Archive for September, 2010

5 Reasons to Get an Indonesian Visa

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

Indonesia’s motto is “Unity in Diversity,” and this is an apt description of a country that consists of 17,508 islands and 206 million people speaking 742 different languages. Opportunities for tourism in Indonesia are equally diverse-there’s so much to see and do that it’s hard to narrow it down. Nevertheless, here are 5 of the most spectacular reasons to get an Indonesian visa:

Bali:

Bali is a wonderland of clean white and black-sand beaches, gorgeous rice terraces, and enchanting temples. The island is also one of Indonesia’s most important artistic centers, nurturing dancers, painters, sculptors and metalworkers alike. It’s no surprise, then, that Bali is Indonesia’s most popular tourist attraction.

Sumatra:

Sumatra is a wild island packed with smoky volcanoes and verdant jungles (at least in areas where logging and development have been kept at bay.) It’s also Indonesia’s most productive coffee-growing region.

Kalimantan

Kalimantan is Borneo’s beating heart, secret and mysterious. While it’s not on most tourist itineraries, it’s definitely worth your time. Explore the canal city of Banjarmasin, visit traditional Dayak villages or look for orangutans, monkeys and even sun bears in Kalimantan’s jungles.

Java

Indonesia’s most densely populated island, Java is fringed with active volcanoes, adorned with richly decorated temples and palaces, and vibrates with the energy of 120 million people.

Tana Toraja

Tana Toraja is the homeland of the Toraja people. The Toraja are famous for their intricate wood carvings and incredibly elaborate funeral ceremonies. Funeral rites can last days, involving hundreds of people and including music, dancing, feasting and chanting to help the deceased person’s soul journey to the next world. The Toraja are also known for carving burial sites into the sides of cliffs.

To visit Indonesia, you will need an Indonesian visa. You can apply for one in advance, before you leave the states, or you can apply for your Indonesian visa on arrival. See Indonesian visa requirements for tourists for more details on what you’ll need.

RushMyTravelVisa can help you apply for your Indonesian visa, as well as any other visas needed for your trip. We make the process quick and convenient, taking you through the application process step-by-step and expediting the paperwork for the fastest possible processing.

Apply for your Indonesian visa today!

Israel Passport Stamps and Travel Visas

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Israel is one of the most popular countries in the Middle East for American tourists. US citizens do not need to apply for a travel visa in advance to visit Israel-all you need is a passport valid for at least the next 6 months and you’re good to go. However, having an Israeli stamp in your passport can make it difficult to get travel visas for certain other countries. For example, if you have an Israeli stamp in your passport, the following countries will not issue you a travel visa or allow you to enter the country:

  • Libya
  • Sudan
  • Lebanon
  • Syria
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Kuwait
  • Yemen
  • Iran

For this reason, most travel guides recommend making Israel the last stop on your Middle East tour. You can also ask the Israel customs officials to stamp a detachable sheet of paper inside of your passport rather than the passport itself. In most cases, they will comply, but the US Department of State advises that making this request means that you “may face additional, often time-consuming, and probing questioning by immigration and border authorities, or may even be denied entry into Israel, the West Bank, or Gaza.”

You do have another option: applying for a second passport. US citizens are able to get a duplicate valid passport with authorization from the State Department. The second passport is valid for only two years, but if you’re a frequent traveler, it’s a good investment anyway because it makes applying for travel visas much less of a headache.

No matter where you’re going, RushMyTravelVisa makes it easy to determine exactly what documents you’ll need. We’ll research your itinerary and walk you through the application process, helping you avoid common mistakes and ensuring that you get your travel visas as quickly as possible.

Let us help you get the travel visas you need today!

Thai Visa Requirements to Play with Fire on Ko Phi Phi Island

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Travelers to Thailand tend to either love or hate Ko Phi Phi Island, the idyllic setting of the movie version of “The Beach.” If you fantasize about unspoiled, quiet tropical islands, you’ll more than likely be disappointed. However, if what you’re looking for is an all-night beach party, Ko Phi Phi will probably knock your socks off.

One thing that makes the beach parties at Ko Phi Phi so interesting is the large numbers of people playing with fire. Thai locals perform stunts like poi (dancing/gymnastics with fire) and jump rope with flaming jump ropes, often inviting tourists to join in.

Over at Nomadic Matt’s blog, Sean Ogle recommends a sobriety check before indulging your inner pyromaniac. Thai beach parties are almost always fueled by innocent-looking children’s beach buckets filled with a not-so-innocent concoction of Red Bull, soda and booze, and Ko Phi Phi is no exception. Ogle explains the dangers of this flammable combination:

The combination of buckets and the fire antics that take place at beach bars such as Ibiza and Apache put inebriated travelers in a position to have the best nights they’ll never remember, yet leave them with scars that will never let them forget the nights they spent on Ko Phi Phi.

Yikes! So remember, kids: fire jumping first, buckets of booze second.

Also, remember to make sure you know what travel documents you’ll need before you go. Americans entering Thailand don’t need a visa for stays of less than 30 days. However, if you’re taking a few months off to travel in Thailand and surrounding countries, you might want to stay longer than that.

In that case you can apply for a 60-day Thailand visa before you leave. To submit your application, you’ll need the following 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.
  • RushMyTravelVisa can help expedite your Thai visa, as well as any other visas you might need for your journey. We’ll review your itinerary and let you know what visas you need, help you with the applications, and expedite your visa paperwork for the fastest possible processing.
    Apply for your Thai visa today!

Chinese Visa Requirements to See the Temple of Confucius

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

As you probably already know, Confucius was an extremely influential Chinese philosopher. His philosophy emphasized the importance of honoring family and tradition, but also the importance of treating other people with kindness, empathy and respect. He lived from 551 to 479 BC. Although we don’t have any manuscripts written by Confucius, his teachings were preserved by his students and compiled into the Analects.

However, don’t bother reading the Analects if you’re looking for the short, pithy quotes that Westerners often jokingly attribute to Confucius. Per Wikipedia, here are some things Confucius actually did say:

  • “To know your faults and be able to change is the greatest virtue.”
  • “What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others.”
  • “Knowledge is recognizing what you know and what you don’t.”

For thousands of years, the Analects have been required reading for anybody who wishes to be taken seriously in Chinese society. So, it’s no surprise that a temple dedicated to Confucius, this week’s featured UNESCO World Heritage Site, has sprung up on the site of his family home. However, what may surprise you is the scale of the monument, which consists of around 100 separate buildings.

There is also an enormous cemetery, which holds the remains of Confucius and over 100,000 of his direct descendants. It’s really quite amazing, when you think about it!

To visit the temple and cemetery of Confucius, you will need a Chinese visa. Americans visiting China for tourism should apply for an “L” visa and have it in hand before leaving the US, as Chinese visas are not issued on arrival.

For more details about what you’ll need to apply, see Chinese Visa Requirements for Tourists.

RushMyTravelVisa can make the process of applying for a Chinese visa much quicker and less stressful. We walk you through the application process and expedite your visa with the Chinese embassy for the shortest processing times around.

Apply for your Chinese visa today!

5 Reasons to Get a Nepali Visa

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

On the other side of the world and shrouded in mystery, Nepal seems more like a dream than reality to most Americans. However, if you’re willing to brave the long plane ride, you’ll find a welcoming country filled with awe-inspiring scenery and plenty of opportunities for adventure. Here are 5 reasons to get a Nepali visa and go:

The Annapurna Circuit:

The Annapurna circuit is 128 miles of rugged but spectacular terrain: a parade of rivers, mountains, small friendly villages and remote Buddhist monasteries. Backpacker Magazine calls it “the world’s best trek.” If it’s on your bucket list, I’d recommend hiking it in the next year-a road is set to fill more of the circuit with Jeeps in 2012, according to the New York Times.

The Great Himalayan Trail

Eventually, if the dream behind the Great Himalayan Trail is realized, you’ll be able to walk all the way from Nanga Parbat mountain in Pakistan to Namche Barwa in Tibet, but so far, only the Nepal portion is complete. Expeditions start this February. The entire Nepal section of the trail would take 157 days to finish, so you may want to consider just doing a small portion. This trail is more remote than Annapurna and, if you walk the whole thing, you’ll get to see all of Nepal’s 8,000m peaks.

Everest:

Most people don’t have what it takes to climb Mount Everest, but getting to base camp is doable and is definitely a worthwhile experience.

Wildlife at Chitwan National Park

Nepal’s oldest national park, Chitwan’s name means “heart of the jungle.” The park is a great place for safaris to see rare animals like rhinos, tigers, leopards, antelopes, crocodiles, monkeys and more.

Lumbini

The birthplace of the Buddha, Lumbini is a popular place for Buddhist pilgrimages. The Maya Devi Temple is said to mark the exact spot where he was born. The temple is surrounded by colorful prayer flags and many different monasteries.

To get to Nepal, you’ll need your passport and a Nepali visa. You can apply for your visa on arrival, but if you’d prefer to have it ahead of time you can apply at a Nepali embassy before leaving the US.

To find out more, see Nepali Visa Requirements for Tourists.

RushMyTravelVisa can help you apply for your Nepali visa, walking you through the paperwork and expediting your visa at the appropriate embassy or consulate.

Apply for your Nepali visa today!

Soon, EU Citizens May Not Need a Russian Visa

Saturday, September 18th, 2010

Good news for citizens of countries that are part of the European Union: Soon, according to this post on the Nileguidance blog, you may be able to skip the Kafkaesque Russian visa process and still visit your Russian neighbors. Russia and EU have been working on visa-free travel for years, since 2003. What’s changed?

Nileguidance notes that Russia has a particular incentive to try to speed up negotiations at the moment: a new business park that Russia would love to staff with skilled workers from across Europe. According to this article on a Russian news site, Vladimir Chizhov, the Russian envoy to the EU, brought up the issue in a video conference last May:

“We believe the process of reaching this goal [the introduction of visa-free regime] should be accelerated…”Seven years have passed and it is time to move from the long-term goal to something more concrete,” Chizhov said.

NileGuidance notes that while some European heads of state of supportive of the proposal, obstacles remain:

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is supportive of the proposal, but says that there is hesitation among EU members, primarily from Eastern European countries, stating that it’s “probably connected to these countries history during the era of the Soviet Union.” Among other supporters is Luxembourg prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker, saying, “it is necessary to find a solution to the visa issue as soon as possible. We’ve dragged this out for too long.”

If Russian visa requirements get lifted for EU citizens, that will be good news for them. However, American citizens will still have to go through the Russian visa process before leaving the US- no such plans are in the works for us.

If you’re planning to visit Russia as a tourist, see Tourist Requirements for a Getting a Russian Visa.

If you’re planning to go on a business trip, see Obtaining a Russian Business Visa

If you’re just passing through Russia on the way to somewhere else, guess what? You still need a visa. See Russian Transit Visa Requirements for details.

RushMyTravelVisa can help you apply for your Russian visa, walking you through the paperwork to prevent common mistakes that could hold up your application. Then, we’ll deliver your visa application to the appropriate embassy or consulate for the fastest possible processing.

Apply for your Russian visa today!

Mali Visa Requirements to Visit Timbuktu

Friday, September 17th, 2010

Like most American children, I grew up hearing the word “Timbuktu” used as shorthand to describe somewhere very exotic and very far away. I had no idea it was a real place until I got older and started studying geography-it might as well have been located in Never-Never Land. Timbuktu is real, and it’s actually located in Africa, in the country of Mali. This week’s featured UNESCO World Heritage Site, Timbuktu was once one of Africa’s most important centers of trade and learning.

Founded by a group of nomads sometime in the 10th century, Timbuktu was originally a place for them to camp with their cattle during the dry season. Over the centuries, it grew, and since it was located near the Niger River and the crossroads of trans-Saharan trade routes for gold, ivory, salt and slaves, it eventually became a rich and influential city.

The city of Timbuktu was at its peak during the 15th and 16th centuries, when it became a gathering place for Islamic scholars from all around the continent. However, in 1591 Morocco invaded and exiled or killed most of the scholars. Timbuktu never regained its place in the Islamic world, but many of its manuscripts were preserved along with three gorgeous mosques made from hardened mud which later inspired the style of Art Nouveau architect Antonio Gaudi.

To visit Timbuktu, you need a Mali visa. The following documents are required in order to apply for a Mali tourist visa:

  • 2 completed Mali visa application forms
  • 2 passport-sized photos of yourself
  • If you are staying in a hotel, a hotel confirmation is required.
  • If you are entering on a tourist visa but staying with friends or family in Mali, you need an invitation letter from your hosts.
  • A copy of your International Certificate of Vaccination for yellow fever.
  • A copy of your round-trip itinerary
  • Your US passport

One word of caution: The US Department of State currently has Mali under a travel warning due to the risk of kidnapping. There is a local branch of al-Qaeda that is active is especially in the northern regions of the country, so make sure to take proper precautions if you decide to go.

RushMyTravelVisa can help you apply for a Mali visa, as well as any other visas you might need for your trip. We’ll review your itinerary to ensure that you know exactly which documents are required; then, we can help you apply. We walk you through the application process step-by-step, and expedite your visa application at the appropriate embassy or consulate.

Apply for your Mali visa today!

Egyptian Visa Requirements to Scuba Dive the Red Sea

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

When you think of Egypt, you probably think of the pyramids, but did you know that Egypt is also home to one of the top 10 best scuba diving sites in the world? The Red Sea is famous for its crystal-clear visibility and gorgeous coral formations. It also features a wonderfully diverse ecosystem, with over 12,000 species of fish, dolphins, the endangered dugong (think a super-sized manatee) and more. If you’ve always wanted to swim with the dolphins and/or sharks, the Red Sea is a great place to do both!

In addition to natural coral reefs, there are also a number of ship wrecks in the Red Sea that make interesting dive sites. According to one of the local dive shops, the best times to dive are the spring and the fall.

MatadorTV has a gorgeous video up of a Red Sea dive. See why it’s one of the top 10 diving destinations in the world?

To visit Egypt, you’ll need your passport, of course. You also need an Egyptian visa, but you may not have to apply in advance if you’re flying in. Egyptian tourist visas are available upon arrival at the airport for American citizens. However, if you’re entering Egypt by land, you will need to apply before you leave the States. Honestly, even travelers entering by air will appreciate the convenience of having applied for a visa in advance-the last thing you want to do after a long flight is more paperwork!

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

  • A valid US passport.
  • A passport photo.
  • Plane tickets or a copy of your itinerary
  • A completed Egyptian visa application.

If you’re applying in advance, RushMyTravelVisa can help. We’ll walk you through the visa process, step-by-step, and expedite your paperwork with the appropriate embassy for the fastest possible processing.

Apply for your Egyptian visa today!

Thai Visa Requirements to Visit Doi Inthanon National Park

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

In the late 19th century, King Inthawichayanon ruled a city-state called Lannathai in what is now northern Thailand. An early environmentalist, the king was concerned about the preservation of the hill country forests that were under his rule. According to Chiangmai-chiangrai.com, Thai folklore referred these forests as the “home of the Phiphannam, the ‘spirit who shares water.” Now, modern hydrology has shown us that these forests are the source of all of the rivers and streams in Central Thailand.

When King Inthawichayanon died, he requested that his ashes be deposited on top of Doi Inthanon. The area is now a national park, and both the mountain and the forests that surround it are protected, just as the king would have wanted. According to Norman Rubin of Bootsnall.com:

Doi Inthanon National Park is a true jewel of natural beauty, consisting of rugged mountainous terrain blanketed by lush tropical forests and dotted with mighty rivers and majestic waterfalls. The trek up Doi Inthanon, the highest mountain peak in all of Thailand provides breathtaking views as well as many interesting and unique sidepaths where you’ll see and enjoy aspects of nature (and some of man) which would be difficult to find anywhere else in the world.

The park is also full of interesting wildlife and spectacular waterfalls. Hiring a minibus or other private transportation is the recommended way to see the park.

Thai Visa Requirements

Check the expiration date on your passport- you’ll need at least 6 months left in order to enter Thailand. However, if you’re American, you shouldn’t need a Thai visa unless you are entering by land and plan to spend longer than 15 days, or entering by air and plan to spend more than 30 days.

If you’re planning a longer trip, you can apply for a Thai visa valid for up to 60 days prior to leaving the US. 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 review your itinerary, help you determine which visas are necessary and expedite them so you get them as quickly as possible.

Apply for your Thai visa today!

Chinese Visa Requirements To See Smurfs and Pandas

Saturday, September 11th, 2010

Chengdu, China, is already quite famous for its giant panda sanctuary. However, the Chinese government would like to boost tourism to the region and apparently those pandas, as adorable as they are, are not drawing enough tourists. So, what is China’s solution? Smurfs!

Yes, those little blue mushroom-dwellers are getting a new lease on life: in China. The Wall Street Journal reports:

The beloved, animated blue creatures — famous for their white caps, cheery theme song, and proclivity for using the name of their race as a verb — are moving to Chengdu, where development firm Chengdu Teda Sino-Europe Construction and Smurf-brand owner IMPS plan to open a Smurf theme park, according to a report from DTZ Asia Property Market Update.

With investment of 20 million yuan, or about $2.9 million, the theme park is set to open in three to five years, according to DTZ. It’s part of a bigger plan to build tourism in Chengdu, where pandas are one of the biggest attractions.

Why the Smurf theme? Apparently the Smurfs are experiencing a bit of a revival in pop culture, with a new live action/animated movie starring Neil Patrick Harris set to come out next year, when it will no doubt appeal to the usual “Smurfs” demographic of really young children and really stoned young adults. If you fall into the latter group, consider yourself warned: The Department of State says that “Chinese law enforcement authorities have little tolerance for illegal drugs and periodically conduct widespread sweeps of bar and nightclub districts, targeting narcotics distributors and drug users.”

To visit China, you need a passport valid for at 6 months past the day you plan to arrive in China and a valid Chinese tourist visa, also known as an “L” visa. You need to apply for your visa in advance, as you will not be allowed into the country without one. For more information on how to apply, see Chinese Visa Requirements for Tourists.

RushMyTravelVisa makes applying for a Chinese visa quick and painless. We walk you through the application process and expedite your application with the Chinese Embassy for super-fast processing.

Apply for your Chinese visa today!