Visiting Burma: How To Do It Responsibly

While reading Nicholas Kristof’s opinion piece on Burma (Myanmar) last month I was consumed by a rush of memories - conversations and images from of our month-long visit there last year. My comment on his article shares my views regarding the effectiveness of international sanctions in changing the behaviors of the military government (junta). I also address whether … [Read more...]

Tajikistan Visas and GBAO Permits

Tajik Border Controls

No one seems to know what is needed to get a visa to Tajikistan. Even the Foreign Ministry in Tajikistan had problems advising Audrey's former Tajik colleagues at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty regarding what was required. It appears to be embassy specific and heavily dependent on the relationship between Tajikistan and the country from which you happen to be … [Read more...]

Kyrgyzstan Visas

Known as the most visa-friendly country in Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan’s visa was a piece of cake – no Letters of Invitation (LOIs), no questioning. Just fill out an application, pay the fee in the morning and return in the afternoon for the visa. We did this in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.If you are flying into Bishkek, don’t bother to get your visa in advance. Visas on … [Read more...]

Uzbekistan Visas and Letters of Invitation (LOI)

Although it is technically possible for EU and US citizens to obtain a tourist visa to Uzbekistan without a Letter of Invitation (LOI), we recommend spending the extra $30 for the letter. It enables the process to move faster and removes some of the pain. We used Stantours for our LOIs to Uzbekistan. No tour booking was needed and we received the scanned letter by … [Read more...]

Turkmenistan Visas and Letters of Invitation (LOI)

Several people have asked us: “How did you get into Turkmenistan? Isn’t it closed to foreigners?”Turkmenistan is a special bureaucratic animal. But, with a little bit of advanced planning and an expanded daily budget, it really isn’t all that difficult, particularly if you don’t work for a media company or human rights organization. We believe our visit there … [Read more...]

Sex and the Central Asian Visa

I just want to go home. I'm tired of all this visa stuff. -- A distressed traveler at the Kazakh embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.So what does sex have to do with Central Asian visas? Simple, really. Thinking about, planning around, and procuring visas for Central Asian countries begins to dominate one’s time and mindspace -- almost to the point of obsession. … [Read more...]

Myanmar: Go or No Go?

Altar Offerings at Golden Mount Temple - Bangkok

Myanmar (Burma) is a country noted for its oppressive government and lauded for the kindness of its people. This September, though, the political situation heated up again under protests and a corresponding government crackdown.We’re back in the neighborhood of Southeast Asia again and we have the opportunity to visit. Do we go this time or give it another pass? … [Read more...]