Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan Flag




Why visit Kazakhstan?
Hugely underdeveloped destination offers experienced travelers ancient mausoleums, architecture, art, biking, birdwatching, desert landscapes, fishing, hiking, historical sites, horseback riding, hunting, mountain climbing, museums, mountain climbing, sailing, skiing, and wildlife.



Nur-Sultan (Formerly Astana), Kazakhstan. Photo Credit: Акимхан Бозтай/Pixabay 



At a Glance
  • Souvenirs to Buy: Coats, folk instruments, hats, leather goods, luxury designer brands, and wool goods.
  • Local Cuisine to Try: Baursaks (fried dough). Beshbarmak (boiled horse meat). Manti (dumpling). Shuzhuk (horse meat sausages). Quwyrdaq (stewed meat). Shelpek  (flatbread). Tandyr Nan (bread). Tokash (bread). Zhal (horse neck meat).


Big Almaty Lake (Reservoir), Kazakhstan. Photo Credit: Tom/Pixabay 



Fun Facts
  • By 2010, the Aral Sea dried up.
  • Lake Markakol is fed by small rivers and streams.
  • World's largest landlocked country. 
  • Has the second largest reserves in chromium, lead, uranium, and zinc.
  • Large exporter of diamonds. 
  • Home to the second coldest capital city (Nursultan) in the world. 
  • Claimed origin of the apple tree.


Almaty, Kazakhstan. Photo Credit: Konevi/Pixabay 



Special Holidays/Occasions
  • Annual Events: (March) Navroz Festival, (May) Alakol Wings Festival, Kokmaisa Festival, (June) Koshpendiler alemi Festival, Spirit of Tengri Festival, (July) Uba Chants Ethnic Folk Festival, (August) Burabike Fest, Chabana Festival, FourЭ Festival, Kazakhstan Golf Open, Khan Tengri Mountain Festival, Zhezkik Festival, (September) Apple Fest, Astana International Contest of Kazakh Song, Okunkol Fishing Fest, (October) Toikazan Festival, and (December) Kansonar Fest.
  • Holidays: New Year's Day, Eastern Orthodox Christmas, International Women's Day, Nauryz Meyramy, Kazakhstan People's Unity Day, Defender of the Fatherland Day, Great Patriotic War Against Fascism Victory Day, Capital City Day, Constitution Day, Qurban Ayt, First President Day, and Independence Day.


Ak Orda Presidential Palace, Nur-SultanKazakhstan. Photo Credit: Lena1964/Pixabay 



Good to Know
  • Consider seeing the Sharyn Canyon and Tien Shan by air (helicopter).
  • Skiing is best on Great Almaty Peak and Kazakh Altai Mountains.
  • The ancient route of the Silk Road offers holy places and mausoleums.
  • Beket-ata and Sholpan-ata are said to have healing powers.
  • Kazakh or Russian are spoken. English not widely spoken.
  • Visiting near the China border and select cities requires Kazakhstani government permission.
  • Healthcare providers and hospitals often require cash payment before rendering services.
  • Road conditions are commonly poor, lack signage and adequate lighting.
  • ATM skimming is prevalent.
  • Avoid public transportation.
  • Rural businesses are known to only accept cash.
  • You must carry your passport with you at all times.
  • U.S. currency for exchange the dollars must be from 2000 or newer with the large portrait. 
  • Importing religious literature is restricted.
  • Persons with HIV/AIDS entry restrictions apply.
  • Police impersonators are known to occur.

This international destination requires:
  • A valid passport with three months of validity upon return.
  • Tourist VISA not required for visits under 90 days.
  • Currency Restrictions for Entry/Exit: $10,000USD.

Prone to earthquakes.

  • Best Time to Visit: April - June & September - October
  • Coolest Months: November - March
  • Hottest Months: May - August
  • Peak Season: July - August


Charyn Canyon (Charyn National Park), Kazakhstan. Photo Credit: Анна Филипова/Pixabay 



Your Must-See & Do
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi, Petroglyphs within the Archaeological Landscape of Tamgaly, Saryarka – Steppe and Lakes of Northern Kazakhstan, Silk Roads: the Routes Network of Chang'an-Tianshan Corridor, and Western Tien-Shan.


Almaty, Kazakhstan. Photo Credit: Alexander Serzhantov/Unsplash 



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

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Jordan

Jordan Flag




Why visit Jordan?
Appeals to the biblical historian seeking to enjoy: ancient cities, beaches, birdwatching, canyons, caves, culture, desert, forests, fortresses, gorges, historical sites, hot spring, mosaics, mountains, nature reserves, ruins, scuba diving, shopping, snorkeling, and spa treatments. 



Aqaba, Jordan. Photo Credit: igor1404/Pixabay 



popular destination for:
  • Amateur & Professional Photographers
  • Bucket List Destination
  • Ocean Cruises Embarkation/Disembarkation
  • Groups: Family, Friends, Multigenerational, Religious


Ad Deir (aka: Ad-Dayr & El-Deir), Petra, Jordan. Photo Credit: Heidelbergerin/Pixabay 



At a Glance
  • Souvenirs to Buy: Baskets, bronze, ceramics, embroidery, etchings, glass, gold jewelry, leather work, mother-of-pearl, olive-wood carvings, pottery, religious goods, rugs, sea products, silk-screen prints, silver goods, spices, straw goods, weavings, and wood inlay.
  • Local Cuisine to Try: Athan Al-Shayeb (pasta dish). Ataif (fried pancakes). Falafel (fried chickpeas). Ful Medames (stew). Galayet Bandora (stewed tomatoes). Hummus (mashed chickpeas). Kunafa (pastry). Mansaf (lamb dish). Mohallabiya (pudding). Musakhan (chicken dish). Roasted Nuts. Sayadeyeh (fish dish).
  • Local Drink to Try: Amstel (beer). Arabic Coffee. Jordan River (wine). Limonana (mint-lemon). Machaerus (wine). Mount Nebo (wine). Saint George (wine). Sahlab (boiled milk).


Ruins of Jerash, Jerash, Jordan. Photo Credit: Heidelbergerin/Pixabay 



Fun Facts
  • In Song of Solomon 7:4 the town of Heshbon is mentioned.
  • Petra, “Rose-Red City” is one of the seven wonders of the world.
  • Highly ranks amongst Medical Tourism.
  • The Northeastern desert area revealed evidence of bread-making, the oldest in the world.
  • Aqaba Church (Ayla) is considered the world's first Christian Church built.
  • The Dead Sea is the lowest point on earth.
  • The sandstone rock architecture (Petra) has over 40 tombs.
  • Known to be an "upper-middle income" country.
  • Only has one port, the Port of Aqaba.
  • Home to approximately 100,000 archaeological and tourist sites.
  • Along the Jordan River is where the Baptism of Jesus occured (Al-Maqta) by John the Baptist.
  • In the Hebrew Bible, Mount Nebo is where Moses was granted a view of the Promise Land.
  • Machaerus is where John, the Baptist, was prisoned and executed.
  • The Dead Sea high salt concentration is known to treat skin diseases.
  • From north to south the Jordan Trail stretches across the country.
  • Home to the world's oldest dam (Jawa Dam).
  • One of the largest exporter and mineral producers in the world.
  • Most university classes are taught in English.
  • The most valuable archaeological findings are found in The Jordan Museum.
  • Umm Qays, where Jesus is said to call upon demonic spirits and let them perish in the sea (Gadarene Swine).
  • Al-Khazneh is one of the most elaborate ancient temples (Petra) carved in sandstone.
  • Presumably from the Last Supper (near Petra) with Jesus approximately 82 wine presses have been discovered.
  • Popular scripture references include: 2 Kings 2:1-18, Deuteronomy 34:1-6, Jeremiah 8:21-22, and Mark 1:2-4.


Amman Citadel, Amman, Jordan. Photo Credit: LoggaWiggler/Pixabay 



Special Holidays/Occasions
  • Annual Events: (January) Amman International Theatre Festival, (February) Aqaba Traditional Arts Festival, Azraq Festival, (March) Electro Festival, (April) Amman Dead Sea Ultra Marathon, Amman Jazz Festival, Jordan International Rally, (July) Distant Heat, Jordan Festival, Shopping Festival, and (October) Amman Design Week.
  • Holidays: New Year's Day, Labour Day, Independence Day, Christmas Day, Feast of the Sacrifice or the Big Feast, The Little Feast, Hijri New Year, and Prophet Muhammad's Birthday. 


Caves, Petra, Jordan. Photo Credit: Dimitris Vetsikas/Pixabay 



Good to Know
  • Most beaches are along the Aqaba Coast.
  • Hiking is best at Dana Biosphere Reserve, Wadi Feynan, and Wadi Rum.
  • Diving occurs in the Red Sea at Aqaba.
  • Friday's are Islamic Holy Day, businesses are usually closed.
  • Soles of your shoes should not be visible when sitting.
  • During Ramadan (month of fasting) alcoholic drinks can only be served in hotels.
  • Goods are not to be received with your left hand.
  • Avoid crossing your legs in public. If you do, only at the ankles.
  • Avoid exploration travels after dark.
  • Spring Season is prone to Dust Storms.
  • Avoid discussing Israel in public.
  • Avoid large gatherings and demonstrations.
  • Avoid criticism of the King or Royal Family in public.
  • Ferry Service is available from Aqaba to Nuweiba, Egypt.
  • Avoid the Iraq and Syria border area.
  • Wadi Rum (southern) offers caverns, cliffs, extensive rock art, gorges, natural arches, and sandstone valleys.
  • Snowfalls occur in the elevated western areas.
  • Madaba is best known for mosaics. 
  • Nightlife exists in Amman, Aqaba and Irbid.
  • Home to biblical Arnon Stream (Wadi Mujib).
  • Travelers with HIV/AIDS are denied entry.
  • Violent extremist groups exist and are known to target tourist areas.
  • Drones are illegal to use.
  • Not LGBTI+ friendly and discrimination is known to occur.
  • Not handicap-accessible friendly.
  • Dress modestly to include covering your arms and legs.  
  • Surrogacy is illegal.
  • Mafraq is where local wines are produced.
  • Avoid tap water consumption.
  • Healthcare and medical services are often below our standards.
  • Requires an International Driving Permit to drive.
  • All vehicles are required to have a fire extinguisher and warning triangle.
  • At the hippodrome, take in a live performance of the Roman Army and Chariot Experience (RACE). 
  • Jebel Harin offers a breathtaking view of Negev Desert and Wadi Araba.
  • Holy Sites to visit include: Amman, Aqaba, Bethany Beyond the Jordan, Dead Sea, Jerash, Lot's Cave, Madaba, Mount Nebo, Mukawir, Pella, Petra, Tel Mar Elias, Um Ar Rasas, Um Qais, and Wadi Rum.  


King Abdullah I Mosque, Amman, Jordan. Photo Credit: Graham Hobster/Pixabay 



This international destination requires:
  • A valid passport with six months of validity upon return and one blank page for entry stamp.
  • Tourist VISA required.
  • Currency Restrictions for Entry: $10,000USD.


Mount Nebo, Abarim, Jordan. Photo Credit: falco/Pixabay 



Prone to dust storms and flash flooding (October - March).

  • Best Time to Visit: October - December & April - June
  • Coolest Months: November - March
  • Hottest Months: May - September
  • Peak Season: March - May


Amman, Jordan. Photo Credit: Dimitris Vetsikas/Pixabay 



Your Must-See & Do
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Baptism Site "Bethany Beyond the Jordan" (Al-Maghtas), Petra, Quseir Amra, Um er-Rasas (Kastrom Mefa'a), and Wadi Rum Protected Area.


Roman Theatre, Amman, Jordan. Photo Credit: Dimitris Vetsikas/Pixabay 



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

Monday, March 1, 2021

Japan

Japan Flag

 


Why visit Japan?

For the international traveler seeking to enjoy amusement parks, architecture, art, beaches, bicycling, bullet trains, cherry blossoms, culture, fishing, gardens, golf, historical sites islands, hot springs, memorials, mountainous terrain, music, national parks, palaces, religious shrines, sculptures, shopping, spectator sports, surfing, sumo wrestling, temples, theater, volcanoes, and wildlife.



Kiyomizu-Dera (Buddhist Temple), Kyoto, Japan. Photo Credit: Michelle Maria/Pixabay 



At a Glance
  • Souvenirs to Buy: Art, calligraphy, cameras, ceramics, china, crystal, dolls, electronic goods, flower arrangements, green tea, karate gear, kimono, kites, lacquerware, pearls, poetry, pottery, lacquerware, paper lanterns, porcelain, red coral, rice paper products, swords, and woodblock prints.
  • Local Cuisine to Try: Donburi (rice bowl/meat). Green Tea Ice Cream (dessert). Gyūdon  (beef dish). Kakigōri (shaved ice dessert). Miso Soup. Nattō (soybean side). Soba  (buckwheat noodles). Udon (noodles). Yakitori (grilled chicken).
  • Local Drink to Try: Botamochi (sticky rice dumpling). Hamo (eel). Happoshu (malt beer). Matcha (tea). Sake (brewed rice/alcohol). Sekihan (red rice). Shōchū (distilled spirit). Sweet Potato Shochu (whiskey). Tonkatsu (pork cutlet).


Toyko, Japan. Photo Credit: Pierre Blaché/Pixabay 



Fun Facts
  • During the 16th Century (1501-1600), upon the arrival of Europeans Christianity and guns were introduced to them.
  • In 1905, they defeated Russia.
  • In 1945, the first atomic bomb in the world struck Hiroshima (Honshu Island). Days later a second atomic bomb struck Nagasaki (Kyushu Island).
  • In 1974, "Hello Kitty" was born.
  • Capital moved from Nara to Kyoto.
  • Origin of Shinto (kami-no-michi) indigenous and nature religion. Beliefs that "gods" or "spirits" inhabit all things. There's 100,000 public shrines.
  • Buddhist Temples usually have gateways and tiled roofs vs Shrines always have gates, two horizontal beams and pillars.
  • Buildings are numbered by the year built, not according to their street location.
  • Gambling and mechanical game parlors (Pachinko) are popular. 
  • Comic books (Manga) are read by all ages.
  • Pristine beaches on islands of Kyushu, Okinawa, and Shikoku.
  • Western region of Nagano Prefecture (Kamikōchi) offers spectacular hiking views.
  • Skiing is popular on Niseko Mountain (Hokkaido Prefecture).
  • Maximum speed of the Bullet Train is 199mph.
  • Comprises of 6852 islands. 
  • Has the sixth longest coastline in the world.
  • Known to have 111 active volcanoes.
  • Compared to any other country is known to have the largest Military Budget in the world.
  • Largely exports auto parts, iron, motor vehicles, semiconductors, and steel products.
  • Offers over 1500 registered breweries.
  • Supports commercial whaling.
  • Home to the world's largest automobile company, Toyota.
  • Ranks highest amongst Asian countries to receive international travelers annually.
  • A leader in video gaming.
  • Japanese writing includes Arabic numerals, Chinese characters, two sets of kana, and Latin alphabet.
  • Karaoke is significantly popular.
  • Traditional theaters include bunraku (puppet), kabuki (classical dance drama), kyōgen (comedy), and noh (oldest classical dance drama).
  • Martial Arts is taught in junior high school curriculum.
  • Baseball is their most popular spectator sport.


Matsumoto Castle, Matsumoto, Japan. Photo Credit: René Vlak/Pixabay 



Special Holidays/Occasions
  • Annual Events: (January) Ball-Catching Festival, Bullfinch Exchange Festival, Candy Fair, Dezomeshiki Acrobatics, Nozawa Fire Festival, Sounkyo Ice Festival, Toka Ebisu Festival, Yaedake Cherry Blossom Festival, (February) Bean-Throwing Festival, Kumamoto Castle Marathon, Lake Towada Snow Festival, Lantern Festival, Oyster Festival, Sapporo Snow Festival, (March) Doll Festival, Matsue Jozan Koen Festival, Tokyo International Anime Fair, Water-Drawing Festival, (April) Flower Festival, Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival, Kakunodate Cherry Blossom Festival, Kitakai Tenshochi Cherry Blossom Festival, Matsuyama Shiroyama Koen Cherry Blossom Festival, Takato Joshi Koen Cherry Blossom Festival, Takada Koen Cherry Blossom Festival, Takayama Spring Festival, Tsuyama Kakuzan Koen Cherry Blossom Festival, (May) Grand Spring Festival, Hakata Dontaku Port Festival, Hollyhock Festival, Kanda Festival, Mifune Festival, Odawara Hojo Godai Festival, (June) Himeji Yukata Festival, One Million Goku Festival, Otaue Rice-Planting Festival, Sanno Festival, Yamagata Cherry Festival, (July) Fuji Rock Festival, Gion Festival, Ground-Cherry Pod Fair, Japanese Floating Lantern Festival, Kangensai Music Festival, Nachi Fire Festival, Nagoya Sumo Tournament, Nango Summer Jazz Festival, Obon Festival, Star Festival, (August) Aomori Nebuta Festival, Bon Festival, Eisa Festival, Kurayoshi Utsubuki Festival, Matsuyama Festival, Rising Sun Rock Festival, Takamatsu Festival, Yamaga Lantern Festival, (October) Autumn Festival, Festival of the Ages, Kawagoe Festival, Ikegami Honmonji Temple Oeshiki Ceremony, Nada Fighting Festival, Nagoya Festival, Nikko Toshogu Shrine Festival, Okunchi Festival, Tokyo International Film Festival, Tokyo Motor Show, (November) "7-5-3" Festival, Fujiwara Autumn Festival, Kobe Marathon, Rake Fair, (December) Battledore Fair, and Tokyo Comic Con.
  • Holidays: New Year's Day, Coming of Age Day, National Foundation Day, The Emperor's Birthday, Vernal Equinox Day, Shōwa Day, Constitution Memorial Day, Greenery Day, Children's Day, Marine Day, Mountain Day, Respect for the Aged Day, Autumnal Equinox Day, Health and Sports Day, Culture Day, and Labour Thanksgiving Day.


Mt Fuji, Shizuoka, Japan. Photo Credit: bewkaman/Pixabay 



Good to Know
  • Consists of five main islands spanning from north with Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu and Okinawa in the south. 
  • Major cities visited include Fukuoka, Kobe, KyotoOsaka, Nagoya, Sapporo, Toyko, and Yokohama.
  • Primary regions include Hokkaido, Tōhoku, Kantō, Chūbu, Kansai, Chūgoku, Shikoku, and Kyūshū.
  • Nanpō and Ryukyu Islands are subtropical.
  • Rainy Season begins in Okinawa (early May) and moves North.
  • A costly destination to visit, not for the budget conscious traveler.
  • During major holidays many businesses are closed and public transportation is fully booked. Avoid traveling the first week of January, last week of April, first week of May, late July or early August.
  • Written English is often better understood than verbal amongst locals.
  • Okinawa is known for scuba diving. Beach is best visited from July - August. 
  • Tipping is not practiced.
  • Akihabara (Tokyo) is a shoppers mecca.
  • Cities of Kyoto, Hokkaido, and Nagano are popular during the Fall and Spring Season. 
  • Travelers pay a 1,000YEN Departure Tax.
  • Restaurants often provide moist towelette for hand washing before eating.
  • Bullet train seats are designed for short(er) individuals.
  • Crowding and shoving is a regular occurance.
  • Credit or debit cards are not widely accepted for purchases.
  • Requires a International Driving Permit to drive.
  • Popular attractions: Disneyland (Tokyo), DisneySea (Tokyo), and Universal Studios (Osaka).
  • Pick pocketing is known to occur in tourist areas.
  • Spiking of drinks is known to occur in bars and nightclubs. Never leave your drink unattended.
  • You must carry your U.S. Passport with you at all times.
  • Possession of ammunition or a gun is a crime.
  • Carrying a knife longer than two inches is illegal.
  • Driving is not advisable due to signage and inability to read. Traffic drives on the left side of the road. 
  • City traffic is often very congested.
  • The standard blood-alcohol-level is 0.03 percent, driving under the influence is 15 years in prison.


Itsukushima Floating Torii Gate (Shinto Shrine)Hiroshima, JapanPhoto Credit: pen_ash/Pixabay 



This international destination requires:
  • A valid passport and one blank page for entry stamp.
  • Tourist VISA not required for visits under 90 days.
  • Currency Restrictions for Entry/Exit: $10,000USD.

Prone to earthquakes, humidity, snowstorms tsunami, and volcano eruptions.


Rokuon-ji (Zen Buddhist Temple), Kyoto, Japan. Photo Credit: Marie Wakefield/Pixabay 



  • Best Time to Visit: April & October
  • Coldest Months:  December - February
  • Hottest Months: June - August
  • Peak Season: April - November


Osaka (Island of Honshu), Japan. Photo Credit: Gaby OBS/Pixabay 



Your Must-See & Do
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Buddhist Monuments in the Hōryū-ji Area, Fujisan sacred place and source of artistic inspiration, Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu, Hidden Christian Sites in the Nagasaki Region, Himeji-jō, Hiraizumi Temples Gardens and Archaeological Sites Representing the Buddhist Pure Land, Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome), Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto, Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara, Historic Villages of Shirakawa-gō and Gokayama, Itsukushima Shrine, Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine and its Cultural Landscape, Mozu-Furuichi Kofungun Ancient Tumulus Clusters, Ogasawara Islands, Sacred Island of Okinoshima and Associated Sites in the Munakata Region, Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range, Shirakami-Sanchi, Shiretoko, Shrines and Temples of Nikkō, Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel Shipbuilding and Coal Mining, The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier an Outstanding Contribution to the Modern Movement, Tomioka Silk Mill and Related Sites, and Yakushima.


Mount Chōkai (Tōhoku Region), Japan. Photo Credit: David Mark/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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Hokkaido, Japan. Photo Credit: Jacqueline Macou/Pixabay 


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

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