All posts by Edit Cseri

How To Get The Indian Visa in Sri Lanka

Obtaining Indian Tourist Visa in Sri Lanka

Given that Sri Lanka is so close to India, you might as well want to hop on the plane and fly from Colombo to India.

But before you do that, you will need a Visa. It can be done electronically but since you are in Colombo, you can get it done personally.

Although the Indian High Commission is located in the center of Colombo they do not process visa applications there! You have to go to IVS Indian Visa Center in Colombo 4.

Address: 129 Philip Gunewardena Mawatha, Colombo, Sri Lanka

How To Get The Indian Tourist Visa in Colombo

It is fairly simple. You can get it done in 1 week, here is how:

1. You have to fill in the application forms* (you will need copy of passports, and passport photos)

2. Hand them in at the Indian Visa Center (IVS)

3. Go back 1 week later to drop the passport

4. Collect passport with the visa on next day

*Important: You can get all the application forms done in 10 minutes if you go to the agency located just across the street from the IVS. They will do all forms for you, ID photos and photocopies as well for 300 RS and they guarantee that your application will be accepted. It is easy to find them, as there are agents standing right outside the IVS and show you the way to their office.

Read more about Sri Lanka here.

Andaman Islands Travel Tips – One Week In Paradise

The Andaman Islands are also called the “Maldives of India” and the name is well-deserved. The archipelago lays in the middle of the Indian Ocean, 1400 km East of India and 1000 km West of Thailand. It is a tropical paradise giving home to hundreds of animal species and plants, beautiful white sandy beaches and crystal clear water. But, don’t let the postcard perfect scenery fool you – this Paradise comes with nature’s creatures as well. The Andamans are a very wild place where it’s possible to see many types of wild animals such as salt water crocodiles, venomous snakes, frogs, sea kraits etc. Some of the islands are inhabited by the Sentinelese people (one of the many indigenous tribes living on the islands), who resist contact with the outside world and remains hostile to any attempt.

It is a true gem, an adventurous off-the-beaten track destination. If you are in India, it’s a must see. Go until it’s too late!

How to get there?


The archipelago belongs to India and the only way to get to Port Blair (the archipelago’s capital) is through mainland of India. There are flights every day from Chennai and Calcutta. Otherwise there are ships as well, but it is not for the faint-hearted. It takes about 4 days on rough seas which can be way too long even in deluxe cabins. (Rumor has it that it’s planned to open direct flights between Bangkok and Port Blair. This would bring many tourists to the islands with the all the unwanted effects of tourism. We hope that it will not happen any time soon.)

Visa Requirements?

You will need – obviously – the Indian Tourist Visa but in the Andamans tourists can only stay a maximum of 30 days regardless of a 3 month or longer Indian visa you have. Upon landing in Port Blair, you will receive a permit that you have to keep with you at all times. With this permit you can visit certain islands but many are off-limit for tourists.

Things to do in Port Blair

Port Blair, poring rain
Port Blair, poring rain

In Port Blair there is not much to do or see. There are couple of museums and that’s about it. It’s a small capital city, that feels like the time has stopped about 50 years ago. Make sure to book the ferry to Havelock Island (or wherever you’re heading) as soon as you arrive. Ask the guesthouse to book it for you or go by yourself to the ferry terminal. Take the private ferry, it’s more expensive but better standard. They get booked out very quickly and you will get stuck in Port Blair just like we did… 🙂

Where To Stay In Port Blair

We stayed 1 night at Hotel Lalaji which offers a basic accommodation, it’s OK for a night but don’t expect anything fancy. Once you are there, check out Excel Bar & Restaurant on the rooftop. The owner is very nice, he will be able to give you travel tips and plan your tip further plus there is WiFi! Another option is to stay at Aashiaanaa Guesthouse, they have nice and clean rooms.

Another good advice: Internet is hard to find in the capital city and even harder on the islands. Make sure to have your return flight booked before you even get to Port Blair and forget about spontaneous online bookings once you are there. We had to go back to the airport in Port Blair to buy tickets as we did not find Internet good enough to do an online booking in Port Blair.

Havelock Island = Paradise

Havelock Island is a 2 hours ferry-ride away from Port Blair. If the weather is nice you can stay on the deck and enjoy the amazing view of the uninhabited, lush green islands. When you thought that Port Blair was at the end of the world, there is even further. Havelock Island is as close as we got to Paradise.

Perty time - Indian tourists dancing on the deck
Perty time – Indian tourists dancing on the deck

Accommodation

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Bungalow for less than 10$

Once you arrive at the port, ask a tuk tuk driver to take you to places that match your budget. There are plenty of simple and cheap bamboo bungalows at also some more expensive hotels as well. The basic bamboo huts cost 10 dollars or less a night. While many of the lodges have ‘resort’ in their names, none come even close, thankfully.

Food is as cheap as anywhere in mainland India. The majority of the population originates from immigrants who came to the island since the colonial times, mainly of Bengali, Hindustani and Tamil. So you will find lots of delicious curries, seafood dishes and some Western food also.

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Local restaurant with a very nice owner

Things to Do On Havelock Island

The pace of life is slow, the locals are friendly and still not too affected by tourism. Imagine a tropical Paradise island – what would you do there (without WiFi haha)? Lay on the beach, hang out at your bungalow, read, sleep, have a nap in the hammock, sample local foods…

Map of Havelock Island
Almost all hotels and hostels are located around Vijay Nagar and Kala Pathat Beach, also called beach no.5.
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Beach No.5 – You can have it all to yourself!

  • Go on a snorkeling trip! We went on a full day trip, there was only us and another couple. We highly recommend to do this, you will see more islands from the motorboat and colorful underwater life, some corals as well. Unfortunately, here too, most of the corals are bleached. We had lunch on the shores of an uninhabited island which was amazing!
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Rent a scooter and explore the island
  • Rent a scooter and drive around the island! You will see beautiful rice fields and farming people. You will need your own transportation if you want to get around anyway.
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Radhanagar Beach – We preferred not to swim
  • Visit beach no.7 (Radhanagar Beach) – it is a beautiful long beach, not a living soul in sight! During our stay we visited this beach two times. Once it was closed, because saltwater crocs were seen. This is the infamous beach where an American tourist was devoured while snorkeling off the beach by a large crocodile in 2010. We did not swim here but not many people did actually.
  • Trek through the jungle to see Elephant Beach! Be prepared that the path is not very obvious, and after rain it will be very muddy and slippery. We removed our flipflops and were walking barefoot. And… Watch out for snakes. We saw a really big one, laying on the path and so we did not get to the beach but turned back and ran 🙂 But other travelers who did go, said it was amazing.  At the end of the trail you need to cross mangroves to access the beach and it’s  a god idea to mark the route you take to get back.

Are there crocodiles in the Andaman Islands?

Yes there are. As we mentioned above, there has been a crocodile sighting during our stay and we were there only for a week. The deadly crocodile attack of an American tourist back in 2010 have been largely covered in the media but most likely there are other incidents that we don’t hear about. The incidents often go unreported due to the  lack of accessibility to mainstream media.

When we asked locals about crocs (around beach 7, or anywhere in the islands) they always smile and say they’ve never seen any. It might be that they just don’t want to scare tourists away? Perhaps, yes. Anyway… It is a beautiful place but we can’t emphasize it enough that it is also dangerous! The nature is fairly untouched and wild and therefore you have to be very cautious.

Salt water crocodiles are generally prefer the security of mangroves or other thick coastal vegetation by day and emerge to hunt by night.  So never dive or snorkel close to the mangroves and never swim at sun down!

We read somewhere that while you are in the water one person should always watch… This of course did not happen when we were snorkeling. The 4 of us were snorkeling and the boat’s driver was sleeping or swimming as well. Since salt water crocodiles travel in open sea also, perhaps it was a dangerous thing to do to snorkel near the islands…

In summary, we would say that we had an incredible, unforgettable time on Havelock Island! Don’t let the crocs put you off, do go and see this place for yourself. But be cautious, read and be informed before  you go!

Bangkok, a great city for street photography

Like most travelers visiting Thailand, we also landed in Bangkok. The Thai capital’s airport is well connected to the city with public transport (train, bus and mini vans). We decided to take a taxi, which made more sense after flying/sleeping at airports for over 20 hours… The taxi ride was almost 1 hour – due the heavy traffic jam that seemed to be present all day, every day in the city. There is a huge selection when it comes to accommodation. Our hotel was very close to Wat Saket and the Golden Mount but most backpackers stay on Khao San Road, the center of the backpacking universe. Continue reading Bangkok, a great city for street photography

3 Weeks In Indonesia – Bali, The Gilis and Lombok

Wow, we absolutely loved Indonesia, what a beautiful country! The Indonesian archipelago is made up of 18,110 volcanic islands – 6,000 of them being inhabited – and it is the largest archipelago in the world. No wonder why we felt that 3 weeks time was just way too short and we definitely will be back at some point. During this rather short vacation we visited Bali, The Gili Islands and Lombok. Continue reading 3 Weeks In Indonesia – Bali, The Gilis and Lombok

How To Backpack Oman On A Budget

Why Visit Oman?

Oman is one of the most amazing places we have backpacked, but if this is not enough to convince you here are the reasons:

  • It is the perfect country to visit if you are outdoorsy type
  • You can camp literally anywhere and everywhere
  • It is very different from what you are used to, Oman has preserved the old charm and traditions unlike its neighbours
  • There are no skyscrapers and party crowd here
  • Omani people are very friendly and open to visitors
  • It is one of the safest destinations on the world to visit

Continue reading How To Backpack Oman On A Budget