Your ticket to sun, safaris and surfing: How long-stay tourist visas will help you make the most of trips to exotic lands
- Dubai has extended tourist visas that can last up to 90 days for about £150
- Thailand is doubling the former 30-day maximum stay for just £30
- South Africa’s long-stay tourist visa now gives up to 90 days to explore
Every week, our Holiday Hero Neil Simpson takes an in-depth look at a brilliant holiday topic, doing all the legwork so you don’t have to. This week: Long-stay visas for adventurous tourists.
Do you dream of spending more than just a week or two exploring the bustling cities, beautiful coasts and wild interiors of a vast, ancient country such as Thailand?
Would you like to spend a few months visiting the farmers’ markets and waterside restaurants of sunny Cape Town? Or to really take your time experiencing life amid the skyscrapers and shopping malls of Dubai? Then the new generation of long-stay tourist visas are worth a look.
Riding the waves: A three-month stay in South Africa could see you surfing off the beaches of Durban
Thailand is leading the pack. For just £30, it’s doubling the former 30-day maximum stay to encourage visitors to really get to grips with the country and its culture.
The idea is that travellers can start off slowly, exploring the golden temples and palaces, the reclining Buddhas and madcap markets of Bangkok before heading out to tour the country’s interior and islands at their leisure.
A top tip is to make for the Khao Sok National Park, where you can hike through some of the oldest evergreen forests on the planet before taking a boat ride past jagged peaks of rock rising almost vertically out of the ocean.
With a long-stay visa in your passport, you can also bide your time on a Thai safari, waiting for wild elephants to stride by.
South Africa’s long-stay tourist visa is even more generous for travellers who are not in a hurry to return home.
It now gives up to 90 days to explore the country – from the wine lands around Table Mountain and the surfing beaches of Durban to the arty, urban scene in Johannesburg. Better still, while visitors need to show a negative Covid test to enter South Africa, there is no quarantine on arrival.
Dubai in the United Arab Emirates is also getting in on the act with extended tourist visas that can last up to 90 days for about £150.
For just £30, Thailand is doubling the former 30-day maximum stay to encourage visitors to really get to grips with the country and its culture. Pictured is Khao Sok National Park
Alternatively, get a tour firm to help you find a perfect long-stay break. Co-op Travel, Jet2holidays and Saga all have specialist departments for those who prefer not to holiday on a hurry.
Experts say that as well as the chance to get to know a destination properly, a long-stay holiday can offer great value. A deep discount can normally be negotiated with a hotel or apartment, and escaping tourist traps and using local supermarkets and restaurants will also make holiday money go further.
Perhaps surprisingly, the one part of the world where long-stay holidays are set to get harder is Europe – and that’s before the news that we may be denied entry altogether due to our high Covid count. From New Year’s Day, countries in the Schengen area, which include tourist favourites France, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece, will limit the number of days sun-loving Britons can spend there visa-free.
The new rules set the maximum stay at 90 days in any six-month period, and it will have implications for those who like to escape the gloomy British winter by spending our coldest months golfing on the Algarve or relaxing on Spanish beaches. Do that for the first (and coldest) three months of 2021 and the new rules mean you will not be able to enter any Schengen country again (even for a day trip) till July.
- Get information on the new rules by searching ‘entry requirements’ for any country at gov.uk.
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