“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” ~Henry Miller
While on a road trip, it isn’t the fruit which is sweeter, but the labor put in to reach for the fruit.
The final destination is obviously all that you decide to take such a long journey for, but the most amazing experiences come from the amazing long road trips, with exotic landscapes, varying vegetation, myriad settlements, and of course, the beautiful skies.
It gets even more enthralling when you get to see these while crossing the International borders, where you aren’t bound to sit at one place for hours, flying 30000 feet above the ground and getting to see nothing, but clouds (if you are lucky enough to get the window seat!).
Before anything, there are certain documents and formalities to be applied for, while crossing the International boundaries.
Passport: A passport valid for at least 6 months from your travel date should be carried. (Indian residents do not require a passport for Nepal).
Visa: It is advisable to get your visa before you leave home, instead of trying to get it in a neighboring country. Rules and validity of visas depend on the citizenship. Check the country’s embassy website.
Documents to carry: Government permit to cross International borders is required. It is advisable to carry valid Medical & Travel insurance when traveling internationally. Photo ID Card and photocopies of travel itinerary are required to be carried.
Other important things: Permission & royalty fees to the ministry, third party insurance, temporary importation for the vehicle, temporary driving licence fees, leading escort car & accompanied staff, toll fees and taxation are important things to be kept in mind. Accidents and fatalities are common during road trips, hence first aid medical facilities should be taken care of. You might not find ATMs in intricate places of other countries while driving, hence it is advisable to carry sufficient cash.
For all those who’re ready to take up the challenge, to embark on a long journey of new experiences, here’s a list of road trips to neighbouring countries from India that you can follow.
Indian citizens are allowed to take a tour to Myanmar, in groups of not less than four after taking visa from Tamu, so get as many friends as you want, but not less than the required number. You need to inform the Government about your visit one month in advance and always better to get the tour authorized by the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism in Myanmar.
Though, there are a lot of ways of going to Myanmar, but taking a car ride by hiring a private car and a driver(if required) would be the most amazing option. The official border crossing is from the Moreh-Tamu checkpost, after getting the required permit from Myanmar.
Myanmar’s beauty lies in the spiritual nature of the country, seen in its temples, pagodas, and also historical sites. The country also has some beautiful beaches, along with exquisite landscapes and easy transportation.
Do not miss to visit these places while going to Myanmar:
- Bagan – Situated on the eastern bank of the Ayeyawaddy River, Bagan is the main tourist attraction in Myanmar known for being one of the richest archaeological sites in South-east Asia. You can take a halt here and explore the place for a day.
- Mandalay – Next in queue is Mandalay, famous for the Royal Palace of the last Burmese monarchy. You can also witness the world’s longest teak bridge which is over two centuries old and covers the Taungthaman Lake in Mandalay’s Amarapura township.
- Naypyidaw – This city holds the Uppatasanti Pagoda also known as the ‘Peace pagoda’ which is a prominent landmark in Naypyidaw.
- Yangon – The next pit-stop should be Yangon which is also known as Rangoon, the former capital of Myanmar. Being here, it is hard to miss the Shwedagon Pagoda which is massive, glittering, gold-plated range of temples, stupas and statues.
- Kyaiktiyo (Golden Rock) – Located in Mon state, perched on the highest mountain of the Paunglaung mountain range, the ‘Golden Rock’ is breathtaking, beautiful, and sacred to the people of Myanmar.
- Ngapali Beach – One of the best beaches of Myanmar, stretching for almost 3 kms along the Bay of Bengal is a perfect stopover to relax from the hectic trip.
Distance from closest exit : 3000 Km
Time: 54 Hours
All thanks to the Indian government, you can now take a road trip to the beautiful neighboring country of ours, Thailand, through the newly coming up highway from Moreh in Manipur, India to Mae Sot in Thailand, known as the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway. The highway will be good to use from November this year. The additional benefit of the trip lies in the fact, that while on your way to Thailand, you can stop by Myanmar and take a small tour of this another beautiful country.
While driving on the highway which starts from Manipur, don’t miss to see these places on your way to Thailand:
- Bishnupur which is an abode of temples like Jorebangla Temple, Pancha Ratna Temple, Dal Madol, Radha Shyam Temple, and Shyamraj Temple among others.
- Chandel, rich in flora and the best place to appease the photographer soul in you.
- Churachandpur, famous for its breathtaking waterfalls like Ngaloi Falls and caves and museums.
- Ukhrul, full of heavenly valleys, waterfalls, streams, caves and an amazing place to pit stop while on a road trip.
- Myanmar (Refer above)
Once you enter Thailand, you know you are in the country of stunning beaches. Once you arrive at Mae Sot, you can make your way to places like Bangkok, Phi Phi Islands or Pattaya. Visit the Wat Phra Kaew, The Grand Palace, Railay Beach, and Sanctuary of Truth, the pure white, dazzling temple of Wat Rong Khun and also the wildlife in and around the zoos in the land of Thailand.
Distance from closest exit : 4200 Km
Time: 71 Hours
There are 3 official entry/exit points to Bhutan from India, Phuntsholing, Gelephu and Samdrup Jongkhar in eastern Bhutan. Phuntsholing is about 160 kms from the bustling city of Siliguri in Northern West Bengal. Gelephu is close to Bongaigaon town in Assam and Samdrup Jhonkar is about 150 kms from Guwahati, the erstwhile capital of Assam.
Indian and Bangladeshi citizens do not require a visa to enter Bhutan. A permit is issued against a national Id card and the places of visit are mentioned in it. You can take your Indian Car to Bhutan and obtain a permit for the car from the Regional Transport Office in Phuntsholing for a fee of about 200 Ngultrum.
Places that you would pass by while taking a road trip to Bhutan include:
- Coronation Bridge – The was named to commemorate the coronation of King George VI. Bridge is supported by a fixed arch, which has its two ends fixed on rock layers on either side of the river.
- Mongpu– A small bazar with a forest check post about 5 kms from Coronation Bridge, which leads to the “Dooars” area. As the name suggests, it means a gateway to Bhutan from North Bengal plains. The Dooars valley is paradise of biodiversity with combination of thick forest that stretches up to Nepal and Bhutan, famous wild life sanctuaries and numerous Tea Gardens in its lap.
- Jaigaon– It is another small township but slightly bigger than a bazaar.
- Phuntsholing- The entrance to Bhutan through Phuntsholing shows you a completely different world. It is a refreshing change from the chaos of normal Indian Bazar of horn blaring traffic, senseless parking, crisscrossing cyclists and cycle rickshaws to quiet and orderly kingdom.
Distance from closest exit : 248 Kms
Time: 39 Hours
India and Nepal have an open border with no restrictions on the movement of people on either side. There are six immigration points along the Indo-Nepal border for the entry and exit of foreign nationals. These are: Banbasa, Dhangadhi, Nepalganj, Bhairahawa (Sunauli), Birganj and Kakarbhita.
You can take bus to Kathmandu or Pokhara from Kakarbhitta checkpoint, which is about an hour from Siliguri and four hours from Darjeeling. But a self driving trip has its own charm. And Voila! You do not even need a passport.
You can take your own car to Nepal, but you’ll have to pay road taxes at four places (Kakatbhitta, Birtamod, Hetauda, Kathmandu). The itinerary of the journey showing pit stops is as follows:
- Koshi Barrage
While on the road trip to Nepal, you can get a view of the magnificent Mount Kanchenjunga. Once you reach the Kathmandu Valley, you can take a trip to each of its 3 sub divisions of Patan, Bhaktapur and Kathmandu.
Old Bhaktapur Palace Square
The least developed of the 3 sub divisions, Bhaktapur is 20kms from the heart of Kathmandu valley. The old section of this city is the biggest and the most unadulterated of the three. Some of the striking features of the place are the Big Lion, the Old courtyard, the 55 window temple, a stone temple, and an old Palace Square.
Old Kathmandu Palace Square
This red brick area belongs to the Malla kings that ruled until the 17th century. The white buildings are built by the Shah dynasty that ruled until 2008. Dhulikel Hill Top, 30 kms to the north-east of the valley, gives an amazing view of the the Great Himalayas.
Old Patan Palace Square
Situated in the heart of the city, old Patan Palace Square reveals the remnants of ancient times.
Distance from closest exit : 630 kms
Time: 15 Hours
India and Bangladesh share 7 border checkpoints for human movements. They are Petrapole-Benapole, Gede-Darshana, Lalgola-Godagiri, Hili, Changrabandha-Burimari, Dawki- Tamabil and Agartala-Akhaura.
One can take a direct bus from Kolkata to Dhaka to travel hassle free. Currently private Bangladeshi bus companies like Shohagh, Green Line and Shyamoli and the state run BRTC buses ply between Kolkata and Dhaka. Dhaka is also connected to Siliguri in West Bengal and Agartala in Tripura by regular buses owned by the private carriers as well as the state transport corporations.
Distance from closest exit : Kms
Time: 30 Hours
The only road crossing between India and Pakistan is through the Wagah border. One can directly take a bus from Delhi to Lahore or a similar bus operated by PTDC (Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation), which runs on alternate days. The buses generally run full and its safe to have a booking 30 days prior to the journey.
Another way to travel is by taking a bus/train from Delhi to Amritsar and head to Attari on a bus/taxi. Then cross the border on foot at Wagah and take a bus to Lahore from the other side.
Though it is extremely difficult to obtain a Pakistani Visa as an Indian Citizen, unless one has strong references and relations in Pakistan.
Distance from closest exit : 530 km
Time: 8 Hours
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A third year student of Economics from Miranda House, University of Delhi, Anima wants to have a taste of everything in life. With her interests ranging from the love for singing to the passion for sports like basketball and volleyball, she wants to test her abilities in the maximum spheres of life.