Archive for December, 2009

Indian Visa Requirements

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

American citizens traveling to India are required to have both a valid passport and an Indian visa.  India won’t issue a visa for you at the airport, so it is crucial to gather all of the necessary documents and submit your visa application well before you plan to depart.

Indian visa requirements vary depending on what type of visa you are applying for (for more information, see Types of Indian Visas). Here are the requirements for the two most common types of visas, tourist visas and business visas.

Indian Visa Requirements for Tourists.

If you are going to India as a tourist, you will need the following documents:

  • Your valid US passport
  • 2 recent passport-sized photos
  • A completed Indian visa application form. To ensure that your visa application is approved, make sure that you write neatly and that you do not make any mistakes on the application.  Make sure that you enter in “tourism” in the section that asks you to state why you are traveling to India.
  • A photocopy of your plane tickets or your itinerary.
  • A legible copy of your driver’s license.

Indian Visa Requirements for Business Trips

If you are traveling to India on a business trip, you also need the following:

  • 2 business letters of responsibility. One must be from your employer, and the other must be from the Indian company you will be meeting with. The letter should describe the nature of your business and the length of your trip, as well as how long your visa needs to be valid for.
  • A conference invitation letter, if you are going for a conference.

India has what’s called a jurisdictional visa system, so you have to sent your application into the appropriate consulate. Jurisdictions are based on your home address, which is why you must send in a copy of your driver’s license or a utility bill.

RushMyTravelVisa makes it quick and easy to apply for an Indian visa by assisting you with the application and then forwarding it to the appropriate embassy or consulate based on your jurisdiction. Our expedited visa service provides you with the shortest possible processing times.

Apply for your Indian visa today!

Get a Cambodian Visa To Visit Phnom Penh

Sunday, December 27th, 2009

Phnom Penh, the bustling capital of Cambodia, is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations. The city encompasses almost 7 centuries worth of history, some of it beautiful and some of it incomprehensibly tragic.

According to legend, Phnom Penh was founded in 1372 by  a Buddhist nun named Penh. As the story goes, the old woman was going about her daily chores, and went down to the Mekong River to get some water. Miraculously, she found a dead tree floating in the river with five  statues of the Buddha inside.

After retrieving the statues, the old woman had her neighbors pull the tree onto dry land and use the trunk to build a pagoda. The statues were placed inside the pagoda, and the shrine came to be known as Wat Phnom Daun Penh, after the old nun. It is from this temple, which is still standing today, that the city of Phnom Penh gets it name.

Another Buddhist temple worth a visit was built later in the city’s history, after it had been made a royal capital.  The Silver Pagoda, aka Wat Preah Keo, is decorated with enough artwork and precious metals to rival any cathedral in Europe.  Inside are famous statues of the Buddha, including a crystalline statue called the “Emerald Buddha” and a life-sized gold Buddha encrusted with 9,584 real diamonds.

Other destinations in Phnom Penh are equally moving but much less serene. For example, at Tuol Sleng Museum, you can pay your respects to the 17,000 victims of the Khmer Rouge who were held here prior to being executed in the killing fields.

To visit Phnom Penh, you will need a passport and a Cambodian visa. You can apply for a visa at the airport when you arrive, but it’s best to apply ahead of time.  Here’s what you need to get your Cambodian visa:

  • A Cambodian visa application, available online
  • Two passport photos
  • Your passport, which must have an expiration date that’s at least 6 months after you plan to enter Cambodia.
  • A copy of your itinerary.

RushMyTravelVisa can help you apply for all of the necessary visas for your trip, quickly and easily.  Apply for your Cambodia visa today!

Get an Ethiopian Visa to See the Stone Churches of Lalibela

Sunday, December 27th, 2009

Lalibela, Ethiopia is named for an Ethiopian king who reigned from 1189 to 1229. Originally called Roha, the town was renamed in honor of King/Saint Gebre Mesqel Lalibela.

Christianity became established in Ethiopia during the 4th century AD, long before Europeans ever set foot in the country. King Lalibela is famous for building a “new Jerusalem” in the town that was later named after him, after Jerusalem itself was taken by a Muslim army led by Saladin in 1187. Depending on the source, King Lalibela is said to either have spent time in Jerusalem as a young man, before he ascended to the throne, or to have seen it in a vision.

As a result, many of the landmarks in the town of Lalibela are named after areas in Jerusalem.  King Lalibela also commissioned many stunning cross-shaped churches, carved directly from the ground out of solid rock. Today, these fantastic churches are the town’s main attraction, inspiring both pilgrims and tourists.

The largest of Lalibela’s stone churches is 40 feet high. To enter the churches, visitors walk down flights of carved stairs. The churches are decorated both outside and inside with relief carvings of crosses, biblical scenes and other symbols, including the swastika, which was originally an ancient symbol that could be another version of the Christian cross, a symbol of the sun, or a symbol of good luck, depending on the circumstances.

According to Environmental Graffiti, the grandeur of these churches inspired the old European myth of Prester John,  who supposedly ruled a mighty Christian kingdom somewhere in India or Africa.

Prester John was a myth, but these churches are real. To see the stone churches at Lalibela, you will need both a US passport and an Ethiopian visa.

Do yourself a favor and get an Ethiopian visa before you leave the US.  Supposedly, if you are arriving by air, you can get a visa at the airport, but the US Department of State advises against this because travelers who try to take advantage of this option are not infrequently turned away.

To apply for an Ethiopian visa, you will need the following documents:

  • 1 visa application  form
  • 1 passport photo
  • A copy of your itinerary
  • Your US passport

RushMyTravelVisa can walk you through the visa application process to help you avoid delays and problems caused by common mistakes.  Then, we will submit your visa application to the appropriate Ethiopian embassy or consulate for the fastest processing possible.

Apply for your Ethiopian visa today!

World Heritage Site of the Week: Get a Tanzanian Visa to Visit the Stone Town of Zanzibar

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

This week’s featured UNESCO World Heritage site lies on an island off the coast of Tanzania. The Stone Town of Zanzibar is the old heart of Zanzibar, built when it was an ancient trading town.

Zanzibar is located on the island of Unguja. According to Wikipedia, people have been living here for almost three centuries, but the stone buildings that make the old town so distinctive today date back to the 1830s.

The old town consists of large stone houses, mosques and bazaars, all connected by a maze of narrow alleys. Walking is essential here, as most of the alleyways are too skinny to take a car down. One of the most interesting architectural features of the city is the elaborate doors on many of the houses.  The wealthy Arab traders and businessmen who originally owned the houses competed to see whose house had the grandest, most elaborately decorated door.

Before Africa was colonized by Europeans, the city was one of the trading centers between Africa and Asia. UNESCO calls it “outstanding material manifestation of cultural fusion and harmonization.”

To visit Zanzibar’s Old Stone Town, you will need a Tanzanian visa. To apply for the visa, you’ll need the following documents:

  • 1 copy of your Tanzanian visa application form
  • 2 passport-sized photos
  • A copy of a  recent statement from your bank.
  • An international yellow fever vaccination certificate.
  • A travel itinerary OR a bank statement showing a minimum balance of $2,000.
  • If you’ll be visiting Zanzibar as part of an organized tour, you need proof that you have paid the tour operator in full.

If you’re planning a trip to Africa, RushMyTravelVisa can help you research your visa requirements to make sure that you have all of the travel documents you need for your trip. As part of our services, we also provide clear, easy to understand instructions to walk you through the application process, step by step. Finally, we submit your application to the appropriate embassy or consulate for the fastest processing available.

Apply for your Tanzanian visa today!

Get a Kazakhstan Visa To Watch a Golden Eagle Hunt

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

You’ve heard of people hunting with hawks and falcons, of course, but what about eagles? In Kazakhstan and other nearby countries, hunting with golden eagles, called berkutchy, is an ancient tradition that goes back centuries.

However, it’s also a tradition that’s become very rare. According to this article on the Epoch Times, there are only about 50 professional eagle hunters left in the entire country. When the Soviets took control of Kazakhstan, people’s traditional nomadic way of life was disrupted and eagle hunting was banned.

Now, Kazakhstan is independent. Given how fast the country has modernized itself, you might not expect a traditional sport like eagle hunting to be making a comeback, but you would be wrong.  Eagle hunting is one way for the Kazakh people to keep in touch with their nomadic past, and it is actually growing in popularity.

Government official Yepemes Alimkhanov  told the Epoch Times that during the Soviet era, there was “Hunger, repression, collectivisation. People had no time to worry about their eagles. It was a tragedy. But the tradition is coming back. Our sons and daughters have inherited it.”

The hunt itself is an amazing spectacle. The eagles, which can have wingspans that measure more than 6 feet across, can dive for prey (usually rabbits or foxes) at 190 miles per hour.

To the see the golden eagles hunt, you must visit Kazakstan, preferably during winter.  US citizens need both a valid passport and a Kazakhstan visa. You must apply for your Kazakhstan visa in advance-they are not issued at the border. Here are the documents needed to get a tourist visa:

  • One Kazakhstan visa application form
  • 1 passport-sized photo
  • A  cover letter detailing your travel plans and dates in Kazakhstan.  Applicants can write this out themselves if they are staying for less than 30 days. For longer stays, your host must get an invitation letter for you from the Kazakhstan department of foreign affairs.

Also, keep in mind that you may need a visa if you stop in another country along the way, even if it’s just in the airport.  RushMyTravelVisa.com can help you research your trip and apply for your Kazakhstan visa, as well as any other visas you require.

For visa assistance and expedited visa processing, contact us today!

World Heritage Site Of the Week: Get a Burkina Faso Visa to See the Ruins of Loropéni

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

This week’s World Heritage Site of the Week is way off the beaten path and has an interesting history. The ruins of Loropéni are located in  Loropéni, Burkina Faso.  The modern-day town of Loropéni is a market town. The nearby ruins are at least 1,000 years old, dating back to before Europeans arrived in Africa.

The ruins of Loropéni consist of walls over 6 meters high, surrounding what was once a thriving settlement. Who lived here? Why was it built, and why was it eventually abandoned? Nobody is quite sure, and much of the site has yet to be excavated and analyzed. However, it was almost certainly occupied by the local Lohron or Koulango peoples, who oversaw the gold trade in Africa from the 14th through 17th centuries.

Historians believe that the ruins of Loropéni had something to do with the gold trade. The site at Loropéni is the most well-preserved of a network of sites in the area, all of which seem connected to the mining of gold.

The ruins were added to the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites just this year.  You can learn more about them on UNESCO’s site.

If you’d like to visit the ruins at Loropéni, you will need to obtain a Burkina Faso visa. You have the option to obtain one at the border, but if you get one before you leave, you won’t have to waste time filling out paperwork at the border.

To get a Burkina Faso tourist visa, the following documents are required:

  • 2 completed Burkina Faso visa applications
  • 2 matching passport photos
  • A copy of your round-trip plane tickets

Burkina Faso visas cost $100, and if you apply in advance the visa you get will be multiple-entry and good for 5 years.  If you are in a hurry, 24 hour service is available for an additional $50.

You don’t need an International Certificate of Vaccination for yellow fever to receive a Burkina Faso visa. However, you do need one to enter the country, so make sure that you bring it with you!

RushMyTravelVisa can help you research visa requirements and expedite visa applications for countries all over the world, including Burkino Faso.

To apply for a Burkina Faso visa, contact us today!

Get a Brazilian Visa to Celebrate New Year’s Eve at Copacabana

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

Everyone knows that Rio de Janeiro throws down for Carnival, but did you know that they also throw one of the top New Year’s Eve parties in the world? The city welcomes the New Year on the beach at Copacabana, and the New Year’s Eve celebrations there are truly a spectacle.

According to About.com, the party on the beach at Copacabana was originally started by devotees of Brazil’s Candomble religion, who flocked to the beach to honor Iemanja, the goddess of the sea.  What started as a small religious festival has grown into a full-fledged party, with bands, fireworks and approximately 2 million people attending.

If you go, you should definitely wear white to the party. According to Ipanema.com, white is traditional for luck. You can wear accessories in other colors, depending on what you wish for in the coming year. For example, red  is for romance , yellow is  for wealth and green is for health.  Black is unlucky, so leave that little black dress in the closet for tonight!

You should also wear comfy shoes-according to South American Experts,  “the night of entertainment ceases only as the sun begins to rise.”

If you want to spend New Year’s in Brazil, you need to get a Brazilian visa first.  Brazil has a complicated visa system.  There are many different types of visas, and the application procedure is a little bit different for each type visa.

However, if you are visiting Brazil as a tourist, here is what you need to submit your application:

  • Your US passport, which must be valid for at least the next 6 months. Brazil’s visa takes up two pages, so make sure you have two blank pages left in the back.
  • One Brazilian visa application
  • 2 passport-sized photos
  • A copy of your  itinerary stating when you will be entering and leaving Brazil.
  • A clear, legible copy of your driver’s license or state-issued ID card.
  • If you will be visiting friends or relatives, you also need a letter from them.

You’ll also need a yellow fever vaccination to get a Brazilian visa if you’ve been to any of the following countries in the past 90 days: 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 can research the visa requirements for your trip to make sure you have the documents you need. We can also help you collect the necessary documents and fill out the application, and then forward your information to the appropriate embassy or consulate for the fastest possible processing.

Need a Brazilian visa?  Apply with us today!

Get a Chinese Visa To Walk In An Ancient Forest of Stone

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

Tucked away in the Yunnan Province in southern China, Shilin National Park is a wonderland of fantastic rock formations.  The formations are sculpted from the earth as somewhat acidic  water dissolves layers of bedrock.  They rise from the ground, forming tall, jagged towers that reach for the sky. For more pictures and video, see this excellent post on the Environmental Graffiti blog.

There are so many of these formations that they look like trees, which is why Shilin  Forest is called the Stone Forest. The forest is a national park, and many tourists come to see the ancient rock formations.  The area is also home to the Yi people, one of China’s indigenous minority groups.

If you are planning a trip to China, the Shilin stone forest definitely deserves a place on your itinerary.  Before you leave on your trip, you need a passport and a Chinese tourist visa (also known as an “L” visa).  China doesn’t do visas on arrival, so you’ll need to have your visa in hand before you leave the US. If you try to enter China without the appropriate visa, you can expect to be detained, probably fined and sent right back where you came from at your own expense.

The following documents are necessary to apply for a Chinese tourist visa:

  • One visa application form
  • A valid US passport
  • One  passport-sized  photo

If you are leaving for China in seven days or less, you should also include a copy of your travel itinerary. This will allow you to request expedited processing.

RushMyTravelVisa can help you research the visas you’ll need for your trip, including any necessary transit visas. We’ll also provide you with clear, easy-to-follow instructions and checklists that make filling out the paperwork less of a chore.  If you’re planning a trip to China or anywhere else visas are required, give us a call today!

Getting a Thai Visa To Visit the Trang Islands

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

Located in the south of Thailand, along the Andaman sea is a set of picture-perfect islands called the Trang Islands.  The islands and a slice of the mainland make up Thailand’s Trang Province, named after the port town of Trang.

If you’re looking for a place to vacation in Thailand that’s far away from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok and less touristy than Phuket, Trang would be a good choice.  Much of the area’s inviting white sand beaches are part of a national park, and therefore off-limits to the overdevelopment that beaches the world over seem to attract.

You can get from the Thai mainland to the island either by taking a ferry or by hiring a boat and a guide. If you go, you absolutely should not miss the Emerald Cave, located on the island of Ko Muk.  You can actually swim through the cave, surfacing in the middle of  an idyllic lagoon.

Considering visiting Thailand? This post on Matador Travel Network has more details about the islands.

To get to the Trang Islands, you definitely need a passport, which must be valid for at least 6 months after you arrive in Thailand. However, if you are an American citizen, you shouldn’t need a Thai visa unless you plan to stay past 30 days if you enter by air, or 15 days if you enter by land from another country.

However, if you plan to stay in Thailand for longer than that, you can also apply for a Thai visa valid for up to 60 days before you leave. Here’s what you will need to apply:

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

Depending on what your itinerary is like, you may also need transit visas if you will be stopping in other countries on your way to or from Thailand. RushMyTravelVisa can help you determine which travel documents you need, help you with the necessary paperwork, and expedite your application.

Need to apply for a Thai visa? Contact us today!

Do You Need a United Arab Emirates Visa to Visit Dubai?

Monday, December 14th, 2009

Over the past few years, Dubai has been making every effort to establish itself as a premier tourist destination. With its glittering new buildings, posh hotels, excellent restaurants and exciting nightlife, Dubai attracts tourists who want to live it up while on holiday.

Dubai is known for extravagance: extravagant shopping, extravagant hotel rooms, and extravagant projects like the construction of man-made islands in the Persian Gulf. However, last month the bubble burst, as the state-owned Dubai World corporation announced that it needed an additional 6 months to pay its debts.

The Dubai crisis has had a positive side effect for travelers, though-extravagance now costs less. For example,  Gadling just reported that the average price for a hotel room in Dubai has plummeted, from $395 per night to $230 a night.

Also, according to Business Standard, travel agencies have dropped prices drastically as well, offering Dubai package trips for almost 40 percent less than the prices they were charging just a week ago.

In the Business Standard article, Tarique Khatri, the VP  of Business Development for Cleartrip.com, predicts that due to the crisis, “There will be some impact on outbound travels. Travel will become more affordable. With hotel occupancies dropping, less frequent business travelers, it’s the leisure travelers that will have to be lured.”

So, if you’ve always wanted to visit the Dubai, now is probably a great time to start looking for flights to the United Arab Emirates.  If you’re a US citizen traveling to Dubai as a tourist, you don’t need to apply for a United Emirates visa in advance unless you are planning on staying longer than 30 days.  Just bring your US passport,  and you can get a United Arab Emirates visa when you arrive at the airport. Make sure that you have 6 months or more before your passport expires, and that there is at least one blank page in your passport.

However, even if you don’t need a United Arab Emirates visa,  please keep in mind that you may need transit visas if your itinerary involves a stop in another country’s airport on the way.

RushMyTravelVisa.com can help research your itinerary to make sure you have the documents you need to reach your destination. If you do need a travel visa, our specialists can help you apply for your visa for the fastest possible service.

Contact us today!