ST's holiday guide: Travel visa-free to these destinations with Singapore's 'most powerful' passport

SINGAPORE - Singaporeans hold the world’s most powerful passport in their hands. The nation jumped to first place on the Passport Index, after Paraguay dropped visa requirements for Singapore travellers.

A multitude of travel-lovers here will rejoice, now that there is visa-free travel, or visas on arrival, to 159 countries.

The passports of 193 United Nations member countries and six territories were considered by global advisory firm Arton Capital, which devised the index.

Here’s a spectrum of desirable journeys – both far-flung and just hours from Singapore shores - published in The Straits Times.

Travel writer Lee Siew Hua highlights travel stories that reveal wonders from everywhere. Explore the world, from sensuously sunlit Provence to wildest Patagonia, from vivacious Tel Aviv to old-world Hoi An.

1 Argentina and Chile (Patagonia)


Rainbows often arc across the landscape in Patagonia because of the mix of rain and sun. PHOTO: ST FILE 

With windswept pinnacles and glaciers clustered in the far south of Latin America, wild Patagonia is a hyper-real journey to the rim of the world.

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2 Brazil


The majestic Iguazu Falls in Brazil. PHOTO: SKYSCANNER 

The Iguazu Falls are sublime from any angle, while Rio is a pumping city.

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3 Canada


Circus on a street in Montreal, home of the famous Cirque du Soleil. PHOTO: ST FILE 

A French-flavoured city that loves to party and play, Montreal sells fantasy to the world, notably the Cirque du Soleil.

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4 China


Two pandas enjoy their bamboo at the panda base Ya'an Bifeng Gorge in Chengdu, China. PHOTO: ST FILE 

Carefree Chengdu is a place of pandas and poets, while Guizhou abounds in rainbows and myths.

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5 Colombia


Medellin, once the world's cocaine capital, is now transformed with parks, libraries and hip bars. It won the Lee Kuan Yew World City prize this year. PHOTO : ST FILE 

Colombia is the comeback country, where a fragile peace has settled and travellers are exploring the land anew.

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6 Denmark


A Lego sculpture of a dragon, complete with sound effects, in the lobby of Hotel Legoland in Billund. PHOTO: ST FILE 

Whoosh, whoosh! Battle baddies at the new Ninjago World in Legoland - and take a breather in Lego's tranquil hometown of Billund.

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7 Ecuador


A tortoise is seen at the park in Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador on Sept 12, 2017. PHOTO: AFP 

There is an Edenic innocence in the Galapagos islands of Ecuador, where animals forget to fear.

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8 Fiji


Fiji is made up of 333 mostly uninhabited islands in the heart of the South Pacific. PHOTOS: INTERCONTINENTAL FIJI GOLF RESORT & SPA

In the heart of the less-explored South Pacific, frangipani-scented Fiji is a paradise for sea-lovers.

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9 Finland


Distinctive houses in Porvoo, second oldest town in Finland. PHOTO: VISIT HELSINKI

Revel in cold adventures in Finland. Plunge into an icy chamber in Helsinki and stay on a husky farm in the wintry wilderness up north.

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10 France


Fields of wild poppies are among the sights that greet visitors to Provence, a land of delicacy and ruggedness. PHOTO: ST FILE 

A walking gourmet journey in Provence reveals places of sun-lit sensuousness and hidden Michelin-starred restaurants. Also, enjoy the plush chateau life in Bordeaux, which has been making wine since Roman times.

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11 Germany


Visitors cheer with beer during the opening day of the 184th Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, Sept 16, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS 

With relaxing beer gardens, friendly residents and mountains, Munich is like the planet’s biggest village.

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12 Greece


Ancient sites in Greece include the Acropolis (above) in Athens and the Palamidi Fortress at port town Nafplio. PHOTO: ST FILE 

Athens, with its gritty beauty, is a treasure trove for lovers of archaeology and good food.

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13 Hong Kong 


People walk at a market place at the shopping Mongkok district in Hong Kong, Sept 15, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS 
 

So many ways to spend a perfect weekend in Hong Kong: hike, eat, shop, gallery-hop and ride on the world’s longest outdoor escalator.

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14 Iran


The grand Naqsh-e Jahan Square (above) in Isfahan, a Unesco-listed site with mosques, a palace and bazaar. PHOTO: CALVIN CHEUNG 

Iran is safe and super-friendly, and rewards the wanderer with hidden gardens, echoes of great civilisations past and a stylish lifestyle.

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15 Ireland


The Cliffs of Moher were featured in Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince. PHOTO: ST FILE 

The Emerald Isle, shrouded in myths and filled with music, enchants in so many ways.

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16 Israel


Tel Aviv sits on the Mediterranean coastline and boasts a dozen beaches, where Israelis love to relax. PHOTO: EMBASSY OF ISRAEL

An insider guide to vivacious Tel Aviv, on the sun-drenched coast, where time is best spent outdoors.

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17 Italy


A man floats in the water beneath the limestone cliffs of Polignano a Mare, a seaside town 30km from Bari, Puglia's capital. PHOTO: ST FILE 

Experience the sweet life in Puglia, where locals make burrata, and summer days are halcyon.

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18 Japan


Deers in Shiretoko National Park, Japan. PHOTO: WALK JAPAN 

In snowshoes, step into an all-white world where Japanese hamlets and cedar forests lie under the deepest snow. Also explore the northernmost tip of Japan in Hokkaido.

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19 Kazakhstan


Baiterek, a monument and observation tower, in Astana resembles a tree with a golden egg nestled at the top. On its right is the Emerald Towers complex, which pays homage to the indigenous prairie grass. PHOTO: ST FILE 

In Kazakhstan, nature and ultra-modernity sit side by side.

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20 Laos


Chill out at 525, a bar run by a Briton, which serves classic and bespoke cocktails. PHOTO: ST FILE 

Luang Prabang, with its royal past and fancy cocktails, retains its soul amid rapid changes.

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21 Malaysia


A dinosaur statue at Tasik Y park in Jalan Sejati, 83000 Batu Pahat on July 26. PHOTO: ST FILE 

A high-speed rail will run from Jurong East all the way to Kuala Lumpur in a decade. There is much to see and do at each stop.

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22 Maldives


The Mercure Maldives Kooddoo Hotel has 68 villas, comprising 43 located over water and 25 along the beaches. PHOTO: KEONG HONG HOLDINGS 

Look, mum, a blue rainbow! Discover kid-friendly Maldives with picnics on castaway islands, dolphin spotting and more.

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23 Mongolia


Gers (above) can be basic, but none will be found without a stove and supply of dried dung or wood for fuel. PHOTO: ST FILE 

Staying in a round, warm tent amid nomads is a wonderful way to relish life in the middle of nowhere.

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24 Morocco


Chefchaouen's water comes from the surrounding mountains and tastes subtly sweet. PHOTO: ST FILE 

Blue beauty and Moorish allure abound in Morocco.

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25 Myanmar


The Strand Suite, one of the biggest rooms aboard the Strand Cruise ship (above). PHOTO: THE STRAND CRUISE

Cruise luxuriously down the mighty Irrawaddy River to experience Myanmar’s storied past and its panoramic world.

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26 Norway


On a dog-sled ride through a snow-covered forest. PHOTO: ST FILE 

Journey by train and ship deep into the Arctic Circle, and experience Norway’s rough fjord-lined coast over several days.

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27 Palau


A snorkeler swims among stingless jellyfish in Palau's Jellyfish Lake. PHOTO: ST FILE 

Swim in a lake with jellyfish that have one amazing quirk: no sting.

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28 Philippines


Kaypalad (above), which means blessed in Tagalog, is a homestay on a far corner of Lubang island and a beguiling destination in itself. PHOTO: ST FILE 

Lubang Island, the jungle hideout of enigmatic Japanese war straggler Hiroo Onoda who refused to surrender for 29 years after World War II, is a jolt of pure adventure so near Singapore.

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29 Portugal


Sunbathers at the Praia da Rainha, one of many beaches in the seaside town of Cascai. PHOTO: ST FILE 

The classic and vintage coexist beautifully with the young and vibrant in Portugal.

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30 Qatar


A camel ride in the Sealine desert. PHOTO: ST FILE 

Little Qatar is home to the world. Foreigners flock here to work, bringing colour to its capital Doha, even as the deserts and falconry heritage evoke the Qatar of old.

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31 South Korea


Somaemuldo island is a one hour-long ferry ride from Tongyeong Port. PHOTO: KOREA NATIONAL PARK SERVICE

An insider guide to the coastal city of Tongyeong is full of island charm and secluded seascapes.

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32 Sri Lanka


The infinity pool (above) at Tea Trails resort in Sri Lanka's luxuriant hill country. PHOTO: CEYLON TEA TRAILS

Savour the imagined lifestyle of colonial British tea-planters in the hill country, watch whales in the Indian Ocean, or linger at a hidden lake at three luxe resorts in Sri Lanka.

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33 Sweden


The Icehotel 365 buildings are made from "snice", a combination of snow and ice - it has a translucent quality - from the nearby Torne river. PHOTOS: ASAF KLIGER

The Arctic Circle exudes cosiness, whether the traveller is snuggling in an ice hotel or supping with the indigenous Sami. And the northern lights dance in the sky, of course.

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34 Switzerland


Castelgrande is a fortress located in Bellinzona in the southernmost Swiss canton of Ticino. PHOTO: ST FILE 

An insider guide to Ticino, an efficient Swiss region with a touch of Italian dolce vita.

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35 Taiwan


Shuansen Cafe in Tainan, Taiwan. PHOTO: ST FILE 

Home-style Taiwanese cooking, hidden hipster cafes and a seed cafe – spend a perfect weekend in leisurely Tainan.

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36 Tanzania


Zanzibari boys splash near a traditional dhow. PHOTO: ST FILE 

Zanzibar is the Other Africa, a fusion island dipped in scintillating blues.

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37 Thailand


A family stands atop a rock at Sam Phan Bok in Ubon Ratchathani. PHOTO: ST FILE

Relish a perfect weekend in Ubon Ratchathani with its artisanal cafes, Thai pop and mini Grand Canyon.

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38 Turkey


Istanbul’s Sultanahmet district (above) is the location of the breathtakingly beautiful Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia and the Topkapi Palace, which was home to sultans from 1453 to 1852. PHOTO: ST FILE 

Many worlds and eras coalesce in Turkey, a country of contrasts.  Greek ruins and magnificent mosques await discovery, and also poignant World War I monuments and the Bosphorus strait that separates Europe and Asia.

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39 United Kingdom


A charming thatched cottage in the sleepy hamlet of Great Tew. PHOTO: ST FILE 

The Cotswolds countryside is an English fairy land. We can almost picture pixies hiding in the sweet gardens.

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40 United States of America


Young visitors get to water and even plant flowers in the children's area of the US Botanic Garden .PHOTO: US BOTANIC GARDEN

Washington may be a highly political city but it’s also a haven for kids. Let them turn into little astronauts in museums, run free among monuments, or be treated like tiny royals in hotels.

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41 Vietnam


A fruit vendor transports on a street in Hanoi on Aug 29, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS 

Savour coffee and street life in Hanoi, while seeking tranquil corners amid its riotous, bizarre and protean streets. Also eat lots of piquant cao lao noodles in old-world Hoi An.

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42 Zambia


A microlight flight over Victoria Falls affords a 360-degree view of the landscape from 250m in the sky. PHOTO: BATOKA SKY

The wildest dreams come alive in Zambia, whether it’s riding a microlight through the mist of Victoria Falls or taking a cheetah for a walk.

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