Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Pinoys can visit at least 20 countries without visas - Repost

Pinoys can visit at least 20 countries without visas - Repost
DFA | GMA News Online | The Go-To Site for Filipifos Everywhere: "
Filipino travelers do not need a visa to visit at least 20 countries, according to information provided by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

These countries include most of the Philippines' Southeast Asian neighbors, but also Latin American tourist destinations Brazil, Peru, Bolivia and Costa Rica.

GMA News Online requested the information from the DFA after noting widespread online glee several weeks ago over a Facebook post that listed about 60 countries where Filipinos can go visa-free.

After sending queries to Philippine embassies and consular posts, the DFA would only confirm 20 countries. But its public information office added that they are still waiting to hear from some overseas posts.
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Monday, September 07, 2009

2 Must Visit Tourist Places In Jordan

2 Must Visit Tourist Places In Jordan
By Abas Kamal Bin Sulaiman

The question is whether you would like or not a visit to Jordan since it lies in an unstable area surrounding Israel. Jordan also known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is located on the north of the Arabian Peninsula. The nation shares its borders with Syria in the east, with Iraq & Saudi Arabia, in the west with Israel, & of course; south with Saudi Arabia. A small part of the southern boundary washes by the waters of the Red Sea.

Madaba "City of Mosaics", Jordan

Image by: Jane Gribbon

Jordan - part of the Christian Holy Land; therefore are located numerous places, as connected with the events described in the books of the Old and New Covenant Christian Bible. Among the enormous enumeration of the places, which are of interest for the pilgrims, should be noted the mosaic map of Madaba (discovered in 1896) in which is located in the floor of the Greek Orthodox Basilica of Saint George.

The archaeological park which unites into itself a number of the remainders of Byzantine villas & churches is rich in the decorated mosaic panels. The abundance of mosaics in Madaba has given the name "City of Mosaics" to the Jordanian city. After the inspection of numerous monuments you will be able to rest in the dead or Red Sea. An 8 day tour package priced at about $1,100 per person is available online at OnTheGoTours ( website which includes a 7th day visit to Madaba.

Petra - An Ancient City Touted in the Dead Sea Scrolls

Image by :flickr

Petra, an ancient Rose Red city near a discovered site known to be 9000 years old suggests its prehistoric inhabitance by humans. Petra was lost to the western world until it was rediscovered in 1812 by a Swiss explorer named Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. The city is now a World Heritage Site since 1985 & one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. There are many fascinating buildings in Petra, cut from stone of the rock cliffs like the Monastery, The Urn Tomb, & the treasury. It's certainly a unique experience to be visiting the ancient city that had possibly been mentioned in the Dead Sea Scrolls as the city of Rekem. Anyway, Petra is a fantastic achievement of ancient human civilization in the area.

A trekking tour to Petra package can be found online from for about $1747 per person. It's a 9 day tour arriving in Amman on the first day & visiting the lost city of Petra on the 5th day. An alternative tour package could be taken from within Israel. Now that the two countries, Israel & Jordan are at peace since 1994, frequent tours are possible. The one day tour ( is priced at about $145 per person & begins from the Israel southernmost city of Eilat. Also note that visa to Jordan must be acquired before arriving to Israel. Which of the two ways you choose to visit Petra, be known that you will be stepping into an awe inspiring environment, perhaps even alien & mysterious city. So the answer to the initial question about visiting Jordan is that you would like it.

I write on travel destinations & a travel journal. Do visit

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The First Hotel For Women Was Opened in Saudi Arabia

The First Hotel For Women Was Opened in Saudi ArabiThe First Hotel For Women Was Opened in Saudi Arabia

By Iuri Tarabanov

The first hotel in the country, which is intended exclusively for women, was inaugurated in the capital of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh. The regulations which are currently in force in the Kingdom provide that a woman (a local resident or a tourist) who is not accompanied by a guardian, who can be her husband, father or somebody else of her agnates, doesn't have the right to stay in a hotel or to book a room by herself. These regulations don't apply to the new hotel for women.

The "Luthan", as this hotel is called, includes 25 rooms and several halls for conferences and receptions. It was built by the initiative of some Saudi business women and was destined to make easier their life and travel round the country.

Prince Sultan ben Salman, who is the head of the Supreme Committee of Tourism in Saudi Arabia, participated in the ceremony of the inauguration of the hotel and told he hoped that soon such hotels would be built in the other cities of the country and it, undoubtedly, would contribute to the development of the business activity of Saudi women.

Saudi Arabia is one of the most severe Muslim countries. Unlike the other Islamic countries, the women in this country are not allowed to drive a car. They are also prohibited to participate in elections. However, over the last few years, the Saudi women have been more actively participating in the social life of the Kingdom.

The St. Valentine's Day has also been prohibited by the Vice Squad of Saudi Arabia as a non-moslem hoiliday that cannot be celebrated and is a sin and contributes to the non-marital relationships between men and women.

Iuri Tarabanov writes about interesting travel experiences. His travel directions site is

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Travel Agency Tips for First Time Travelers

Travel Agency Tips for First Time Travelers

Travel agents are an incredible source of information. They know all about deals, have insider knowledge about the industry, develop relationships with hotels, tour operators, airlines, bed and breakfasts and travel associations, and have the necessary technology to find the best deals for traveling to your selected destination.
If you are a first time traveler, deal with a travel agency as though you are a pro. Here are a few tips for you:

• Low-cost carriers – ask your travel agent if they also book with low cost or discount carriers. Because of their inexpensive business models, companies like Ryan air, Jet Blue and Easy Jet offer much cheaper fares.

• Package deals – travel agents not only book flights, they can create a customized travel package for you to include air, hotel, sightseeing and shows. Package deals can be cheaper because of added services.

• Matching service – this is not the romantic matching service that we all know about. When travel agents book tours for their customers, they sometimes receive requests from travelers who like to share a double room, which is cheaper, instead of paying for a single room. This can happen when a particular tour package consists of couples and singles and singles cannot afford a single room.

• No-fuss traveler– inform your travel agent right away if your dates for your return trip are fixed; that is, there is little or no chance of changing your dates. Your travel agent can get you a cheaper fare if you travel on a restricted ticket. The more restrictions are built into your ticket, the cheaper it becomes. For instance, in addition to fixed, unchangeable dates, you can tell your travel agent that you do not mind taking an indirect route (direct routes are more expensive), that you are staying a specified number of days, that it does not matter what day of the week you travel, and you do not mind taking red eye flights.

• The more the merrier – and cheaper! Your travel agent can offer you additional discounts if you request for group travel. Because travel agents receive their discounts in bulk from suppliers, they can pass these on to you as savings. Travel agents purchase seats in blocks, so the sooner they fill up these seats, the better it is for them.

Advice is free – many travel agents are seasoned travelers. They get what the industry calls “fam trips” which means “familiarization trips.” Hotels and tour operators invite travel agents, all expenses paid, so that they can promote them to travelers. Frequent travel broadens not only the mind of travel agents, but also expands their network of contacts. The more contacts a travel agent has, the higher the chances of getting more hot deals. Remember, your travel agent has full access to the industry’s technology. He or she knows what buttons to push to get a good deal. Ask your travel agent to come up with a tour package that will meet your budget. For instance, she could recommend that instead of flying from London to Paris, you could avail of cheaper rail travel between these two cities.

Specialization – find a travel agent that focuses on your particular needs or specializes in the destination you choose. For instance, travel agents specialize in Caribbean travel or in European rail vacations. Some travel agents specialize in senior travel, others specialize in student travel.

ATP – this is the Airline Tariff Publishing tool that most travel agents use. It publishes the latest air fares on more than 500 airlines several times a day. If you call your travel agent on a weekday at 2:00 pm, 5:00 pm and midnight, and ask for a cheap fare, she just might have the latest published fares on discount.

Free vouchers – ask your travel agent if he or she can give you some free vouchers you can use. Believe it or not, they have giveaways that inexperienced travelers are not aware of. But you have to ask!

• Early Bird specials – if you know where and when you are going, call your travel agent anyway even if you are not planning on traveling before six months. Sometimes, they receive discounted fares from certain airlines and it is good to be able to time this fact with your trip. When travelling to overseas destinations, booking months ahead can land you a great deal.
Upgrades – if you have developed a good relationship with a travel agent (regularly booking your boss’ flights with him or her and referring them to your friends), ask if it would be possible to upgrade your seat, hotel or show ticket. Travel agents receive an incredible number of promotions from airlines and hotel operators, and he just might upgrade you at no extra cost, in exchange for business from the company you work with.

Jeremy Foster is a freelance writer who writes about vacationing and the travel industry, often discussing tips and travel deals one would find through working with a travel agency.

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Friday, April 10, 2009

My Top 10 Favourite Places to Stay in Laos

Top 10 Favourite Places to Stay i
My Top 10 Favourite Places to Stay in Laos

Author: Alex Aziz

Image by Bеn

Laos is a stunning country to visit especially if you are after a unique travel experience. Laos is rich in culture with several places such as Luang Prabang being designated as world heritage sites. The country is very safe and the people are incredibly hospitable.

Accommodation is improving and Laos has some excellent places to stay whether staying in the city or a secluded hideaway far away from it all in the mountains or on one of its many rivers. The Capital Vientiane and the world heritage city of Luang Prabang have some great quality hotels some with exquisite colonial charm and all with a genuine friendly service. Getting away to countryside offers stunning views of the countryside. This list is not in any particular order as different hotels offer different experiences some offering the best facilities and others offering the best views. Here are my favourite ten places to stay in Laos taking in a varied selection from across the country.

Image by Bеn

Seng Arun Bungalows

Set on the banks on the Mekong on Done Khone Island these are small family run bungalows, they are pretty basic in western terms as there is still no electricity on the Island, but the wooden styled bungalows are comfortable, all with en suite showers. They overlook the old French Railway Bridge, with their excellent balconies the day could be spent relaxing on a hammock with a book and enjoying the great view.

La Residence Phou Vao

Set in the World Heritage City of Luang Prabang the city is full of old colonial charm and La Résidence Phou Vao Hotel complements this charm, built in the 1950's and renovated in 2001 it is set at the top of Vao hill. The hotel gives stunning views of the surrounding mountains of Luang Prabang as well as Phou Si Temple and the town. It also offers first class facilities and amenities such as a spa and swimming pool. The hotel uses traditional rosewood, cotton and silk so that the modern facilities and rooms do not lose their tradition feel.

Vansana Resort

Vang Vieng is a truly great town lying on the Nam Song River with stunning limestone karsts to its west. Vang Vieng was previously known as a backpacker town with cheap basic accommodation and lots of adventure activities to choose from. There are now however more upmarket places to stay now inviting a different class of tourist. The Vansana Resort is one of these on these built on the banks of the Nam Song River and boasting excellent amenities. The rooms are excellent with private balconies where you can enjoy the view of the mountains. Or enjoy one of the facilities on offer such as a traditional massage a meal on the balcony on the river or a swim in its top rate swimming pool.

Pakbeng Lodge

A few years ago when travelling between the Thai / Laos border town of Chiang Khong / Houei Sai to Luang Prabang the two day boat trip involved a very uncomfortable overnight stay at Pak Beng. This was an unavoidable stop when taking the slow boat. Recently however the opening of the Pak Beng Lodge has changed all of that, with great views of the Mekong and great facilities it has made the two day journey to Luang Prabang and unforgettable one in the best possible way.

Chan-a-Mar Resort, Nong Khiaw

Probably one of the only luxury bungalow's in this part of Laos, set in Nong Khiaw amidst a backdrop of mountains and two rivers this place truly gives the feel of the real Laos. The owners are also set on preserving and promoting textiles of locally grown and made textiles through the GreenHeart Foundation. The bungalows have been individually designed with local materials, each with its own bathroom, hot shower and private balcony offering stunning views.

Kingfisher Lodge

This lodge is set in the stunning Xe Pian National Protected Area about 60 Km south of Pakse in Champasak Province. It has marketed itself as being an eco-lodge, and its wooden bungalows blend in with the lush forest. There is also plenty of opportunities to explore the Xe Pian National Protected Area taking an elephant ride to Ban Pho Pho or enjoying a two day trek to Ta-Ong where you will hear and maybe even see rare Gibbons and excellent birdlife.

Senesothxeun Hotel

Senesothxeun is one of the newest places in Southern Laos, taking the accommodation options on Don Khong Island to a new level, with old charm and the great aura it gives out, it is a remarkable place to stay. The rooms are all luxury with mod-cons and private balconies, this is the place to stay if you are after luxury in the heart of the natural wetlands of Si Pan Don.

Settha Palace

The Settha Palace is set in the heart of Vientiane and has to be one of the best places to stay in Laos an old colonial style hotel build in the early 1930's, the hotel has been restored and is a true masterpiece, with an abundance of old colonial charm. Facilities and service is second to none with landscaped gardens and a swimming pool where you can cool off.

Maison Souvannaphoum

This was the former home of a Lao prince, a boutique hotel set in Luang Prabang it blends in a traditional and modern style excellently. The interior design leaves no compromise with rich silk textiles draped on the walls and ceilings. The facilities are first grade with a spa, swimming pool all set amidst tropical gardens, the food is excellent with top class French and Laotian cuisine and the views from the private balconies unmatched.

La Folie Lodge

On the Island of Don Daeng near the World Heritage site of Wat Phu, this resort is top class giving you the best of both worlds, excellent facilities with a swimming pool and a great sandy beach on the Mekong but you are also on a secluded Island with a great beach on the river! You can explore the island by bicycle or by foot and there are even some old ruins to see on the Island.

Hotel and Tour bookings for these and other hotels or tours in Laos can be made through tour specialists in South East Asia.

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About the Author:

After traveling in South East Asia for several years and falling in love with the area in particular Laos. Xplore-Asia was formed with the aim of promoting tours to increase responsible tourism for the local people and show the world the beauty of this area. After setting up operations in South East Asia, Xplore-Asia expanded into the UK and is Directed by Alex Aziz.