India is a massive monster to backpack through and people kept throwing ideas at me when I got here. That didn’t happen in China. I ignored each and every idea though as our lives go our own individual ways and we follow our own paths. I had a few things in mind when I arrived in India just over 3 weeks ago. I wanted to get my alcohol permit for Gujarat (done it in Ahmedabad), check out Mumbai, become a hippy in Goa and attend Holifest.
This week by chance, I added in an extra crazy journey – CHENNAI BLAIR. The trip from Chennai to Port Blair and here I am. But Port Blair in the Andaman Islands is a territory with a slight difference. Geographically it’s closer to Myanmar than mainland India. Politically it’s India to the core. Backpackerally it feels like East Timor. Officially you need an extra permit to enter. Better still, you get a new passport stamp and a special permit, but how do you get it?
Booking Your Trip to The Andaman Islands
There are two ways:
2.Get a Boat
I chose to fly not just time constraints but due to client deadlines on my online work, couldn’t be offline for that long. I flew here from Chennai. There are daily flights to Port Blair from quite a few of India’s airports.
Arrival in Port Blair, Andaman Islands
On arrival at the airport, all foreigners have to fill in the special entry permit for this region. It’s a single landscape A5 page to be filled in. The form looks like this and is simple to fill in.
Officially to get the permit, you’re supposed to have:
1.One filled in application form.
2.Your passport with valid Indian visa.
3.Proof of residence/hotel booking in Andaman Islands.
4.Insurance document for your stay.
5.Proof of flight/boat out of Andaman Islands/India.
6.Your Yellow Fever Certificate.
I didn’t have the last four things on the list ready, nor did any of the other foreigners on my flight and they weren’t checked. I did have a hotel sorted, but via e-mail only. I didn’t have a flight out booked but I did have an emergency insurance document on my laptop (something I have carried on my entire journey) as a back up in case I’m asked for it.
I also wasn’t asked for my Yellow Fever Certificate, but again, I have it. So just be aware that at times, they might get more strict and ask for these things.
There is no payment for the permit. You will have your photo taken and get a nice Port Blair stamp in your passport. The length of the permit for Andaman Islands lasts the same length of time as your visa for India. I was given about 4 weeks on arrival even though I won’t use all of that. There are conditions written on the permit – the do’s and don’t’s.
Once all that is done, you are ready to explore this gorgeous set of islands here – the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. I’ll be writing more about my time here, including my stay at the fabulous Peerless Portico Resort. Safe travels!