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Saturday, April 11, 2015

Savvy Tips on How to Travel or Spend Your Holidays in Armenia

Mt. Ararat - Noah's Ark Landed
Do you know where Noah’s ark landed? It is in Armenia.

What country is the first to adopt the Christian faith? Armenia.

Armenia is a small country with rich history. It may not be on top of your list of the best places to travel because of the difficulty in getting there.

But ask some people who have been there and they will tell you how great their experience was while having their holidays in Armenia.

The country itself is absorbing. But its history is even more fascinating.

I have never been there but some of my colleagues had the rare chance of visiting Armenia and they were absolutely astonished.

It is not a country you must not overlook.

When is the best time to visit the country?

The best times to visit Armenia will be May and June and/or September and October.

This country has high-altitude climate. It is hotter than the Philippines.

During those times, the weather is warm but it is not as warm as the other months of the year.

Do I need a visa?

If you are from Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa and the US, then you will need to secure a visa to enter Armenia. You can stay here up to 120 days.

You may apply for an e-visa. It is an online process in which the visa will be emailed to you through its PDF format. You will have to print it out and present it when you arrive.

It may take up to 21 days to process your visa and it may cost you around $10 in US dollars.

It is best to apply for Armenian visa at least two months before you arrive in this country.

Can I use my credit card in Armenia?

Yes, you can. But, just like in the Philippines, it is best no to rely on them all the time.

Credit cards are only accepted in major cities. And if you do want to use it, make sure that it is Visa as it is the most commonly accepted brand in the country.

What is the currency of Armenia?

The national currency is Armenian Dram (AMD). You may exchange your US dollars into AMD through banks, post offices, in hotels (where you will stay) and exchange agencies.

To make it easier for you to exchange your money, you should consider getting a tour package to Armenia. Your tour operator would be there for you in case you need assistance traveling in this country.

Is there an Internet access in the country?

There is an Internet coverage throughout Armenia. The good thing is that it is reliable and extensive. It is also cheap and convenient.

You may still use your mobile/cell phone but the rates can get expensive. Thus, it is ideal to simply obtain prepaid SIM cards, which you can avail through booths at the airport.

What is the public transportation of Armenia?

You can choose to ride on buses, microbuses, trolleybuses and the subway.

Minibuses and buses are the most popular transportation in the country’s capital city – Yerevan.

But, if you opt to have a comfortable and affordable ride, you may choose a taxi. All cabs have meters allowing you to pay only for the driven kilometers. The rate is $0.25 USD for every kilometer. But the minimal amount is $1.5 USD or 600 AMD. You need to pay the amount when you get inside. It will include a travel of four kilometers.

Expect to pay around USD$3 when you go around the city center.

If you are a man and you see a pinkish taxi, you must not raise your hand hoping it will stop and pick you up. Pink taxis in Armenia are only for the ladies.

How to be a responsible traveler in Armenia?

Just like visiting any other foreign countries, you should respect the customs, religion and culture, as well as the traditions of Armenia. Most citizens here are Christians.

Hospitality in this country is practiced. For instance, if you are invited for a meal in a local place, you must be ready for it as you will be lavished with great food and you must expect to participate in rounds of toasts.

When you are invited, it is best to bring a small gift to the host. It could be anything, from chocolates to alcohol to flowers. If you do bring chocolates, make sure that it is imported and not local.

When it comes to politics, Armenians are quite sensitive with some issues related to this area. Although the citizens here like talking about politics, you should be cautious when you express your opinion.

It is important to remember that Armenians admire the culture of Russia and Slavic.

It is okay to ask about life under the Soviets. But you cannot ask about Azerbaijan or Turkey. If you are really curious about it, make sure that you exercise sensitivity.

When you visit monasteries and churches, you should dress up nicely. By nicely, it means modestly and respectfully. Women must wear a dress that covers their shoulders up to their knees. You must remove your shoes each time you visit a place of worship.

To minimize unnecessary waste, it is ideal that you bring a reusable bottle or a canteen and drink through a tap water. Tap water in this country is safe to drink. So, there is no need for you to buy bottled water.

What is the country’s most popular dish?

Barbecued meat is the most popular dish in Armenia. You can purchase a loaf of baked bread at 20 cents to get a full meal with it.

Or you can have a bottle of wine to go with that meal, which will cost you around $2 a bottle.

Should you wish to obtain organic tomatoes or cucumbers, expect to pay around 20 cents. When you visit the country during the summer time, you will find organic fruit and vegetables being sold in the roads of Ararat Valley, which is outside the capital city.

The cuisine of the country is of Middle-Eastern. Thus, you should expect to see or eat beef, pork, fish and lamb in their dishes.

If you are fond of eating fresh herbs, then you are in luck as Armenians love to add fresh herbs in their foods.

However, if you are not the type of traveler who wishes to try Middle-Eastern cuisines, you can go to restaurants that serve European and Eastern cuisines.

What language do people speak in Armenia?

Although some Armenians can speak English, its official language is Armenian, which is a part of Indo-European language.

Now that you know the most important tips in travelling to Armenia, it is also essential that you know the great things that you can do when you arrive there or the best places that you can visit in this exotic country.

Mt. Ararat

It is where Noah’s ark landed centuries ago.

Even though it is already a part of Turkey, the citizens of Armenia still consider it as a symbol of their country. This is one of the reasons you can see its image on postcards, cognac labels, etc.

Any resident of this country can tell you the best place/position to take a photo that can completely capture the mountain, from its foot to the top. The best place where you can view it is from the Khor Virap Monastery. It was in its pit that Saint Gregory was imprisoned for 13 years.

You may climb down the steps of the Pit but be extra careful as the experience can be freaky for those who are not used to it.

However, you must be here in a good weather condition.

Lake Sevan

You must not miss it when you go to Armenia. The lake changes its colors from blue to silver.

You can do some fishing or swim with your travel partners. But be careful when exploring the territory as the area around it is National Park’s reserved zone.

While discovering the lake, you may go and visit Sevanavank, which is a monastery that can be reached through a one-day trip.

Garni Temple

This is another historical landmark of Armenia. Garni Temple is considered to be the oldest Pagan temple in the world. It played a significant role in establishing Armenia as a country.

It is nearly 2,000 years old but you can still see older structures around it.

If you are so lucky, you may experience pagans holding a ritual in this temple.

Genocide Complex

Centuries ago, the Ottoman Empire ordered its men to destroy all Armenians in Eastern Turkey or in Anatolia. All women, children and older people were sent on death marches towards the desert of Syria in February 1915.

To commemorate those millions who died on those marches, this Genocide Complex was built.

This memorial has an eternal flame with a pillar that points towards heaven. When you get to look at it closely, you will find some flowers pile up in a circle and placed around the flame.

Etchmiadzin Cathedral

If you are fond of exploring churches, then this cathedral must be on your list when visiting this country. It is the oldest church in the world that is built by the state.

It is in that same spot where Saint Gregory had a vision about Christ. In that vision, he saw Christ coming to the Earth to strike it down with a hammer.  With that vision, he was convinced that God wanted him to build a church there, which is now the oldest state-built church on Earth. It was built after the country had been named as the first Christian country.

With its rich history, it is no wonder that this church is regarded as UNESCO heritage site.

There are other great places where you can roam around and get to know the culture and history of Armenia. But these ones are the best places, so far.

If you are fond of taking souvenirs, you should definitely go to Yerevan Vernissage. It is where you can find not just paintings but other things that are up for sale. National souvenirs, coffee machines, and expensive antiques are just three of the things you can find and buy here.

And if you know how to haggle, you might get those antiques at a very low price.

Carpet buying

Then, do not forget to purchase a carpet here. Carpet weaving is popular amongst Armenians. In this country, carpets can serve as curtains and used in the doorways.

It is ideal to go to a factory so you can find a customized carpet based on your taste. However, make sure that you keep its receipt as soon as you go and check at the airport. This is to prove that the carpet has no historical value.

On the other hand, if you have negotiated and purchased an antique carpet, you should secure a certificate that would allow you to export or bring the carpet to your country.

Cognac in your bag

You are not done yet, unless you have tasted and bought Armenian cognac. It is a must-have item when you leave the country. Although you can easily buy it from one of the stores there, it is best to visit a factory that manufactures Yerevan cognac.

The country grows six varieties of grapes, so it is no wonder that they have the best cognac in their basements. Thus, before leaving the country, make sure that there is a branded Armenian cognac in your bag.

Surely, there are a lot of great things that you can experience when traveling to Armenia. If you are into history, then you should consider visiting this country. Because of its rich history, it has become a top tourist destination for those religious individuals. It is an ancient kingdom that, unfortunately, is off the radar for most tourists.

Flying to Armenia can be a challenge. But getting in touch with one of the travel agencies there can ease it out.

Check out Armenia’s travel agency to learn more about its packages in touring the country.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

12 Best Places to Travel in Australia


When trying to find the best places to travel in Australia, you will be faced with many things.

The country is known for its extraordinary landscapes, beautiful beaches, and gorgeous cities. That said, it would be difficult for you to see all the beautiful places of the country in one single trip.

On this list, I highlighted all the best places to travel in Australia. They are also the best places to stay during the holidays. With this list, you can have an idea on what to do and where to go when you finally have the chance to visit Australia.

#1 Best places to travel in Australia – Sydney

When you are an Australian or living in Australia, you might probably scoff when you read Sydney on top of this list.

It is true that the country has better attractions or places to travel than Sydney. But no one can deny the truth that Sydney is an iconic place that no one should miss when traveling here.

If you made a decision to travel in this country and you do not see Sydney, then you would be like a tourist going to, say the Philippines and not eating balut. It would also be like going to American and not trying the best hot dog.

Sydney has the Opera Bar that lets you have a drink with your travel partner before you go and see a performance at the famous Opera House. The city is also known for the great Taronga Zoo, where you can experience and see festivals all year long.

#2 Best places to travel in Australia – Adelaide

As the fifth largest city of Australia, Adelaide is situated on a plain between the Gulf St. Vincent and the Adelaide Hills. In here, you will find some of the best Australia’s wine regions.
If you are fond of architecture, you will surely have a great time exploring the architecture of the inner city, which represents the colonial era.

There are many places you can stay in Adelaide. Hilton Adelaide offers reasonable price. It is very close to the central market. Although its furnishing is outdated, you cannot go wrong with the hotel’s reasonable rates.

Or you can book one to two nights at the Playford Adelaide. It is near public transportation, many restaurants, Festival Theatre, and so much more.

#3 Best places to travel in Australia – Byron Bay

This is situated south of the Queensland border. Byron bay is a popular holiday destination of both Australians and international tourists. You cannot blame them as the place lets you see the amazing lighthouse during sunset.

You will also experience Australia’s wide array of music festivals over the year. They attract not just local musicians but also international bands and singers, like Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran.

Although it is not the most beautiful place in Australia, Byron Bay offers affordable rates when visiting here. It is also situated just kilometers away from the country’s pristine beaches, scuba diving sites, and other attractions that make Byron Bay one of the best places to visit in the country.

#4 Best places to travel in Australia – Darwin

It is a transportation hub of the country because of its close proximities to other countries situated in the Indian Ocean. Although it had been damaged during the World War II, the city has a resilient town. Its people have a spirit that cannot be easily defeated.

The main attractions of Darwin are its seafood restaurants and multi-national shops. You will also enjoy drinking beer through its many open-air bars.

You can cruise around the Darwin Harbor, which can last around 12 hours. The cruise may include explorations of mangrove forest, bird and marine photo opps and fish expeditions.

To learn about the culture of Australia and of Darwin, you can visit its aboriginal locations that are in and around the city. If you wish to explore about the relics from the World War II, you can visit the Museum and Gallery of the Northern Territory.

Because Darwin is home to more than 60 nationalities, you should not be surprised to find and experience its broad and varied cuisine. When you are in the city, expect to experience a lot of things that might be new to your life.

#5 Best places to travel in Australia – Great Ocean Road

It is in Victoria. Great Ocean Road is one of the most amazing scenic drives you can see in the world. Although it is only 243 kilometers long, it will take you one day to enjoy its narrow yet windy traffic lanes.

When you are exploring it, you will find its panoramic views to be the most exciting. As it hugs the coast line, you will get to experience and see ocean and cliffs. The cool climate of its rain forests will give you windy temperature.

If you are looking for beaches, there are many that you can stop and swim here. Hikes and other attractions are also provided for you to partake in.

Do you love surfing like I do? Then, you should not miss the wild waves of Discovery Bay and Bells Beach.

How about the wildlife? The ancient rainforests and natural attractions of Australia are found in the Great Ocean region.

And do not forget to experience the Great Ocean Walk where you can journey from the Apollo Bay and head to the 12 Apostles. While you are in this journey, you can visit its national parks and deserted beaches.

#6 Best places to travel in Australia – Grampians National Park

It is still situated in Victoria. This is where the Great Ocean Road ends. The park is large with 1,672 kilometers in size. Hikes, sandstone ridges and indigenous rocks can be found here.

There are several recreational opportunities here. On your way to the park, you will find panoramic views and impressive waterfalls.

When you visit here during August and October, you will experience and see the colorful displays of wildflower in the park. You will also find it here various types of herbs and shrubs. This is also a great place to find native animals and birds. Kangaroos, you say? Yes. And also koalas, eagles and emus, among others.

#7 Best places to travel in Australia – Daintree Rainforest

It is in the north of Cairns. Daintree rainforest is Australia’s nature wonderland. In here, you can find 30% of the country’s reptile and 65% of Australia’s bat and species of butterflies. Do you want to see the Cassowary? This is its home.

There are a lot of things that you can do in the Daintree rainforest. You can do crocodile boat tours, mangrove adventure tour, local indigenous tours, etc.

When you visit this rainforest, however, you must make sure that you have a hat, a pair of sunglasses, sunscreen protection, fuel for cooking, insect repellent, and rubbish bags.

With so many things you can do here, it is no wonder it is a popular destination among tourists who love to have nature tripping.

#8 Best places to travel in Australia – Great Barrier Reef

Even if you are not a scuba diver, Great Barrier Reef is still a great place to travel while you are in this country. It is synonymous with Australia and it is one of the attractions that is known by almost every person.

In addition to Uluru and the Opera House, it is another attraction that you can look forward to in Australia. Home to endangered animals and plant species, the Great Barrier Reef stretches for 2,300 kilometers.

Whitsunday Islands are stunning. But it is truly difficult to recommend a particular area in the Reef that you will surely enjoy as each of the islands is striking. If you wish to appreciate it more, you must spend at least two days of sailing trip or tour around it.

You can do snorkeling and scuba diving. Bear in mind that it does not require you to know how to scuba dive. There are professional scuba divers who can be with you during the dive, so experience it or you will regret it for the rest of your life. And, oh, do not forget to swim with the whale sharks. It is a rare but humbling experience.

#9 Best places to travel in Australia – Uluru

It is in the Northern Territory. Okay, you may think that it is just a rock. However, when you get closer to it, it gets bigger and bigger. Once you get closest, you just cannot put your feelings into words. You will just be left in awe of its magic and splendor.

If you wish to visit here, you need to have a guided tour to truly appreciate the area. Through the tour, you will see a lot more than just a simple rock. You will experience the country’s indigenous culture. If you are like many who are seeking a taste of an outback life, you must not miss visiting Uluru. The experience will just leave you breathless and out of words.

#10 Best places to travel in Australia - Fraser Island

Do you want to see the largest sand island in the entire world? You should visit Fraser Island. It is situated near the Hervey Bay in Queensland. This is where you can find numerous pristine beaches. Each month, this place is being visited by thousands of people from all over the world.
To get around the area, you will need to rent a four-wheel drive. Then, make sure that you spend around two to three days to fully explore the area.

What you can see here? Rainforests with fauna and rare flowers. Dingo. Fresh water lakes. Gorgeous beaches.

Snorkeling and scuba diving are also perfect here.

However, you should observe and follow safety advice of the government when visiting Fraser. When you go sand driving here, you need to take it seriously as there are thousands who have died in crashes on this island. You must also be alert when you visit here between March and May as the risk of interaction with dingo is high.

Although there are risks involved when visiting Fraser, this is still a paradise that you must not miss. When looking for a perfect tourist destination in Australia, this one should be on your list.

#11 Best places to travel in Australia – Cable Beach

It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Australia. Situated in Western Australia, Cable Beach lets you see white sands, blue waters and beautiful sunsets. This is also a great place where you can have camel rides on the beach. How is that for a change? However, if you wish to cross the sand in a vehicle, you may still opt to ride in a four-wheel drive. But camel riding when crossing the sands is just a marvelous experience that you should not let pass.

#12 Best places to travel in Australia – Kakadu National Park

It is 200 kilometers east of Darwin. The national park is 3.2 million acres with traditional lands, which are homes to indigenous tribes. Traditional landowners considered this area as sacred.

In here, you will find more than 5,000 rock paint sites. It is a UNESCO site and listed in the World Heritage Area. The entire area will leave you breathless as you explore its endangered animals and plants, see the salt water crocodile and other natural attractions.

Conclusion

These are not just the places you can travel and visit while in Australia. As you land here, you will find that there are plenty more that you can explore and appreciate nature and people.

Of course, when you visit Australia, you should not miss trying its good wines. You simply need to try its Chardonnay. Whether you prefer white or red wine, you can get a good bottle of wine that is around $20. I should definitely try its Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc.

And do not forget to try Australia’s BBQ. Public parks and gardens in Australia feature free barbeques or cheap ones. If you are like me who loves meat, then you will surely be in paradise when you come and visit Australia.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Best Places to Travel in the Philippines


Where are the best places to travel in the Philippines this summer?

Philippines isn’t only known as the home country of Manny Pacquiao but it’s also renowned as a country with beautiful, perfect beaches, mountains, lakes, etc.

Some travelers are still hesitant to travel in this country because of its “bad” image. But, for those who have travelled here, they know that the country is incomparable to the rest of the countries in Asia.

I’m not saying that because I’m from the Philippines. If you’re planning a trip to my country, here are some of the best places to travel and stay.

1. Best places to travel in the Philippines: Scream Park Manila

From the term suggests, it’s a theme park for those who wish to scream and be scared. If you want to experience how to be walking with zombies, you should try it out. You’ll feel like you’re in the set of “Walking Dead.” But you’re forbidden to touch them.

When you go there, you need to survive its three scare mazes, namely The White House, The Undead – Hungry for your Flesh and the Asylum of Terror.

2. Best places to travel in the Philippines: Sky Ranch Tagaytay

It’s made for adrenaline junkies and thrill seekers. Located in Tagaytay, Sky Ranch offers a lot of exciting attractions. That would include the Sky Eye, which is a towering giant that lets you see all the sights when you’re at the top of it.

Super Viking is also a great attraction. For kid-friendly attractions, they can see Mini Viking, Carousel, Wonder Flight, and so on.

3. Best places to travel in the Philippines: Sandbox Pampanga

After you’re done being excited and thrilled at Sky Ranch and you want more, you can go straight to Sandbox Pampanga. It’s the latest destination in the North and it features a lot of thrill rides and activities designed for outgoing people, like you.

One of its attractions is the Ride the Avatar One, which is a rollercoaster zipline. The up and down slopes and sharp turns make the ride more thrilling.

The Aerial Walk is another activity you shouldn’t miss at Sandbox. It’s an obstacle course that tests your physical strength.

4. Best places to travel in the Philippines: Costa Pacifica Baler

It’s in Baler. And we all know how beautiful this place is. Drive is long, about eight hours. But you’ll enjoy it scenic views.

Costa Pacifica Baler is located right at the shore, making it a perfect place for surfers (and surfer wannabe).

The resort is captivating. You’ll feel like you’re staying in Bali’s Potato Head Beach Club and Sydney’s Bondi Beach.

5. Best places to travel in the Philippines: City of Dreams Manila

After Baler, you can go back to Manila and stay at the City of Dreams. Located in Aseana Avenue, City of Dreams consists of three hotels, restaurants and more.

It has leisure and lifestyle shops, plus dining options.


To know more about the best places to travel in the Philippines, go here

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Traveling to Japan, India, Russia, China, Norway, France, Germany – How not to be Rude to the Locals

When traveling to Japan, Russia, India, China, Norway and France, there are things that you must know to avoid upsetting the locals. Here are some rules that you should keep in mind.

Traveling to Japan

Japan is one of the top travel destinations in Asia. But make sure to heed some of its travel rules. For instance, services at hotels and restaurants can be quite unique in this country. If waiters in the US would appreciate bigger tips, servers in Japan would find it degrading.

Tipping isn’t done in this country, so avoid that when traveling to Japan.

Traveling to India

From Japan, let’s go to India. In this country, you won’t see their locals using their left hand when greeting someone or exchanging money.

Why?

They considered it as unclean.

Thus, when traveling to India, never use your left hand when you try to greet someone. Don’t pick up merchandise or exchange money using your left hand.

Traveling to Russia

Russia is known for its strict rules when it comes to their tourists. If it’s your first-time in this country, don’t assume that the people living here are miserable because they just don’t smile at you.

Well, there’s a reason for that. And it’s not that they’re unhappy. In Russia, smiling at strangers is considered a demonstration of insincerity. This is because smiling is an intimate gesture for Russians. If you don’t know them and you smile at them, they’ll treat you as an insincere individual.

So, don’t smile at Maria Sharapova when you see her in Russia, unless the two of you are friends.

Traveling to China

China is known for its chopsticks. When you go to one of its restaurants, never wave your chopsticks as this action is considered to be rude in this country. It’s as if you’re drumming with your fork or knife.

Traveling to Norway

Among the many bizarre rules in Norway, it’s the honking that really amazes me. In Norway, honking is only used during emergency situations. Thus, when you beep while driving, you’re causing panic to other drivers. (Wish it’s also being followed here in PH).

Traveling to France

In addition to learning le Francais, you must also learn how to say hello. Saying “bonjour” is appreciated in this country but if you don’t, French locals would consider you as rude. You’re simply showing the person you don’t say hi to that he/she is “lower than you” in status.

Traveling to Germany

When in Germany, never put your hands in your pockets while talking to someone. It’s considered to be bad manners. And while you’re eating, never put your hands on the table. Never. Verstanden?  

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