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5 Foreign Destinations That Don't Require RT-PCR

By Rediff Get Ahead
March 17, 2022 14:24 IST
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India is ready, after battling the pandemic for two years, to travel once again.

Blue seas.

Gorgeous beaches.

Snowclad mountains.

Green meadows.

Gurgling rives.

Historical monuments.

Or just eating and shopping to your heart's content.

Are any of these holidays on your mind? They are on ours, we can assure you.

The Lourve, Paris

IMAGE: The Louvre IN Paris. Photograph: Kind courtesy Guillaume Meurice/Pexels.com

India is ready, after battling the pandemic for two years, to travel once again. And, according to digital travel platform Agoda's 'India-genous Travel' survey, 39 per cent of Indians want to travel internationally in 2022.

But, in order to do so, they need to understand travel restrictions and the vaccination and quarantine requirements set by the countries they would like to visit.

While countries like Malaysia will allow quarantine-free entry for fully vaccinated travellers from April 1, Australia has stated that double-jabbed visitors do not need to quarantine.

India's civil aviation ministry has announced that India will resume regular international flights from March 27.

So, which holiday do you have in mind?

 

 

Will it be the Gift of the Nile, Egypt?

Egypt

IMAGE: The Sphinx at the Great Pyramid of Giza. Photograph: Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters

If you are vaccinated with Covishield or AstraZeneca, you can now fly to Egypt without an RT-PCR test.

A health declaration form is all you will need to fill in, along with proof of your vaccination. The final dose must have been administered at least 14 days before travel. 

Non-vaccinated travellers will need to present negative RT-PCR proof, with the test having being taken in the 72 hours before arrival in Egypt.

While the Great Pyramid of Giza -- the only one of the original Seven Wonders of the World to have survived till date -- may be on top of your must-visit list there, you can also spend time at Hurghada on the Red Sea coast.

Here, you can take a submarine ride or go scuba diving and explore Egypt's underwater marine life. Incidentally, did you know the Red Sea is one of the saltiest water bodies in the world?

Or you could explore the country's Mediterranean coastline and the city of Alexandria. Fondly called the Bride Of The Mediterranean, Alexandria -- which was founded in 311 BC -- is now a mix of the old and the new.

Sail down the serpentine Nile on a traditional felluca and explore the coral reefs or get adventurous and sign up for a hot air balloon ride at Luxor.

Want more? Visit the Sahara el Bedya, Egypt's white desert national park and admire the large white chalk formations that have been created by Nature.

Don't forget to check out the famous Khan el-Khalili souk in the centre of Egypt's capital where you can indulge in your love for shopping.

Add a dash of history and culture to your schedule and spend a day at the Egyptian Museum, also in Cairo.

Best time to visit: October-November; February-April

 

Is Bahrain, the Middle East's best kept secret, on your mind?

Bahrain

IMAGE: Dive Bahrain features a Boeing 747 as its centrepiece. Photograph: Kind courtesy Dive Bahrain

Situated on the Persian Gulf, Bahrain offers several unusual experiences for the novice traveller. It also does not have any quarantine or health testing requirement at the moment, but it is always good to carry your vaccination certificate.

Once you reach Bahrain, you could start by visiting the century-old Al Jasra House and Al Bahrain Museum to soak in some history.

The island is also home to numerous forts, including the Qalat Al Bahrain, which is a world heritage site.

Then, as you stroll through the Manama Souk, you can explore its offerings -- spices, sweets, art and souvenirs.

If you eat non-vegetarian food, you must try Bahraini specialties like Machboos (meat or fish served with a fragrant rice cooked in a spicy broth). You must also sample Muhammar (sweet rice with dates).

Sports, and especially car lovers, will not want to miss a visit to the Bahrain International F1 Circuit, that hosts an annual Grand Prix.

Bahrain also hosts the world's largest underwater theme park.

Spread across 100,000 square metres, Dive Bahrain is the island's latest attraction.

If you are up for more adventure, you can also sign up for kayaking and water sports at the Nurana Islands.

Best time to visit: November to March

 

Lebanon: Small in size, big in adventure

Lebanon

IMAGE: Time for a picture during a visit to the Baalbek Temple complex. Photograph: Jamal Saidi/Reuters

Fully vaccinated travellers will not require a pre-departure PCR test to fly to Lebanon if you have received your second jab within six months of your date of departure.

An online form, provided by Lebanon's ministry of public health, must be completed before departure and you are required to carry your final vaccination certificate with you.

Non-vaccinated tourists must provide proof of a negative RT-PCR test, taken with 48 hours before departure or a Rapid Antigen Test taken 24 hours before departure. The RAT certificate must have a QR code.

Lebanon is so rich and diverse that you will be amazed by its landscape, tradition, art and culture.

While there are so many things you can do there -- caves, beaches and temples offer visitors an idyllic respite -- here are a few suggestions.

The temples of Baalbek -- a must-visit -- are considered an excellent example of Roman architecture. It includes the grand ruins of the temple of Bacchus and the temple of Jupiter.

Spend some time admiring the ancient cedars -- some of them are estimated to be 2,000 years old -- at the Al Chouf Cedar Natural Reserve. It is also home to 32 species of mammals and 250 species of birds.

Explore amazing caves and grottos, including Jeita, Zahlan, Kfarhim, Ain Wzain, Mabaj, Roueiss and Qadisha. The Qadisha valley is dotted with old churches and monasteries that will delight hikers. Qadisha, incidentally, means Holy Valley, in Syriac.

While you are here, you can revel in nature's wonder as you explore Baatara Gorge waterfall that drops 255 metres down into the Balaa Pothole, an ancient Jurassic limestone cavern that's also known as the cave of three bridges.

If you like a touch of royalty, visit the 19th century Beiteddine Palace that hosts an annual summer festival.

Don't miss the stunning sunset as you go on a boat tour at Byblos. You will also enjoy its picturesque ruins -- a visit to the Byblos Archaeological Site will be enriching -- beautiful beaches and lovely mountains.

Best time to visit: March to June

 

France: The land of wine and love

France

IMAGE: A tourist captures the lush lavender fields at Valensole.
Photograph: Eric Gaillar/Reuters

Since India is among France's 'green' list of countries since March 3, you only need to have had your second dose of Covishield and the booster dose if needed; this needs to be completed seven days prior to travel. You will, of course, also need to present proof of your vaccination.

If you are not vaccinated, you need to have a negative RT-PCR test that was done within 72 hours before your departure.

France was one of the earliest international destinations to allow fully vaccinated commercial travellers.

From its alluring coastlines to scintillating nightlife, France offers a bit of something for everyone which makes it a top travel destination.

Blend your love for romance and travel as you watch the glowing sunset from the iconic Eiffel Tower in Praise or cruise down the Seine river. Don't miss visiting the Louvre.

The splendour of Mont-Saint-Michel will interest pilgrims or you can simply wander around the Old Quarters of Paris and be charmed by the colourful neighbourhood.

If you are on a leisure trip, you can make fun reels as you run across the lavender fields in Provence or take a helicopter ride over the French Alps.

Take your time and stroll around Dijon, where cars are not allowed.

There are plenty of vineyards for you to explore in Burgundy; find out how champagne got its name from Champagne and delight your senses with exquisite French cuisine.

Dip your feet in history when you visit the Normandy beaches.

Almost every place in France is filled with magic -- whether it's the Loire Valley with its architectural splendour or Nice and the Three Corniches with its beaches, Lyon with its lovely culture and food or Carnac's megaliths for a glimpse into the ancient world

And that's just the beginning of the wonder that is France.

Best time to visit: April to June; September to November

 

Turkey: The land of four seasons

Turkey

IMAGE: Pammukkale in western Turkey is famous for its thermal springs and natural pools.
Photograph: Schubbay/Wikimedia Commons

If you have a vaccination certificate, you can visit Turkey; you will only need to fill a heath form 72 hours prior your arrival.

You might need to take a PCR test on arrival; passengers are chosen at random for this test.

If you have recently recovered from COVID (a minimum of 28 days and a maximum of 180 days before your arrival in Turkey), and can provide proof, you won't need any additional COVID-related documentation.

Else, you will need a negative RT-PCR or RAT certificate, with the tests taken 72 and 48 hours before departure respectively.

And here's what makes Turkey so eclectic -- it's a fine blend of the cultures of Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

You could visit Pamukkale (which translates to cotton castle); it is one of the world's most spectacular natural landscapes. With its hot springs and travertine terraces (created over centuries by carbonate mineral-laced water), it is a perfect place to relax. 

If you love Nature you'll won't want to miss visiting Kekova, which boasts of a beautiful sea in stunning shades of blue and a mysterious sunken city.

Then there's Konya, one of the oldest cities in the world where the 'whirling dervishes' sect was founded; it houses the Mevlana Museum, the former lodge of the dervishes. And the fascinating Kaymakli, an underground city in the Central Anatolia Region.

You can enjoy a bird's eye view of the landscape, the rock valleys of Cappadocia are one of most beautiful places to enjoy a hot air balloon ride. After enjoying the dramatic aerial views of towers, cones, valleys and caves created by the effects of erosion on soft volcanic rock, you can explore it via land as well.

You won't be bored in Bodrum which, with its sun, sand and glittering nightlife, is known as the Turkish Riviera.

While you are there, do try the traditional hammam (commonly known as a Turkish bath); you might end up wanting to repeat the experience again and again.

Best time to visit: April-June

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