Southeast Asia, South America, island nations: These might seem like impossibly far away destinations, but in reality they can be some of the easiest places for U.S. citizens to visit—provided you know which countries are most amenable to American tourism.
While American passport holders enjoy access to 166 countries, the entry process to different countries can vary dramatically in terms of the ease involved (or lack thereof). The following countries welcome Americans with open arms and incredibly flexible visa policies. We may not be able to make that long flight any easier to tolerate, but we can promise you that you’ll be in good hands once you arrive at these destinations.
Anyone holding a U.S. passport won’t be required to obtain a visa in Malaysia (so long as your stay doesn’t exceed 90 days). While immigration officials may ask you for proof of funds or onward travel, they rarely do so. It’s easy to travel throughout the country and its many popular destinations, which include Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Kota Kinabalu, and Langkawi. Malaysia also serves as a great jumping-off point to other Southeast Asian countries—including Singapore, which also promises easy entry to U.S. tourists.
2. New Zealand
Under New Zealand tourism regulations, the United States qualifies as a Visa Waiver Country, which means that anyone holding a U.S. passport can enter the country without having applied for a visa or paying any entry fees. Under this entry option, American tourists can travel throughout the country for up to three months. (The only restrictions: You’ll need to have purchased a ticket out of New Zealand in advance and should be prepared to prove that you have enough money to fund your vacation in New Zealand.) Once you pass through immigration and exit the airport, you’ll find it easy to navigate the island country—whether you’re traveling to Auckland, Queenstown, or Wellington, English is the dominant language and the locals are friendly and welcoming.
For American tourists, it doesn’t get more convenient than Panama. For starters, it’s easy to fly to—there are direct flights to Panama from 10 U.S. cities, including New York, Miami, Houston, and Los Angeles. You don’t need to obtain a visa in advance; upon arrival, you’ll be granted a 180-day tourism visa simply for having an American passport. Obtaining a 180-day extension is as easy as spending one day in another country and then re-entering Panama. (Just note that your passport will need to be valid for at least three months past your date of entry.) Navigating the country is just as easy—English is the second-most common language in Panama, and the currency is the U.S. dollar.
4. Republic of Palau
If you’re looking to take an extended vacation or experience living abroad, then the Republic of Palau has got you covered. The archipelago (located in the western Pacific Ocean) grants U.S. citizens the ability to stay in Palau for up to a year sans visa. (You’ll simply need to present a passport that’s valid for six months from the date of entry.) Traveling throughout the republic is facilitated by the fact that Palau uses the U.S. dollar as currency, and Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted.
This cluster of 115 islands in the west Indian Ocean has an open door policy for citizens of literally every country. Upon arriving, you’ll be granted permission to travel throughout Seychelles for up to one month. (Simply present a valid passport, proof of accommodation, and proof of flight out of the country.) If you want to stay longer, you can easily extend your tourist visa in three-month increments for up to a total of 12 months. In-country, U.S. dollars are accepted as currency, so you won’t need to worry about exchanging your cash. The country’s lax immigration policies help explain why it’s a popular place for offshore banking and establishing offshore companies.
What’s great about the countries on this list is that Americans may not even realize some of them exist—and yet these wonderful destinations await U.S. tourists with open arms.