18 Countries Where It's Easy to Get a Last-Minute Visa

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woman overlooking Rio de Janeiro
Photo credit: 4FR/istockphoto

Countries around the world are making it easier for travelers to visit on short notice. To reduce staffing expenses, many nations have adopted new e-visa processes that do away with the need for travelers to show up in person at an embassy to apply for a visa. Brazil is just one of the most recent examples of this trend, and there are numerous countries around the world where obtaining a visa is quick and easy, which makes travel planning that much simpler. All of which is good business, because making visa applications smoother translates into far more tourists. By contrast, some countries still maintain very restrictive and complicated visa requirements. Russia, for example, requires visitors to apply well in advance and have a Russian-based sponsor.

Halong Bay, Vietnam
Photo credit: lena_serditova/istockphoto

Length of Visa: 30 days
Processing Time: Upon arrival or three working days when sought in advance
Vietnam grants visas on arrival to those traveling through other countries before entering Vietnam and also to those visiting on tours organized by international travel agencies based in the country. You must obtain a letter of approval, however, for picking up a visa at the border gate, which is issued by Vietnam's immigration department. Travelers can also apply for an e-visa in advance of arrival, which costs $25. Vietnam is a trip of a lifetime. There is so much to see and do, from Ha Long Bay and the floating markets of the Mekong Delta to the bustling city of Hanoi in the north.

Maldives
Photo credit: EXTREME-PHOTOGRAPHER/istockphoto

Length of Visa: 30 days
Processing Time: Upon arrival
For travelers with a valid passport (one that does not expire within six months of arrival), the Maldives issues visas upon arrival. In other words, pack your bags and hop on a plane to this legendary destination renowned for its pristine and remote beaches, blue lagoons, and exclusive luxury resorts. The tropical nation in the Indian Ocean is made up of 26 ring-shaped atolls.

Manama, Bahrain
Photo credit: typhoonski/istockphoto

Length of Visa: 30 days
Processing Time: Three to five days
Bahrain offers an incredibly easy and efficient e-visa process for visitors. The entire process is completed online, and visas cost $77. As for what to see and do while in the country, Bahrain is made up of more than 30 islands in the Arabian Gulf and has been a major trading hub since antiquity. Top sites in the capital city of Manama include the renowned Bahrain National Museum (which features artifacts from the ancient Dilmun civilization) and the city's colorful Bab al Bahrain bazaar, where everything from rugs to pearls can be bought.

Angkor Thom, Cambodia
Photo credit: efired/istockphoto

Length of Visa: 30 days
Processing Time: Within three days
Cambodia's e-visa process involves just three simple steps -- creating an online account on the country's visa site, completing the application, and downloading the visa once it's available. It's that simple and costs just $36, which is a bargain considering all the sights in this fascinating Southeast Asian nation. Angkor Wat, anyone? Beyond the country's most famous ancient ruins, there are the Mekong Delta and the capital of Phnom Penh, home to the art deco Central Market, the Royal Palace, and the National Museum.

rainforest in Gabon
Photo credit: Gleb_Ivanov/istockphoto

Length of Visa: One to three months, or six months
Processing Time: Within 72 hours
Gabon offers an e-visa process to facilitate entry, and visas cost about $104. It's important to note, however, the visas are only valid for those arriving by air via Leon-Mba International Airport in Libreville. For those not familiar with this fascinating tiny Central African country, Gabon offers vast areas of protected parkland. Even more notable, its Loango National Park is home to a variety of wildlife including gorillas and hippos. Lope National Park meanwhile, is known for its extensive rainforest.

buddha park in Vientiane, Laos
Photo credit: VuCongDanh/istockphoto

Length of Visa: 30 days
Processing Time: Upon arrival
It doesn't get much easier than visiting Laos, a country that issues visas upon arrival at international checkpoints. A humble Southeast Asian nation, Laos offers mountainous terrain to explore, French colonial architecture, hill tribe settlements, and Buddhist monasteries. In the capital of Vientiane, morning markets provide a colorful slice of life and culture -- selling food, clothes and crafts. The capital is also home to a reliquary that's said to house Buddha's breastbone.

three giraffe in National park of Kenya
Photo credit: Byrdyak/istockphoto

Length of Visa: 90 days
Processing Time: Two days
Kenya, one of the most unforgettable countries on the planet, provides e-visas in just two days. The cost is $51, and visas can be extended an additional 90 days by visiting immigration headquarters in Nairobi once you're in the country. Even six months might not be enough time in this destination, which includes savannahs, the Great Rift Valley, and the Maasai Mara Reserve. For wildlife lovers, the country is also home to lions, elephants and some of the planet's dwindling population of rhinos. Also not to be missed -- Amboseli National Park, which provides views of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Kuwait City, Kuwait
Photo credit: Anson Fernandez Dionisio/istockphoto

Length of Visa: Three months
Processing Time: Two days
Yet another country that's easy to visit on a whim, Kuwait issues visas in just two business days and the process can be completed online. While Kuwait is now most famous for its modern skyscrapers and architecture (including Kuwait Towers and also Liberation Tower), the country's roots can be traced back to antiquity. The Persian Gulf country is also home to the Tareq Rajab Museum, which showcases an extensive collection of artifacts and Islamic art. In Dhow Harbor visitors can take in old sailing ships and dhows that were once used for coastal trading, fishing and pearl diving.

pagoda landscape in the plain of Bagan, Myanmar
Photo credit: Soft_Light/istockphoto

Length of Visa: 28 days
Processing Time: 24 hours
Myanmar recently kicked off a significantly expedited visa process. As of April 1, tourist visas are available via email within a day, and the country processes the applications 365 days a year. The cost for an express tourist visa is $56. Home to more than 100 ethnic groups, Myanmar is a melting pot of age-old traditions. The country is bordered by India, Bangladesh, China, Laos, and Thailand. One of the most intriguing parts of Myanmar is the capital city of Yangon, where there are markets, pagodas, and Buddhist relics from as early as the 6th century.

Petra in Jordan
Photo credit: PocholoCalapre/istockphoto

Length of Visa: Two weeks
Processing Time: Upon arrival
Visitors to Jordan can obtain a visa at border gates or at Queen Alia International Airport. As for some of the top sights in the country, Elizabeth Avery, founder of SoloTrekker4U.com, says Jordan's ruins, from famed Petra to Jerash, are unforgettable and are a mix of Nabataean and Greco-Roman history and artifacts. Visitors can also participate in jeep safaris, spend a night in the desert, and relax in the beach resort city of Aqaba, which has been inhabited since 4000 B.C. and is home to the Aqaba Archaeological Museum.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Photo credit: Yuri de Mesquita Bar/istockphoto

Length of Visa: 90 days per year
Processing Time: Five days
Brazil's recent adoption of an e-visa program made it incredibly easy for travelers to visit the country. Valid for up two years, the $40 visa allows visitors to spend up to 90 days per year in the country during the 24-month period. Experts from Scott Dunn Private Journeys say Brazil offers something for everyone, from families to honeymooners to solo travelers. Highlights of this sprawling South American country include the Amazon Basin, the vibrant and cosmopolitan city of Rio de Janeiro, and the towering, dramatic Iguacu Falls in the south.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Photo credit: Ashraf Jandali/shutterstock

Length of Visa: 30 days
Processing Time: Upon arrival
Dubai has grown to be a major tourist destination, thanks to the carefully orchestrated efforts of officials in the United Arab Emirates and also a simple and quick visa process. Citizens from a long list of countries, including the United States, do not require advance visa applications. Simply hop on a plane and obtain a visa upon arrival. The ultramodern city of Dubai offers endless entertainment including luxury shopping galore, some of the world's best restaurants, and nonstop nightlife. Additional options include skydiving, luxury desert safaris, and hot air balloon rides.

Great Wall of China in stratosphere fog
Photo credit: zorazhuang/istockphoto

Length of Visa: 72 hours, or one to 10 days (G Visa)
Processing Time: Regular processing four days; express, two to three days; or one day for an extra fee
Getting a tourist visa for China, land of the Great Wall and the Terracotta Warriors, is costly and complicated (requiring a letter of invitation from someone in China). Few people realize, however, that it's possible to quickly get other short-term visas to the country, says travel blogger Melissa Smuzynski, creator of the site Parenthood and Passports. China offers a 72-hour transit visa for those passing through en route to another country and who already have tickets to that final destination. Application for this brief visa is made at border control, and you're limited to staying in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, or Chengdu. The country also offers a similar G Visa for transit visits that allows for a slightly longer stay, as much as 10 days.

two men painting traditional murals in Ataco, El Salvador
Photo credit: helovi/istockphoto

Length of Visa: 90 days
Processing Time: Upon arrival
El Salvador issues one-entry tourist cards upon arrival to travelers who have a valid U.S. passport. A small, often-overlooked Central American nation, El Salvador offers ample surfing as well as breathtaking mountain landscapes to explore. There are also rainforests and waterfalls, and tiny towns that host colorful festivals throughout the year. The small mountain town of Ataco is known for its striking murals, and the capital of San Salvador is the location of several notable museums.

Istanbul, Turkey
Photo credit: Seqoya/istockphoto

Length of Visa: 90 days
Processing Time: About one hour
Valerie Joy Wilson, creator of Trusted Travel Girl, says Turkey is one of the easiest countries to get a last-minute visa. The application can be done online via the e-visa process many other countries have adopted. The completed visa is often delivered to your email inbox in under an hour, Wilson says. (Turkey's Ministry of Foreign Affairs website says they're issued in as little as three minutes). Your first stop when visiting should be Istanbul, the only city in the world that spans two continents, Europe and Asia, providing a fascinating mingling of Eastern and Western cultures. Equally unforgettable are the otherworldly cone-shaped structures known as fairy chimneys in Cappadocia, in central Turkey.

rural landscape in Madagascar
Photo credit: guenterguni/istockphoto

Length of Visa: 30 days
Processing Time: Upon arrival or four days
Visitors to Madagascar can apply for a visa upon arrival in the airport. If you prefer to obtain a visa ahead of time, you can do that, too, by applying to the Embassy of the Republic of Madagascar, and it will be processed within four days. An enormous island located off the east coast of Africa, Madagascar is likely most well-known for being home to lemurs that are found nowhere else on the planet and which have lived there for millions of years. In addition, Madagascar's "Avenue of Baobabs" is known around the world thanks to its legendary and often-photographed centuries-old trees.

Baku, Azerbaijan
Photo credit: syolacan/istockphoto

Length of Visa: 30 days
Processing Time: Three days
Soon, travelers will begin to wonder how they ever got by without e-visas. Azerbaijan has joined the e-visa rush, offering this service as of 2017 through ASAN Visa, an online portal. The application takes just three steps, applying, paying ($20), and downloading the e-visa. Visitors to the former Soviet republic will find medieval walled cities, such as in the capital Baku, which is also home to the historic Palace of the Shirvanshas, a royal retreat from the 15th century. Gobustan National Park, just outside Baku, is home to ancient rock carvings and paintings.

Nyungwe National Park in Rwanda
Photo credit: guenterguni/istockphoto

Length of Visa: 30 days
Processing Time: Upon arrival
For those following the plight of the world's gorillas, Rwanda needs little introduction. It's one of the few places on the planet experiencing some success with efforts to save the threatened mountain gorillas (thanks in large part to the late American primatologist Dian Fossey). In addition to being home to Volcanoes National Park, where the gorillas live, Rwanda is known for Nyungwe National Park, where the ancient rainforest provides a habitat for chimpanzees and other animals. Obtaining a visa to visit this fascinating country is easily done. They are available to U.S. citizens upon entry (for $30) at land borders and Kigali International Airport.

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