to 1 January 2021, which is just three years away. In the meantime, you will need to apply for a visa that allows you to stay in the country for up to 30 days.
(Update 30/11: The cost of the visa depends on how long you plan to stay in the country and number of entries required. Costs start at S$40.)