For a world traveler, holding a powerful passport is like holding a golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s wanderlust factory. The fewer visas are required for international travel, the better.
As travel restrictions are removed, passports move up and down in the global rankings. Although the U.S. passport isn’t the world’s most powerful document, it’s ranked sixth in the global rankings, according to the Henley Passport Index. With it, a U.S. citizen can visit 185 countries without obtaining visas.
In the last few years, a number of countries either have lifted visa requirements to enter or simplified them significantly. Here are some borders that have become easier to cross by U.S. passport holders.
In an effort to be included in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, Argentina lifted the reciprocity fee of $160 for U.S. travelers in 2016. The fee was applied because that’s how much Argentine citizens have to pay to enter the United States. U.S. citizens looking to visit the South American country no longer have to pay the hefty fee upon entering Argentina for tourism for stays of up to 90 days. So, feel free to get all the Argentine steak, wine and tango lessons your heart desires.
The Brazilian Bureau of Consulate Affairs used to charge U.S. citizens the same $160 fee until last year when an e-visa became available. Citizens of certain countries, United States included, can now apply for a permission to enter online and pay $40 for a two-year visa. Gone are the days of beating down consulates’ doors or paying good money to visa service agencies before you even travel. Although the visa still isn’t free, it’s significantly easier to obtain for those holding U.S. passports.
Until 2014, a 30-day visa to Kazakhstan cost $40. Then, the country introduced a visa-free program that allowed a visa-free stay of up to 15 days for citizens of select countries, including the United States. The program was so successful, it eventually extended visa-free stays to 30 days. If you’re looking for travel destinations off the beaten track, look no further. In Kazakhstan, you’ll find a harmonious juxtaposition of mountains and steppes, as well as post-Soviet buildings and modern architecture.
Another Central Asian gem, Uzbekistan began offering e-visas to U.S. passport holders last year. For just $20 payable online, you can stay in the country for up to 30 days and follow the ancient Silk Road caravans from Tashkent all the way to Bukhara, visit the mosaic-decorated mosques and eat all the plov (rice dish) you want. Even UNESCO couldn’t stay away. The organization designated five World Heritage sites in Uzbekistan that you’ll want to see.
In 2017, Vietnam implemented its own e-visa system available to those seeking to visit the Southeast Asian country. For $25, you can obtain a single-entry visa for a stay of up to 30 days. And trust me, you’ll need all of that time to explore Vietnam. The deceivingly-small country has a lot to offer: bustling cities, beach resort towns, green rice terraces and limestone formations, and that’s just scratching the surface. If you like to eat, pho and banh mi aren’t your only options. You’ll find lots of region-specific food as you travel either up or down the coast.