Planning your trip of a lifetime


About India

India is a beautiful and bamboozling place, an endlessly fascinating country that is often challenging and always surprising.

Stretched between the golden beaches of the Indian Ocean and the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayan mountains lies an incredible tapestry of natural and man-made wonders – astounding temples, mystical monasteries, frenetic cities, pristine national parks, lavish palaces, lost kingdoms, mesmerising markets and some of the world’s most iconic monuments.

Visiting India is an assault on the senses. Sights, sounds, smells and sensations are all experienced at maximum intensity. On day one, it can feel intimidating, but by the end of the first week, the noise and chaos will seem like an ordinary part of life. The sensory stimulation becomes strangely addictive.

India is one of the world’s great melting pots, where an incredible diversity of cultures, religions and ethnicities live in surprising harmony. Presided over by an extraordinary array of gods and deities, one-sixth of the planet’s population can be found here, living in anything from high-rise apartments and inner city shantytowns, to simple huts in remote villages where life has hardly changed in centuries.

You could spend a lifetime exploring the relics left behind by ancient empires and the country’s dramatic landscapes, which range from tiger-filled jungles to frozen Himalayan deserts. On the first trip, almost everyone finds time for the so-called Golden Triangle, zipping from the colonial capital, Delhi, to the Taj Mahal at Agra, then on to Jaipur, the colourful capital of Rajasthan. With more time to spare, you can discover 32 UNESCO-listed sights, from creaking mountain railways and ancient fortresses to mangrove forests and temples overflowing with multi-armed deities.

Don’t expect to absorb all India has to offer in one visit; the country is best appreciated like a buffet table, with repeat visits to sample the next tantalising platter. And with India’s legendary cuisine, rest assured that on every trip, you’ll eat like a Maharaja.


A machine-readable passport valid for at least 180 days and with at least two blank pages is required by all nationals referred to in the chart above.


Visas for India are required by all nationals referred to in the chart above.

Nationals not referred to in the chart are advised to contact the embassy to check visa requirements for India.

Visa Note

All nationals listed in the chart above, apart from nationals from Cyprus and Italy, are eligible to apply online for an e-Tourist Visa (eTV). You must apply at least four days before you arrive in India. You can only enter India via those airports listed on the eTV website.

There are three e-Visa subcategories: e-Tourist visa, e-Business visa and e-Medical visa.

Certain parts of the country have been designated protected or restricted areas that require special permits and in some cases prior government authorisation. You should indicate your intent to visit a specific restricted region when applying for a visa and a permit will be granted to visit that region only. It is advised that you apply for the special permit for restricted areas when you enter India by visiting the FRRO (Foreign Regional Registration Office) which has offices in all major Indian airports and cities. You must complete an additional form, but there is no fee for a restricted area permit.

Types and Cost

e-Tourist Visa: up to US$75, depending on nationality.

UK nationals: transit visa: US$88; tourist visa: US$80; business visa: US$444.

US nationals: transit visa: US$40; tourist visa: US$100; business visa: US$160.

Other nationals listed in the chart above: transit visa: $US20; tourist visa: US$80 (up to six months), US$120 (up to one year); business visa: fees vary according to nationality.

All visa applications are subject to a non-refundable service charge.


e-Visa: 60 days from the date of arrival, with double entry for tourist and business visas and triple entry for medical visas. The duration cannot be extended.

Transit: valid for three months for a maximum stay of 15 days.

Tourist/business for UK nationals: valid for single or multiple entries within one year (maximum stay of 180 days per visit).

Visa validity for other nationals varies according to nationality.

Visas issued by the embassy/VFS Global are valid from the date of issue not your date of departure.

Application to

Consular section at your nearest embassy or high commission. For UK nationals, India has outsourced its visa application services to VFS Global (; all applicants must make an appointment to visit an application centre in person. In the USA, India’s visa application services are handled by Cox and Kings Global Services (

Those eligible for an e-Tourist Visa can apply online (

Working days

e-Tourist Visas are usually issued immediately or within a few hours.

Straightforward applications through VFS Global in the UK take at least three to five working days, but others may take longer, depending on the applicant's nationality.

Extension of stay

Visa extensions are not available in India, unless in extreme circumstances (eg medical emergency).

Embassies and tourist offices

British High Commission in India

Telephone: (011) 2419 2100
Address: Chanakyapuri, , New Delhi,
Opening times:

Mon-Fri: 0900-1300 / 1400-1700

Embassy of India in the USA

Telephone: (202) 707 4693 (Consulate) (202) 939 7000 (Chancery).
Address: , 2536 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, 20008
Opening times:

Mon-Fri 0930-1800; consular section Mon-Fri 0930-1230, 1630-1715.

High Commission of India in the UK

Telephone: (020) 7836 8484 or (020) 7632 3123 (out of office hours).
Address: , Aldwych, London, WC2B 4
Opening times:

Mon-Fri 0915-1745.

Information courtesy of World Travel Guide


About Japan

From kimono-clad geishas singing karaoke in Kyoto to Buddhist monks whizzing around Tokyo on motorbikes, Japan is a fascinating land of contrasts, a heady mix of tradition and modernity that often bewilders but never bores.

Nowhere in the world blends the old and new quite like Japan. The speed of new technological developments here is matched only by the longevity of its ancient customs and traditions. The country is a pioneer in the fields of design, technology, fashion and cuisine. You can set your watch by the trains, eat meals that look like works of contemporary art and relieve yourself in the most technologically advanced toilets on the planet (some even talk to you).

Paradoxically, Japan’s embrace of the cutting edge is offset by its revered cultural traditions and celebrated historic achievements. Crumbling castles, atmospheric Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines and fascinating festivals are never far away, with historic highlights including the striking Himeji Castle and Kyoto’s iconic Temple of the Golden Pavilion. There’s also evidence of Japan’s dramatic recent history in cities like Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where the earliest nuclear bombs were dropped with devastating consequences during WWII.

If you love nature, you will adore Japan. This is a country swathed in natural beauty. Ski the powdery slopes of Hokkaido, revel in the springtime beauty of the sakura cherry blossoms, frolic in the sun-drenched beaches and turquoise waters of subtropical Okinawa, or climb up the iconic Mount Fuji. Wherever you go, good food is guaranteed – from fresh sushi and sashimi to robata-fired meats and sizzling sauces, Japan is a joy for gastronomes.

It is also a land of wild eccentricities, where you can buy used underwear from vending machines, watch men strip at the festival of Hadaka Matsuri and get amorous in one of the country’s many short-stay love hotels. These facets might jar somewhat with Japan’s polished image, but they help make it one of the most singular destinations on the planet.


To enter Japan, a passport valid for the duration of intended stay is required by all nationals referred to in the chart above.


Visas for Japan are not required by nationals referred to in the chart above for the following durations:

• Nationals of Austria, Germany, Ireland and the UK for up to six months.

• Nationals of Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden for up to three months.

• Nationals of Australia, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and the USA for up to 90 days.

Visa Note

Nationals not referred to in the chart are advised to contact the embassy to check visa requirements for Japan.

Types and Cost

Transit visa: £4; single-entry temporary visitor visa: £16; multiple-entry temporary visitor visa: £32. These are the fees for most visitors requiring a visa, but costs differ for certain nationalities; check with the consulate for the most up-to-date information.


Temporary visitor visas are usually valid for 15, 30 or 90 days.


Passengers in transit and not leaving the airport do not require a visa. If you wish to leave the airport during transit and are not a visa-exempt national, you must obtain a transit visa.

Application to

In person at the consulate (or consular section at embassy) or via a registered visa agent (in which case you don't need to visit the embassy in person).

Working days

Approximately five working days.

Extension of stay

If you wish to extend your stay, you must apply to a regional immigration office in Japan.

Entry with children

Documentary evidence of parental responsibility or guardianship may be required on entry if travelling as a single parent or non-relative with children.

Entry with pets

Animal quarantine can take several months. You can find detailed information from the Animal Quarantine Service (

Embassies and tourist offices

Embassy of Japan in the USA

Telephone: +1 202 238 6700 or 6800 (visa section).
Address: NW, 2520 Massachusetts Avenue, Washington, 20008
Opening times:

Mon-Fri 0900-1230 and 1400-1730 (0930-1230 and 1330-1700 for the visa section).

Embassy of Japan in the UK

Telephone: +44 20 7465 6500 or 6565 (visa section).
Address: , 101-104 Piccadilly, London, W1J 7JT
Opening times:

Mon-Fri 0930-1630 (for the visa section).

British Embassy in Japan

Telephone: +81 03 5211 1100.
Address: Chiyoda-ku, 1 Ichiban-cho, Tokyo, 102-8381
Opening times:

Mon-Fri 0930-1630.

Information courtesy of World Travel Guide


About Bhutan

Closed to the outside world until the seventies, Bhutan may have opened the door to tourism, but it remains something of an enigma to modern travellers.

Nestling high up in the Himalayas, Bhutan’s mysterious reputation is thanks largely to the government, which requires all visitors to join pre-planned guided tours in a bid to limit the impact of tourism on the country’s culture and environment.

On one level, this is restrictive; footloose, freewheeling, make-it-up-as-you-go trips are not an option here. The trade-off, however, is that these restrictions have preserved one of the most fascinating cultures on earth, in a pristine mountain environment that has changed little over the centuries.

To visit Bhutan every visitor, whether alone or in a group, must make all their travel arrangements through a Bhutanese tour operator, or associated organisation, and pay a fixed daily fee of US$200-250. However, before you baulk, this fee includes all meals, accommodation, transport and guides.

Having made this investment, travellers are then free to explore this mesmerising mountain kingdom, known to its people as Druk Yul, or “Land of the Thunder Dragon.”

Some tour the ancient dzongs (fortress monasteries) in the valleys surrounding the capital, Thimphu. Others seek out snow leopards and yetis – known here as migyur – in remote national parks. Those with the stamina and budget take on the legendary Snowman Trek, a 24-day odyssey over high Himalayan passes.

Wherever they go, visitors will encounter exquisite scenery and the famously friendly Bhutanese people, who, though fascinated by foreigners, remain in touch with the value, and values, of their traditional way of life.

By subscribing to a “high value, low impact” brand of tourism, Bhutan has made concessions to the modern world, but on its own terms. And that seems to be working for this magical kingdom, which regularly polls as the happiest place in Asia.


A passport valid for six months is required by all nationals referred to in the chart above.

It’s worth noting that the Bhutan government has been know to refuse entry to those wishing to visit for mountaineering, publicity and other research activities.


Visas are required by all nationals referred to in the chart above.

Nationals not referred to in the chart above are advised to contact the embassy to check visa requirements.

Visa Note

You cannot purchase air tickets to Bhutan without visa clearance. Visas are only issued to tourists booked with a local licensed tour operator, or through a foreign travel agent; all applications are submitted through the tour operator. Visas are issued (stamped in passport) on arrival.

Types and Cost

Tourist: US$40. Tour operators build this into the cost of your trip.


Visas for Bhutan are initially granted for the duration of your arranged trip.

Application to

Apply through your tour operator.

Working days

Visas are usually processed within 72 hours.

Embassies and tourist offices

Royal Bhutanese Embassy in India

Telephone: (11) 2688 9230 or 9809.
Address: Chanakyapuri, Chandragupta Marg, New Delhi 110 021,
Opening times:

Information courtesy of World Travel Guide


About Uzbekistan

Most people would struggle to find Uzbekistan on a map, let alone get around to visiting. But while this Central Asian nation remains a mystery to the masses, its obscurity makes it all the more appealing for more adventurous travellers.

Those who do make the trip are following in famous footprints: from Alexander the Great to Genghis Khan, some of the world’s most famous pioneers and conquerors have blazed a trail through this land.

Granted, Uzbekistan has its fair share of problems. It would be remiss not to mention the hard-line government, corrupt officials and Islamic militants that besmirch the reputation of the country. But they are the exception rather than the rule: most people in Uzbekistan extend legendary hospitality to visitors.

While the country is young, having gained independence in 1991 after the break-up of the Soviet Union, the roots of Uzbekistan are ancient.

The historic town of Samarkand, once a crossroads on the Silk Road, has long been known as the ‘Jewel of Islam’. One of the so-called Big Three (a term used to describe Uzbekistan’s three main Silk Road cities) its cityscape is dominated by sparkling turquoise domes and towering minarets adorned with intricate mosaics.

Stunning examples of this architecture can be found across Uzbekistan, most notably in Khiva, the best-preserved and most remote of the Big Three. It’s a living museum, home as it is to a vast collection of Islamic architecture, which remains frozen in time within the city walls. And then there’s Bukhara. The last one of the Big Three, it is also known as the ‘Pillar of Religion’ and is surely one of the most exquisite cities in the Islamic world.

It’s not all about manmade attractions, though. The Ferghana Valley is a place of unremitting natural beauty where fertile valleys give out to the snow-capped Tien Shan and Pamir mountains.

This also happens to be the country’s most fertile region, its breadbasket, where visitors can enjoy stunning landscapes, local produce and friendly bazaars rarely seen by Western eyes.


To enter Uzbekistan, a passport valid for three months beyond the date of arrival is required by all nationals referred to in the chart above.

One blank page is needed for the visa.


Visas for Uzbekistan are required by all nationals referred to in the chart above, including transit visas.

Visa Note

With the exception of nationals from Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Malaysia, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, the UK and the USA (who do not need the following documents), tourists need to provide a copy of a letter of invitation from a tour company in Uzbekistan and must arrange a visa support letter. The tour company has to submit the support letter directly to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tashkent before the visa can be approved.

A personal interview may be required before a visa can be issued.

Visitors staying longer than three days must register with the local office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs within three working days. However, most hotels will automatically do this on your behalf.

It is sometimes possible to pick up your visa on arrival at Tashkent International Airport, but only if there is no Uzbek embassy in your country of residence. You will need full visa support for this from a travel agent. There is no visa on arrival at any overland border crossings.

Nationals not referred to in the chart above are advised to contact the embassy to check visa requirements for Uzbekistan.

Types and Cost

Single-entry visa: £51 (seven days); £59 (15 days); £67 (30 days); £84 (three months); £117 (six months); £151 (one year).

Multiple-entry visa: £67 (one month); £142 (six months); £226 (one year).

Group visa: £13 per person plus service charge (15 days); £21 per person plus service charge (30 days).

For citizens of the USA, the fee for all types of visa is £134.


Tourist visas are normally single-entry/exit and are valid for the duration of your visit. Business visas are multiple-entry, valid for six months in the first instance and extendable. Those nationals not requiring a letter of invitation can obtain a multiple-entry visa for touristic/business stays of up to one month. Visas should be used within one month of the date of issue.

Application to

Nearest embassy or consulate.

Working days

Allow 10 working days for visa processing but be aware that visa processing time entirely depends upon the embassy. An express service is available for an additional fee.

Extension of stay

It is sometimes possible to get a one-time Uzbek visa extension in Uzbekistan, at the OVIR (Department of Foreign Travel and Exit) office in Tashkent.

Embassies and tourist offices

British Embassy in Uzbekistan

Telephone: +99 871 120 1500.
Address: , 67 Gulyamov Street, Tashkent, 100 000
Opening times:

Mon-Fri 0900-1230 and 1330-1700.

Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan in the USA

Telephone: +99 202 887 5300.
Address: NW, 1746 Massachusetts Avenue, Washington, 20036
Opening times:

Mon-Thurs 1000-1200 (consular section).

Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan in the UK

Telephone: +44 20 7229 7679.
Address: , 41 Holland Park, London, W11 3RP
Opening times:

Mon-Fri 0900-1800; Mon-Wed and Fri 1000-1300 (consular section).

Information courtesy of World Travel Guide