You are overworked and want to rejuvenate with a short, extended weekend overseas. But you do not want the hassle of acquiring a visa. Armenia, a former Soviet republic that sits just south of the Caucasus mountain, is just a three-hour flight away from the UAE, and the perfect hop, skip and jump destination for a stress busting experience. Here’s what you need to know before you travel:
Do you need a visa?
This is the best part. Most nationalities residing in the Emirates are able to enter Armenia and obtain a visa on arrival. Armenia has a visa-waiver programme with India, allowing their nationals with a UAE residence visa to obtain one on arrival. UAE citizens do not require a visa for a stay of up to 180 days.
What direct flights can I take to Armenia from the UAE?
Fly Dubai and Air Arabia. Take a three-hour flight from Dubai or Sharjah and you won’t even have to change the time on your watch when you land in Armenia. Armenian Time (AMT) matches Gulf Standard Time (GST), so you can call your loved ones back home to fill them in on your daily explorations without worrying about the time difference.
Is it safe for solo travellers?
Absolutely! Armenia is a friendly country and its people are warm and inviting. Language may be a barrier because most only speak Armenian and Russian, but the locals and police stationed at most central locations will go out of their way to assist confused tourists. However, always exercise the same normal safety precautions that you would in any country. Be alert, avoid empty alleyways at night, take care of your belongings and beware of pickpockets in crowded areas.
What’s the best time to visit Armenia?
Avoid the summer months. Armenian summers can be very dry with temperatures hitting 40 degrees. Schedule a trip in late May to early June or late September to early October to enjoy the lush outdoors, spring and autumn colours, and cool mountain breeze. If you are looking for a skiing trip, then the snowy months of December, January and February will give you plenty of opportunities to indulge in a plethora of winter activities.
What currency should I carry?
Armenian dram. That’s the official currency and you will be required to pay only in dram. But money exchange is easy anywhere you are in Armenia, at the airport, your hotel, exchange houses and big commercial centres. Big stores, restaurants and cafes accept credit cards.
How do I get around in Armenia?
Several options. For ease, you can always hire a private car or book tours that include transportation to tourist sites. Taxis are available in the city centre or you can order them by phone. The main train station is the Sasuntsi Davit Station on Tigran Mets Avenue and connects to locations including, Sevan, Gyumri and Vanadzor. They are the least reliable option as they can be slow and overcrowded.