Archive for June, 2010

The Top 5 Reasons to Get an Indian Visa

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Why travel to India?  There are too many reasons to count, really, but we’ve managed to narrow it down to the top 5. Your mileage may vary of course-if there’s something we should have included or something you think we should have left out, let us know in the comments!

1. The Taj Mahal

India’s most famous building, the Taj Mahal is practically the national symbol. Built by an emperor to immortalize his beloved wife, the Taj never fails to impress.

2. Indian Food

So much more than just curry, Indian food has countless regional variations, all of them delicious.

3. Goa

This countercultural playground is known for more than just its beach parties-the beaches themselves are stunning and the region’s rich history makes for interesting excursions.

4. Khajuraho

Khajuraho is best known for the gorgeous statues that decorate its three groups of temples. Be forewarned-although many of the sculptures depict scenes from the lives of ordinary people, some of them are most definitely NSFW!

5. Elephanta Caves

Thousands of years ago, on an island in the ocean to the east of Mumbai, unknown builders carved a series of Hindu and Buddhist caves into the rock. The caves fell into ruin after the Portuguese took over the region, but they have since been restored and designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Gorgeous, intricate carvings and impressive rock-hewn architecture make these caves a must-see while you are in India.

If you are a US citizen, you will need both your US passport and an Indian visa to visit the country.   You must apply for your  Indian visa ahead of time, as visas on arrival are not permitted.  For more information on what you need to get your visa, check out Indian Visa Requirements for Tourists.

RushMyTravelVisa can make applying for your visa much faster and more convenient. Let us help you expedite your Indian visa application today!

Do You Need a Chinese Visa to Go to Hong Kong?

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Hong Kong, a former British colony that is now part of China, is often described as “the place where East meets West.” Englad took control of Hong Kong from  China during the first Opium War in 1841. It was finally returned to Chinese control in 1997.

Today, the island is a major financial hub and tourist attraction. Tourists visit Hong Kong for shopping, dining and to see impressive attractions like the Giant Buddha of Po Lin Monastery.

Hong Kong is part of China, but do you need a Chinese visa to visit it?  Not necessarily. If you are just visiting Hong Kong as a tourist and will be staying less than 90 days, all you need to enter is your US passport, enough money to support yourself while you are there, and a return ticket.

Even though you don’t need a visa, there are few important things you should be aware of before you book your flight. First, check the expiration date on your passport. Hong Kong only requires that it be valid for one month past your visit.  However,  since many of the surrounding countries require you have at least 6 months left on your passport to enter, the US Department of State recommends renewing your passport if it expires in less than 6 month.

Also, if you plan to cross over into mainland China, you will need a Chinese visa and you should apply before you leave the US. Technically, you can apply for a Chinese visa at the PRC Embassy in Hong Kong, but the Department of State website notes that travelers who do this often find themselves unable to get a visa because they lack the required documents. For example, the Chinese government requires a certified U.S. birth certificate to issue a visa for a US-born child in Hong Kong. In any case, it’s best to have all of that stuff taken care of before you leave the US, while you are still on familiar territory.

For more information on getting a Chinese tourist visa, see Chinese Tourist Visa Requirements.

RushMyTravelVisa.com can help you apply for any visas you may need for your trip to Hong Kong, including any required transit visas. We’ll research your itinerary and let you know what documents are needed, help you apply and expedite your applications.

Need a Chinese visa? Let us help you apply today!

Indonesian Visa Requirements to Visit the Borobudur Temple

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

This week’s featured UNESCO World Heritage Site is located in Indonesia. The Borobudur Temple is an ancient Buddhist temple that dates back to the 8th or 9th century AD. This colossal structure was once abandoned to the surrounding jungle, perhaps because the local populace converted to Islam or perhaps due to a volcanic eruption.

Either way, it was rediscovered in 1814 by H.C. Cornelius, a Dutch engineer working for the British government in Java. Excavating the monument took decades-it was not fully unearthed until 1835.  In the 1970′s, UNESCO sponsored a major renovation and restoration of the temple, and today Indonesian Buddhists worship there once more. Vesak, a major Buddhist holiday, is celebrated by visiting all three of the region’s major Buddhist temples, walking from Mendut to Pawon and finally to Borobudur.

The base of the  temple measures approximately 403.5 feet on each side, and it took more than 72,000 cubic yards worth of stone to construct. It is decorated with statues of the Buddha, bas-reliefs and sculptures. Viewed from above, it looks like a sacred mandala.

If you want to see the temple, you’ll need an Indonesian visa.  Indonesia does issue visas on arrival at certain airports and sea ports, but you can also apply for one before your trip. Either way, here’s what you need:

  • Your US passport, which must have at least 6 months left before it expires. You’ll also need one whole blank page free in the back for the visa.
  • 2 completed Indonesian visa application forms
  • 2 passport photos
  • A copy of your most recent bank statement
  • A letter from your employer verifying that you are employed or on a leave of absence. If you don’t have a job, simply include a detailed letter explaining that fact.
  • An itinerary letter that explains why you are going to Indonesia.

RushMyTravelVisa can help expedite your Indonesian visa as well as any other visas you may need for your trip. When you apply with us, a trained visa specialist will answer your questions and help you with your application. Then, we’ll deliver your paperwork to the appropriate embassy or consulate for the fastest possible processing.

Apply for your Indonesian visa today!

Get a Vietnam Visa to Visit Magical Ha Long Bay

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

One of Vietnam’s most exquisite natural treasures, Ha Long Bay is located along the coast in Quảng Ninh province.  Local legend has it that the bay was created by a family of friendly dragons, send by the gods to help the Vietnamese defend their land against the Chinese.  Over 3,000 islands and islets rise out of the crystal blue waters, covered with jungle and surreal rock formations. Many of the islands have caves to explore, and some even have lakes. Is it any wonder that Ha Long Bay was nominated to be one of the World’s 7 Natural Wonders in 2009?

However, conservation-minded tourists should be careful that they don’t inadvertently cause harm to this special place. Environmental Graffiti has an excellent first-hand account of a visit to Ha Long Bay that includes this caution:

“Unfortunately there are often downsides to tourist success and this magnificent site is no exception. The bay is under threat as many people have removed rare coral and seashells from the seabed and also taken stalactites and stalagmites from the caves. These are often taken and made into trinkets such as key rings to be sold to visiting tourists, so be wary and try not to buy.”

To visit Ha Long Bay, you need a valid passport and a Vietnamese visa. You need to plan ahead and have your visa in hand before you leave the US, as Vietnamese visas are not available on arrival.  See Vietnamese Visa Requirements for Tourists for more details on what you need to do to get your visa.

RushMyTravelVisa can help you get your Vietnamese visa, as well as any other visas you’ll need for your trip. We’ll research the visa requirements for your planned itinerary, then help you with the necessary paperwork and deliver your application to the right embassy or consulate for expedited service.

Apply for your Vietnamese visa today!

Get an Ethiopian Visa to Visit the Ancient City of Aksum

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

Beginning around 400 BC, a new power emerged in Ethiopia, based in the city of Aksum. Over time, the new kingdom took over territory and valuable trade routes from the nearby Kingdom of Kush, eventually becoming one of the most important and powerful kingdoms in the entire world.

The Kingdom of Aksum converted to Christianity early, and local legend states that the city was also the home of the biblical Queen of Sheba and the final resting place of the Ark of the Covenant.  The Axumites also developed their own language and their own style of architecture, including impressive obelisks.

Today, Aksum is much smaller, but you can still see the remains of the old city. There are ancient castles, royal tombs and towering obelisks. The Obelisk of Axum was recently returned to Ethiopia from Italy and is on display again, along with other monuments in the Northern Stelae Park.

You’ll need more than just a passport to see these ruins. You will also need an Ethiopian visa. It’s best to apply for your visa while you are still in the United States and have it in hand before you travel.  This is an absolute must if you will be entering Ethiopia by land or from any airport other than Bole International Airport. In theory, you can buy an Ethiopian tourist visa on arrival at Bole International Airport, but at least according to the Department of State, it’s not always that easy in practice.

Here’s what you need to apply for an Ethiopian visa:

  • 1 completed Ethiopian visa application form
  • 1 passport-sized photo of yourself
  • A copy of your round-trip itinerary
  • Your US passport

RushMyTravelVisa can help make sure your trip to Ethiopia is a success. We’ll research your itinerary to make sure you have the appropriate documentation for every step of your journey. Then, we’ll help you apply, providing personal assistance and delivering your application to the appropriate embassy or consulate for the fastest possible processing.

Apply for your Ethiopian visa today!

Thailand Waives Thai Visa Requirements As Country Recovers From Civil Unrest

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Lately, Thailand has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Riots and protests that pitted different political parties against each other claimed 88 lives and a lot of property in certain areas of Bangkok. The protests also prompted the US Department of State to issue  a travel advisory warning Americans against travel to Thailand.

The streets of Thailand are calm again, and the travel warning has been lifted. However, Thailand’s tourist industry has suffered a major disruption. Of course, the silver lining to all of this is that now that it’s once again safe and pleasant to travel to Thailand, you can find some amazing travel deals there. As Gadling observes:

Hesitant tourists are the unfortunate result of any political instability, no matter how short-lived. The resulting drop in foreign visitors to Thailand has instigated a price war among hotels and resorts across the country–if you thought Thailand used to be cheap, it just got a whole lot cheaper. A number of awesome deals are up for the taking, like Thai Airways’ Discover Thailand pass (fly to any 3 cities within Thailand for $278).

The government is also doing its part to help tempt visitors. Gadling notes that for the time being, the Thai Tourist Authority is waiving Thai visa requirements and fees for tourists who would like to stay longer than the normal 30 days.  Ordinarily, if you wanted to stay longer than 30 days you would need to apply for a Thai tourist visa valid for up to 60 days. But not right now-so feel free to take an extended vacation in Thailand! You can check and see if the requirements are back in force by visiting the Thai Tourist Authority’s website.

Even if you don’t need a Thai visa, you may need a visa if your journey requires you to travel through or stop in another country. RushMyTravelVisa can help you by researching your itinerary and then expediting the application process for any visas you might need.

Apply for your travel visa today!

Get a Bolivian Visa to Visit El Fuerte de Samaipata

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

Over 1,000 years ago, a group called the Chane lived in the Andes Mountains, in what is now Bolivia.  They lived in densely populated villages, farmed and created some rather extraordinary rock art.  Most of the villages are long gone, but the rock art is still visible today at El Fuerte de Samaipata, this week’s featured UNESCO World Heritage Site.

To the Chane, El Fuerte de Samaipata was a religious site. It was destroyed when a rival group, the Guarani, conquered the Chane. The Spanish also built a settlement there, and the Incas, who allied with the Chane against the Guarani, also had a settlement nearby. So, when you visit El Fuerte de Samaipata you can actually see architectural ruins from all three cultures.

However, it’s the Chane rock art that really steals the show. On a stone hill, the Chane carved a panoply of figures, including the jaguars and snakes that are so common in Pre-Columbian art.  They also built a water tank out of stone and carved seats for participants and spectators. SacredSites.com has a great picture.

Here’s how UNESCO describes the site:

Samaipata bears outstanding witness to the existence in this Andean region of a culture with highly developed religious traditions, illustrated dramatically in the form of immense rock sculptures.

To visit these ruins, you will need your passport (of course) and a Bolivian visa.  Bolivian visas can be obtained on arrival as long as you enter the country at an official border crossing, or you can apply in advance if you would prefer to have one in hand before you leave the US. However, if you choose to apply for one arrival, make sure you have $135 cash on hand to pay for it!

For more information about how to get a Bolivian visa to explore these ruins, see Bolivian Visa Requirements for Tourists.

RushMyTravelVisa can expedite your Bolivian visa, as well as any other visas you may need for your trip. We’ll research your itinerary, help you with the paperwork and deliver your visa application to the correct embassy or consulate for the fastest possible processing.

Apply for your Bolivian visa today!

Nepal Visa Requirements to Visit Everest Base Camp

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

Have you ever dreamed of climbing Mount Everest?  For most people, standing on top of the highest mountain in the world is an impossible dream. The altitude and terrain mean that to make the climb, you have to be extremely athletic. (And just because a 13-year-old recently summited, that doesn’t make it an easy climb. Jordan Romero is one tough kid.)

For most of us, Everest Base Camp is a much more doable goal. Every year, thousands of people visit the South Base Camp in Nepal, making it one of the most popular hiking trails in the country.  Although the trip to Base Camp is not nearly as strenuous as actually climbing the mountain, you will still get a fairly intense workout. You’ll also get a chance to meet local people and experience the local culture along the way. Kraig Becker, a writer for Gadling.com, recently made the trip.  Here’s how he described the experience of finally reaching Base Camp:

Finally reaching BC gives you a sense of relief, satisfaction, and exhilaration all at the same time. For many of us who made the trek, visiting Everest was a dream come true, and while we were “only” at 17,600 feet, it is probably as close to the summit as we’ll ever come. The actual “camp” can be a bit anti-climactic if you see the location as just a destination to add to your list, but when you take in the whole experience, you’ll understand that an Everest Base Camp trek is more than the sum of its parts.

To visit Everest Base Camp, you will need a Nepal visa.  You get a visa on arrival at major points of entry, but if you like being prepared, you can also apply for a Nepal visa ahead of time, before you leave the US. Either way, see Nepal Visa Requirements For Tourists for details. Remember, you will also need a trekking permit to hike.

RushMyTravelVisa can help you get all the necessary visas for your next trip, quickly and easily.

Apply for your Nepal visa today!

Brazilian Visa Requirements To Visit Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, Where the Mirages Are Real

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

When is a mirage not really a mirage? When the water is real, as it is in Brazil’s Lençóis Maranhenses National Park. This park is mostly desert,an otherworldly landscape with vast, ivory-colored sand dunes as far as the eye can see. However, in Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, crystal-clear lakes and lagoons are scattered in between the dunes.

The New York Times’ Frugal Traveler recently visited the park, and was quite impressed:

The barely off-white silky sands and endless cool oases of the Lençóis are such a visual stunner that, with apologies to Rio de Janeiro, the Canadian Rockies and my ex-girlfriends, they may be the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.

You can get to Lençóis Maranhenses National Park by plane or by bus from São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro. Of course, first you have to get to Brazil, and that means you need a Brazilian visa. There are several things you need to know about Brazil’s visa system before you apply. First, you need to find out which Brazilian embassy processes visa requests for your city and state.  Brazil’s visa system, is “jurisdictional,” which means that each embassy serves a different region of the country and you must submit your application to the right location for it to be processed.

Once you know where to submit your application, check to be sure you have all of the following documents:

  • Your passport. You need 2 or more blank pages to allow room for the visa, and your expiration date must be more than 6 months in the future. So, you may need to get a passport renewal or add pages before you apply.
  • A Brazilian visa application
  • 2 passport-sized photos
  • A copy of your itinerary, which must have the dates you plan to enter and leave Brazil.
  • A  clear, legible copy of your driver’s license or state-issued ID card.
  • If you will be visiting friends or relatives, include an invitation letter from them as well.

If you travel frequently, you might also need a yellow fever vaccination. Vaccines are required of travelers who have been to any of the following countries in the past 3 months (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.com can make getting a Brazil visa much easier and faster. When you apply through us, you get helpful checklists and guidance from a trained visa specialist. Then, we expedite your application and submit it to the to appropriate embassy or consulate for super-fast processing.

Apply for your Brazilian visa today!

Azerbaijan Visa Requirements To See the Rock Art at Gobustan

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

Azerbaijan is one of those countries that’s off the beaten path but full of wonderful surprises, like this week’s featured UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape. Added to the World Heritage List in 2007, Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape is an amazing collection of ancient rock art created over a period of 40,000 years.

There are over 6,000 engravings at the site, depicting a wide range of subjects, including people, rituals,battles,  bullfights, the sun and stars, boats, and more. In addition to the engravings, the site is full of other archaeological evidence of ancient human settlement, such as burial sites and preserved cave dwellings.

Today, Gobustan is rather dry and arid, and is sparsely populated as a result. However, in the past, the region’s climate was wetter and water more abundant, and the area supported a diverse selection of fauna that you would have to travel to Africa to see today, including goats, deer, wild horses, donkeys, wild boars, gazelles , lions, wolves, wild cats and leopards. Naturally, humans were attracted by the abundant wildlife and the natural shelter provided by the caves.

In addition to the rock art, Gobustan is also famous for mud volcanoes. Although they sometimes shoot flames in the air, mud volcanoes mainly just spew mineral-rich mud that is reputed to have medicinal properties.

To visit Azerbaijan, if you are a US citizen you will need both a valid passport and an Azerbaijan visa. You can get a single-entry Azerbaijan visa at the airport if you arrive by plane, but you will need to apply ahead of time if you are arriving by land or if you need a multiple-entry visa. Here’s what you need to get the visa:

  • 1 Azerbaijan visa application form
  • 2 passport photos
  • A tourist voucher from a  hotel in Azerbaijan with a confirmation number.

Remember, you may need other visas depending on what countries you travel through to get to Azerbaijan, even if you’re just passing through. RushMyTravelVisa  can research your itinerary and tell you exactly what documents you need. Then, we make it easy to apply by walking you through the application process and submitting your paperwork for you to expedite processing.

Apply for your Azerbaijan visa today!