After all….Dil hai Hindustani!
The craze of visiting Bollywood shooting destinations such as Paris, New York, Switzerland has been quite high among Indians since long. Off late, cheap air tickets on low-cost carriers and visa-on-arrival facility in neighbouring countries is encouraging middle-class India to head out to these places and have an inexpensive and relaxed holiday in a comfortingly familiar milieu.
If you are ‘desi’ at heart, and planning an international holiday this summers, here are the 5 neighbouring countries where you will find a strong India connect.
India and Singapore have a lot in common, being part of the British Raj in the past and now independent thriving economies. Singapore is one of the easiest and most comfortable countries to explore. The small city-state looks glitzy and exudes a sense of opulence. But, Singapore actually offers tourists more than just high-end shopping, luxury cruises and fine dining. There is a rich history and some great architecture to be discovered, along with the many family-friendly attractions and lovely public spaces that make visiting the city worthwhile. Dalhousie Obelisk, Merlion Park, Old Parliament House, Asian Civilizations, Museum and World War II heritage sites such as Battle Box, Changi Chapel and Kranji War Memorial are worth visiting. The food and weather is similar to ours. Besides, Singapore has good public transport that makes getting around the city easy. People speak English so language is not a barrier. The high-end is a tad expensive, but there are reasonable accommodation and inexpensive eateries all over. And as long as you’re not comparing prices here with those in Malaysia or Thailand, you’ll be happy. The best part, the country is green, vibrant, and safe!
Another Southeast Asian country like Singapore, Thailand is known for its tropical beaches, ancient architecture and ornate Buddhist temples. Interestingly, India and China has been two major influencers of Thai culture. Needless to say, this emerging economy has turned into a major eyeball-grabber for Indian tourists in recent years. Thailand indeed offers a great value for money for the middle-class Indian willing to have an exotic international travel experience. It has a coastline stretching more than 5,000 miles alongside some of the world’s most pristine and picturesque beaches; Pattaya being the most popular one among Indian tourists at present. If you are the urban worm type, the nightlife at Bangkok will woo you delightfully. From pottery to handbags, almost every shopping accessory comes cheap in the streets of Bangkok, and you have the option to bargain too! On the culinary side, the mouth watering noodles and barbeque food will leave your taste buds tantalized. If all these reasons are not enough for you, here’s a deal—visit the Tiger Temple of Thailand to get the most amazing experience ever, of taming adult tigers!
Evident from the name itself is the country’s tryst with India. Java, Sumatera, and Bali are the islands at the centre of attraction for tourists from India. The imagery and culture of our country has been deeply embedded into the heart of Indonesia since ages. But beyond the cultural resemblance and affinity, there are actually more reasons to visit this magic nation. Interestingly, the country is home to beautiful coral reefs, more than 17,000 islands, mesmerizing beaches, mystical rainforests (having orangutans) and some of most active volcanoes in the world. In contrast with the luxury hotel accommodations, enchanting beach retreats, and chic-shopping attractions, Indonesia also has some great temples (mostly dedicated to Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma), Borobudur and Prambanan being the best known ones. The dragons of Komodo are almost as famous, as they are said to be the largest lizards in the world, and the closest living species to the Jurassic ancestors.
Bangladesh (erstwhile East Pakistan), which was once a part of undivided India, even today has got strikingly similar cultural familiarities with our country. Notably, the national anthem of both nations is written by the same legendary poet Shri Rabindranath Tagore, and citizens from both countries today share the craze over the game of cricket. Bangladesh, in fact, is probably the most tourist-friendly countries in South East Asia, and it goes beyond saying that hospitality of the Bangladeshi people is unwatchable. The country is home to beautiful tropical forests, and has got the world’s largest mangrove forest—the Sunderbans, which runs in continuation with some parts that are located around West Bengal in India. Tiger spotting is a big attraction for tourists who go out for a trail along the rain forests. Memorable boat tours and rickshaw rides are the bonuses for you, besides heritage sites, mosques, and museums, while exploring the country. Food and shopping is incredibly cheap in Bangladesh. For all the food lovers—Basmati Rice with Hilsa Curry (from the Padma River) is something that is world famous, and you must not miss for a lunch!
Bhutan, a small country situated alongside the terrain of the Great Himalayas, is an adobe of peace, and also a paradise on earth for Indian tourists. The only country in the world having a Ministry of Happiness, Bhutan indeed welcomes every single traveller with smile. Though considered a year-round tourism destination, March to June is probably the best time to visit Bhutan, and Indians do not need Visa to visit this country, which is an added advantage. Known as the ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’, the country has got some breathtakingly wonderful palaces and monasteries to complement its pristine mountains and mystique forests. If you are willing to have an adrenaline rush, plan a trek across the mountain passes and witness the diversely rich flora and fauna. Thimpu, the capital city, is traditional in outlook yet vibrant and colourful in appearance. If you are an art and craft lover, the paintings, sculpting, black smithy, bamboo work, etc. in the shops of Bhutan will amaze you definitely. On the culinary front, you have yummy momos and thukpas to relish, and green tea to enjoy in local cafes.
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