Archive for November, 2010

5 Reasons to Get an Ethiopian Visa

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

The cradle of humanity and a biodiversity hot spot, Ethiopia is one of the most exciting African countries to visit. Need some inspiration for your next adventure? Here are 5 reasons to apply for an Ethiopian visa:

Lalibela: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this town is justly famous for its many churches carved out of the surrounding mountains. It is considered one of Ethiopia’s holiest cities and was once the country’s capital.

Safaris: Ethiopia is one of the best places to take a safari tour and see African animals that most Americans never see outside of a zoo, like lions, zebras, baboons, ibex…the list goes on and on, really. The type of animals that you’re likely to see depends on which of Ethiopia’s parks or wildlife preserves you visit. Nechisar National Park features grasslands packed with zebras, gazelles, baboons, flamingos, storks, and crocodiles (just to name a few). In the mountains of Simien Mountains National Park, you’ll find wolves, more baboons and ibex. The national parks in the Lower Orno Valley are home to hippos, as well.

Aksum: This city was once the capital of the mighty Aksum kingdom. Local legend has it that it is also the final resting place of the Ark of the Covenant and the birthplace of the Queen of Sheba. Visit Aksum to tour ancient churches and see ancient monuments called stelae.

Lake Tana: Lake Tana is the largest lake in Ethiopia and is the source of the mighty Blue Nile. The ancient monasteries found on islands in the lake are well worth a visit.

The Blue Nile: The Blue Nile begins at Lake Tana and eventually joins with the White Nile to form the River Nile in Egypt. The best spot to visit along the Blue Nile is the Blue Nile Falls, about 25 miles downstream from the river’s source in Lake Tana.

To visit Ethiopia, American citizens do need Ethiopian visas. You might be able to get one on arrival in the airport. Then again, according to the Department of State, you might not. So, it’s best to get yours in advance; why take chances?

To learn more about getting a visa, see Ethiopian Visa Requirements for Tourists. Remember, RushMyTravelVisa can help you navigate the visa process, walking you through the paperwork and expediting your application.

For Ethiopian visa help, contact us today!

Laos Visa Requirements for a Honeymoon in Luang Prabang

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

Matador Travel recently named Luang Prabang in Laos as one of the top 25 honeymoon destinations in the world, calling it “the most romantic town in Southeast Asia.”

Laos may seem like an unlikely destination for a honeymoon, but visiting Luang Prabang is like stepping back in time. According to TravelDudes, there are no modern buildings-every structure in the city exhibits the charm of days gone by. Possible romantic excursions for you and your sweetheart include visiting the many temples scattered throughout the city, especially Wat Xieng Thong, the Golden City Temple. There are markets for souvenir shopping, excellent food, and natural attractions like the Kuang Si Falls and the Pak Ou Caves.

When it comes to accommodations, Luang Prabang has lots of small hotels, many located along the shore of the Mekong River.

One note of caution: Luang Prabang may be the “most romantic” city in Southeast Asia, but under no circumstances should you visit the town to look for romance. At least not with the locals. If you are a foreigner, making the beast with two backs with a Lao citizen you are not officially married to is illegal and can result in numerous unpleasant consequences.

For more information about visiting Laos without running afoul of the local authorities, see Laos Visa Requirements for Tourists.

To visit Laos, you’ll need to obtain a Laos visa. For tourists staying less than 30 days, visas can be purchased on arrival at certain border crossings and airports. Here’s a list, via the US Department of State: Wattay Airport, Vientiane; Pakse, Savannakhet, and Luang Prabang Airports; Friendship Bridge, Vientiane and Savannakhet; Nam Heuang Friendship Bridge, Sayabouly Province; and border crossings at Boten-Mohan, Dansavan-Lao Bao, Houaysay-Chiang Khong, Thakhek-Nakhon Phanom, Nong Haet-Nam Kan, Nam Phao-Kao Cheo, Veun Kham-Dong Calor and Vangtao-Chong Mek.

To get your Laos visa on arrival, you’ll need your passport, itinerary and 2 passport photos, plus $35 in cash (US dollars only, please).

If you would prefer to follow the Boy Scout method and “be prepared” by getting your visa in advance, you can apply before your trip as well. Applying in advance means your visa will be good for 60 days, so you can stay longer. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 application forms for a Laos tourist visa
  • 3 passport-sized photos
  • A copy of your itinerary

RushMyTravelVisa can help you get a Laos visa as well as any other visas you may need for your trip. We’ll research your itinerary and assist you with all of the necessary paperwork, then expedite your visas for lightning-quick processing.

Apply for your Laos visa today!

Russian Visa Requirements to Visit the Coldest City in the World

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

Winter is here, and most people are thinking about migrating south. But if you’re one of those intrepid (some might say crazy) souls who welcomes the cold weather, I have just the destination for you: Yakutsk, the coldest city in the world.

Located in Siberia, Yakutsk grew from an icy patch of permafrost into the relatively thriving city that it is today based on two things: the quantities of precious metals and jewels hidden deep under the permafrost and Russia’s habit of sending political prisoners to labor in Siberia.

So, how cold is cold? According to the Independent, “in local parlance, temperatures in the minus 40Cs are described as “cold but not very cold.” Average “highs” in January are in this range.

Why would you visit Yakutsk, anyway? Well, first of all for the bragging rights: Can any of your friends say they’ve visited the coldest city on the planet? Second, there are actually some intriguing cryogenic museums. Where else can you see the cryogenically preserved head of an honest-to-god woolly mammoth? See Wikitravel for information on the museums.

To get there, though, you’ll need a Russian visa. The Russian visa system is known for being a bear to navigate, so it’s not recommended to leave this to the last minute. Here’s what you need to get a Russian tourist visa:

  • Your passport.
  • A completed visa application form
  • 1 passport photo
  • A copy of your airline tickets or a copy of your itinerary showing your flight number and the dates that you’ll be in Russia.
  • A tourist invitation from a Russian travel agency or hotel that can serve as your visa sponsor. The hotel or travel agency must be registered with the Russian government.
  • A hotel voucher from your hotel.

The best thing to do is to allow a professional visa service like RushMyTravelVisa guide you through the Russian visa system. You’ll get help with the application and a knowledgeable guide to help you avoid common mistakes that could delay your application. Plus, we’ll personally deliver your paperwork to the Russian Embassy for the fastest possible processing.

Apply for your Russian visa today!

Visit Brasilia with a Brazilian Visa

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

Brasilia, the capital of Brazil and today’s featured UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an interesting city that’s definitely worth a visit, especially if you have an interest in architecture.

Brazil has had 3 different capitals since the country was settled by Europeans: Salvador, Rio de Janeiro and finally Brasilia. Brasilia was constructed in the center of the country with the express purpose of becoming a new, modern capital for the country and encouraging settlement of Brazil’s interior.

Inspired by the urban planning philosophy of French architect Le Corbusier, Brasilia was designed by its architects, Oscar Niemeyer and Lucio Costa, to be an idyllic metropolis where traffic would flow so smoothly that traffic lights would be unnecessary. Of course, as Robert Burns once famously wrote, “The best laid schemes of mice and men go often askew.” Brasilia is no exception to this rule-it grew much faster than the planners anticipated, and even their clever street designs could not stave off the need for traffic lights.

According to the UNESCO website, one of the characteristics that makes the city worthy of being designated a World Heritage site is its abundance of architectural masterpieces:

“Among the most beautiful buildings in the urban landscape of Brasilia are those sited around the Plaza of Three Powers, the Planalto Palace, or the Hall of Government, the Congress, with its twin skyscrapers flanked by the cupola of the Senate building and by the inverted cone of the House of Representatives, and finally the Supreme Court. Other structures of an exceptional artistic quality are the Esplanade of the Ministers, the cathedral, the Pantheon of Juscelino Kubitschek and the National Theatre.”

To visit Brasilia, you must first secure a Brazilian visa. This can be more of a challenge than it appears at first glance; Brazil’s visa system is not exactly known for its simplicity. See Brazilian Visa Requirements for Tourists for more details on the requirements.

When you apply through RushMyTravelVisa, on the other hand, the process is easy and quick. We help you with the application and expedite your visa with the appropriate Brazilian embassy for the fastest processing you’ll find.

Apply for your Brazilian visa today!

Visit a Human Termite Colony with an Iranian Visa

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

Iran is home to what must be one of the most interesting villages in the world: Kandovan, the “human termite colony.”

All of the houses in the village are made out of stone, hollowed into natural cone-shaped towers that really do look like giant termite colonies. A recent post on Environmental Graffiti explains how these towers came to be:

“Built out of volcanic ash and debris spewed during an eruption of Mount Sahand, these rocky structures were compressed and shaped by natural forces into cone-shaped pillars containing pockets. They have been eroded by the elements over the years into their current shapes.”

As you may have imagined, these fantastic houses are a major tourist attraction. One of them has even been turned into a 5-star hotel, named, appropriately enough, the Rocky Hotel.

Of course, to stay in this hotel, you would need an Iran visa. Despite the tension between the US and Iran, tourist travel is possible, though it is logistically difficult and somewhat risky (see this travel warning).

That doesn’t mean you can just drop by anytime, however. This is Iran, not your grandmother’s house. In fact, think of Iran as more like your crazy Uncle Jim-if you don’t let him know ahead of time that you’re coming, he just might accidentally shoot you for trespassing. You’ll need to have your visa in hand before you leave, and you’ll need to get preauthorization before you can apply for your visa. You can get preauthorized by making hotel reservations with a licensed Iranian tour operator.

If you are female, you may not travel to Iran alone. Your husband or another male relative must travel with you.

If you do get preauthorization, you’ll need the following documents to apply for an Iranian visa:

  • 1 Iranian visa application form
  • 1 color photo (females over the age of 9 must have their hair covered for the photo)
  • Round trip tickets or a copy of your itinerary
  • Your authorization number
  • A valid passport

For more information about traveling to Iran and Iranian visa regulations, see Getting an Iran Visa.

RushMyTravelVisa can help you apply for the visas you need for your next trip. We’ll research your itinerary, assist you with the paperwork, and expedite your visas with the appropriate embassy or consulate.

Get the visa help you need today!

Panama Visa Requirements for Tourists

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

With its pristine, quiet beaches, Panama is one of South America’s best-kept secrets. According to Gadling, only about a million tourists visited last year. However, as word gets out about everything the country has to offer tourists, that may soon change.

In fact, according to the New York Times, more and more Americans are even relocating to Panama to start their own businesses.

Despite the recent good press, for the time being Gadling says that “There’s just enough tourist infrastructure here to keep vacationers occupied — white water rafting, zipline excursions and fishing expeditions abound — but you’ll bypass the glut of chain restaurants, overpopulated coastlines and horrific traffic (outside of Panama City, of course) that typify so many other tropical destinations.”

Want to see Panama while it’s still relatively quiet? Depending on your travel plans, you might need to acquire a Panama visa beforehand. US citizens flying into Panama do not need a visa. Instead, they can purchase a tourist card at the airport. Fees for the card may be included as part of your airfare, so check with the airline. Cruise ship passengers only need a tourist card if they plan to get off the boat. In that case, the tourist card would be provided by the cruise line.

However, if you’re arriving by land, you’ll definitely need to apply for a Panama visa before you leave the states. Also, if your travel plans call for you to enter and exit the country more than once, you may choose to apply for your visa in advance so that you can get a multiple-entry visa issued.

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 if invitation or a copy of your hotel reservation.
  • A copy of your bank statement.

RushMyTravelVisa can help you get your Panama visa, as well as any other visas you’ll need for your trip. We can research your itinerary and help you with the paperwork, expediting your application so it can be processed as soon as possible.

Apply for your Panama visa today!

Indian Visa Requirements to Visit the Elephanta Caves

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

About an hour off the coast of the city of Mumbai, a small island in the sea if Oman is home to a series of stunning temple-caves. Nobody is quite sure who carved the Elephanta Caves of Elephanta Island, other than the fact that they worshiped the Hindu god Shiva. In fact, according to Wikipedia the local legend is that the caves “are not man-made,” but rather were carved by heroes from Hindu epics or perhaps by a powerful demon who was devoted to Shiva.

More down-to-earth theories credit the kingdom of the Konkan Mauryas or the Kalacuris. Whoever built them, the caves themselves are amazing. Surrounded by lush, tropical foliage, the caves form a cool, dark, retreat. Inside, intricate carvings and statues loom in the shadows. Unfortunately, many of them were damaged when the Portuguese took control of the island in 16th century. The Portuguese were ones who gave this island the name “Elephanta Island,” after a statue of elephant they found there. However, they apparently had no qualms about using the statues in the caves for target practice.

Even so, the artwork that remains is definitely worth a visit. The crown jewel of Elephanta Island is the Trimurti, a three-headed sculpture of Shiva that Wikipedia describes as a “masterpiece of Gupta-Chalukyan art.”

Describing the Elephanta Caves, UNESCO says that “here, Indian art has found one of its most perfect expressions, particularly the huge high reliefs in the main cave.”

To visit Elephanta Island, you’ll need an Indian visa before you can leave. If you are traveling as a tourist, see Indian Visa Requirements for Tourists.

RushMyTravelVisa can make the Indian visa application process much easier. We’ll help you complete the paperwork, reducing the chance of common errors that can delay your application. Then, we’ll expedite your application for the fastest processing possible.

Apply for your Indian visa today!

Travel Visa Requirements for an Asian Culinary Tour

Friday, November 19th, 2010

There’s so much more to Asian food than Chinese buffets and sushi. To help spread the word, Asian restaurant chain Pei Wei is having a contest to find a new food blogger (h/t Gadling). The lucky winner will get take a two to three-week culinary tour of Asia and document his or her findings. Yum!

Per the Pei Wei website, here’s what it takes to win:

“A talent for writing, a boundless appetite and willingness to experiment with the unknown, an eye for the unforgettable image and the ability to capture it, comfort both on-camera and behind the lens, a spontaneous spirit but a grounded work ethic, and a passion for Asian cuisine.”

Basically, it’s a talent contest. You “audition” by writing as few as one or as many as 5 sample blog posts, and posting a YouTube video if desired.

Of course, there’s only one winner. What if you wanted to replicate the tour on your own? Although you won’t have Pei Wei’s retinue of chefs on hand, a quick Google search for “Asian culinary tours” makes it clear that you won’t lack for tour options.

To keep travel visa requirements from leaving a bad taste in your mouth, here’s a quick summary of the visa policies for each country:

  • China: You’ll need to apply for a visa before you travel. See Chinese Visa Requirements for Tourists for details.
  • Vietnam: Again, you’ll need to apply for a visa in advance. See Vietnamese Visa Requirements for Tourists for instructions.
  • South Korea: US citizens do not need a visa for stays of less than 90 days.
  • Thailand: Americans entering Thailand by air are eligible for a visa on arrival good for 30 days. If you enter by land, you’ll be issued a visa good for 15 days. You can also apply for a visa in advance, if desired.

No matter where your taste buds take you, RushMyTravelVisa can help. We’ll research your itinerary and let you know exactly which visas you’ll need to travel. Then, we’ll help you with the paperwork and expedite your applications.

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

5 Reasons to Get a Venezuela Visa

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

As a tourist destination, Venezuela is often overlooked by travelers to South America. Maybe that’s because it’s overshadowed by Brazil. Maybe the antics of President Hugo Chavez are to blame. Whatever the reason is, it’s shame, because Venezuela has a lot to offer the adventurous traveler. Here are 5 reasons to consider getting a Venezuela visa and taking the plunge:

Angel Falls- At 3,212 feet high, Angel Falls is the highest waterfall in the world. It is located in Venezuela’s Canaima National Park.

Margarita Island- Located in the Caribbean Sea off the northwestern coast of Venezuela, Margarita Island is justly famous for its resorts, its flawless beaches and its duty-free shopping.

Mount Roraima- Climbing this high, flat-topped mountain is a challenge, but the payoff is well worth it. About.com notes that travelers who complete the ascent successfully “find a fantastic world of crystal valleys, gorges, sandy beaches, mists and fog, fissures, rock formations, pools and waterfalls.”

Los Roques Archipelago: This national park consists of a collection of hundreds of islands of various sizes. A gorgeous destination for sailing, birdwatching and snorkeling, Los Roques is surrounded by some of the most pristine coral reefs in the world.

Merida: With interesting festivals throughout the year, 4 national parks and 12 state parks, mountainous Merida is one of the most popular destinations in Venezuela for backpackers and adventure travelers.

To get to Venezuela, you need a passport and you may need to apply for a Venezuelan visa in advance. Fortunately, Venezuelan visa requirements are much simpler than, say, Brazilian visa requirements. Here’s the scoop:

If you’re flying in, you don’t need to worry about apply for a visa in advance. Instead, you’ll receive a tourist card on the flight, and that’s all you need if you are staying less than 90 days.

If you’re staying longer or entering Venezuela by land, you should go ahead and apply in advance. See Venezuela Visa Requirements for Tourists for more information.

Need a Venezuela visa? Let us help!

Traveling on a Budget? Lonely Planet Says, “Get a Syrian Visa”

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

With the economy (still) in a funk, more and more travelers are looking for places where their dollars can stretch further. In that spirit, Lonely Planet just released a guide for budget travelers with recommendations for cheap places to go. Syria was on the top 10 list, so if you’re thinking about visiting the Middle East on the cheap, you may want to consider applying for a Syrian visa.

The Lonely Planet notes that street food in Syria is what street food should be: cheap and tasty. Transportation is also cheap: it’s quite possible to get from Aleppo on one side of the country to Damascus on the other for less than $5.00, and you can live quite well for $50 a day.

Digging a little deeper, Wandering Earl from Wanderingearl.com has found that it’s quite possible to travel in Syria for as little as 25 dollars a day if you’re thrifty, provided that you don’t mind sleeping on rooftops and hitching a ride on local buses (not as bad as it sounds, they even have movies!)

To visit Syria, you need to apply for a Syrian visa before leaving the US. To do so, you will need the following documents:

  • A valid US passport
  • 2 completed Syrian visa application forms
  • 2 recent passport photos
  • A copy of your airline tickets and your itinerary

Also, be aware that Syria will not admit foreign visitors who have traveled to Israel in the past. If your passport has an Israeli visa stamp or an Israeli entry/exit stamp you will be denied entry. The US Department of State also notes that “the absence of entry stamps from a country adjacent to Israel, which the traveler has just visited, will cause Syrian immigration officials to refuse admittance.” So, some passport jujitsu, like getting a second passport, may be necessary if you want to visit both countries.

RushMyTravelVisa can walk you through the Syrian visa application process, assisting you with the paperwork and expediting your application with the Syrian embassy.

Apply for your Syrian visa today!