10 places for cheap, on-the-spot visas

20th January 2012

Not all long-haul destinations need pesky paperwork and fees says Christine Fleitz, hop on the next flight to one of these countries and pick one up on arrival

Christine Fleitz

1. Tonga

Discover a world as nature intended, as you explore the 170 islands that make up this lush tropical archipelago in the vast South Pacific Ocean. Swim with giant humpback whales, recline on pristine beaches, explore coral atolls, stare into the depths of active volcanoes or hike through untouched rainforest, all while taking in a compelling mix of centuries-old culture, history and traditions. Uncrowded, unhurried and undiscovered, the Kingdom of Tonga offers a truly relaxed South Pacific experience, and its favourable exchange rate makes for a fun, yet affordable trip.

On the spot: British passport holders visiting Tonga are typically issued a complimentary visa upon arrival for a 30-day period, providing you have a valid passport for six months from the date of entry, an onward air or sea ticket, adequate funds and relevant health certificates.

2. Madagascar

Escape the influence of the modern age and discover the remote communities and wildlife of Madagascar, scarcely touched by the outside world. Relax on the beach, track lemurs, walk the Avenue of Boabs, take in the capital city – Tana, dive and discover underwater wonders, go mountain biking or witness the locals perform a Famadihana – the traditional exhumation of the dead.

With 90% of Madagascar's flora and fauna found nowhere else in the world, your journey is sure to be unique.

On the spot: British passport holders can obtain a free 30-day tourist visa upon arrival at the airport, providing they have a valid passport for six months from the date of entry, a return air ticket, and two blank pages in their passport.

3. Turkey

Bordered by four different seas, this vast and varied country represents a geographical bridge between the East and West. Explore Turkey's rich heritage, from ancient Roman ruins to Ottoman Palaces and Byzantine monasteries. Alternatively sample delicious cuisine, swim in turquoise Mediterranean waters, float in the Black sea, trek through mountain ranges or ride a hot air balloon over the fairytale rock chimneys of Cappadocia.

On the spot: British citizens can obtain a 90-day multiple-entry visitor visa upon arrival for just £10, providing they have a valid passport for six months from the date of entry.

4. Cambodia

Experience a vibrant and colourful culture just south of the equator in Cambodia. Explore the abandoned ancient city of Angkor, laze on Sihanoukville's idyllic beaches, or head to the chaotic yet charismatic capital – Phnom Penh. Alternatively, dive head-first into nature with a wet waterfall hike, an elephant trek, or go tiger watching in Kirirom National Park. Less visited than its neighbours Thailand and Vietnam, Cambodia has plenty 'off the beaten track' options for an authentic travel experience.

On the spot: British passport holders can obtain a 30-day tourist visa upon arrival for US$20 (approximately £13), paid by US dollar only, providing they have a valid passport for six months from the date of entry.

5. Indonesia

Take your pick of the thousands of islands scattered along the equator that make up Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago. Blessed with a diverse landscape, ranging from dramatic mountain ranges, to swathes of rainforest, and fertile rice lands, the geological make up of this country paves the way for a multitude of exciting activities.

Surf foaming waves, peer into the depths of active volcanoes, explore magnificent dive sites, visit orang utan sanctuaries, or trek through hot and humid rainforests. With plenty to choose from, the only difficulty you'll encounter is deciding where to head first. And as one of the world's lbest budget destinations, your hard-earned cash will go far.

On the spot: UK nationals entering Indonesia can obtain a 30-day visa upon arrival for US$25 (approximately £16), providing they have a valid passport for six months from the date of entry into Indonesia.

6. Nepal

Combine natural beauty, cultural riches and challenging treks, and you've got Nepal. Conquer Everest, trek the Annapurna Circuit, raft white-water rapids in the Trisuli River, ride a rickshaw in Kathmandu, or seek out rhinos and tigers in Royal Chitwan National Park. Those looking for spiritual inspiration can head to Nepal's medieval towns and rub shoulders with meditating Buddhist monks.

On the spot: British passport holders can obtain a 30-day tourist visa for $40 (approximately £26) upon arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport and at certain land borders, providing they hold a valid passport for the duration of their stay and two passport-sized photos.

7. Qatar

A week in Qatar doesn't have to mean luxury hotels and massive shopping complexes; those willing to look past the glitz and glamour will discover a country scattered with subtle hints of ancient Arabian culture. Browse Souq Waquid, the oldest of Doha's traditional markets, take in fine art at the Museum of Islamic Art, or visit Al Khor, a seaside harbour filled with small craft and fishing boats.

Alternatively head into the scorching desert for a safari to Khor Al Adaid, or wander the coastline and discover historic towers and forts hinting at the ruins of an empire.

On the spot: British Citizen passport holders can obtain a 30-day tourist visa upon arrival for 150 RQ (approximately £27) paid by card only, providing they hold a valid passport for six months from the date of entry into Qatar.

8. Papua New Guinea

Lying just north of Australia in the Coral Sea, little-explored Papua New Guinea sets the tone for a distant and exotic holiday. Don your snorkel and mask and explore multi-coloured reefs, abundant with aquatic life and mysterious World War II wreckages. Head into the jungle, bursting with wildlife, from forest-dwelling tree kangaroos, to colourful birds of paradise. Or meet the locals, and join in festivities rich with traditional regalia, paint and dance.

On the spot: British nationals can obtain a 60-day tourist visa upon arrival for 100 Kina (approximately £30), payable in local currency, providing they hold a valid passport for one year from the date of entry into Papua New Guinea, two passport-sized photos, and confirmed onward travel itinerary.

9. Uganda

Also known as the Pearl of Africa, Uganda is a country with a number of impressive qualities. Not only does this East African country hold the title for the highest mountain range in Africa and the world's most powerful waterfall, it is also the source of the Nile river, and home to the magnificent mountain gorilla. Track chimpanzees in the Kibale Forest National Park, trek to the thundering Murchison Falls, ride the wild rapids at Jinja, hike the Mountains of the Moon or roam the dense Impenetrable Forest in Bwinidi in search of Uganda's wildlife superstar.

On the spot: British nationals can obtain a 90-day tourist visa upon arrival at Entebbe Airport for approximately £30, providing they hold a valid passport for one year from the date of entry into Uganda.

10. Jordan

The Kingdom of Jordan is a land of intriguing beauty and stark contrast, representing a well-travelled bridge between the East and West. Float on the Dead Sea, spot wildlife in the valleys of Dana Nature Reserve, explore the depths of the Red Sea, or take a hot air balloon above Wadi Rum. History buffs can enjoy a trip to the famous red rose city of Petra, carved into sandstone and hidden in a desert canyon.

On the spot: British passport holders can obtain a 30-day visa upon arrival at any port of entry (except for the King Hussein Bridge) for 20 Jordanian Dinars (approximately £32). To qualify for this visa, tourists must hold a valid passport for six months from the date of entry into Jordan.

On the spot visa check-list

Even though these countries offer on-the-spot visas it is important to ensure you have all the required documentation so you don't get turned away at the border...

1. If you hold a Diplomatic or Official Passport you may not qualify for an on-the-spot visa

2. Be prepared to to pay cash, often in local currency, as cards may not be accepted

3. Carry two passport-size photos of you just in case you need them

4. Make sure you have at least three blank pages in your passport

5. Carry a copy of your itinerary, including flight and accommodation details

6. If you have an invitation letter, bring it with you

7. Make sure your passport is stamped upon arrival or you may face problems later on

8. Do not overstay your visa or you may face hefty fines

Remember: Although it is possible to get on-the-spot visas at these countries, it is always safer to plan in advance. If you decide to get your visa upon arrival, be sure to check-in with your destinations Consular Office before your trip for any last minute changes.

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