Archive for August, 2010

Friendly Reminder From the US State Department: Don’t Try to Enter North Korea Without a Visa!

Monday, August 30th, 2010

As former president Jimmy Carter returned from North Korea with a freed American prisoner, the US Department of State issued a new travel warning for the country, reminding Americans not to attempt to visit it without a North Korean visa. Although North Korea announced earlier this year that they would allow US tourists into the country year-round, that doesn’t mean that it’s easy for US citizens to visit the country.

The travel warning notes that:

“The Government of North Korea imposes heavy fines and long prison sentences with hard labor on persons who enter the country without a valid passport and a North Korean visa…Travel by U.S. citizens to North Korea is not routine, and U.S. citizens crossing into North Korea without proper documentation, even accidentally, have been subject to arrest and long-term detention.

How hard is it to get a North Korea visa? Well, it’s no walk in the park, especially since the US and North Korea don’t have consular relations with each other. US citizens can apply at the North Korean embassy in Beijing and have a visa within a day, but that’s IF you’re approved for one. There’s no way to know whether or not you’ll be approved without trying, but you can contact the Permanent Representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the United Nations beforehand to see if your application is likely to be accepted. Here’s his contact information:

The Permanent Representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the United Nations
820 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10017
Tel: (212) 972-3105
Fax: (212) 972-3154

Americans are allowed to visit only as part of organized, supervised tour groups, and the State Department’s travel warning further notes that “Security personnel may also view any unauthorized attempt you make to talk to a North Korean citizen as espionage. North Korean authorities may fine or arrest you for unauthorized currency transactions or for shopping at stores not designated for foreigners.”

Sounds like a lot of fun. Bear in mind that if you’re entering North Korea from China, you’ll also need a multiple entry Chinese tourist visa. See Chinese Visa Requirements for Tourists for details, and consider planning an alternate Chinese itinerary in case your North Korea visa application is rejected.

Since North Korea doesn’t have diplomatic relations with the US, visa services like RushMyTravelVisa can’t help you get a North Korea visa. However, we can help you get a Chinese visa, as well as visas for any other stops you plan to make on your journey.

For travel visa help, contact us today!

Paraguay Visa Requirements for Tourists

Friday, August 27th, 2010

When you imagine taking a vacation in South America, odds are that you aren’t imagining yourself in Paraguay. The landlocked country doesn’t have any tropical beaches to beckon tourists, and its tourist facilities are not as well-developed as those of its neighbors.

Still, for backpackers and other travelers who’d like to get off the beaten path, Paraguay is worth a visit. Attractions include remote national parks where you can truly leave civilization behind (just make sure that you have a guide and the proper gear), charming Mennonite enclaves, bustling cities and the dry plains and scrub of the Chaco.

Paraguay is best avoided during the summer months, when the entire country turns into an oven and temperatures soar to as high as 109 degrees Fahrenheit.  Note: Since Paraguay is in the southern hemisphere, their summer runs from December through February. Winter in Paraguay is much more temperate, with highs in the 70s.

To visit Paraguay, American citizens are required to carry both a valid passport and a Paraguay visa. Paraguay doesn’t do visas on arrival, so you will need to apply for your visa before you leave the US. Once you have obtained your passport, here are the documents required to apply for a Paraguay visa:

  • 2  visa application forms
  • 2 passport photos
  • 2 copies of the pages of your passport that contain your photos and identifying information.
  • 2 copies of your round-trip airline tickets or itinerary.

RushMyTravelVisa can help you apply for your visa to visit Paraguay, as well as any other visas you might need for your trip. We’ll take a look at your itinerary and research the visa requirements, ensuring that you have the appropriate documents in hand before you leave the country. Then, we’ll help you with the paperwork and submit your application to the appropriate embassy or consulate for the fastest possible service.

Apply for your Paraguay visa today!

Venezuelan Visa Requirements to Visit Canaima National Park

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

This week’s featured UNESCO World Heritage Site is tucked away in the southeastern corner of Venezuela, near the borders with Brazil and Guyana. Canaima National Park is vast expanse of rugged wilderness so remote and unusual that it inspired the setting of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel The Lost World.

Here’s how UNESCO describes the park:

Canaima National Park is spread over 3 million ha in south-eastern Venezuela along the border between Guyana and Brazil. Roughly 65% of the park is covered by table mountain (tepui) formations. The tepuis constitute a unique biogeological entity and are of great geological interest. The sheer cliffs and waterfalls, including the world’s highest (1,000 m), form a spectacular landscape.

The unusual and unique tepuis really make Canaima National Park stand out. You can climb to the top of some of the tepuis, including Auyantepu, the formation from which Angel Falls, the highest waterfall in the world, plunges 3,212 feet. That’s almost a mile!

If you’d like to see Angel Falls, it’s best to visit Canaima National Park from June to December, when the water is deep enough to allow travel by boat. More likely than not, your guide will be a member of the native Pemon tribe who inhabit the park.

To visit Canaima National Park, you need a US passport valid for at least 6 months after you plan to enter Venezuela, as well as a Venezuelan visa or tourist card. You can get a tourist card on the plane if you are arriving by air and plan to stay for less than 90 days. However, backpackers and others entering Venezuela by land do need to arrange for a Venezuelan visa in advance.

For more information on getting a Venezuelan visa, see Venezuelan Visa Requirements for Tourists.

RushMyTravelVisa can help you apply for the necessary visas for your next trip. We’ll research requirements for your itinerary, help you with the paperwork and submit your application for the fastest possible processing.

Apply for your Venezuelan visa today!

Tanzanian Visa Requirements for the Winner of the Kilimanjaro Ultimate Adventure Sweepstakes

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Is “climbing Mount Kilimanjaro” on your list of things you absolutely must do before you die? Then check out the latest sweepstakes from Polarmax, Backpacker Magazine, Cotton Incorporated and Zara Tours: the Kilimanjaro Ultimate Adventure Sweepstakes (h/t Gadling).

Whoever wins the sweepstakes gets the opportunity to take a guest to Tanzania to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro with guide Macon Dunnagan. Dunnagan is an experienced climber who literally wrote the book on climbing Kilimanjaro. Well, a book, at least-his novel Sons of Kilimanjaro is about 4 men climbing the 19,340 foot mountain, and he’s made the climb at least 16 times himself.

The winner will also be protected from the elements with Polarmax clothing and gear, obviously, and will get to star in a climbing video for the Polarmax site. Airfare and 4 nights in a nearby hotel is included as well.

Sure, it’s a long shot, but entering is a cinch-all you have to do is go to the Sweepstakes website and enter your contact information in the online entry form.

Whether you win or not, successfully climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro requires training and preparation. For more helpful hints about how to prepare for the climb, see A Tanzanian Visa: Your First Step To Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Whether you’re going as a contest winner or you are paying for the trip on your own, you’ll need both a valid passport and a Tanzanian visa. You can apply for a Tanzanian visa in the airport when you arrive, but you’ll be able to leave the airport and get to your hotel more quickly if you get yours in advance.

Here’s what Tanzania requires you to have in order to apply for a tourist visa:

  • 1 completed visa application form
  • 2 passport photos
  • A copy of a recent bank statement
  • A yellow fever vaccination certificate
  • A travel itinerary or a bank statement showing a minimum balance of $2,000.
  • If you’re going on an organized tour, you will need a letter from the tour operator showing you are paid in full.

RushMyTravelVisa can help you get a Tanzanian visa, as well as any other visas you might need for your journey. We make the application process easy by providing you with personal guidance and helpful checklists. Then, we deliver your paperwork directly to the embassy for the fastest possible processing.

Apply for your Tanzanian visa today!

5 Reasons to Get a Cambodian Visa

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

Each year, more and more international tourists discover Cambodia for the first time. Here are 5 great reasons to get a Cambodian visa and explore this magical country yourself:

1. Angkor Wat

The national symbol of Cambodia, Angkor Wat is a massive Hindu temple/Buddhist shrine. Built in the early 12th century, it towers over the surrounding jungle, richly decorated with reliefs, sculptures and statues.

2. Phnom Penh

Cambodia’s capital is another must-see. Bustling and vibrant, Phnom Penh is a great place to shop, eat, or just contemplate Cambodian history, whether in a gilded Buddhist temple or at a somber memorial to the people who died in Cambodia’s killing fields.

3. Siem Reap

Siem Reap is a great base for visiting the temples at Angkor Wat, but it’s also an interesting city in its own right. Located on the banks of the Siem Reap river, the town center is full of picture-perfect French colonial architecture. Traffic to the temples of Angkor Wat has a sparked a tourism boom, with lots of excellent places to stay and world-class restaurants.

4. Preah Vihear

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the temple of Preah Vihear is located along Cambodia’s border with Thailand. It dates back to the 9th century, and like Angkor Wat, it was originally built as a Hindu temple and later converted to Buddhism.

5. Ratanakiri Province

Remote Ratanakiri Province is an excellent destination for adventure tourism. Here’s how the Lonely Planet’s guide to Cambodia describes it:

Adrenaline activities are plentiful. Swim in clear volcanic lakes, shower under waterfalls, glimpse an elephant or trek in the vast Virachay National Park – it’s all here.

To visit Cambodia, Americans need a Cambodian visa. If you’re flying in, you can apply on arrival at the Phnom Penh and Siem Reap airports. However, you can also get your visa before you leave the US, and this will allow you to escape the airport more quickly.

To learn more about getting a Cambodian tourist visa, see Cambodian Visa Requirements for Tourists.

Remember, RushmyTravelVisa.com can make the visa application process easier by offering assistance with the application, helping you avoid common mistakes, and getting the fastest possible processing.

Apply for your Cambodian visa today!

Brazil Visa Requirements to Visit the Pantanal

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

This week’s featured UNESCO World Heritage Site is part of the largest wetland in the world. The Pantanal Conservation Complex consists of 4 protected areas in Brazil’s Pantanal region. The Pantanal is an amazing ecosystem that supports a tremendously diverse population of plants and animals. According to Wikipedia, it is home to 3500 known plant species, 1000 different types of birds, 300 different types of mammals, 480 reptile species, 400 fish species and over 9,000 different types of invertebrates.

Some of the most photogenic inhabitants of the Pantanal include giant river otters, howler monkeys, endangered hyacinth macaws and other parrots, jaguar, giant anteaters, the alligator-like caiman and the odd-looking tapir, which resembles a pig but is actually more closely related to the rhinoceros.

The UNESCO World Heritage website explains why the Pantanal Conservation Complex was added to the list:

The headwaters of the region’s two major river systems, the Cuiabá and the Paraguay rivers, are located here, and the abundance and diversity of its vegetation and animal life are spectacular.

As you might imagine, the Pantanal is an excellent destination for outdoor activities like fishing as well as eco-tourism. The region is dotted with lodges that serve as excellent bases for excursions into the surrounding countryside.

To visit the Pantanal, you’ll need  both a US passport and a Brazil visa. Be sure to apply for your Brazil visa well in advance of your trip, as you won’t be allowed to get on your plane without one. Also, check your passport before you apply for your Brazil visa. Brazil likes to make a statement with their visas, so you’ll need at least 2 blank pages in the back. Also, check the expiration date-you’ll need to renew your passport if its more than 6 months in the future.

For more information about getting your visa, see Brazil Visa Requirements for Tourists.

Need help applying for your visa? RushMyTravelVisa.com offers a personal touch for a smooth application process and the fastest possible processing.

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Overpriced Cruise Excursions: One Way To Circumvent Russian Visa Requirements

Friday, August 20th, 2010

Russia’s visa system is not known for being traveler-friendly. In fact, even the US Department of State calls it “restrictive and complicated,” and that’s putting it diplomatically. Gadling notes that the hassles involved in applying for a Russian tourist visa have encouraged a market for expensive shore excursions on Baltic cruises. Most Baltic cruise ships remain in port in St. Petersburg for 2 or 3 days, and Gadling points out that if you travel by yourself, you can easily get to and from Moscow for about $60, while a Moscow shore excursion booked through Silversea Cruises costs $999 per person.

The advantage of booking through the cruise line, however, is that the cruise line deals with the Russian visa system for you by obtaining a blanket transit visa good for all passengers on the ship. Avidcruiser.com explains:

These so-called “transit” visas, good for visits of up to 72 hours, allow you to exit the ship only on group or private tours conducted by that ground operator. You are not allowed to disembark the ship and travel on your own — not even to stroll Nevsky Prospect, the most famous street in all of Russia — unless you’ve taken the time to apply for a tourist visa.

Still, $999 per person? It seems like the chance to avoid the Russian visa bureaucracy is more precious than rubies for some people!

Of course, if you go through the trouble of getting a Russian visa, you’re free to travel on your own while the ship is in port, so you benefit from the opportunity to set your own itinerary and move at your own pace, plus you’ll have a lot more money for your next shore excursion.

To learn more about how to get a Russian visa, see “Russian Visas for Tourists.”

If you want to see Moscow but can’t stomach the thought of forking over a grand for the privilege, private visa services like RushMyTravelVisa can help. We’ll assist you with the application, helping you to avoid common errors that could cause your Russian visa to be delayed. Then, we’ll personally deliver it to the appropriate embassy office for the fastest possible processing.

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Travel Visa Requirements To Eat, Pray and Love

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love was a both a critical and commercial success in novel form, appeasing both professional literary critics and Oprah Winfrey as well as topping the New York Times’ Bestseller list. Now, , writer Elizabeth Gilbert’s chronicle of self-discovery through travel has been made into a movie, with Julia Roberts playing the lead role.

The Nileguidance blog points out that both the book and the movie are inspiring people to travel to the locations mentioned in the book in hopes of having some transcendent experiences of their own. Several tour companies have even started to offer Eat, Pray, Love tours. Here’s how Nileguidance describes the appeal of patterning a trip after the book:

What Eat Pray Love does inspire, however, is the notion that long-term travel is possible, and so are those extraordinary experiences. Perhaps the film will motivate people to set out on their journey far sooner than imagined.

Whether you decide to go to Italy to eat, to India to pray, or to Bali to seek love, or all three, you will need the proper travel documents. A US passport, valid for at least 6 months, is required everywhere. Here are the visa requirements for the three countries:

Italy: Italy is a Schengen country, so you don’t need a travel visa unless you plan on staying for more than 90 days.

India: India requires all US citizens to have travel visas in hand before they arrive. For more information on how to get a tourist visa for India, see Indian Visa Requirements for Tourists.

Bali: Bali is in Indonesia, which gives American citizens the option of applying for a tourist visa in advance or applying at the airport when you arrive. Of course, if you apply in advance you’ll be able to get through immigration faster, which is always a blessing. Make sure you have at least one clean blank page in the back of your passport to accommodate the visa. For more information on getting an Indonesian tourist visa, see Indonesian Visa Requirements for Tourists.

No matter what the itinerary is for your own voyage of self-discovery, RushMyTravelVisa can help you get the documents you need to travel. We’ll research your itinerary to make sure you know exactly what stops will require visas. Then, we’ll help you with the paperwork and submit your applications for you for the fastest possible processing.

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Kenyan Visa Requirements To Climb Mt. Kenya for Charity

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

The famous mountaineer George Mallory was once asked why he wanted to climb Mt. Everest. He reportedly responded “Because it’s there,” and those three words have become something of a mantra among mountaineers.

However, modern-day mountaineers have another reason to climb: charity. Charity climbs help aid groups raise money and bring attention to the causes they support. For example, The International Childcare Trust is currently organizing a climb of Mt. Kenya, Africa’s second-highest mountain, to publicize its work fighting for the rights of children to enjoy childhood without hunger, poverty or preventable sickness (h/t Gadling).

Here’s how their website describes the journey:

A unique challenge of a lifetime up Africa’s 2nd highest peak – Mount Kenya, an extinct volcano with incredible scenery and wildlife; elephants, rhinos and leopards roam the surrounding area. You will see rainforests, moorland, plantations, great valleys, glacier fields and beautiful African skies.

To climb Mount Kenya, you will need a Kenyan visa. While American citizens are eligible to get visas when they arrive in Kenya, if you go that route the US Department of State warns you to “expect delays upon arrival.” Fortunately, you can also apply for a Kenyan visa in advance, before you leave the airport.

Either way, here’s what you’ll need to get a Kenyan tourist visa:

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

One tricky thing to remember about filling out Kenyan visa paperwork: It all needs to be typed. Handwritten applications are not acceptable and will be rejected. Simply go to the Kenyan Embassy’s website, fill out the form online and print it, then sign on the dotted line.

Using an online visa service like RushMyTravelVisa.com can make the application process quicker and easier. Apply for your Kenyan visa today!

The Top 5 Reasons to Get a Vietnamese Visa

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

In 2010, approximately 4.5 to 4.6 million international tourists will visit Vietnam.  Should you join them? Here are the top 5 reasons to get your Vietnamese visa and go check it out for yourself:

1. Phu Quoc Island

This idyllic island features flawless, snow-white beaches, delectable seafood and a cornucopia of outdoor adventure activities such as riding motorbikes, sea kayaking and scuba diving. Visit it now, while it’s still relatively undeveloped. It won’t stay that way long.

2. Hoi An

Hoi An is a charming tourist town that revels in its history. One of the highlights of visiting Hoi An is the “Hoi An Legendary Night,” a monthly street festival that celebrates the full moon with traditional decorations, food, drink, songs and dances.

If you like clothes, Hoi An is also the perfect place to get a perfect fit. The town is known for its many tailors, so you’re sure to find some flattering fashions to take home with you.

3. Halong Bay

Halong Bay is justly famous for its interesting limestone karst formations that rise from the sea like something out of a surrealist painting, as well as its many deep, mysterious sea caves.

4. Hue

Hue was once the capital of the Nguyen emperors, and many remnants of its former imperial splendor remain in the form of temples, pagodas, palaces and other artistic and architectural marvels.

5. Interesting Cuisine

If you have the stomach for it, Vietnam is known for serving a unique selection of foods and beverages. For example, consider the delicacy called “Ruou Mat Ran.” According to the NileGuidance blog, this meal begins with the contents of the gallbladder of a live snake served in a glass of rice wine. The remaining parts of the snake are then cooked in various ways and brought to the table after you’ve finished your drink.

Not feeling quite that adventurous? Just forfeit your bragging rights and order something a little tamer (but still delicious), like Phở or sticky rice.

To visit Vietnam, you do need a visa and you need to apply before you leave the US. For more information about what’s required, see Vietnamese Visa Requirements for Tourists.

RushMyTravelVisa can expedite your Vietnamese visa application. We offer assistance with the application and a handy checklist, helping you avoid common mistakes that could delay your application, as well as the fastest possible processing.

Apply for your Vietnamese visa today!