Archive for November, 2009

Get a Chinese Visa to See the Great Wall

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

The Great Wall of China is one of China’s most famous landmarks. Built to protect China from invasion by neighboring peoples, the wall was constructed over many centuries, starting in 5 BC and ending in the 16 century AD. However, most of what is there now was constructed in the 16th century, during China’s Ming Dynasty.

According to Wikipedia, the entire wall, including natural fortifications and trenches, stretches 5,500.3 miles! The Great Wall is truly an ambitious feat of construction, so grand that people have long assumed that it must be visible from space.  However, as it turns out, space travel makes even the Great Wall seem insignificant. If it can be seen from space at all, it can only be seen at low orbits by people who know exactly where to look. You definitely would not be able to see it from the surface of the moon.

The best place to see the Great Wall of China is in China, with your  feet firmly planted on the ground. Some of the best sections of the wall are conveniently located near Beijing, such as the watchtower of Wangjinglou, which hovers about 3,215 feet above sea level against a backdrop of breathtakingly steep slopes.  Another popular section of the Great Wall is the Badaling section, which is also the most well-preserved portion of the wall.

If you’d like to visit the Great Wall in person, you’ll need your passport and a Chinese tourist visa, also known as an L visa. To get one, you must submit the following:

  • A Chinese visa application
  • Your US passport
  • One  passport photo.

If  you are leaving within the next 7 days, you’ll also need a travel itinerary to expedite your Chinese visa application.

RushMyTravelVisa.com can help you research the visa requirements for your next trip, as well as helping you fill out and expedite your visa paperwork.

Need a Chinese visa? Contact us today!

To Enjoy Brazil’s Famous Beaches, You Will Need a Brazilian Visa

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

When you think of Brazil, what comes to mind? For most people, the answer is exciting festivals like Carnivale, lush tropical rainforests, and of course, the world-famous beaches. Probably the most famous of these is Copacabana, immortalized in the Grammy-winning hit song by Barry Manilow.  Despite the predictable crowds of locals and tourists, Copacabana’s gorgeous white sands are still well worth a visit. Copacabana also has many activities available, day and night, including futevolei, also known as foot volleyball.

For a quieter experience and some spectacular swimming, check out Ipanema, another gorgeous white sand beach near Rio de Janeiro.  Moving away from Rio de Janeiro and towards Sao Paulo, the sand is tinted a beautiful shade of gold on the beaches of Costa Verde. Even better, the rainforest runs right up to the sand in some places.

Before you can bask in the sun in Brazil, however, you do need a Brazilian visa. You’ll need to apply in advance, as Brazil does not issue visas on arrival. Their visa system can be somewhat difficult to navigate, and you should definitely verify the requirements for your trip in advance.

To get a Brazilian tourist visa, here is what is generally required :

  • Your US passport. You must have at least 6 months to go before your passport expires, and at least 2 blank pages  in the back for the visa.
  • A Brazilian visa application
  • 2 passport photos
  • A copy of your  itinerary. The itinerary must indicate when you will be  entering and exiting Brazil
  • A copy of your driver’s license or ID. The copy must be clear and legible.
  • If you will be visiting friends or relatives in Brazil, they also need to provide a letter.

Brazil also requires a yellow fever vaccination if you have been to a country where yellow fever is present in the past 90 days. You need an international certificate of yellow fever vaccination if you have been to any of the following countries within the 90 day time frame:  Angola, Bolivia, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, French Guiana, Gabon, Ghana, Gambia, Republic of Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Peru, Sierra Leone, Sudan or Venezuela.

RushMyTravelVisa.com can help you research your trip and apply for all the necessary visas. Brazil’s visa system is somewhat complicated, and the professional help you’ll receive from our team of visa specialists can make applying for your Brazilian visa much easier.

Need a Brazilian visa? Apply today!

Getting a Thai Visa to Ride Elephants in Mae Hong Son Province

Friday, November 27th, 2009

Mae Hong Son Province is a province in the northwest of Thailand. Asian elephants have always lived in these forests, and the local people have been training elephants here for centuries. In fact, the name of the province is derived from that of an old settlement called Ban Mae Rong Son, or Village of the Elephant Training Camp.

Today, Mae Hong Son Province is a land of remote forests, many of which have never been cut. Tourists come for the beautiful scenery and to experience the unique traditional cultures of the local hill tribes.

Since it is so remote, Mae Hong Son province is especially suited to trekking, mountain biking, rafting and other outdoor sports.  Given the region’s history, it’s not surprising that elephant trekking is also a possible activity. Several local elephant camps offer elephant trekking; however, it’s important to check out the elephant camp thoroughly before you use them. For example, this article notes that elephant camps can provide a much-needed source of income for domestic elephants who cannot be released back into the wild, as well as their human handlers. Domestic elephants also provide a valuable source of genetic diversity, as only 2,000 are thought to live in the wild.  Unfortunately, elephant camps are poorly regulated, and some are quite cruel to these intelligent animals.

If you decide to go on an elephant trek, make sure that the animals are not overworked, are not disciplined with sharp hooks, and that they are given ample time to feed themselves in the forest.  Poorly treated and cared for elephants are a danger to the humans around them!

Before you can arrange a trip to Mae Hong Son province, it’s important to make sure you have the right documentation. US tourists can stay in the country without a visa for up to 30 days. If you’ll be staying more than a month in Thailand, you can apply for a Thai visa good for 60 days before you leave the US.  Here’s a list of the required documents:

  • Your US passport
  • A completed Thai visa application
  • 2 passport photos
  • A copy of your round-trip ticket
  • A copy of a bank statement showing a balance of   $500 per person or $1000 per family.

Also, bear in mind that you may need visas to cross into to neighboring countries, or if you have a layover in a third country on the way to Thailand. RushMyPassport can research your itinerary to make sure you have all of the visas you need, as well as helping you expedite your visa applications.

Do you need a Thai visa? Apply for one today!

Is Your Travel Visa Horror Story Good Enough to Win a Prize?

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Most travel horror stories are small potatoes…missing a plane, getting stuck next to a drunk guy who reeks of vomit on the subway…not fun, but not epic, either.

However, when it comes to travel visa horror stories, the potential for a truly awful trip increases exponentially. With the appropriate visa, you might not be allowed on your plane. If by some chance you are allowed on your plane, when you arrive at your destination, countries that don’t allow you to apply for a visa on arrival will more than likely put you on the next plane back, at your own expense.

You could also end up stranded in a third country, like the couple that tried to go on honeymoon in St. Petersburg but didn’t have Russian visas.  One thing is certain: without the appropriate travel visa, the outlook for a successful trip is not good at all.

If you have a truly awful travel-related story, now is your chance to cash in. Starting December 1st, the travel insurance company Travel Guard is having a contest to find the “World’s Unluckiest Traveler.” To enter, all you have to do is submit your travel horror story. According to the Denver Post, the company is giving away 2 Flip MinoHDTM camcorders each month for a year, starting December 1st.

There are two ways to win a camcorder-either submit the worst travel story for the month, or vote for your favorite travel story.  If you vote for the winning entry, you could also win.

At the end of the year, one lucky monthly winner will be selected to receive an additional grand prize: $10,000 for their dream vacation!

Contest details aren’t up yet, but check Travel Guard’s site after December 1st.

Of course, the likelihood that your travel visa horror story will win you a prize is slim. Wouldn’t you prefer to avoid visa-related mishaps?

RushMyTravelVisa can help research your itinerary to determine what visas you need for your trip. Then, we’ll help you with the paperwork and submit it to the appropriate embassy or consulate for the fastest possible processing.  We can’t do anything about that annoying person sitting next to you on the plane or that awful stomach virus you picked up overseas, but we can make sure you have your visas on time for your trip.

Need a travel visa? Apply with us today!

Adventure Travel In Uzbekistan: How to Get an Uzbekistan Visa

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

If your idea of a great vacation is relaxing somewhere comfortable, doing as little as possible, then Uzbekistan is probably not for you. However, if you enjoy adventure travel packed with outdoor activities, Uzbekistan is a wonderful option that is often overlooked.

Uzbekistan’s outdoor attractions include skiing, which is a popular activity in the Chimgan-Beldersay region near the city of Tashkent; mountaineering, rock-climbing and hiking. Horseback riding and hang gliding are also popular, especially on Greater Chimgan mountain in Ugam-Chatkal National Park.

Due to its location on the ancient Great Silk Road, Uzbekistan also has many stunning archaeological and architectural sights.  For example, the city of Samarkand is a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its ancient history and impressive buildings like the Registan and the Bibi-Khanym Mosque.

To visit Uzbekistan, you will need an Uzbekistan visa. Visas are not available on arrival, so you will need to apply before you leave. Here are the basic documents that you will need to apply:

  • Your US passport
  • One Uzbekistan visa application form
  • 1 passport photo
  • 1 copy of your flight tickets and your itinerary.
  • To get an Uzbekistan tourist visa, you need a tourist voucher, which is like a permission slip. If you’re traveling with an organized group, they should provide one. If not, RushMyTravelVisa.com can get one for you if you apply through us.
  • If you are visiting friends or family, your host needs to get an invitation letter for you.

Also, bear in mind that you may need transit visas for neighboring countries, even if you are only passing through the country to get to a destination within Uzbekistan.  If your flight path includes stopovers in another country, you may have to get a transit visa for that country, even if all you are going to do is change planes.

RushMyTravelVisa can research your itinerary to make sure you have all the necessary visas. We can also help you with your visa applications and expedite your paperwork for the shortest possible processing time.

Need an Uzbekistan visa? Contact us today!

Do You Need a Moldovan Visa?

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

Moldova borders on Ukraine and Romania. Although it is a beautiful country, it is primarily known for its wine. Moldavia has too many vineyards to name-360,000 acres worth, according to Wikipedia. For centuries, winemaking has been one of the primary occupations of Moldavian citizens, and many families still make wine based on ancient family recipes, using their own strains of grapes.

One of the main tourist activities in Moldova is going on winery tours.  You get an “up close and personal” glimpse of the wine-making process, and of course, you get a chance to sample the goods.

Leif Patterson visited several wineries in Moldova and wrote a report on his blog, Killing Batteries.
Here’s what he had to say about the trip:

“It’s a wine-drinkers once-in-a-lifetime experience, bordering on Eden. Even wine morons like me will be in awe.”

If you want to visit Moldova, you will definitely need a passport. However, you may or may not need a Moldovan visa. For example, you do not need a visa if you are  a citizen of the United States, EU member states, Canada, Switzerland, and Japan.

US citizens can stay in Moldova up to 90 days without a visa. If you are a US permanent resident but still a citizen of another country, however, you might need a visa. RushMyTravelVisa.com can research your travel itinerary and may be able to help you apply for a Moldovan visa, depending on whether or not you are required to appear in person for an interview.

If you do need to apply for a Moldovan visa, here’s what you need:

  • A copy of your hotel reservations and itinerary.
  • 1 application
  • 1 passport photo
  • A  copy of your green card (if a US permanent resident)
  • Your passport

Even if you don’t need a Moldovan visa, you may need a visa to visit other nearby countries on your itinerary.  Contact us today and let us help you get the documentation you need for your trip.

Getting a Kenyan Visa: Lions and Leopards and Cheetahs, Oh My!

Friday, November 20th, 2009

For pretty much all  of human history, the big cats have been above us in the food chain, and were both feared and revered.  Now, even though humans have climbed to the top of the food chain, big cats continue to be a source of fascination.

If you want to see them up close, outside of a zoo, one of the best places in the world to do so is Kora National Park in Kenya. The park is home to an amazing variety of wild cats, including lions, cheetahs, leopards, caracals, servals and African wildcats.

The park also has other African wildlife, including hyenas, antelopes, elephants and hippos.

Kora National Park is also the final resting place of George Adamson, the conservationist who raised the lion cub in “Born Free.”

To visit Kenya,  American citizens need both a passport and Kenyan visa.

Here’s what you need to get a Kenyan tourist visa:

  • 1 application form
  • 1 passport photo
  • A copy of your travel itinerary

One important thing to remember about applying for a Kenyan visa is that you application  form has to be typed. It can’t be handwritten. You can fill a copy out online by following the link on the Kenyan Embassy website.

RushMyTravelVisa.com can help you expedite your Kenyan visa as well as any other visas you might need on your trip. First, we’ll research your itinerary to see what visas are required.  Then, we’ll help you with the paperwork, providing you with clear, easy to follow instructions for the application.

You’ll also work with a trained, professional visa specialist who can answer all of your questions. Once we have your application, we’ll forward it to the nearest embassy for the fastest possible processing.

Don’t wait-apply for your Kenyan visa today!

Getting a Kenyan Visa: Lions and Leopards and Cheetahs, Oh My!

Getting a Panama Visa to See the Panama Canal

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Almost as soon as the New World was “discovered” by Europeans,  explorers were trying to find a way to sail through it. After all, what they really wanted was to get to Asia where they could trade for spices and other goods.

When the new continents were finally mapped out and people realized that there wasn’t a water route that went straight through either of the new continents, the obvious next step was to build one.

At first, there was a bit of a disagreement as to whether the new canal should go through Panama or Nicaragua. Eventually, with the help of some deceptive propaganda spread by American lawyer William Nelson Cromwell on behalf of the French Canal Syndicate, Panama won the day. (According to Wikipedia, Cromwell falsely claimed that a dormant volcano in Nicaragua was erupting, thus making it an unsuitable place for a major engineering effort.)

Here are some more interesting facts about the Canal:

  • The French tried to build a canal in the 19th century, but quit after 22,000 of their workers died.
  • Even with improved sanitation, an additional 5,500 American workers died during construction of the canal in the 20th century.
  • 14,000 ships  pass through the canal each year.

The Panama Canal is definitely a sight worth seeing, as huge ships pass through the locks, surrounded by rainforest on all sides. If you’re planning a trip to the Canal, be aware that you may need a Panama visa. Here are the rules:

If you are arriving by air, you can buy a tourist card when you arrive in the airport. Check with your airline-they may include the fees for the card in your tickets.

Likewise, if you are on a cruise, your cruise line should provide a tourist card for you if necessary.

You can also apply for a Panama visa, good for multiple entries, before you leave the states. If you will be crossing into Panama by land, applying for a visa first is a must.

American citizens need the following documents to get a Panama visa:

Here’s what you need to get a Panama tourist visa:

  • A valid US passport
  • 1 completed Panama visa application
  • 1 passport photo
  • A copy of your itinerary.
  • A copy of your plane tickets (if you’re flying in)
  • A  letter of invitation or a copy of your hotel reservation.
  • A  copy of your bank statement.

If you’re applying in advance, RushMyTravelVisa can help you with the paperwork and expedite your Panama visa application. Contact us today!

Without Russian Visas, Couple Almost Misses Honeymoon

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

A newlywed couple almost missed out on an $2,000 honeymoon in St. Petersburg, Russia because they tried to fly without first obtaining Russian visas for the trip. According to this story in USA Today, Bethany Thomas and Dmitri Zagidulin booked the Russian honeymoon via Expedia.

They weren’t sure if they needed visas or not, but the Expedia travel agent assured them they didn’t.  The newlyweds didn’t even know that they had a problem until they got to Frankfurt and were not allowed to get on board the plane into Russia.  To add insult to injury, their luggage was sent on to St. Petersburg, and all Expedia would do to fix the situation was offer them a $100 hotel credit. Not cool!

Fortunately, this story does have a happy ending, thanks largely to the magic of Facebook and Twitter. Thomas, a writer, chronicled the couple’s frustration on her blog. The blog entry spread via Twitter and Facebook, and people began calling and emailing Expedia on their behalf.

To its credit, Expedia acted quickly to prevent a potential PR disaster by doing the right thing for the couple, reimbursing for extra expenses like the cost of securing expedited Russian visas and giving them $3,000 in future travel credits.  Nice!

There are 2 lessons we can learn from this story:

  1. Social networking is powerful.
  2. Don’t rely on a booking agent to tell you whether or not you need a visa.  Check the Department of State’s website or call RushMyTravelVisa.com!

At RushMyTravelVisa, we’ll be happy to research your itinerary and let you know what visas you will need for your trip. We’ll also help you with application paperwork and then forward your application to the appropriate embassy or consulate for faster processing.

You’ll work with a trained, knowledgeable visa specialist to get the paperwork you need for your trip. This is especially helpful when it comes to countries like Russia, which maintain what even the US State Department calls a “restrictive and complicated visa regime.”

Contact us today for help with your Russian visa application!

Getting an Armenian Tourist Visa

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

Armenia is an ancient country. The capital city, Yerevan, dates back to 78BC, making it 29 years older than Rome! Today, however, Yerevan is a thriving, modern city. Now that Armenia is on the cusp of settling its border dispute with Azerbaijan and is working toward more normal relationships with Turkey, the country is becoming more attractive to tourists.

In fact, according to The Independent, the number of tourists visiting Armenia from January to September of this year rose 5 percent to 422,500 visitors.  There’s a lot that makes Armenia worth visiting. The capital city, Yerevan, is a charming city filled with fountains, restaurants and lively cafes.

There are also lovely mountain towns like Goris, located near the border with Iran.  In the southern part of the country, Vayots Dzor houses some interesting old monasteries and  fortresses.

Lake Sevan, Armenia’s summer playground, is another excellent destination, especially in the summer, when activities such as water-skiing, swimming boating and jet skiing are available.

To visit Armenia, you are required to have both your passport and an Armenian visa. Here’s what you need to get a tourist visa to visit Armenia:

  • Your US passport
  • 1 Armenian visa application form
  • 1 passport photo
  • If your visit will be less than 120 days, that’s all you need. However, if you’ll be staying more than 120 days, you need an invitation letter from your host.

RushMyTravelVisa.com can help you research the visa requirements for your particular itinerary (including transit visas if you will changing planes or stopping over in a third country). We can also help you apply for any necessary visas, providing assistance with the paperwork and expediting your visa application for the fastest possible processing.

Let us help you cut through the paperwork for your next trip.  Contact RushTravelVisa.com today!