I am thinking about going to Ireland for a weekend trip. I am more interested in the repulplic of Ireland but as a Thai national, the visa situation seems easier for Northern Ireland as I already have a British Visa so I'm assuming I can go without having to apply for any other visa?
Also can anyone recommend where to go?
The best place to start your Belfast explorations are in the city centre. Here you will find the the exquisite Belfast city hall and the Belfast Wheel. This is truly one of the best places to visit in the city. Moving away from the city center, you will be spoiled for interesting sites. The best way to travel to the places outside of downtown is with car hire. If you go to the east of the center you will find the Parliament Buildings at Stormont. More commonly referred to as “Stormont,” this building will take your breath away. Although the manmade structures of the city are amazing, the true beauty of Belfast rests in the natural environment.
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If it's just a weekend trip and you're not sure about your visa extension to Eire, personally I haven't got a clue where you stand with it either, then I would bin Belfast and other cities altogether and head for the hills and loughs.
Lough Neigh in County Antrim (not too far from Belfast, less than an hour - and within easy reach by bus) is one of Europes biggest lakes. Also not so far away are the 2 Lough Ernes in Couty Fermanagh. Upper Lough Erne is below Lower Lough Erne (that'll be Ireland for you !). The Giant's Causeway (check that one out on various websites) is an incredible natural phenomena. It is a series of rocks on the north Antrim coast and every single one is hexagonal shaped that I saw there. It is stated that some of them have different numbered sides (4, 5, 6, 7 and 8), but I only found 6 sided ones. There are some 40,000 of them on the beach and sticking out of the hills too. Very strange but equally beautiful.
I don't want to sound like I'm anti Belfast, because that just isn't so. It's just that although it's a great little city full of history and great bars, once you get lost in it, that'll be a day gone of your very short and precious time there. There are also excellent trains that take you down the east coast. If you can't cross the border, then if you take one, don't forget to get off before you cross into the Republic.
If you have the time, and visa permitting, take a little trip to Newry down to the south of Belfast and hop into a taxi or bus to Carlingford on the east coast. A treasure trove of ancient Irish history and St. John's Castle. A very beautiful part of the country that transports me out of the time I am usually in for a while. Nestled between the quay and the sheltered Cooley Mountains. Small white washed houses, modern interiors and pubs and reasonable B and Bs (Bed and Breakfasts). Maybe get the train down to Newry from Belfast and then it is a half hour to Carlingford. Wonderful walks and if you want to go for further viewing of the Carlingford Lough, go up to Omeath (best by car) and head into moutains where any local will point you in the direction of the roads to take to see the ultimate "view" of the Lough which is out of this world - you can see northern Ireland and the south all together. Also ask for The Long Woman's Grave and the road that goes backwards. And Failte!
Thanks theres loads of ideas for me to think about. So am I right in assuming that my UK student visa will allow me to go to Northern Ireland without having to apply for anything else?
Yes a uk visa will allow you entry into northern ieland. Once you are there you can just take a bus/train down to the republic as there are no border checks between North and south ireland.
[ Edit: Edited on 14-Oct-2009, at 02:54 by striker81 ]
There are still security checks when you get off the the plane or boat, although guards at the docks don't stop everyone.
As long as your passport has been approved on the mainland, then you're OK in Northern Ireland.
With UK visa, you may visit Northern Ireland without any restriction.
Based on your previous post, you've indicated that you are Thai national. Unfortunately Thai nationals are required to obtain a visa to visit Ireland.
While it is relatively easy to travel overland from Northern Ireland to the Republic of Ireland, it is not true that you won't be checked when crossing the borders. In recent months, bus/train passengers have regularly been subject to identity checks. This has happened when my friends travel in both directions.
Belfast, the coastline to Giant's Causeway and Carrick-a-rede are places that most people wouldn't miss.