After much havoc caused by the Super Typhoon Yolanda earlier, finally there is some good news for the people from this region - Filipino visitors may now visit Myanmar without a visa! This agreement was formalised by both countries during the state visit of Myanmar President Thein Sein in the Philippines on 5th December 2013.
What is the agreement truly about, you may wonder? It allows people from the Philippines to enjoy visa-free access to Myanmar for 14 days, be it for business or leisure purposes. If you do not know this already, Myanmar citizens are allowed to enter the Philippines without needing a visa for 30 days since 1960 (under Executive Order 408). That makes Myanmar one of the 25 countries that Filipinos can enter visa-free.
Obviously, the visa exemption is aimed to improve the tourism in Myanmar. Even though Myanmar is a country which is rich of tourist attractions, she is unfortunate enough to have the lowest number of tourists in ASEAN. According to the ASEAN Tourism Statistics database, there were only about 816, 400 tourists visiting Myanmar in 2011. That figure was only about one fifth of the tourists who went to the Philippines in the same year.
Other joint agreements were also signed in order to boost cooperation in other sectors like agriculture, commerce, communication, energy, tourism and trade. The reason is pretty straightforward - to reinforce the collaboration in various aspects of economic growth by the two countries.
If you are planning to contribute to Myanmar's economy and not sure if you need a visa to visit, you can always check out our Myanmar visa requirement page.
The Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently announced that starting from October 26th, 2013, Vietnam and Myanmar passport holders can enjoy visa exemption between the two nations. They only need to produce a passport that's valid for at least 6 months after the date of arrival, in order to enjoy a visa-free visit for up to 14 days in each other's countries. Those intending to stay longer, however, will still need to obtain a visa.
To be able to move around easily is what a traveller yearn for and now it is safe to say that our dream came true, as Myanmar will upgrade its Muse (Myanmar) - Ruili (China) border gate to an international checkpoint! Prior to this, similar actions were implemented over Myanmar-Thailand border crossings.
The upgrades over the border checkpoints is an effort towards boosting Myanmar's traveller's growth. Myanmar targets 2 million visitors in 2013 and up to 3 million in 2014. Lucky for us, the plan will be implemented soon. According to the Myanmar Minister of Immigration and Population, U Khin Yi, this project should be completed within two to three months, with the cooperation between Myanmar's immigration authorities and of course, with its Chinese counterpart.
Currently, visitors who cross the Muse border have to enter and exit at the same point. However, with the new project, visitors are no longer restricted but flying out is an option now at any airports including Yangon International Airport, Mandalay International Airport and Nay Pyi Taw International Airport. All you need to have in hand is a passport (with a validity of six months to be safe) with valid China Visa and Myanmar Visa! Thus, be sure to obtain visas from both countries before if you're planning to cross borders.
Thailand, the Land of Smiles, is always attractive among the global visitors. In addition to the sun-kissed beaches and modern shopping malls, Thai friendliness and hospitality have always moved most tourists' hearts. All these can be deeply felt from a bite of authentic spicy Thai cuisine, a touch of Thai massage and the aroma of Thai spa treatment when you set foot on the land.
Recently, Thailand has been one of the dream destinations for Chinese tourists, especially those from the middle class of China. According to the figures provided by Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), China is now the biggest source market of foreign visitors to Thailand. The number of Chinese arrivals was at a total of 2.79 million and the tourism earning was at a total of US$1.4 billion in 2012. Compared to that in 2011, the number of Chinese arrivals has increased by 62%. By the end of 2013, it is expected that the number of arrivals from China will reach 3.26 million.
What have made Thailand special among Chinese tourists? Thanks to the greatest hit of the low-budget Chinese comedy "Lost in Thailand", Chinese tourists found themselves especially fond of the natural and urban landscapes of Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, Rayong and Chiangmai. Together with the reasons like proximity over the distance, affordability and lack of language barriers, Chinese tourists like going sightseeing and shopping in Thailand.
To further get more Chinese tourists to Thailand, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has waved her magic ward for the tourism development. Effective September 2013, Thailand and China has abolished the 15-day visa-on-arrival policy and mutually agreed to set the bilateral visa exemption. To compete with Hong Kong and Singapore for the fame of Shoppers' Paradise, the Thai government is now proposing a reduction of import duties on luxury goods.
Fee hike alert, fee hike alert! Yes, there might be a raise in airport taxes throughout Thailand. It is not official yet as currently, the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) is seeking approval from the Cabinet. However, once it is approved, this plan will be carried out in the end of this very year.
The increase in tax will be applied on passenger service charge - both domestic and international. Domestic passengers are required to pay 100 Baht, an increase from the original 50 Baht whereas international passengers' tax will be at 500 Baht, a100 Baht increase from the original amount of 400 Baht. The tax hike will be implemented in all 28 airports that are under the supervision of DCA - Krabi Airport and Hua Hin Airport, just to name a few. According to the General Director of DCA, Woradej Hanprasert,the additional fee collected will be used in maintaining and improving the airports.
Followed with the plan of DCA, the Airports of Thailand (AOT) too, wants to increase respective taxes on their six airports despite receiving negative comments on its expensive shopping and dining experience. If approved, the international passengers' tax will be as much as 800 Baht from the current 700 Baht whereas it will be 150 Baht for domestic passengers, an increase from 100 Baht.
Although it is a high possibility that travellers will have to pay more now on airport taxes, it is undeniable that Thailand is an amazing place to travel and hey, most of us have the privilege in enjoying visa exemption!Fret not if you're not in the visa exemption list as you can easily obtain a Thailand Visa On Arrival with a 15 days validity!
The Thai fever is not over but coming on strong. Millions of tourists visit Thailand every year and there are many tourists who are actually repeat visitors! So, fellow Thai-fans, how about getting there with a ridiculously cheap flight? Thai AirAsia has been starting its operation in year 2004 but now, they are going to introduce us with something even better - Thai Air Asia X!
The newly introduced carrier will be operating from Bangkok, with the main hub inone of the two international airports - Bangkok Don Mueng Airport, serving travellers who wants to travel as far as eight hours from Bangkok. However, this new airline formation was expected to be operated only in the year of 2014 as it is now still awaiting approval from the government. According to TassaponBijleveld, CEO of Thai AirAsia, the first two countries that would be served are South Korea and Japan since they are among the countries that Thais fond of travelling to and vice versa, then slowly expanding to Australia and Nepal just to name a few.
Currently, the main hub of Air Asia X is in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) and once it is approved to start its operation in Bangkok Don Mueng Airport, AirAsia could form a first global multi-hub low-cost carrier network! Anyways don't get too excited of the flight and forget all about the visa, if you're going to travel to Thailand soon, make sure to check on the requirements of Thai Visa since not all countries are entitled with the 15 days VOA scheme.
The Thai Foreign Affairs Ministry has recently announced that it will introduce an electronic visa (e-visa) by 1 October 2014. According to Nuttavudh Photisaro, the Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Thai Foreign Affairs Ministry, his ministry has already started developing the e-visa system which will take the place of existing visa labels that are in sticker form.
Adding that the e-visa will be of international standards, the Deputy Permanent Secretary explains that the new e-visa will also contain a photo of the applicant. The image will not only serve as identification, but also offers an added level of security.
The news of a Thai e-visa is most welcomed by travellers, as Thailand continues to be a tourist hot spot. Between January and June this year, the Thai Government has already issued 2.4 million visas to foreign nationals. Though the number has been encouraging so far, it is far less than the number of visas issued during the same period last year - 1,000,000 visas less, to be exact.
The introduction of the e-visa, however, is expected to help boost visitor numbers by making Thai visa applications much smoother. The new e-visa will also help stamp out cases of visa sticker theft, as well as the illegal use of Thai visas.
Visitors to Laos, flying in through Luang Prabang International Airport, can now arrive in comfort. Its new terminal is equipped with improved air conditioning, new shops, as well as a passenger's bridge that connects to a restaurant. On top of these traveller-friendly features, the terminal also includes five passport control counters, a special lane for diplomatic and official visits, and counters for those who need a Laotian visa on arrival.
Departures are also made easier with the terminal's six check-in counters. Though six doesn't seem like much, the number is sufficient to cater to the dozen or so flights that arrive in Luang Prabang daily. While the arrivals remain modest for now, the new terminal has a capacity for over a million passengers. Besides the added terminal, the airport also boasts a recently-built runway that can accommodate any type of aircraft. Currently, only four carriers serve the airport, including Lao Airlines and Lao Central Airlines.
News of the improvements at Luang Prabang International Airport, were first announced back in September 2009. The cost of the two new features was estimated at a whopping US$86.4 million. While their construction would not have been made possible without a loan from the Chinese government, the expense seems to be well worth it, as the airport's new features have been well received.
To answer the Australian-style everyday greeting above: Not exceptionally good, the tourism body of Australia would frankly say. That is why there comes a new shove for more international visitors to the regional South Australia. Before we go any further, you might be wondering what does Regional Australia really mean? According to its official website, "Regional Australia is a term used to refer to the non-metropolitan areas of the nation that lie beyond the major capital cities and their immediate surrounding suburbs".
Referring to the statistics from Tourism Research Australia, there was a 9 percent increase of foreign tourists to South Australia in the last fiscal year. Adelaide's share of international expenditure was AUD562 million, which was very much far off from the AUD104 million for all of regional South Australia. Due to their impeccable result, the CEO of the South Australian Tourism Industry Council, Ward Tilbrook, commented that Adelaide shall remain as the main focus.
"About 80 per cent of [Australia's] tourism occurs in that top 20 regions. If we can get more South Australia regions into the top 20 the better. We've been 4 per cent of the international visitor market for a very long time and what we really need in South Australia is getting a bigger share," he added.
Mr Tilbrook also said that the issue of access is very much relevant due to the changing dynamic of where the tourists come from - especially those from China, Malaysia and Taiwan. If Australia truly aspires to bring in more visitors, perhaps it is time for them to review the Australia visa requirement.
Air Asia X provides long haul, international flights to travellers operating from one of the world's best low cost airline - Air Asia. 'Now everyone can fly (Xtra long!)' may seem like a cheesy slogan but the company is trying its best to make it happen literally, by expanding its services from time to time.
The main hub for Air Asia X in Malaysia is the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). Air Asia X offers services to as much as 80 destinations (20 countries) up-to-date. Next month, Air Asia X will begin flying to and from Adelaide, Australia joining in the team of Darwin, Perth, Gold Coast, Sydney and Melbourne and now, Air Asia X has its eyes on the market in North Asia, mainly Japan and South Korea. In fact, by the end of this year, the number of operating flights to and from Japan will be increased.
"We aim to be the market leader to connect Southeast Asia with North Asia in markets like South Korea, China and Japan; and Australia in the south," said the Air Asia X CEO Azran Osman-Rani. Air Asia X has confident that the market in Japan will not cease growing and it has been statistically proven. According to Mr. Azran, the average passenger load to Tokyo and Osaka are 85% and 81% respectively since the commencement of Air Asia X services.
Apart from the expansion, another good news is that starting from October in this very year, There will be no changes to the scheduled flights for now, which are daily flights to Tokyo and Seoul as well as four weekly flights to Osaka and Busan. If you're bitten by a travel bug already and you would like to visit Japan or South Korea, waste no time and go to eVisa Asia to learn more about the process and requirements of a Japan or a South Korea tourist visa.