The Indian sub-continent is beginning to open up for travel. On 15 November 2021, tourists on commercial flights may enter India whilst Sri Lanka, Bangladesh & Pakistan are open to tourists & business travellers who meet covid entry requirements. India currently has more entry hurdles to complete, but these are likely to be relaxed over the next few months.
Entry for business and tourists to the Indian sub-continent is becoming easier although India has the tightest restrictions. A brief summary is below but entry regulations are constantly evolving, so do check national websites and the FCDO travel site.
Covid Entry Situation (updated 10/5/22)
India – Open to charter flights from 15 October 2021 and commercial flights from 15 November 2021. Need a visa (e-visa currently suspended, in-person interview necessary) Complete ‘Air Suvidha’ portal & upload pre-departure PCR test and proof of double vaccine. PCR test and thermal screening on arrival. Even if you are double vaccinated you then need to complete 7 days of home quarantine. From 14 Feb need for PCR & quarantine dropped.
Sri Lanka – Open – Health form and double vaccination.
Pakistan – Open – Complete Pass Track App, double vaccination & rapid antigen on arrival.
Bangladesh – Open – PCR test and Health Form.
Nepal - Open – Double vaccination and PCR test
Myanmar – Closed.
Most land borders between countries are still closed.
Travellers will find the Indian sub-continent fascinating although an often tiring area to visit. We believe crime levels are significantly lower compared to Latin America although the risk from road traffic accidents is greater, driving in India has to be seen to be believed at times!
Contracting Dengue Fever is certainly a risk in many parts. Use insect repellent with 50% DEET to reduce the risk. In the winter months pollution is a serious problem in the big cites of India and seems to be only getting worse.
The country is recovering from Covid which has had a huge impact on medical services. Terrorism remains an on-going problem in some areas of India. The threat stems from Islamist terrorism. However, travellers are generally not the target and therefore, the risk tends to be incidental - wrong place, wrong time. The FCDO is advising against all travel to most of Jammu and Kashmir. On 4 August 2019, the India government announced it was withdrawing the 'special status' that Kashmir has had since independence. Kashmir has been in lockdown since and relations with Pakistan have worsened.
It's worth remembering that approximately 275 people die in India every day from road traffic accidents (RTAs) - that is the greatest threat to travellers or those backpacking in the country. In November 21 severe smog has returned to Delhi and other major cities and is likley to remain an issue trhoughout the winter. The year long farmers protests should now end as the Modi government backed down in mid November and announced it woud repeal the 3 controversial laws.
Over recent year, this country has been relatively unstable and there is an on-going risk from terrorism. The monsoon season always causes extensive flooding and a number of deaths.
Pakistan in in a stack of flux as Imran Khan was ousted from power on 9 April 22. The economy is in bad shape and Khan has angered many countries, especailly the US and the UK by visiting Moscow and signing a trade deal on the very day that Russain invaded Ulraine. He had lost support of his coalition partners and critically the Army. Relations with India remains very strained after the flair up in early 2019 resulting in Pakistan shooting down an Mig-21 fighter jet over the Kashmir region. The situation has been made worse since India withdrew in August 2019, the special status Kashmir held since 1947. Expect relations between both countries to remain very tense.
The economy of Sri Lanka has suffered badly from the covid pandemic which has hit the touritst industry hard. Tourism was already struggling to recover from the 2019 Easter bombing. There has been a run on the currency and numerous power cuts. In addition, there is mounting anger againsts the government of President Rajapaksa which is viewed as corrupt and riddled family interests. Violent demonstrations broke out in late March 2022 which have continued throughout April and May. On 9 May the Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned but protests are ongoing.
On Easter Monday 2019, a series of bombs exploded around the capital Colombo killing over 290 people. The police quickly arrested a number of cells and the risk from further terrorist is assessed a low. Visiting Sri Lanka prior to India is a good idea, a less frantic introduction to the wonderful Indian sub-continent. Have a look at our Safety Net section of our website as previous travellers has added some useful travel ideas. The train journey from Ella to Kandi is a must.
Nepal is a wonderfully calm, friendly and very rewarding county to visit. It does suffer from high poverty rates and a poor economic situation which has been devastated by Covid as tourism is so crucial to the economy. Nepal is an active earthquake zone.
As a result of the military coup in Myanmar/Burma on 1 February 2021, the FCDO now advises against all but essential travel to Burma. In the past 30 years, Burma has been subjected to long periods of military rule during which travel has been possible but this is not recommended until the FCDO changes its travel advice.
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