26 March 2008

Thailand now even cheaper

Visiting Thailand is one of the great joys of travel. Bangkok has a great international airport. English is a common language. The streets are exciting and glittery and always filled with fun things to see and do and especially to eat. The public transport skyway works very well. Prices are low for everything, including luxury hotels. Last year I stayed in a suite in the Peninsula Hotel, one of the best hotels in Asia if not the world, for only $150. Many men go to buy handmade suits, which even with the airplane fare included come out less than a similar items in the west.
And making it even easier is the fact Canadians do not need a visa to visit Thailand. A Canadian passport with at least six months validity, and a confirmed ticket out of the country, is enough to get through Thai immigration and be allowed to stay for up to thirty days as a tourist.
However, if you plan to stay more than thirty days, or are in Thailand for business, a conference, to do research, or for some other purpose, you will need a visa. The good news is the price of a Thai visa is dropping to only $35 on 01 April 2008.
So if you are going to Thailand for a very long holiday, or for business, click here and we at VSC will handle all your visa needs.

19 March 2008

Visiting Kosovo

The new state of Kosovo unilaterally declared independance from Serbia on 17 February 2008, and was recognized by Canada just yesterday. At the moment Canadian citizens do not require a visa to enter Kosovo for tourism or business purposes.
Kosovo does not yet have any functioning embassies or consulates. The first diplomatic facilities will probably open in Albania, Macedonia, Rome and Washington.
For the moment, entry to Kosovo by air is limited to Prishtina International Airport. Regular flights arrive from London, Zurich, Istanbul, Budapest and Stuttgart. Immigration formalities take place in the airport, and at the moment seem to consist of a passport check.
The large majority of borders are still in dispute by Kosovo against Macedonia, and by Serbia against Kosovo. Land crossings from Serbia through NATO-controlled UNMIK borders are usually possible. Serbian Railways mainline train #60 from Belgrad to Kosovo Polje (Pristina) run on a regular basis. Land crossings from Albania are also theoretically possible. There is an 80 km highway to Prishtina from Skopje, Macedonia. Canadians do not need a visa to visit Serbia or Albania, but do need a visa for neighbouring Macedonia. Expect long border formalities on the Macedonian side. Please contact VSC if you are not a Canadian and require a visa to Kosovo.
Click here for Kosovo visa information.

13 March 2008

It's easy to get to Canada from Hungary

Most of my blog posts are for Canadians seeking foreign travel. But every now and then an item pertaining to foreigners comes up which deserves attention.
Last week Citizenship & Immigration Canada announced it was immediately lifting visa requirements for several new European Union countries. Citizens of Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, and Slovakia no longer require a temporary resident visa to visit Canada. These people can simply buy a plane ticket and show up with their passport at the Canadian border or airport and be consdiered for entry without further paperwork.
A couple of years ago we invited a Hungarian academic to visit for the summer, and were amazed he had to apply for a visa. He was interviewed, and we had to supply a letter of reference and invitation. This is all the stranger as Hungary has not had a visa requirement for Canadian citizens for many years.
Hungary was a bit of a problem due to the Roma (gypsy) situation. Several years back a rumour spread through the Roma communities in Hungary to the effect of Canada recognizing Roma as a persecuted ethnic group who now qualified as refugees. This was totally untrue, but the rumour led to a flood of Roma turning up in Toronto airport claiming refugee status. Thus the Canadian government tightened visa requirements for all of Hungary to prevent a recurrance of the this unfortunate event.
As of today, only Bulgaria and Romania remain on the visa list for Canada; with the other 25 European Union countries now enjoying visa-free travel to Canada. Since Canadians can travel visa-free throughout the EU and Schengen zone, this enlargement is probably only fair. The minister responsible said her office was working with the two countries to eventually allow for them to join the visa-free regime.
Although my company, Visa Services Canada, does not help people get visas to Canda, we are delighted to be able to tell everyone of the new visa-free status of our new European national friends.
So come visit Canada today!

10 March 2008

Fingerprinting in airports

Fingerprinting of all air travelers is coming, and it is coming fast.
At the end of 2007 the Japanese government began fingerprinting all foreigners arriving in Japan by air.
The British are experimenting with double-checking fingerprints of air travelers with visas at Gatwick airport. Right now only people from Sierra Leone are checked, but all visa travelers to the UK are already fingerprinted in order to acquire a visa. I expect the Brits will soon roll out a system in all their airports to check all visa holders' fingerprints against those taken during the visa application process.
In the USA the border security department requires fingerprints from most foreigners, not including Canadians, Mexicans, and Bermudians. So far this has been limited to one and two fingers, but recently the US rolled out an experimental system to collect all ten fingerprints from foreign travelers at ten large airports.
France is using a fingerprint card to allow some French travelers fast access to airport gates.
For the most part Canadians have been exempt from such police-state measures. However, as borders become harder to cross, and as government paranoia increases, fingerprinting will become more and more common. Privacy is dying. We have sadly come a long way since the days when ordinary people did not need passports to cross frontiers: hundreds of years ago passports were reserved for diplomats.

07 March 2008

How to get the best price for travel

How do I get the best price for travel? To get the best price you have to break down the costs into component parts, then aggressively go after sales and offers.
Airlines are constantly posting seat sales. It is worth becoming a member of your usual airline’s loyalty programme. Then sign up for their internet email notices. These usually have the best available prices. I just bought an Air Canada one month pass covering all of eastern North America for the price of a single ticket from Ottawa to Halifax. I will be making four round-trips for a total of $625, or $155 per city, including a trip to Texas!
Another way of cutting airline ticket costs is to search internet travel sites. These prices are based on what airlines offer, so the price is usually the same or a few dollars more than any airline. But the advantage is being able to see all the prices at once.
For long-haul flights one of the best ways to cut prices is to visit your local ethnic travel agency. Say you are going to Asia: visit some Chinatown travel agencies to canvas the bulk prices to various Asian destinations. This works well with agencies which specialize in travel to one specific region. I have found region-specific agencies can often substantially undercut even the airline price. My agent in Chinatown cut nearly 50% off the Cathay Pacific internet price. No website could even come close to this final price.
The other way to lower your airline costs is to fly off-season and to fly on low-volume days of the week. Airlines want to fill the aircraft, so prices are lower on days when the plane will fly partly empty.
A hotel bed which is empty at eight in the evening will be lost revenue to the hotel. They will never make back the lost money. The lesson here is if you can wait until the very last minute, you will be surprised at how low a front desk manager is willing to go to get you into a bed and to thus bring in something rather than nothing for that otherwise empty room.
The big travel websites boast low prices, but are not always great deals. My experience is that hotel websites themselves, run by the company which owns the individual hotel, offer the best prices. So check the hotel’s own website for the best and most current prices. I have used this to get a presidential suite in Paris for a small fraction of the rack rate of $3500 per night, and I have used it to get an acceptable room for $35 when necessary.
The only real upside to the big travel websites is they allow you to see all the hotel prices at once, and to follow the pricing as it moves up and down as your travel date approaches. Use this information to then go directly to the hotel’s own website for bookings.
To ensure you are getting the best price for passport visas, use Visa Services Canada Inc., Canada's number one family and price-friendly visa office.

03 March 2008

Going to Beijing for the 2008 Summer Olympics

The Oympics are coming! The Olympics are coming! Coming to Beijing, that is. This August China hosts the summer games of the XXIX Olympiad. Everyone needs a visa to travel to China, but this is easier than ever. However, with the Beijing Olympic Games coming quickly, there will soon be a rush for visas.Visas for the Olympics are now on sale. People buying a double entry visa can already apply. Fans wanting a cheaper single entry visa will have to wait until mid-May 2008 to apply. VSC can get you that precious Olympic visa without any hassle or fuss. Just click on the link below for full details and forms.Remember, a single entry visa is good for only three months, so you must depart China prior to the expiry date. The same is true for six month visas. So do not apply earlier than three or six months prior to your final departure from China!
China Olympics visa details: http://www.visaservicescanada.ca/countries/olympics.php
China Olympics visa forms: http://www.visaservicescanada.ca/docs/ChinaOlympics.pdf