Island getaways

Published On: June 9, 2017 10:41 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

Living in a landlocked country, the words ‘beaches’ and ‘islands’ evoke excitement and wonder. There are some of the world’s most beautiful islands just a short plane ride away that you might want to consider while planning your next vacation. And with the mercury rising steadily, you might want to plan one quite soon. 

Known to many as a paradise in the Indian ocean, the Maldives is made up of around 1200 coral islands. The soft white sand beach along with the turquoise sea is guaranteed to take your breath away. The best part about this place is that it suits all kinds of budgets. If you want to be lavish and pay for all sorts of luxuries you can, however if you are on some sort of a budget there is a place for you too. There are also numerous private guesthouses in all the islands if you want to interact with the locals. 

Getting there
Maldives has a visa on arrival for Nepalis citizens that is valid for 30 days. You do however have to show that you have sufficient funds to cover your stay in the country. “You need $100 and an additional $50 for every day of your stay in order to get the visa on arrival,” says Kul Ghimire of Reliance Travels. There are no direct flights to Maldives from Nepal. To get there you have to go to Bangalore first. To get to Bangalore, you can either take a direct flight from Nepal Airlines or choose to have a transit in between either in Delhi or Mumbai. If you fly, a two-way trip booked early will cost you around Rs 40,000 or less. Alternatively you can take a train from Gorakhpur to Bangalore as well. From Bangalore you can fly directly to Maldives. “Most people carry around $4000 for a trip to Maldives. But it is entirely up to you. It depends on where you choose to stay that makes a huge difference,” says Ghimire.  

Things to do while you are there
The marine life in the Maldives is thriving and if you get a beach hut on the water, there are high chances that you will even spot sharks and sting rays right outside your balcony. While here make sure you visit Ari atoll. An atoll is a ring shaped chain of islands formed by corals and Ari atoll is the biggest one in Maldives. South Ari is one of the best places in the world to see hammerhead sharks and whale sharks. People from all over come here to dive because the water that flows out through the channels is rich in nutrients and attracts large sea creatures. 

Andaman and Nicobar islands
The Andaman and Nicobar islands is an archipelago and fall under the seven union territories of India. There are tribes in these islands that have no contact with other people and are still living without the luxuries of modern world. However, parts of the islands have been turned into a beach paradise.

Getting there
Port Blair is well connected to the outside world by an airport as well as a sea port. “There are regular flights to the islands from New Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai, where you can either get to by flight or via train from Raxaul,” says Ghimire. There are also ships available from Vishakhapatnam, Chennai, and Kolkata for budget travelers. Since the islands are a part of Indian territories, Nepalis don’t need go through the hassle of obtaining a visa. “We don’t advise people to pay for their accommodation beforehand as it becomes a hassle to get your money back if you don’t like the place,” he says. There are many who also island hop and don’t want to be tied down to a place. Although there are cheap lodgings available, if you aren’t staying at a hotel, make sure to do a thorough bugs/insects check first. How much money you should carry completely depends on the activities you want to do. $1000 is usually more than enough to cover all your expenses.     

Things to do while you are there  
There are lots of beaches and things to do in Port Blair but don’t make the mistake of just staying in that island throughout your stay. Havelock islands are the most famous for the beaches as well as water sports. Amongst them, the Radha Nagar beach is the most popular place in the island. The sunrise and sunsets are spectacular and it is rated number seven on the best beaches in the world. While in Havelock, make sure you also book the blue coral dive. “They have a trial scuba dive for thirty minutes with an instructor for NRs 5,600 and it is an experience you don’t want to miss out on,” says Ghimire. You can book a session when you reach the island. Keep a day for Port Blair at the end of your vacation and visit the Chidiya Tapu. Known as the “sunset point” of the islands, it is the best way to end a blissful holiday.  

Sri Lanka
The diverse landscapes, from ruins and plains to beaches, make Sri Lanka one of the most beautiful holiday destinations in the world. It is ideal not just for beach seekers but also for adventurous people looking for the next peak to conquer. The diverse country fascinates a lot of people around the world and you are sure to run into many globetrotters while in the country. 

Getting there
Sri Lanka has a on-arrival visa for Nepalis people that is valid for 30 days. “A round trip to Sri Lanka, with a transit in Delhi can cost Rs 38,000 and the prices can go lower if you book your tickets in advance,” says Ghimire says. The prices of course fall if you choose to take a bus to Delhi. There are regular Volvo AC buses that depart from Kathmandu to Delhi. “The journey roughly takes two days but is one of the most cost effective ways to travel,” he adds.   

Things to do while you are there
“If you want everything to be preplanned, the agency can make an itinerary for you,” Ghimire says. But even though they make it for you, make sure that you are fully involved in the process so that you don’t miss out on something you really want to do. If you are a sporty person, or just someone who enjoys being close with nature, you should go on the Adam’s peak hike. It’s a 6000 steps climb that leads to a glorious view of the land. “There are a lot of tourists who like to being the trek early in the morning around 2 to 3 am so that they reach the peak for sunrise,” says Ghimire. There are also a lot of monuments and religious sites the country has to offer and one of the most famous ones are the Sigiriya World Heritage sites. “For an additional cost of around Rs 3000, you can also tour the Citadel of Sigiriya,” he adds. If you are looking for a quiet beach time, Bentota beach can be your safest bet. Although it can get a little crowded during the weekend, it is a fairly calm beach where you can enjoy some water sports.     

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