This Arab country rarely finds a place in a usual travel itinerary. But those who have made the effort of making their way through the rugged exterior have reported back about an unforgettable experience, far exceeding what Bahrain is usually given credit for.
Where is Bahrain?
This beautiful island country is an Arab monarchy on the western side of the Persian Gulf, bordering Saudi Arabia and Qatar. It is the third smallest nation in Asia, after Maldives and Singapore, with an area of around 780 square kilometres. With a great mix of Arabs, South and Central Asian immigrants and Western expats, Bahrain's cosmopolitan diversity is essential to its appeal.
Why should you travel to Bahrain?
Because the country gives you a chance to witness the modern Arab way of life. Bahrain society is liberal and its people welcoming and open- minded. Women are not mandated to wear a burqa, and many run their own businesses. And the best part is that alcohol is not frowned upon, but consumed openly and freely by everyone.
For tourism, citizens of India (and those from a 114 other countries) have to apply for a Visit e-Visa before the date of travel. It will cost Indians 29 Bahraini Dinar (BHD) or around 5164.97 rupees. The Visit eVisa will allow you to be in the country for 2 weeks, but an extension can be obtained from the NPRA (Nationality, Passports and Residence Affairs) office in Bahrain. Once you've got the visa, you don't need it stamped in your passport.
Getting to Bahrain
The Bahrain International Airport is very well connected by air to the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, Africa and some countries in Europe. Return fares from New Delhi to Bahrain flights start from Rs 20,000.
Best time to go
Go anytime between October to April for a taste of this Islamic kingdom's blue skies and cool winters. If you're here in April, don't miss the Formula 1 Grand Prix and the Heritage Festival. The summer months are harsh, so it's best to avoid travel from May to September.