Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Latvia

Latvia Flag





Why visit Latvia?
Offers travelers architecture, art-nouveau, baroque, beautiful valleys, birdwatching, canoeing, countryside landscape, cycling, fishing, health clubs, hiking, hills, horseback riding, kayaking, lakes, markets, medieval houses, museums, national parks, natural hot spring spas, nightlife, rolling plains, sailing, sprawling forests, and wildlife.




Riga, Latvia. Photo Credit: Makalu/Pixabay 




At a Glance
  • Souvenirs to Buy: Amber, ceramic, herbal liqueur, leather products, wood goods, and wool goods.
  • Local Cuisine to Try: Alexandertorte (dessert). Biezpiena Sieriņš (snack). Borscht (cold meat soup), Jāņi Cheese. Kartupeļu Pankūkas (potato pancakes). Pelēkie Zirņi ar Speķi (stew). Rasols (salad). Rupjmaize (bread). Siļķe Kažokā (herring). Sklandrausis (sweet pie). Sorrel Soup. Zivju Zupa (fish soup). Speķa Pīrāgi (pastry). 
  • Local Drink to Try: Alus (local beer). BIRZĪ (birch sap). Bukstiņputra (porridge). (Riga Black Balsam (liquor). Sula (birch sap).


Sauna at Cape Kolka (Baltic Sea), Latvia. Photo Credit: Jacqueline Macou/Pixabay 



Fun Facts
  • During the Great Northern War (1700–1721), nearly 40% of the population died from the plague.
  • In 1991, became independent.
  • Upon a time considered the "Paris of the North".
  • Has over 3,000 lakes and over 12,500 rivers.
  • Select streets (Riga) are named after former resident occupations.
  • Home of the longest kayaking marathon in Europe.
  • Amber is known to wash up along the shore coastline.
  • There's no citizenship (of any country), and they cannot vote.
  • Gauja River is their longest and Lake Drīdzis is their deepest.
  • Nearly 56% of the total land accounts as forests.
  • Has one of the largest underground gas storage facilities (in Europe).
  • Traditional Latvian folklore has a collection of over 30,000 melodies and 1.2 million texts.  
  • Riga’s Central Market is considered one of Europe’s largest markets. 
  • Has over 800 Art Nouveau buildings.
  • Compared to other western countries their rich in milk products. 
  • Roughly has 4,100 mushroom species, wild picking in popular (autumn).



Rundāle Palace Museum, Latvia. Photo Credit:  lovelydress0/Pixabay 



Special Holidays/Occasions
  • Annual Events: (January) Riga Music Festival, (February) Bach Music Festival, (March) Contemporary Drama Festival, (April) International Kayaking Marathon Gauja XXL, (May) Beer Fest, (June) Early Music Festival, Latvian Song and Dance Festival, Riga Opera Festival, (July) Metalshow Open Air, Positivus Music Festival, Riga Jurmala Music Festival, Saulkrasti Jazz Festival, Song & Dance Festival, Zvera, (August) International Sacred Music Festival, Riga Salsa Festival, (September) Baltic Pearl Film Festival, Gastronomy Festival, Sound Forest, Studentu Paradīze, (November) International World Music Festival, and Winterfest.
  • Holidays: New Year's Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday, Restoration of Independence Day, Mother's Day, Pentecost, Midsummer's Eve, Midsummer's Day, Proclamation Day of the Republic of Latvia, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Second Day of Christmas, and New Year's Eve.


Art Nouveau (Monument), Riga, Latvia. Photo Credit: Makalu/Pixabay 



Good to Know
  • Jurmala is popular for their beach.
  • Sigulda is popular for horse-drawn carriages.
  • Lake Pape (south of Liepaja) wild horses are known to roam freely.
  • Cycling is popular in Aluksne, Baltic Sea shoreline, Gauja National Park, Latgale, and  Sigulda.
  • Bird Migration Season is between August - November.
  • Fishing is most popular in  Daugava Rivers, Kisezers Lake, Lielupe, and Vitkopi Reservoir.
  • Riga is the fashion center of eastern Europe.
  • Car theft is a common issue.
  • Avoid tap water consumption.
  • Do not wear Lenin or Red Army clothing.
  • During summer months (June - September) mosquito repellent is a necessity.
  • Requires an International Driving Permit to drive.
  • Before entering a Orthodox Church, turn off your mobile devices.
  • Beyond summer months do not drink alcohol in public places. 
  • Strictly adhere to the designated smoking areas.
  • August offers the warmest sea temperatures.
  • Salaca River (north) has the largest spawning ground for salmon amongst the eastern Baltic. 
  • Free Port of Ventspils is one of the busiest amongst Baltic states.
  • Sabile offers plenty of vineyards.
  • Mid summer offers almost 20 daylight hours.
  • The local cuisine consists of fatty foods with few spices.
  • Proof of funds and a return plane ticket is required.
  • Foreign tourists are targeted.
  • Driving under the influence is a crime. Breathalyzer tests and roadblocks are often set up to catch violators.
  • Avoid demonstrations which are known to occur frequently.
  • U.S. toll-free numbers are not accessible there.
  • U.S. currency that is crumpled, defaced, discolored, or torn will be rejected.
  • Exportation and Importation of goods is strictly enforced: antiquities, business equipment, firearms, medications, and religious materials.
  • Medical care and treatment does not meet our standards due to the lack of equipment and resources.
  • Ambulance services are not available country wide.
  • Prevalent Diseases include: Hepatitis A, Lyme, Tick-Borne Encephalitis, Tuberculosis.


National Library of Latvia (Castle of Light), Riga, Latvia. Photo Credit: Janitors/Pixabay 




This international destination requires:
  • A valid passport with six months of validity upon return and one blank stamp page.
  • Hepatitis A and Tick-Borne Encephalitis vaccinations are recommended.
  • Currency Restrictions for Entry/Exit: $10,000EUR.



Riga, Latvia. Photo Credit: Alina Kuptsova/Pixabay 



  • Best Time to Visit: May - September
  • Coldest Month: December - March
  • Hottest Months: June - August
  • Peak Season: July - August & December



House of the Blackheads (Museum), Riga, Latvia. Photo Credit: Makalu/Pixabay 



Your Must-See & Do
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Historic Centre of Riga and Struve Geodetic Arc.

Ready to embark on custom and personalized services, your journey begins with Louvet Travel

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                                        All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Subject to change without notice. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Laos

Laos Flag




"The Land of a Million Elephants"




Bamboo Bridge, Laos. Photo Credit: DEZALB/Pixabay 




Why visit Laos?
Ideal for well-traveled travelers seeking off the beaten destination experience for birdwatching, caves, culture, ecotourism, historical sites, jungles, kayaking, markets, mountain biking, mountains, museums, rafting, rock climbing, scenic rivers, temples, trekking, and waterfalls.



Kuang Si Falls (Kuang Xi Falls), Luang Prabang, Laos. Photo Credit: Wassana Lampech/Pixabay 



At a Glance
  • Souvenirs to Buy: Cotton textiles, fiber arts, needlework goods, quilts, silverware, and woven silk.
  • Local Cuisine to Try: Fur (noodle soup). Khao Jee Pa-Tay (bread). Khao Piak Sen (soup). Laap (meat salad).  Khao Soi (soup). Naem (pork delicacy). Mok (wrapped fish). Or Lam (spicy meat soup). Sai Oo-ah (sausage). Soop Pak (vegetable dish). Sticky Rice. Tam (papaya salad).
  • Local Drink to Try: Beer Lao (local beer). Lao-Lao (rice moonshine). Puk Puk (strong coffee).


Vang Vieng, Laos.  Photo Credit: igormattio/Pixabay 



Fun Facts
  • In 1953, became independent.
  • During Vietnam War (1955-1975), U.S. planes dropped over 2 million tons of bombs.
  • In 1975, six centuries of royal rule ended.
  • In 2009, the oldest modern human skull fossil  was found (Annamite Mountains).
  • Friendship Bridge connects Vientiane with Nong Khai, Thailand.
  • One of four countries in growing opium poppy ("Golden Triangle").
  • Amongst the Greater Mekong Subregion greatest number of rice varieties.
  • Roughly  60% of the population are Theravada Buddhist.
  • The sinh, traditional tube skirt worn by women pattern easily defines the wearer region of residency.


Si Phan Don, Laos. Photo Credit: 41330/Pixabay 



Special Holidays/Occasions
  • Annual Events: (January) Boun Phabath Phonesan Stupa Festival, (February) Boun Khao Chi, Boun Pha That Sikhottabong Stupa Festival, Feb Festival, The Elephants Festival, Vat Phou Festival, (March) Boun Khoun Khao, Boun Phavet, Vientiane International Half Marathon, (April) Pimai Lao, Water Festival, (May) Boun Visakhaboucha, Rocket Festival, (June) International Children’s Day and National Tree Planting Day, (August) Boat Racing Festival, Rice Growing Festival, (September) Boun Khao Salak Ancestor Festival, (October) Festival of the Boats of Light, Lao Handicraft Festival, Luang Prabang Half Marathon,  Naga Rocket, That Luang Festival & Trade Fair, (December) That Inghang Festival, Vang Vieng Music Festival, and Vientiane International Marathon.
  • Holidays: New Year's Day, Armed Forces Day, Chinese & Vietnamese New Year,  International Women's Day, Lao New Year, Lao New Year, Labour Day, Hmong New Year, and Lao National Day.


Wat Xiengthong, Luang Prabang, Laos. Photo Credit: AdrienBe/Pixabay 



Good to Know
  • Generally has three seasons: rainy, cool and hot.
  • Southern part of the country is not as wet.
  • The north offers challenging mountain passes and the south provinces are flat for cyclists.
  • American Express, Master Card, and Visa are only accepted  in the large cities and tourist areas. 
  • Eating raw duck, goat, or pig blood is very common.
  • Lacks adequate infrastructure.
  • Overnight sleeper train from Bangkok to Nong Khai, Thailand.
  • Best time for trekking is between November - February.
  • Antiques and Buddha images are illegal to export.
  • Culturally, females do not stand or sit in a position that puts their heads higher than males.
  • When seated, one's feet should never be pointed toward a sacred object or person.
  • Has limited external and internal telecommunication.
  • Avoid public displays of affection.
  • June - October is the rainy season.
  • Ground transportation is considered inadequate.
  • While illegal, polygamy marriages occur.
  • Large amounts of unexploded ordnance (UXO) exist.
  • Tourists are known victims to various crimes.
  • Police are known to target foreigners to pay bribes for alleged traffic offenses.
  • Adventure Tourism to include inspection, safety, and training is not considered to our standards.
  • Medical facilities and treatment services are extremely limited and do not meet basic international standards.


Rice Plantation, Laos. Photo Credit: Simon/Pixabay 



This international destination requires:
  • A valid passport with six months of validity and two blank pages.
  • Tourist VISA is required. 
  • Currency Restrictions for Entry/Exit: $2,500USD.

Subject to high humidity and monsoons. 

  • Best Time to Visit: November - February
  • Coldest Months: December - January
  • Hottest Months: March - May
  • Peak Season: November - April


Patuxay Monument, Vientiane, Laos. Photo Credit: SaigonJoe/Pixabay 



Your Must-See & Do
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Luang Prabang, Plain of Jars, and Vat Phou.


Photo Credit: rlabe/Pixabay 



Ready to embark on custom and personalized services, your journey begins with Louvet Travel

Your one stop source: Accommodations I Air I Car Rentals I Cruises I Disney Excursions I Tours I Transfers I Travel Insurance I Villa Rentals



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"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page" Saint Augustine

                                                All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Subject to change without notice. 

Monday, April 12, 2021

Kyrgyzstan


Kyrgyzstan Flag



"Switzerland of Central Asia"



Why visit Kyrgyzstan?
Best known for alpine lakes, hiking, hunting, mountain trails, nomadic culture, sacred places, silk road, and white water rafting.



Kyrgyzstan Mountains. Photo Credit: Makalu/Pixabay 



At a Glance
  • Souvenirs to Buy: Apricot wood three-stringed guitar, embroidery goods, felt hats, felt rug, felt slippers, leather goods, tea bowls, and wooden chess boards.
  • Local Cuisine to Try: Beshbarmak (national dish). Boorsok (fried dough). Dimlama (stew). Kaymak (clotted cream). Kuurdak (meat dish). Manty (steam dumplings). Shashlyk (grilled meat). Shorpo (meat soup). Qattama (fried bread). 
  • Local Drink to Try: Chalap (carbonated water). Jarma (cold fizzy). Kymyz (slightly alcoholic drink). Maksym (slightly fizzy). 


Seok Pass (Terskey Alatau Mountain), Kyrgyzstan. Photo Credit: Hans Waehrisch/Pixabay



Fun Facts
  • Epic of Manas (poem) dates back to the 18th Century (1701 – 1800).
  • In 1993, their name officially changed from the Republic of Kyrgyzstan to the Kyrgyz Republic.
  • During 2008 Summer Olympic Games (Beijing) they won both a bronze (Ruslan Tyumenbayev) silver (Kanatbek Begaliev) medal in wrestling. 
  • Tian Shan Mountains covers over 80% of the country.
  • Less than 8% of the land is cultivated.
  • US Armed Forces formerly leased a facility (Bishkek).
  • Embroidered wall hangings (Tush Kyiz) are made by women to  traditionally commemorate their child's marriage.
  • The national flag with the centered yellow sun and forty rays represent the forty tribes before Russia's invasion. The red reflects their openness and peace.
  • Sport horse riding is culturally popular.
  • Every child is required to complete grades from 1st - 9th for a Certificate of Completion. To receive an accredited school Diploma, grades from 10th - 11th must be completed.
  • The National Library of the Kyrgyz Republic (Bishkek) is their oldest (1934) library.
  • The only home to flowers, Aigul (Aigul-Tash Mountain).
  • Merzbacher Lake ("Disappearing Lake") has two pools draining in the summer and winter annually.
  • Plentiful rare edelweiss flowers are found in the Alpine meadows.
  • Has the second largest population of snow leopards in the world.
  • Home to the largest population of petroglyphs (90,000) amongst Central Asia.
  • Lake Issyk-Kul (east) is said to be the burial site of St Matthews.
  • Dungan Mosque was built (1910-1912) without any nails.
  • Their banknotes are printed in France and Malta.
  • Home to the largest walnut forests in the world.


Burana Tower (Chuy Valley), Tokmok, Kyrgyzstan. Photo Credit: Makalu/Pixabay 



Special Holidays/Occasions
  • Annual Events: (January) Ski Challenge, (March)  Nowruz Festival, (April) Bishkek Jazz Festival, Navroz Spring Festival, (May) Bike Challenge, (July) Agro Fest, National Horse Festival,  (August) Birds of Prey Festival, Eagle Hunting Festival, Kyrgyz Kochu Festival, National Uzbek Cuisine Festival, Shepherds Festival, and (October) Autumn Marathon.
  • Holidays: New Year's Day, Eastern Orthodox Christmas, Fatherland Defender's Day, International Women's Day, Nooruz Mairamy, Day of the People's April Revolution, International Workers' Day, Constitution Day, Great Patriotic War Against Fascism Victory Day, Independence Day, Days of History and Commemoration of Ancestors, Orozo Ait, and Kurman Ait.


Naryn River (Tian Shan Mountains), Kyrgyzstan. Photo Credit: Makalu/Pixabay 




Good to Know
  • Considered economically and politically unstable.
  • Substantial rural poverty.
  • Not highly developed.
  • Languages most often spoken include: Kyrgyz, Russian, and Uzbek.
  • Highly mountainous terrain.
  • Power and water outages are common.
  • A developing country.
  • No Kyrgyzstan registered airline may operate in the European Union.
  • Second poorest country amongst Central Asia. 
  • Summers are extremely hot.
  • Local Law bans females under the age of 23 from traveling abroad without a parent or guardian.
  • Cholpon-Ata offers the most popular beach zones.
  • Islam is the dominant religion.
  • While illegal bride kidnapping is known to occur. 
  • Roads tend to be windy and steep. Most roads are impossible during the winter season.
  • You are required to carry your passport (or a certified copy) with you at all times.
  • Public transportation is considered crowded, unreliable, and unsafe.
  • Cash payment is often required before rendering medical care or treatment.
  • Avoid demonstrations and protests.
  • U.S. citizens are often targeted and victims of crime.
  • Individuals are known to impersonate Police Officers.
  • Due to importation fuel is expensive.
  • There's discussions to build a major road from Osh to China.
  • U.S. citizens should limit travel to the Batken province (Oblast).
  • Photographs of food markets, government buildings, military uniforms, or police are prohibited.
  • The Population practices a semi-nomadic lifestyle.
  • There is zero tolerance for driving under the influence of alcohol. Violators will be imprisoned.
  • Hefty fines and imprisonment for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs.
  • Discrimination and harassment of LGBTI individuals occurs. 
  • Mountain flowers blossom between April - June.



Toktogul Dam, Jalal-Abad Province, Kyrgyzstan. Photo Credit: Makalu/Pixabay 



This international destination requires:
  • A valid passport with six months of validity and one blank stamp page.
  • Tourist VISA not required for visits under 60 days.
  • Currency Restrictions for Entry/Exit: $3,000USD.

Subject to droughts, frequent mudslides, rockslides, snow avalanches, and Spring floods.

  • Best Time to Visit: December - March & June - July
  • Coldest Months: November - March
  • Hottest Months: May - September
  • Peak Season: December - March & June - July


Yurt (home), Kyrgyzstan. Photo Credit: Makalu/Pixabay 



Your Must-See & Do
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Sulaiman-Too Sacred Mountain, Tian-Shan Silk Roads, and Western Tien-Shan.


Canyon Fairy Tale, Tosor, Kyrgyzstan. Photo Credit: Natalia_Kollegova/Pixabay



Ready to embark on custom and personalized services, your journey begins with Louvet Travel

Your one stop source: Accommodations I Air I Car Rentals I Cruises I Disney Excursions I Tours I Transfers I Travel Insurance I Villa Rentals



Stay connected, find us online: 

Alignable Facebook  LinkedIn  Pinterest  Twitter 

"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page" Saint Augustine


                                                             All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Subject to change without notice. 

Lebanon

Lebanon Flag Why visit Lebanon? For the traveler seeking to explore the Middle Eastern to enjoy archaeological ruins, caving, coastal towns,...