Archive for November, 2010

5 Reasons to Get an Ethiopian Visa

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

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

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.

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Visit Brasilia with a Brazilian Visa

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

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!