Archive for January, 2011

Get a Vietnamese Visa to Walk Along the Great Wall of Vietnam

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Archaeologists working in Vietnam just announced the discovery of what is being called “the Great Wall of Vietnam,” a 79-mile wall that is up to 13 feet high in some places.

The discovery is the work of Dr. Andrew Hardy of the French School of Asian Studies. Dr. Hardy’s quest began when he found a reference to the wall in a Nguyen Dynasty court document. The ensuing exploration and excavation took 4 years, but revealed what Vietnamese history Professor Phan Huy Lê told CNN is “the longest monument in Southeast Asia.”

As it stands now, the Vietnamese government tries to discourage outsiders from traveling to Quang Ngai, the province in which the wall is located. During the Vietnam War, the area was the site of the tragic My Lai massacre. However, that will most likely change soon. The monument has been submitted for National Heritage status, the first step in a plan to develop it for tourism.

CNN declared that while the plan will change tourism in Vietnam, which at the moment is geared toward controlled package tours, “it may also create the greatest trek in Southeast Asia.” I’m in! (more…)

Get a Tajikistan Visa to Visit the Ancient Ruins of Sarazm

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

Tajikistan is one of those countries that’s often overlooked by American travelers, and with some good reasons. It’s a relatively undeveloped country, and tourist facilities are often non-existent.

Still, if you don’t mind roughing it, a trip to Tajikistan can be an amazing experience. The scenery – golden steppes, towering mountains and isolated lakes – is simply breathtaking.

Visiting this week’s featured UNESCO World Heritage Site gives you a chance to take in the scenery and get a close look at the ruins of one of the country’s oldest settlements.

The city of Sarazm dates back to the 4th millennium BC, which makes it older than the Egyptian pyramids. It was abandoned in 2000 BC, but came to life again as a mining town about 500 years later. Many of the tools and structures unearthed by archaeologists were used for metalworking.

A visit to Sarazm is often included in tours of the Zeravshan Valley. Arranging travel through a tour operator or travel agent is probably the way to go, given the logistical difficulties that traveling in Tajikistan can sometimes present.

You’ll also need a Tajikistan visa. If you’re visiting as a tourist, you’ll need to obtain one before you leave the US. The following documents are required: (more…)

Indonesian Visa Requirements to Help Build An Eco-tourism Village

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

Habitat for Humanity has a new project in Indonesia: turning the small village of Soran into an eco-tourism community.  (h/t Jaunted)

The village is located near the Prambanan Temple and the volcano of Mt. Merapi, so once the community is complete it will provide environmentally conscious travelers with an excellent base for exploring the area.

More importantly, it will also provided upgraded housing for the people of Soran, as well as an opportunity to make additional income. Since 60% of the people in Soran are below the poverty line, this is relief that they desperately need.

In a press release, James Tumbuan, National Director of Habitat for Humanity Indonesia, commented on the project:

“This is the first Habitat project in the world that creates shelter and economic opportunity for an entire community, and it is precisely the kind of project needed to combat Indonesia’s poverty. This unique program not only improves housing for most of the community, it also allows Soran villagers to economically benefit from the art and culture they have preserved for centuries, and to share it with the world.”

If you’d like to help, information on volunteering with Habitat for Humanity overseas is located here.

You’ll also need an Indonesian visa.

Tourists are able to obtain visas on arrival, called “visitor visas,” at designated airports and seaports. However, if you’re volunteering it’s a little bit different. According to the US Department of State, “even gratis volunteer work with local or international NGOs is not permitted on visitor status.” So, you’ll need to apply for a “social visit” visa in advance.

To apply for your Indonesian visa, here’s what you’ll need:

  • Your passport. The expiration date must be 6 months or more in the future and have two blank pages 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 boss verifying that you are employed or on a leave of absence. If you don’t have a job, you’ll need to include a detailed letter explaining that fact. If you’re retired, you’ll need to submit proof of a retirement fund.
  • An itinerary letter that explains why you are going to Indonesia.
  • 2 copies of an invitation letter. This will be provided by the company you volunteer with in most cases.

If you’re traveling to Indonesia, RushMyTravelVisa can make getting your visa quick and easy. We walk you through the paperwork, and then expedite your visa with the appropriate embassy or consulate for the fastest processing available.

Apply for your Indonesian visa today!

2011 Destinations: Indian Visa Requirements to Visit Hyderabad

Friday, January 28th, 2011

Hyderabad, India is the country’s 6th largest city. Also known as the “City of Pearls,” it is a hub of the India’s film and IT industries.

Doesn’t sound like the best spot for a vacation, does it? Actually, while Hyderabad is big and busy, it’s also packed with gorgeous historical and architectural treasures. Plus, you can stay in a real palace! The New York Times named the city as one of its “41 Places to Go in 2011,” saying

“The latest buzz is the debut of two five-star hotels…The first, Park Hyderabad, is a futuristic structure designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, with an aluminum and glass facade inspired by the settings and metalwork found in the Nizams’ jewelry collection. The new Taj Falaknuma Palace, on the other hand, is a window into the past. It’s a wedding cake of a building that still belongs to the Nizam family, and it took the Taj Hotels group 10 years to renovate the European-style castle.”

To visit Hyderabad, you’ll need a passport and an Indian visa. The Indian visa must be applied for in advance, and you’ll need the following documents:

  • Your US passport
  • 2 recent passport-sized photos, taken within the past 6 months. No glasses are allowed in the photos.
  • A completed Indian visa application form. To ensure that your visa application is approved, write clearly and proofread the application carefully for mistakes. Make sure that you enter in “tourism” in the section that asks you to state why you are traveling to India.
  • A photocopy of your plane tickets or your itinerary.
  • A legible copy of your driver’s license or a utility bill showing your name and address.
  • A copy of your birth certificate.

RushMyTravelVisa makes getting an Indian visa quick and easy. We’ll help you with the application, greatly reducing the chance of common mistakes that could delay your visa. Then, we’ll submit your visa to the appropriate Indian Embassy or consulate for the fastest possible processing.

Apply for your Indian visa today!

    Get an Armenian Visa for a Wine Tour in the Home of the World’s Oldest Winery

    Thursday, January 27th, 2011

    According to the BBC, the world’s oldest winery was recently discovered in a cave in Armenia. The primitive winery consists of a shallow basin used as a wine press, along with a deep stone vat for fermentation. Dried grape vines and the remains of pressed grapes were also found on site, leaving little doubt as to the purpose of the basin and the vat. The wine press is 6,000 years old.  Morbidly enough, it was located in the center of a graveyard. Archaeologists believe that the wine it produced was used in funeral ceremonies.

    When you think of wine today,  famous wine-producing countries like France, Italy, Chile and Australia come to mind. But Armenia also has an ancient tradition of viticulture, typically producing sweet red wines. With this in mind, several travel companies offer wine-tasting tours of Armenia. One company, Armenian Holidays, even goes so far as to claim that “Noah planted the first vineyards in the Valley of Ararat after his ark descended on the biblical Mt. Ararat.”

    If you desire something a little bit stronger, Armenia is also known for its brandy, particularly the spirits produced at the Yerevan Brandy Factory in Yerevan.

    To visit Armenia, you’ll need a valid passport and an Armenian visa. Armenian visas can be purchased ahead of time or when you enter the country. However, getting one in advance does make getting through customs go that much more quickly.

    For more information about Armenian visa requirements, see Getting an Armenian Tourist Visa.

    RushMyTravelVisa can assist you in the process of getting an Armenian visa. We’ll walk you through necessary paperwork and make sure you have all the appropriate documents, then expedite your application with the Armenian embassy for the fastest possible processing.  We’ll also research your itinerary to ensure you have all of the necessary travel documents for any other stops you plan to make on the way.

    Apply for your Armenian visa today!

    Get a Gambian Visa to Visit the Senegambian Stone Circles

    Friday, January 21st, 2011

    This week’s featured UNESCO World Heritage site is located in the Gambia. The Stone Circles of Senegambia are located in four different groups along the River Gambia. Scientists believe they were built over more than a millennium, from 3 BC to the 16th century AD.

    The origins of these circles remain somewhat mysterious. Archaeologists believe that they were used to mark burial sites, and were possibly built on top of older graves. Other than that, nobody is sure what specific beliefs motivated the people who lived there to build so many stone circles. There is no doubt that the monuments are impressive, however, and just as with Stonehenge, half the fun of visiting them is speculating about who built them and why.

    According to the UNESCO site, “the survival of so many circles is a unique manifestation of construction and funerary practices which persisted for over a millennia and a half across a large sweep of landscape, and reflects a sophisticated and productive society.”

    To visit the stone circles, you’ll need a valid US passport and a Gambian visa. In theory, you might be able to get a visa on arrival, but the US Department of State advises against it, saying, “there are no uniform procedures for Gambian immigration officials and the best way to avoid any potential problem is to get a visa before entering the country.”

    If you’re visiting the Gambia as a tourist, here’s what you’ll need to get a visa:

    • Your passport. Check the expiration date, cause if it’s not good for at least 6 months after the date you plan to enter the Gambia, there will be no visa for you. Also, make sure there’s at least one completely blank page in back.
    • A copy of your itinerary.
    • 2 passport photos

    RushMyTravelVisa will be glad to help you get your Gambian visa. When you apply through us, you’ll get your own personal visa specialist to help you with the application. We’ll help you avoid common mistakes that could lead to delays, and we’ll expedite your visa for the fastest possible processing.

    Apply for your Gambian visa today!

    Get a Vietnamese Visa to Tour Some of the World’s Most Spectacular Caves

    Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

    With their surreal, otherworldly rock formations and strange, pale inhabitants, the inside of a cave is like something out of a science fiction novel. It’s the closest most of us will ever get to visiting another planet.

    Vietnam is known for its spectacular caves, many of which remain unexplored. In fact, the country is home to the largest known cave in the world, Hang Son Doong. Located in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, the cave’s largest chamber is an awe-inspiring 3 miles long, 656 feet high and 492 feet wide. There’s even an entire underground jungle inside, underneath a massive opening called a “skylight.” For more information, see these incredible photos from National Geographic.

    Hang Son Doong is not open to tourists, but there are many other caves that are. Many of the most striking are located in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park or Halong Bay.

    Phong Nha, located in Phong Nha-Ke Bang, is probably the most famous and well-traveled. The first 1500 meters of this cave are open to tourists and even illuminated with colored lights to show off the stalactites, stalagmites and other interesting rock formations.

    Thien Duong, or Paradise Cave, is also in Phong Nha-Ke Bang. It just opened to tourists in September of 2010. Here’s a description of it from VietnamAwesomeTravel.com:

    “Stalactites that look like temples, cranes with their arched necks looking up to the sky and a pine tree with hundreds of branches are dotted throughout this underground world. With a little imagination, there is no end to the shapes to be found in the cave.”

    To go caving in Vietnam, you’ll need both a passport and a Vietnamese visa. Some countries issue visas to US citizens when they arrive at the airport, but Vietnam is not one of them. Apply before your trip at a Vietnamese Embassy or consulate.

    If you’re traveling as a tourist, you’ll need the following documents to get your Vietnamese visa:

    • Your US passport
    • A completed Vietnamese visa application
    • A recent passport photo, taken within the past 6 months.

    By default, Vietnamese visas are single entry. If your itinerary requires you to enter Vietnam more than once, make sure you specify that you need a multiple-entry visa. Also, if you’re going from Vietnam to Laos, you’ll need a Vietnamese visa that is permanently attached to your passport. Detachable visas are removed as you exit Vietnam, but not having a Vietnamese visa in your passport can cause you to be denied entry to Laos.

    RushMyTravelVisa makes getting your visa quick and easy. We’ll research your itinerary and guide you through the application process to ensure you have the right documents when you need them with the fastest possible processing.

    Need a Vietnamese visa? Contact us today!

    2011 Destinations: Get an Egyptian Visa to Go Diving at Port Ghalib

    Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

    Diving in the Red Sea at Sharm el-Sheikh is SO last year, especially since that beach has turned into a real-life version of “Jaws.” If you’d rather dive someplace with fewer people, and where you can dive without hearing that creepy theme song in your head, go across the Red Sea and check out Port Ghalib instead.

    According to the New York Times, “Those looking to skip the crowds should turn to Port Ghalib, across the Red Sea from Sharm, on the eastern Egyptian coast. Ghalib’s beaches offer soft, snow-hued sand and translucent water that divers love.”

    Naturally, since the New York Times has outed this quiet sea port, you should probably go now, before Port Ghalib becomes as much of a tourist destination as Sharm el-Sheikh.

    The first step, of course, is making sure that you have the necessary travel documents. Obviously, since you’re traveling halfway across the world, you’re going to need a passport. US citizens are also required to have an Egyptian visa, but if you’re flying in you can get this at the airport.

    However, if you’re entering by land, you need to get your visa in advance. Also, if you’ve ever had a problem getting into Egypt before, you need to apply for your visa before you leave the States.

    Even if you’re flying in, applying ahead of time is a good idea because it makes getting out of the airport and to your hotel that much easier.

    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 do decide to apply ahead of time, RushMyTravelVisa can make the process less of a headache. We’ll walk you through the paperwork, answer any questions you might have, and expedite your visa for the fastest possible processing.

    Apply for your Egyptian visa today!

    Indian Visa Requirements for the Birdwatching Adventure of a Lifetime

    Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

    India may not be the first destination you think of when you think of birdwatching, but on a recent trip, New York Times writer Somini Sengupta discovered that it’s actually a birder’s paradise. She writes:

    “From the cold lakes of the Himalayas to the sand dunes of western Rajasthan to the tropical rain forests in the south, India hosts a dizzying variety of birds, like a dizzying variety of everything else. Residents and visitors, common and rare, more than 1,200 species have been recorded in India, which puts it somewhere between the United States (just under 900 recorded species) and Colombia (more than 1,800 species).”

    In India, it’s possible to see a variety of different species of birds even in the cities. Go out into the countryside or to a large lake or river, and things get even more interesting. According to the New York Times, in the Western Ghat mountain chain, you can expect to see around 300 different species in a single visit. Some lakes host as many as 400 species of waterfowl and other birds.

    To start crossing these beauties off your life list, you’ll need to obtain an Indian visa. For an American citizen traveling to India as a tourist, the following documents are required: (more…)

    Get a Chinese Visa to Visit the Tombs of Emperors

    Sunday, January 16th, 2011

    This week’s featured UNESCO World Heritage Site is the final resting place for some of China’s most powerful emperors in the Ming and Qing Dynasties. These dynasties, which together lasted from 1368 to 1912, were China’s last two imperial dynasties. After the Qing Dynasty fell in 1912, it was succeeded by the Republic of China.

    The tombs themselves, which are laid out according to ancient Chinese principles of fengshui, are impressive and richly decorated with carvings and statues. They are designed to look like imperial palaces, providing suitable housing for the spirits of emperors, empresses, and other members of the royal family.

    UNESCO says that “The Ming and Qing imperial tombs are outstanding testimony to a cultural and architectural tradition that for over 500 years dominated this part of the world. By reason of their integration into the natural environment, they make up a unique ensemble of cultural landscapes.”

    If you’d like to visit these tombs yourself, you’ll need a Chinese visa. Apply for an “L” visa if you’re planning to visit as a tourist. (more…)