Here are 5 countries that Singaporeans still need a visa for and how much it costs

Here are 5 countries that Singaporeans still need a visa for and how much it costs
A Singapore passport.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

I hardly ever remember to check if I need a visa before I book air tickets, but so far I haven't had any mishaps simply because the Singapore passport lets citizens travel to so many countries visa-free-159 at last count. This is quite a feat when you take into account the fact that there are only 195 countries in the world.

What's more, most of the countries Singaporeans actually do require visas to enter are either in Sub-Saharan Africa (Mali or Sudan, anyone?) or not exactly the sort of place people think of when planning their holidays (North Korea or Syria, anyone?), whether because of war, terrorism or political problems.

Nonetheless, we know Singaporeans are intrepid travellers, so here are five countries citizens can't visit without a visa or visa-on-arrival.

AUSTRALIA

This may come as a surprise, since Australia is one of Singaporeans' favourite destinations, but Singapore citizens actually do need a visa to visit Australia, along with every other nationality in the world except New Zealanders.

Thankfully, the visa application process is very quick and can be done electronically using the Australian Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) system.

(Update 30/11: There is no charge for the ETA itself, but if you do it online, the service charge fee is AUD20. Reportedly, you pay less if you get it through certain travel agents, though there's the hassle of applying in person.)

You can usually get your visa in a matter of hours, although you are advised to apply for it at least 3 working days before your date of travel, and it enables you to enter Australia as many times as you like within a period of 12 months.

INDIA

This is another surprising country on the list, considering the number of Singaporeans who have relatives in India.

But yes, Singaporeans do indeed need a visa to travel to India-unless they are travelling to Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata, Trivandrum, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Goa or Kochi airports, where visas-on-arrival are available. Realistically speaking, most Singaporeans will enter India via one of these airports, in which case you just need to prepare payment of US$25 when you land.

Otherwise, you will need to apply for a visa through a visa agent or, in the event of an emergency, lodge an application with the High Commission of India in Singapore. You should make your visa application at least four working days before you are due to travel, and can start to apply for it up to 120 days before. The visa enables you stay in India for up to 60 days.

BHUTAN

The mysterious Kingdom of Bhutan has one of the world's most stringent tourist visa requirements, and that's not about to change anytime soon.

Basically, you need to book your trip through a Bhutanese tour operator or an international partner of one. Only they can apply for the visa on your behalf. Here's a full list of Bhutanese tour operators.

You are required to spend at least 200 to 250 USD per person per night, depending on the month, for those travelling in a group of three or more. This will cover your visa fee and the cost of your accommodation, meals, tour guide, international transport and equipment for trekking tours.

RUSSIA

Russia is home to some of the world's most famous sights such as the colourful Saint Basil's Cathedral, but unfortunately a trip to this mammoth of a country isn't quite as easy as just buying an air ticket and praying you don't freeze to death.

Singaporean visitors need to apply for a visa which is valid for up to 30 days. And unfortunately, the application process requires you to jump through a few hoops.

You'll have to get a Russian travel agency or hotel to issue you a Tourist Confirmation, which they will only release when you have booked your stay or tour with them. You can then proceed to apply for your visa online.

(Update 30/11: A Russian visa can cost between S$126 and S$403 depending on your nationality, processing time required and number of entries required. Regardless of how much the visa costs, there is an additional S$42 service charge.)

UZBEKISTAN

Visa requirements for Singaporeans travelling to Kazakhstan were recently lifted, but a visa is still required to visit neighbouring Uzbekistan. This Central Asian nation offers many fascinating stops on the legendary Silk Road and a fascinating blend of Islamic and Russian architecture.

Plans to introduce visa-free travel for Singaporeans to Uzbekistan has been postponed to 1 January 2021, which is just three years away. In the meantime, you will need to apply for a visa that allows you to stay in the country for up to 30 days.

(Update 30/11: The cost of the visa depends on how long you plan to stay in the country and number of entries required. Costs start at S$40.)

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