Travellers can now fly directly between Pune and Singapore starting December 2, courtesy Vistara which will kick off three to four flights every week. International connections from Pune are rare (right now, Dubai is the sole one); visitors normally rely on Mumbai airport for the same. However, authorities are now planning to connect the city to two more Southeast Asian countries once the Singapore route is up and running.
A last-minute rule change requiring that visitors to India from the U.K. submit their visa documents at local VFS centres in person has thrown a spanner into the plans of hundreds of travellers. Christmastime holidays usually is the season for heavy inbound travel from Britain, but now many tourists have been forced to delay or, worse, cancel their trips. The Indian high commission in the U.K. issued a statement that the in-person visa approval guideline is meant to crack down on several unauthorised agents and individuals who were exploiting the system to mislead tourists.
A similar quandary faces Indian travellers to Malaysia after the country suspended online visas for visitors. Instead, applications will need to be personally handed over to consulates in New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai.
Iraq, the cradle of many ancient human civilisations, has opened a stunning archaeological park, Faida, in its northern region. History and culture enthusiasts will now get a closer look at thirteen rock-carved bas-reliefs, dating back nearly 2700 years to the Assyrian time, carved into an irrigation canal that spans six miles. The park is the first of five such spaces planned in the country, whose priceless antiquities were pillaged and destroyed while it was under the Islamic State’s control in the last decade.
Romania now has a monumental landscape trail cutting through its beautiful rural regions that rivals Spain’s Camino to Santiago de Compostela. Called Via Transilvanica, the trail is 1400 kilometres long and will take travellers through some of the most breathtaking scenery in the Carpathian mountains. Ten thousand people volunteered to mark the route and many villagers along the journey have turned their homes into guest houses in anticipation of the expected boost in tourism.
A bullet train, long under construction between Indonesia’s capital Jakarta and the city of Bandung in West Java, will flag off in June 2023. The 142.3 kilometre rail line is part of China’s much touted belt and road initiative and will cut travel time between the two cities from three hours to 40 minutes.
Visitors can now enter Taiwan without going through a three-day quarantine. The country had some of the toughest pandemic controls in the world aside from China, with travellers initially expected to isolate for at least ten days and then later, seven. Starting this month, the island welcomed its first batch of quarantine-free tourists in the last two-and-a-half years. Taiwan hopes that with its easing of this last restriction, travellers will return to the region in full force.
Lakshmi Sankaran fantasizes about a bucket-list journey to witness the aurora borealis someday. Editor in Chief at National Geographic Traveller India, she will also gladly follow a captivating tune to the end of this world.