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  Netherlands Travel Guide
Posted by: stjong - 11-07-2016, 10:58 PM - Forum: Country Travel Guide - No Replies

Netherlands Travel Guide

As flat as a local pannenkoek, the Netherlands is a land of colourful tulip fields and canals, sophisticated cities and some of the most striking coastline in Northern Europe. It punches well above its weight culturally, laying claim to the likes of Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Mondrian, amongst others.
At the head of the state sits the country’s constitutional monarchy, whose palaces dominate many of the larger cities, including The Hague and the capital city, Amsterdam. The latter, renowned for its step-gabled houses, ubiquitous bikes, seedy red light district and hazy coffeeshops, is bisected by a UNESCO-listed network of waterways, many of which are spanned by beautiful, latticed bridges.
To the north lies Rotterdam, an industrial port city that has benefitted from a complete makeover in recent years, acquiring a slew of excellent museums and an unlikely affinity for hip-hop in the process.
The butt of many a northern joke, the southern city of Maastricht lies in the much-maligned Limbourg region. Despite the teasing, this is a city of delicate beauty, dotted with churches, bisected by a mighty river and home to what is almost certainly the best bookshop in the world, Selexyz Dominicanen.
Back towards the coast, the Netherlands becomes more stereotypically Dutch, with vast colourful fields of tulips dotted with windmills and dairy farms producing the wheels of cheese for which the country is so famous. The low-lying Dutch countryside is scattered with a network of charming towns and villages such as Edam, Haarlem and Leiden, which have changed little over the centuries.
Best of all though, are the sandy, North Sea beaches of Zeeland, which stretch for an almost unbroken 650km (403-miles). With more sunshine than any other part of the Netherlands, Zeeland is the Dutch riposte to the Caribbean – and with better cycling trails and museums, if not the hot weather, to boot.
Last updated: 01 April 2015
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. ‘We’ refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Crime
Take care particularly in central Amsterdam and especially in and around Central Station. Pick-pocketing and bag snatching are common. Thieves often operate in gangs on the trains to and from Schiphol airport and Central Station as well as on the trams. One thief will attempt to distract you (often by asking for directions or by banging on your window) while another picks your pocket or steals your bag. Be alert and don’t lose sight of your luggage or your belongings. Sleeping passengers make particularly easy targets.
Opportunist thieves are widespread and can enter restaurants with the excuse of selling you something or looking for someone. Bags have been stolen from between people’s feet whilst they were distracted. Keep your valuables safely with you at all times and don’t leave bags or jackets hanging on the back of a chair.
If you are the victim of a theft contact the nearest police station and get a police report. Amsterdam Police have warned of criminals using false police identities and tricking tourists into handing over cash and credit cards on the pretext of investigations into counterfeit money and false credit cards. Be very cautious about any such approaches.
Genuine plain clothes police will rarely carry out this type of inspection. Always ask for identity, check it thoroughly and don’t let yourself be intimidated. Dutch police don’t have shiny badges, which the fake police sometimes present as ID. Call 0900-8844 to get in touch with the nearest police station if you are not entirely happy.
Avoid confrontation with anyone offering you drugs of any sort and stay away from quiet or dark alleys – particularly late at night.  Even if you are tempted to buy, you risk arrest for doing so.
Young women and those not in groups should be aware of the possibility of drinks being spiked. Don’t leave your drink unattended.  If you believe you have been the victim of a spiked drink, seek medical help immediately and, if possible, inform the police. If you are in a group, make sure you leave together.
Road Travel
You must have a valid full UK driving licence, insurance, vehicle documents and identification to drive in the Netherlands. If you are driving a vehicle that does not belong to you then written permission from the registered owner may also be required. You are not allowed to drive on a provisional license.
In 2012 there were 650 road deaths in the Netherlands source: DfT). This equates to 3.9 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 2.8 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2012.
Traffic offences can carry heavy, on-the-spot fines. If you are fined, always ask for a receipt. Using a mobile phone while driving is illegal. Drivers are encouraged to use ‘hands free’ equipment.
The Dutch drive on the right and give priority to the right, unless otherwise indicated. Be particularly careful when using roundabouts: on some you have the right of way when on them but on others right of way must be given to vehicles entering.
Watch out for trams; they have priority over other traffic and are well known to exercise that right. If a tram or a bus stops in the middle of the road to allow passengers on and off, you must stop.
Speed cameras, speed traps and unmarked vehicles are widely used. Be vigilant on motorways where the maximum speed can vary. Overhead illuminated lane indicators – when in use – are mandatory.
You must use dipped lights after dark and in misty conditions. If safety belts are fitted, they must be used. You must carry a warning triangle and, in the event of a breakdown, place it 30m behind your vehicle. Children under 1.35m in height must be carried in a proper child seat in the rear of the car.
Pedestrians should be extremely careful when crossing roads, especially on zebra crossings. Look out for cycles and mopeds, which enjoy right of way over motor vehicles and often ignore road traffic rules and red lights. Crossing the road without a green signal to do so can be interpreted by local law as Jaywalking, even if it is safe to do. Dutch police have been known to hand out fines in such instances.
See the European Commission,AA and RAC guides to driving in the Netherlands.
Amsterdam canals
Deaths occur each year due to drowning in the canals of Amsterdam. The majority of these happen as a result of celebrations that include heavy drinking and/or smoking cannabis. Take particular care when travelling beside canals.

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  New Zealand Travel Guide
Posted by: stjong - 11-07-2016, 10:57 PM - Forum: Country Travel Guide - No Replies

New Zealand Travel Guide

Widely held to be one of the most breathtaking countries on the planet, New Zealand is a phenomenal travel destination. The rugged mountains and remote valleys that thrust the destination into the world’s spotlight through The Lord of the Rings trilogy tell only part of the story – you’ll also find beaches, fjords, lakes and gorgeous swathes of forest, not to mention age-old Maori culture, forward-looking cities and, famously, a world-class array of outdoor activities. Not only does it pack a punch as hard as an All Black tackle, but it’s also incredibly easy to travel around. What’s not to love?
Split into two main landmasses – the North and South Islands –New Zealand is a deceptively diverse and complicated destination that rewards both first-time and repeat visitors. The North Island is less visually dramatic than its southern counterpart, but it is home to around two thirds of the country’s inhabitants. The majority of the major urban centres are here, including the capital, Wellington, and the increasingly dynamic city of Auckland. But nature is still a major player, thanks to volcanoes, thermal regions and the magnificent Bay of Islands.
The South Island is home to far fewer people, but boasts the country’s most spectacular scenery. Empty beaches, soaring mountain ranges, glaciers, fjords, wide-open expanses – they’re all here. Outdoor enthusiasts can take their pick from tramping (hiking), cycling, climbing, white-water rafting, caving, zorbing, sky-diving, bungee jumping and more. Christchurch, a city bouncing back with extraordinary creativity from earthquake damage, is also here.
New Zealand has also developed into one of the cleanest and greenest countries in the world. There are 14 national parks throughout the country and almost a quarter of New Zealand is protected land. What else? There’s wildlife, wine and a cultural resurgence that’s seeing local films, literature and art gaining more and more attention.
The country’s overall blend of Maori and European culture provide New Zealand with a unique character – and its landscapes provide it with a unique setting.
Last updated: 22 March 2015
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. ‘We’ refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Crime
Crime levels are generally low, but street crime occurs in major towns and cities. Thefts from unattended vehicles, especially hire cars and camper vans in major tourist areas (the Coromandel Peninsula, Rotorua and Queenstown) have increased. There has also been an increase in the number of thefts from hotel rooms in some tourist areas. Don’t leave possessions in unattended vehicles even if out of sight in a locked boot. Don’t leave valuables in hotel rooms. Use the hotel safe if possible. Keep passports, travellers’ cheques, credit cards, etc separate.
Local travel
There have been a number of tragic accidents involving British visitors, including during extreme sports activities. If you are taking part in extreme sports check that the company is well established in the industry and that your insurance covers you. If you are visiting remote areas, check with local tourist authorities for advice before setting out. Make sure you register your details with a visitor information centre or leave details with family or friends. Weather conditions can quickly become treacherous in some areas. Keep yourself informed of regional weather forecasts.
Road travel
While road conditions are generally good in New Zealand, it takes a while to get used to local driving conditions. Even the main highways can be narrow, winding and hilly.
In 2012 there were 308 road deaths in New Zealand (source: DfT). This equates to 7.1 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 2.8 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2012.
Read a copy of the Road Code (the official guide to traffic rules and traffic safety) before driving.
UK driving licences are valid for use for a maximum of 12 months. You should take out private motor vehicle insurance.
Accident victims do not have a legal right to sue a third party in the event of an accident in New Zealand. Instead the Accident Compensation Commission (ACC) helps pay for your care if you are injured as the result of an accident. However, the ACC only covers the cost of treatment in New Zealand and delayed travel or loss of income in a third country is not covered. You should make sure you have travel and accident insurance.

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  Germany Travel Guide
Posted by: stjong - 11-07-2016, 10:55 PM - Forum: Country Travel Guide - No Replies

Germany Travel Guide
 
Misunderstood by many, Germany is one of the most varied and charming countries on the continent. Anyone expecting a homogenous nation conforming to old Teutonic stereotypes is in for a shock.
As a destination, it offers a clutch of truly lovely cities, culture served up in hefty portions and rural scenery so pretty you’ll wonder why it isn’t on every tourist hit list.
The country occupies a prime position at the heart of Europe – both literally and figuratively. It is home to the biggest economy on the continent, has more inhabitants than anywhere else in the EU and shares land borders with no less than nine other nations.
It’s no surprise, then, that today’s Germany is more diverse and cosmopolitan than old stereotypes suggest; mixing time-honoured nationalism and tradition with multicultural modernism and self-confidence.
It’s the nation’s urban highlights that immediately draw the attention. Berlin is the definition of dynamism, having forged a good-time reputation for groundbreaking creativity while still keeping sight of its past.
Elsewhere, the likes of Cologne, Munich and Hamburg provide the capital with able support. Not only are they rich in history, whether in the forms of classical music, fine art or medieval architecture, but they also put pay to the notion that Germans don’t do gastronomy. These days, you can dine and drink extremely well in Deutschland.
Then there’s the beautiful German countryside. From the sky-scraping peaks of the Bavarian Alps and pale cliffs of the Jasmund National Park to the castles of the Rhine and moors of the Mecklenburg Lake District, it’s nirvana for hikers, cyclists, boaters, motorists and skiers alike.
Travelling around this country is a piece of Black Forest gâteau. Costs are manageable, overcrowding is rare and, despite its size, it could not be easier to get from A to B thanks to an incredibly efficient public transport network. Which proves some of those old German stereotypes do hold true.
Last updated: 01 April 2015
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. ‘We’ refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
You should behave responsibly and respect local laws and customs. Anti-social behaviour is not tolerated by the German authorities. For further information and advice, visit the Munich and Stuttgart tourist office websites.
Crime
Crime levels are broadly similar to the UK. Take sensible precautions to avoid mugging, bag snatching and pick pocketing. Be particularly vigilant at airports, railway stations and Christmas markets. Do not leave valuables unattended. If your passport has been stolen, you must go to the nearest police station and get a police report.
Road travel
If you wish to drive in Germany you must carry a valid driving licence, insurance and vehicle documents with you in the vehicle at all times. If the vehicle does not belong to the driver, written permission from the registered owner may also be requested. The minimum age for driving a car in Germany is 18. It is illegal to take part in motor vehicle races or rallies on German roads.
In 2012 there were 3,601 road deaths in Germany (source: DfT). This equates to 4.4 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 2.8 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2012.
It is illegal to cross German pedestrian crossings when the red pedestrian light is on. Offenders risk a fine and payment of all costs in the event of an accident.
There is an environmental zone (umweltzone) in some inner city centres. Only vehicles meeting specific exhaust emission standards are allowed to enter the zone. See the websites of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety and the Federal Environmental Agency for further information.
See the European Commission,AA and  RAC guides on driving in Germany.

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  Italy Travel Guide
Posted by: stjong - 11-07-2016, 10:54 PM - Forum: Country Travel Guide - No Replies

Italy Travel Guide
Travelling around Italy remains one of those rare experiences in life – like a perfect spring day or the power of first love – that can never be overrated. In few places do history, art, fashion, food and la dolce vita (“the good life”) intermingle so effortlessly. There are sunny isles and electric blue surf, glacial lakes and fiery volcanoes, rolling vineyards and urban landscapes harbouring more UNESCO World Heritage sites than any other country on Earth. Few places offer such variety and few visitors leave without a fervent desire to return.
The artistic and architectural treasures of Rome, Venice, Florence and Naples draw visitors to them like moths to a flame. Not content with Romans conquering most of the known world, the Venetians dispatched Marco Polo to uncharted lands off the map, while Giotto, Leonardo da Vinci, Brunelleschi and Michelangelo kick-started the Renaissance in Western art and architecture.
Look around at all the splendid palaces, paintings, churches and monuments and wonder at the centuries of hard graft and the unswerving devotion to traditional techniques and terroir. Like the local art, wine is also designed to elevate your spirits. From the neatly-banded stone terraces of the Cinque Terre, which snake from sea level to terrifying precipices, to the blousy hillsides of Chianti, the riverine plain of the Po valley and the volcanic slopes of Etna, Italian wines are lovingly made to complement the carefully-sourced regional cuisine on your plate.
Much like its food, this country is an endless feast of experiences. No matter how much you gorge yourself, you’ll always feel as though you’re still on the first course. Do you go skiing in the Dolomites, or cycling in wine country? Do you dive the sun-split waters of Sardinia, climb Aeolian volcanoes or stalk market stalls in Naples? The choice is dazzling and bewildering. So take the advice of the locals. Slow down, sit back, tuck in that napkin and get ready to begin.
Last updated: 29 March 2015
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. ‘We’ refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Crime
Crime levels are generally low but there are higher levels of petty crime (particularly bag snatching and pick-pocketing) in the big city centres. This often involves co-ordinated gangs including minors. Targets are often hassled and jostled to distract them, while other members of the gang go into action.
Take care on public transport and in crowded areas in Rome, especially around the main railway station ‘Termini’ and on the number 64 bus, which goes to and from St Peter’s Square.
Be particularly vigilant on trains to and from the main airports in Italy (especially Fiumicino airport) and when unloading your baggage from trains and coaches. Thieves sometimes rob sleeping passengers on overnight trains.
Use a hotel safe for valuables where possible.
Alcohol and drugs can make you less alert, less in control and less aware of your environment. If you are going to drink, know your limit. Drinks served in bars overseas are often stronger than those in the UK. Don’t leave food or drinks unattended at any time. Victims of spiked drinks have been robbed and sometimes assaulted.
Cars, at rest stops and motorway service stations are targets for robbers. Be wary of offers of help for flat tyres, particularly on the motorway from Naples to Salerno. Tyres have sometimes been punctured deliberately. Always lock your vehicle, never leave valuables on show and avoid leaving luggage in cars for any length of time.
Police in Europe have issued warnings that counterfeit Euro notes are in circulation. Make sure notes received from any source other than banks or legitimate Bureaux de Change are genuine.
Local travel
Only use officially licensed taxis. These will have a taxi sign on the roof. Make sure the meter in the taxi has been reset before you set off.
Tickets on public transport must be endorsed in a ticket machine before you start a journey. The machines are usually positioned at the entrance to platforms in railway stations, in the entrance hall to metro stations and on board buses and trams. Officials patrol public transport and will issue an on the spot fine of Euros 50 to 60 if you don’t hold an endorsed ticket. Tickets can be purchased from shops displaying the ‘T’ sign, and are usually bars or tobacconists.
Pedestrians should take care at Zebra crossings. Vehicles don’t always stop, even though they are required to under the Italian Traffic Code.
Pre-planned strikes
Transport strikes are often called at short notice. For more information visit the Ministry of Transport website (in Italian).
Road travel
You can drive in Italy with a UK driving licence, insurance and vehicle documents. If you are driving a vehicle that does not belong to you then written permission from the registered owner may be required. On-the-spot fines can be issued for minor traffic offences.
In 2012 there were 3,650 road deaths in Italy (source: DfT). This equates to 6.0 road deaths per 100,000 of population compared to the UK average of 2.8 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2012.
Private and hire cars are not allowed to enter the historic centre of many Italian cities without an official pass. If your hotel is in the centre of one of these cities, you can buy a pass from most car hire companies. The boundaries of historic centres are usually marked with the letters ZTL in black on a yellow background. Don’t pass this sign as your registration number is likely to be caught on camera and you will be fined.
There is a congestion charge for Milan city centre. For further information see the  Milan Municipality website.
To reduce pollution, the city authorities in Rome sometimes introduce traffic restrictions whereby vehicles with odd or even number plates are allowed into a ‘green area’ on alternative days. For further information see the Rome Municipality website.
See the European Commission, AARAC and Italian Police guides on driving in Italy.
Road hauliers
Trucks over 7.5 tonnes (75 quintali) are not allowed on Italian roads (including motorways) on Sundays from 7:00 am until midnight, local time. These restrictions don’t apply to trucks that have already been granted an exception (eg those carrying perishable goods and petrol supplies). Both the Mont Blanc and Frejus road tunnels linking Italy and France are open but restrictions introduced following fires in 1999 and 2005 are applied to HGVs. These can be summarised as follows:
Mont Blanc: height restricted to 4.7m; minimum speed 50 km/h; maximum speed 70 km/h. Further details from www.tunnelmb.com or by telephone on 00 33 (0) 45 05 55 500.
Fréjus: Vehicles of more than 3.5 tonnes are subject to 1-hour alternate traffic flows starting at 8:00am leaving Italy. Special regulations apply to vehicles carrying dangerous loads. Further details from http://www.tunneldufrejus.com.
Winter sports
If you are planning a skiing holiday, you should contact the Italian State Tourist Board for advice on safety and weather conditions before you travel. Address: 1 Princes Street, London W1R 9AY. Telephone: 020 7355 1557 or 1439.
Off-piste skiing is highly dangerous. You should follow all safety instructions meticulously given the dangers of  avalanches in some areas. Italy has introduced a law forcing skiers and snowboarders to carry tracking equipment if they go off-piste. The law also obliges under-14s to wear a helmet. There are plans for snowboarders to be banned from certain slopes.
Swimming
Follow local advice if jellyfish are present.

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  Ireland Travel Guide
Posted by: stjong - 11-07-2016, 10:53 PM - Forum: Country Travel Guide - No Replies

Ireland Travel Guide

Ireland is one of the globe’s most singular travel destinations, a feisty, twinkling country far more famous for the sum of its parts than for any specific sight or attraction. Its landscapes are raw, its cities are animated and its history holds endless tales of adversity. Tying all this together is the Irish character, a fabled combination of bright-eyed bonhomie and bar-room banter: there’s good reason why the planet’s full of Irish pubs.
Lovable Dublin falls naturally as the most popular option for first-time visitors, although for all the capital city’s stately architecture and riverside charm, it only partly hints at what the wider country has to offer. The real spirit of today’s nation might be up for debate – it’s as likely to be found in a Connemara village as a Cork street scene – but searching for it is hugely enjoyable.
It’s often said that there are two Irelands. Despite its economic woes, 21st-century Ireland is a modern destination, full of fresh creativity. At the same time, of course, it’s somewhere rooted in the strongest of traditions, a country marked by humour, hospitality and more than the occasional late night. The craic of legend isn’t generally hard to find.
With all this in mind, it’s perhaps no surprise that Ireland caters for such a broad range of interests. Those in search of windswept hikes, Celtic relics and fiddle-and-song pubs will be well sated, but so too will those looking for on-trend gastronomy, family-friendly attractions or slick hotels. The country may be small but its cultural impact worldwide continues to be enormous, and this is due to far more than just a romantic notion of how it used to be.
Various icons and images enjoy close associations with Ireland (see everything from craggy peninsulas to pints of Guinness) but the real beauty of the country is the fact that it transcends every cliché that people throw at it. Its potential for adventure – for real, blood-pumping adventure – is all too often overlooked, while for those who just want to take it easy, the options are copious.
Last updated: 01 April 2015
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. ‘We’ refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Crime
Most visitors to Ireland experience no difficulties during their stay. Take sensible precautions to protect yourself from bag snatching and pick pocketing. Try to avoid carrying valuables and large sums of money. Make sure your vehicle is properly secured, and where possible park in secure parking areas.  Most incidents occur in the Dublin area. If you need to contact the emergency services call 112.
The Irish Tourist Assistance Service (ITAS) offers free support and practical help to victims of crime. This includes liaison with travel companies and financial institutions and, in emergency situations, arranging accommodation, meals and transport. ITAS recommends that you report any incident in person to the nearest Garda (Police) Station who will then contact the organisation.
Road travel
In 2012 there were 162 road deaths in Ireland (source: DfT). This equates to 3.5 road deaths per 100,000 of population compared to the UK average of 2.8 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2012.
Don’t drink and drive. You may be heavily penalised or even imprisoned if you are found driving over the limit. New legal limits were introduced in October 2011. The new limit is 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood (0.05%) for fully licensed drivers, and 20mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood (0.02%) for professional, learner and novice drivers. The police conduct random breath-tests on drivers. Holding and using a mobile phone whilst driving is banned.
If you relocate to Ireland you must register your vehicle within a week of arriving. Your car may be impounded if you fail to do so.
See the European Commission, AA and RAC guides on driving in Ireland.

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  Indonesia Travel Guide
Posted by: stjong - 11-07-2016, 10:52 PM - Forum: Country Travel Guide - No Replies

Indonesia Travel Guide
Draped languidly across the equator, Indonesia is a series of emerald jewels scattered across a broad expanse of tropical sea. This is one of the world’s great adventures in waiting – hidden away in dense jungles on secret islands are tribes almost untouched by the outside world and animals hardly known to science.
The third most populous nation on earth has an incredible legacy of peoples, cultures and geography just waiting to be explored. The archipelago boasts more than 18,000 islands, from tiny islets not much bigger than a palm tree to the mighty expanse of Borneo, shared with the Malaysian provinces of Sabah and Sarawak and the kingdom of Brunei.
Many come specifically to discover their own island paradise, complete with white-sand beaches, swaying palms and emerald waters. Offshore are some of the world’s best dive sites, swarming with huge sunfish, giant rays, sharks, porpoises, turtles and a blindingly colourful array of tropical fish.
For others, the attraction is cultural. A fascinating range of civilisations have grown up on these tropical islands, from animist tribes in remote jungle villages to the elaborate Hindu kingdoms of Bali and Java. In Indonesia, timeless temples jostle for space with golden-domed mosques and beach resorts crowded with sun-seekers and surfers. The surf resort of Kuta has become one of the world’s favourite tropical escapes, and the beach party raves through till dawn every day of the week.
For some, Kuta is the very vision of Asia. For others, the true escapes lie elsewhere, on the volcanic islands that drift eastwards towards Australia. Here are towering volcanoes to be climbed, national parks to be explored and tropical rainforests to be trekked. You might even get lucky and meet an orang-utan on Sumatra or the world’s largest living reptile on the island of Komodo, home to the eponymous Komodo dragon.
Best of all, flights and ferries link all of the islands, so you can island-hop right across the archipelago, stopping only when you find your own perfect piece of Southeast Asia.
Last updated: 22 March 2015
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. ‘We’ refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Crime
Be aware of the risk of street crime and pick-pocketing, particularly in busy tourist areas in Bali, where there has been an increase in reports of bag-snatching. Take sensible measures to protect yourself and your belongings. Avoid having bags obviously on show and carry only essential items. Take particular care of your passport and bank cards and avoid travelling around alone..
Credit card fraud is common. Don’t lose sight of your card during transactions. Criminals sometimes place a fake telephone number on ATMs advising customers to report problems. Customers dialling the number are asked for their PIN and their card is then retained within the machine.
Beware of thieves on public transport. If you’re travelling by car keep doors locked at all times. Only book taxis with a reputable firm. You can ask your hotel to book one for you, or use taxis from Bluebird, Silverbird or Express groups. These are widely available at hotels and shopping malls in central Jakarta and at Sukarno-International Airport. Take care to distinguish Bluebird and Silverbird vehicles from ‘lookalike’ competitors. Don’t use unlicensed taxi drivers at the airport or anywhere else. Their vehicles are usually in poor condition, unmetered and don’t have a dashboard identity licence. They charge extortionate fares and have been known to rob passengers.
Tourists have been robbed after bringing visitors to their hotel rooms. In some cases their drinks were drugged.
Methanol poisoning
There have been a number of deaths and cases of serious illness of locals and foreigners in Indonesia caused by drinking alcoholic drinks contaminated with methanol. These cases have occurred in bars, shops and hotels in popular tourist areas such as Bali, Lombok and Sumatra. Criminal gangs have been reported to manufacture counterfeit replicas of well-known brands of alcohol containing high amounts of methanol. Take extreme care when purchasing spirit-based drinks, as bottles may appear to be genuine when they are not.
There have also been cases of methanol poisoning from drinking adulterated arak/arrack, a local rice or palm liquor. Make sure cocktails are prepared in your sight and don’t leave drinks unattended as there have been reports of drink-spiking (with drugs) in clubs and nightspots. If you or someone you’re travelling with show signs of methanol poisoning or drink-spiking, seek immediate medical attention.
Local travel
Make sure you have the correct permits when planning local travel within Indonesia. Use a reliable and reputable guide for any adventure trips, otherwise you may have difficulties with local authorities if you need their help. For longer journeys, notify friends of your travel plans, contact them on arrival and where possible travel in convoy. Always carry a reliable means of communication with you.
Central Sulawesi Province
The political situation in Central Sulawesi Province is unsettled. Take particular care in Palu, Poso and Tentena and be alert to the potential for politically-motivated violence.
Maluku Province
Maluku Province has experienced unrest and violence between different religious and tribal groups. Take particular care in Ambon, including Haruku Island (Pulau Haruku).
Aceh
Aceh has emerged from a long period of internal conflict. Although violence against foreigners is rare, a British national was abducted in June 2013 and there were three separate incidents in November 2009 targeting foreigners. There have been reports of Shari’a (religious) police harassing foreigners.
You may be able to get a visa for Indonesia on arrival at the airport in Banda Aceh if you have arrived on an international flight, but the rules on entry and permission to remain can change at any time. Check with the Indonesian Embassy in London before you travel.
Be alert to the risk of politically-motivated violence and take particular care in remote areas. Sharia law is in force, visitors should be particularly careful not to offend local religious sensitivities.(eg not drinking alcohol, not gambling, and avoid wearing tight fitting or short clothing). Keep up to date with local developments and avoid large crowds, especially political rallies.
Papua and West Papua
Political tensions in Papua have given rise to occasional violence and armed attacks between Free Papua Movement (OPM) and the Indonesian authorities, particularly in the Central Highlands area around Puncak Jaya (including Wamena), but also including in Jayapura, Abepura, and Sentani on the north coast, and Timika town on the south coast.
Clashes in late July 2014 resulted in the death of security service personnel and civilians in the Lanny Jaya regency. If you’re travelling in the region, you should exercise extreme caution. In February 2013 a number of soldiers and civilians were killed in the Puncak Jaya region. In 2012, there were fatal shootings in and around Jayapura. Papuan separatists have kidnapped foreigners in the past. There is a heavy security presence in some areas, especially along the border with Papua New Guinea. Take extra care and seek local advice on your travel plans.
You will need a permit to travel to Papua and West Papua. Entry requirements can change at any time, and the penalties for entering the region with the wrong visa can be severe. You should get the latest information from the Indonesian Embassy in London before you travel. It is recommended that you carry your passport with you at all times when travelling around Papua. Should you need medical attention, there are limited hospital facilities in Papua and the likely destination for a medical emergency is Darwin, Australia.
The situation in the province of West Papua is calmer although there remains the possibility of unrest. Monitor the situation and be alert to changing circumstances.
Road travel
You can’t drive in Indonesia using a UK driving licence. You can drive using an International Driving Permit issued in Indonesia. International Driving Permits issued in the UK may need to be endorsed by the Indonesian licensing office in Jakarta.
Traffic discipline is very poor. Foreigners involved in even minor traffic violations or accidents may be vulnerable to exploitation. Consider employing a private driver or hiring a car with a driver. Some multinational companies don’t allow their expatriate staff to drive in Indonesia. Make sure you wear a helmet if you’re riding a motorbike or moped.
If you’re involved in an accident or breakdown, make sure someone remains with your vehicle. If you have any concerns for your security, move to another location safely. You should make yourself available for questioning by the police if requested to do so.
Air travel
A list of recent incidents and accidents can be found on the website of the Aviation Safety network.
With the exception of Garuda Indonesia, Mandala Airlines (not currently operating), Airfast Indonesia, Ekspres Transportasi Antarbenua (operating as PremiAir) and Indonesia Air Asia, all other Indonesian passenger airlines are refused permission to operate services to the EU due to safety concerns. You should avoid flying with Indonesian passenger airlines subject to the EU operating ban.
British Government employees are advised to use carriers which are not subject to an operating ban or restrictions within the EU unless this is unavoidable.
Departure tax varies by airport from 60,000 to 150,000 Rupiah. You will need to pay an airport tax of 150,000 Rupiah if you are departing on an international flight.
Sea travel
Inter-island travel by small boat can be dangerous as storms appear quickly and safety equipment is often limited. A number of passenger boats have sunk. There were 617 reported sea accidents in 2013, claiming more than 300 lives.
There have been attacks against ships in and around the waters of Indonesia. Mariners should be vigilant, reduce opportunities for theft, establish secure areas on board and report all incidents to the coastal and flag state authorities.
Political situation
The overall political situation is stable, but external as well as internal developments, including the Middle East, can trigger public protests or unrest. You should avoid all protests, demonstrations and political rallies as they could turn violent with little notice.

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  France Travel Guide
Posted by: stjong - 11-07-2016, 10:50 PM - Forum: Country Travel Guide - No Replies

France Travel Guide
You could spend a lifetime’s worth of holidays in France and still not feel you’d done the country justice. It remains the planet’s most visited tourist destination, meriting its standing with an almost overwhelming mass of historical treasures, storybook landscapes and cultural idiosyncrasies.
The teeming glam of Paris makes for one hell of a centrepiece, matching any city on the planet for ambiance, individuality and set-piece sights. But the real beauty of France, in many ways, lies elsewhere. The country’s natural gifts are striking, with white sands, hulking mountains and swathes of rolling countryside. It’s a land that has inspired dreamers and drinkers, revolutionaries and artists. Little wonder that Francophiles (and it’s telling that even the country’s devotees have a given word to describe them) are found the world over.
You can soak up the A-list beaches of the Cote d’Azur, drowse in the timeless greenery of the Loire Valley or gaze up at the monumental peaks of the Alps. Wander the lavender fields of Provence, eat your way round the legendary bistros of Lyon or sample the rugged charm of Corsica. France’s cities, coastline and countryside all have their own ooh-la-la rewards, and when taken as a whole, they present a near-perfect visitor package.
That’s not to say that it’s somewhere easily bracketed. When you’re walking the moody portside backstreets of Marseille or delving among the sprawling flea markets of Paris, it can be a job to remember that they’re a part of the same country as the vineyards of Alsace or the sand dunes of the Atlantic coast.
This diversity, in many ways, is the magic of France. It’s why it has endless magazines, books and texts dedicated to the joys of its lifestyle. It’s why the national spirit remains such a bold, many-hued thing. And it’s one reason why, in a continent full of historical wonder and natural beauty, France still draws more tourist attention than anywhere else.
“How can one describe a country which has 365 kinds of cheese?” once asked former French president Charles De Gaulle. Even today, it’s a very good question.
Last updated: 01 April 2015
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. ‘We’ refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Crime
For assistance in any emergency situation, dial 112.
Take sensible precautions against street and car crime. Don’t keep your passport, credit cards and other valuables in the same place; use the inside compartments in bags where possible. Carry your bag across your body rather than on your shoulder.
Don’t be distracted around tourist attractions and cash points. Pickpockets can work in gangs: one to distract you while the other one goes into your bag. Keep your belongings close to you in restaurants and bars.
Be aware of common scams used to obtain money from tourists, there are petition, 3 card trick and gold ring tricks which are all to be avoided, more information can be found here.
Thieves and pickpockets operate on the Paris underground, RER lines and at mainline stations, for example Gare du Nord. There have been several victims of serious assault on the RER line B, which serves Paris Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports and Paris Gare du Nord Eurostar terminus. There have also been serious assaults on RER line D, which serves the Stade de France.
Alcohol and drugs can lead to you being less alert, less in control and less aware of your environment. If you’re going to drink, know your limit and take sensible precautions such as not becoming separated from friends.
Motorway journeys are usually trouble-free, but if you’re asked by another motorist to stop and you decide to do so, park your car in a public area with lights – like a service station – and be wary of people offering help. If you’re involved in a car accident or witness an accident, use the orange emergency phones to ask for help.
Local Travel
Travel to and within France can be disrupted by strike action. Check with your travel provider before you travel.
Hiking, winter sports and outdoor activities
Check weather forecasts and conditions and make sure you’re properly equipped. Don’t undertake any activity alone, and consider hiring a guide for expert advice. Always leave copies of your itinerary with someone. For travel to mountainous areas, make sure your insurance covers you for extra medical costs, repatriation to your country of residence and in the départements of Savoie and Haute-Savoie possible transfer to Switzerland for treatment.
Observe all warnings regarding avalanches and where appropriate consider carrying avalanche search equipment. You can check the latest avalanche risk areas on the Meteo Alarm website. Conditions on roads in mountainous areas can quickly become difficult in winter. You should carry water, food, warm clothing and medicines in your vehicle.
For sports activities like skiing, potholing and mountaineering, and for sports classed as particularly dangerous (eg off-piste skiing, snow-boarding, mountain biking, climbing, ice-climbing, paragliding), make sure you’re covered by your insurance. This should include mountain rescue services and helicopter costs.
Local sea conditions can endanger even strong swimmers on the Atlantic Coast. Many beaches provide lifeguards and warning systems (coloured flags) and you should always follow the advice closely. Get information on the specific Baïne danger on the coast of the Gironde and Landes departements from the Gironde Prefecture website.
Follow local advice if jellyfish are present in the sea.
Road Travel
Driving regulations in France are different from those in the UK. Always remember that the normal rule is to give way to the right each time you reach an intersection.
Speeding can result in heavy, on the spot fines, and your vehicle and licence could be confiscated. The maximum speed on autoroutes is 130kph (80mph) in good weather and 110kph (68mph) in poor weather.
Many drivers undertake long journeys in France. Plan your journey carefully, taking into account unknown roads, weather conditions and fatigue. Make sure you take regular breaks.
Information on road safety and potential traffic black spots (in French only) is available on the Bison Futé website. Alternatively, real-time information on road traffic conditions is available on 107.7 FM in French and in English (Motorways radio – Autoroute Info).
To drive in France you must be 18 years old and have a valid UK driving licence, insurance and vehicle documents. If you don’t own the vehicle you’re driving, you should get written permission from the registered owner.
It’s compulsory to carry a warning triangle and reflective jacket. The reflective jacket must be stored inside the vehicle itself and accessible without getting out of the car. It is illegal to cross, even partially, on to the hard shoulder of a motorway without good reason.
In-car radar detectors and satellite navigation systems warning of the presence of speed cameras or radars are illegal whether in use or not.
In 2012 there were 3,653 road deaths in France (source Dft). This equates to 5.6 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 2.8 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2012.
See the European Commission, AA and RAC guides on driving in France.
Road hauliers
There have been reports of burglaries taking place while lorry drivers have been asleep in their vehicles. Avoid parking in isolated or dark areas of unsupervised camping grounds or car parks. Consider installing an alarm in your vehicle.
There have been many attempts by illegal migrants to enter lorries while stationary or in slow moving traffic. Take sensible precautions against break in to your vehicle, particularly in northern France.
Heavy goods vehicles over 7.5 tonnes are banned from driving on roads in France on certain days during the year, including all Sundays and public holidays. Dates are set by the French Ministry of Transport. Full details of restrictions can be found on the Bison Futé website.
British haulage companies and their employees should contact the Road Hauliers Association for further information about driving in France.
Camping Cars
There have been reports of burglaries taking place while travelers have been asleep in their caravans, mobile homes and other vehicles. Avoid parking in isolated or dark areas of unsupervised camping grounds or car parks and consider installing an alarm in your caravan or mobile home.
There have been many attempts by illegal migrants to enter vehicles while stationary or in slow moving traffic. Take sensible precautions against break in to your vehicle, particularly in Northern France.
First World War Centenary Commemorations
If you’re travelling to commemorate the First World War centenary, see this information and advice page to help plan your trip and make sure it’s safe and trouble free. Some sites will become extremely busy at certain times of the year, and some may have access restrictions.

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  China Travel Guide
Posted by: stjong - 11-07-2016, 10:49 PM - Forum: Country Travel Guide - No Replies

China Travel Guide
Colossal, dizzying and fiercely foreign, China isn’t easily compared to anywhere else on the planet. Home to approximately one fifth of the human race, it variously dazzles, befuddles, frustrates and thrills. The key visitor attractions are renowned around the globe – think the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Terracotta Warriors – but it’s the sheer scale and off-kilter energy of the place that leave the most lasting impression.
The economic drive of recent times means many of China’s cities are as shaped by modernity as anywhere you care to mention, but it’s also somewhere underpinned by dearly held customs and a near-unfathomable amount of diversity. China’s landscapes unfurl across the map in vast swathes of territory, and its sights, sounds and infinite oddities collectively amount to one of the world’s truly great travel experiences. The food’s fantastic too, and getting to grips with the different regional cuisines can be hugely enjoyable.
In other areas, tradition only counts for so much. The pace of development in its key cities – Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and increasingly others – has thrown up skylines to rival almost any in the world. They’re emblematic of the ‘new’ China, a powerhouse both economically and politically; somewhere eager to make the rest of the world sit up and take notice. Even the ego-driven rulers of the past, from Qin Shi Huang through to Mao, would surely be amazed at just how influential their country has become.
Shift away from the urban sprawl and out into China’s rural areas, however, and you’re confronted with a very different reality. The scenery veers from lush terraced rice paddies and the harsh peaks of the Himalayas to the gorges of the UNESCO-protected Yangtze River. In some of the rural heartlands, indeed, the tableau of life can seem little changed from 50 years ago, at least on the surface. China is full of endless quirks and contradictions, but that’s half the charm.
Last updated: 01 April 2015
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. ‘We’ refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Crime
Foreigners can be targeted for passports, laptops, mobile phones, purses and handbags. Major tourist sites and areas frequented by foreigners attract thieves and pickpockets. Take extra care at major tourist sites, street markets, Beijing International Airport, major international events and conferences and popular bar areas after dark. If your passport is lost or stolen, report it to the nearest police station or Public Security Bureau, who will issue a ‘confirmation of loss’ report. Don’t resist any attempted robbery.
Serious crime against foreigners is relatively rare, but incidents do occur. There have been incidents of sexual assault and robbery of foreigners, particularly when travelling alone in a taxi late at night in major cities. Where possible, take an ‘official’ taxi, make sure someone knows where you are and try to take a note of the taxi’s number.
There are occasional incidents with taxi and pedicab drivers who insist the passenger misunderstood the fare. Avoid travelling in unmarked or unmetered ‘taxis’ and insist on paying only the meter fare. Ask the driver for a receipt (fapiao), on which the taxi number should be printed. You can take this to the police to lodge a complaint.
Counterfeit bank notes (especially RMB100) are increasingly common. They are generally crumpled to avoid detection. Unscrupulous traders may try to switch your genuine bank notes for counterfeits. Check carefully before accepting notes. It is quite normal to do so.
Beware of scams particularly in popular tourist areas. A regular example is the ‘tea tasting’ scam. Scams usually involve a foreign national being invited to visit a bar, shop or cafe – for example to practice English or meet a girl – but results in demands for an exorbitant fee, often payable by credit card. This can result in threats of violence or credit card fraud.
Don’t trek alone in isolated areas, including those that follow parts of the Great Wall. If you do, leave your itinerary, mobile number and expected time of return at your hotel or with a third party.
Areas bordering on Siberia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Vietnam, Laos and Burma are poorly policed. In Yunnan Province, drug smuggling and other crimes are increasing. There is a risk of attack from armed bandits in remote areas.
Fire precautions
Fire protection standards in Chinese accommodation are not always the same as in the UK. Check fire precautions including access to fire exits.
Commercial disputes
Commercial disputes in China are rarely handled through the civil law courts. Incidents of British nationals being detained against their will for extorting money or intimidation for other gains have increased. It is rare for violence to be used, but the threat of violence is a recurring theme and can be stressful. You should report any threats of violence to the Chinese police.
Anyone entering into a contract in China should take legal advice, both in the United Kingdom and in China. Contracts entered into in the United Kingdom are not always enforced by Chinese courts. If you become the subject of a business and/or civil dispute, the Chinese authorities may prohibit you from leaving China until the matter is resolved. Contract fraud is treated as a crime in China and the defendant may also be placed in custody until the dispute is resolved. For more detailed advice on business risks and commercial disputes, see our guide on commercial disputes in China and the UK Trade and Investment China page.
Tibet and the Tibet Autonomous Region
You will need a permit to travel to the Tibet Autonomous Region. Applications for Tibet Entry Permits can only be made through specialised travel agents based in China and travel can only be undertaken through organised tours. The Chinese authorities sometimes suspend issuing Tibet Entry Permits to foreign nationals, and may also restrict travel to Tibetan Autonomous Prefectures in neighbouring Provinces by those who have already obtained a permit. These restrictions can happen at any time, but in particular during sensitive periods or major religious festivals – especially around February and March, coinciding with the Tibetan new year festival and the anniversary of certain uprisings in Tibet. Travellers to all Tibet areas should check with tour operators or travel agents and monitor this travel advice and other media for information about travel to Tibet.
Ongoing political and ethnic tensions can lead to unrest and violent protest in Tibet. While foreigners are not normally targeted during unrest, you should be alert to the possibility of being caught up in any unexpected demonstrations or outbreaks of violence. Security measures are tight around any large public gathering and unauthorised gatherings may be dispersed by force. There have been a large number of self-immolations since 2011, including in Tibetan areas outside of the Tibetan Autonomous Region itself. The Chinese authorities tend to react quickly to these incidents and will increase the security presence in the area. Avoid becoming involved in any protests or calls for Tibetan independence. Don’t film or photograph any such activities.
Local authorities will react negatively if you are found carrying letters or packages from Tibetan nationals to be posted in other countries.
Photography in Buddhist monasteries requires permission. You will need to pay a fee, which is normally negotiated in advance.
Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region
The security situation in Xinjiang remains fragile, and conditions locally can deteriorate rapidly at short notice. Among reported incidents in 2015, 8 people died in a suicide bombing in Guma county on 13 February, and 17 died on 17 February following clashes with police in Aksu prefecture.
There were several instances of violent unrest in 2014: 96 people reportedly died in a violent clash with security forces on 28 July in a rural area near the town of Shache (also known as Yarkand); 50 people reportedly died in a series of explosions and clashes with security forces on 21 September in Luntai (Bugur); and 22 people reportedly died in an explosion and violence on 12 October at a farmers’ market in Maralbeshi (Bahcu), Kashgar prefecture. There have been allegations that lethal force has been used to disperse protests.
While outbreaks of ethnic violence remain sporadic, and foreigners are not normally targeted, you should be alert to the possibility of being caught up in any unexpected demonstrations or outbreaks of violence. The Chinese authorities tend to react quickly to these incidents. They will increase the security presence in the area and their response may be heavy-handed. You should remain vigilant, keep up to date with local security advice and media reports and take extra care when travelling in Xinjiang. Avoid becoming involved in any protests and avoid large crowds. Don’t film or photograph any such activities or anything of a military nature.
Public transport
Public transport is popular, inexpensive and widely available, though can be crowded especially at holiday/festival times like Chinese New Year. At busy times, trains and flights are often fully booked weeks in advance.
Road travel
Expect disruption to road travel in Beijing during the APEC Conference period (3-12 November). Planned and unplanned road closures will take place often at short notice, with roads in the areas of Beijing Capital Airport, Yangqi Lake, and within the third ring road, likely to be heavily affected.
Restrictions on car licence plates will also be enforced. Odd numbered licence plates will be allowed to drive on odd dates only (ie on 3 November plates ending in 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 will be permitted), and even numbers on even dates only. These restrictions will be enforced from 3-12 November, from 3am to midnight.
Additional public transport is being put in place to cope with the additional pressure. Plan ahead and allow extra time when travelling in Beijing, in particular to and from Capital Airport.
Visitors and tourists are not allowed to drive in China. Only foreign nationals with a valid residence permit may drive in China. You will have to pass a driving test and get a Chinese driving licence. An International Driving Permit is not sufficient.  You must have valid insurance.
There are harsh penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol.
The poor quality of roads and generally low driving standards lead to many accidents. If you are involved in a serious accident, you may be prevented from leaving the country or detained until the case is resolved. Traffic accidents generally attract a large crowd of bystanders, some of whom may take sides (usually against the foreigner). If you are involved in an accident, call the police.  You should leave vehicles in position until the police arrive. If there are no injuries and damage is minimal, the parties involved often come to an agreement on the spot. It is customary in China that the larger vehicle carries liability. In cases where there are injuries, you may be held liable for medical costs. You will also be held liable if you run over a pedestrian.
Sea travel
There are areas of disputed territory between China and other countries in the South China sea. There have been attacks of piracy in the South China Sea, most recently in 2009. Mariners should be vigilant and avoid disputed areas.
Rail travel
Only cash payments are accepted for tickets, including on high speed services. You will need to show your passport to buy a ticket and may need to show it before boarding.
Trans-Mongolian express trains (Beijing-Moscow via Ulaanbaatar) are noted for smuggling. Search your compartment and secure the cabin door before departure. Petty theft from overnight trains is also common.
Political situation
China is a one-party state. Though China is very open to foreign visitors, you should be aware of political and cultural sensitivities in conversation with Chinese people.
Territorial disputes between China and neighbouring countries during 2012 have caused high regional tension. There have been a number of anti-Japan demonstrations. These protests have generally taken place outside diplomatic missions, but some have targeted other Japanese interests.
Avoid any demonstrations or large gatherings. The Chinese authorities enforce public order strictly and you may face arrest, deportation or detention. Foreign journalists have been intimidated, assaulted or detained for trying to report demonstrations. You may also risk becoming a target yourself when general anti-foreign sentiment runs high. Keep yourself informed of developments and follow the advice of the local authorities. During periods of tension, some news reporting, access to text-messaging, the internet and to international telephone lines may be blocked.

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  Canada Travel Guide
Posted by: stjong - 11-07-2016, 10:47 PM - Forum: Country Travel Guide - No Replies

Canada Travel Guide
Whether you’re a hardcore adrenaline junkie, a wildlife enthusiast or a city slicker looking for cutting-edge culture, Canada ticks all the boxes. The world’s second largest country racks up an astonishing diversity of landscapes; vast prairies rise abruptly to glacier-topped mountains; rugged, unspoiled coastlines give way to immense forests and emerald lakes; and Arctic waters lap upon frozen tundra. Incredibly, this wilderness is also home to cosmopolitan cities, quirky towns and remote indigenous settlements.
Canada’s people are as varied as the landscapes; from the Arctic Inuit and the Francophone Quebeckers to the British expatriates and burgeoning Asian community, this is a multicultural land where around 20% of the population are foreign-born.
Canadian cities are progressive, vibrant and regularly feature on lists of “best places to live.” Toronto, a veritable patchwork of charming neighbourhoods, has an idyllic beachside location on the shore of Lake Ontario, while Canada’s capital city, Ottawa, contains a clutch of fantastic museums and the pretty Rideau Canal for ice skating in winter. Montreal’s skyscrapers belie its French heritage, but look closer and you can stumble upon historic, cobbled streets and centuries-old customs.
A stone’s throw from the Canadian Rockies, booming Calgary flashes its oil wealth and flaunts its cowboy traditions during the annual boot-stomping Stampede. Chilled-out Vancouver, meanwhile, seems to have it all: mountains, beaches, an incredible downtown park and a cosmopolitan dining scene. It even has an island to its name (Vancouver Island), which is just the tonic if the city life gets too tough. Not that it ever does here.
For something wilder, ski steep chutes in British Columbia, kayak secluded bays with whales in Nova Scotia or learn to lasso at an Albertan ranch. Capture grizzlies on camera in the Yukon, watch mammoth icebergs drift past the Newfoundland coast, or soar over Niagara Falls by helicopter. Tour vineyards, dig for clams or feel giddy gazing at the Northern Lights. In Canada, it seems, the options are endless.
Last updated: 01 April 2015
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. ‘We’ refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Crime
Take sensible precautions to protect yourself from petty crime. Don’t leave your handbag or luggage unattended. Thieves often target tourist hotels. Keep valuables including your passport in a hotel safe. Leave copies of important documents with family and friends in the UK. Carry a photocopy of your passport for ID. Keep luggage out of sight in cars.
If you need the police, call 911 or 0 and ask the operator to connect you. There is no charge for emergency calls placed from a public pay phone. If you lose your passport, contact the British High Commission or Consulate immediately.
Road travel
Each province and territory has the authority to establish its own traffic and safety laws.
Seat belts are compulsory. Right turns on red lights are generally allowed, but at some junctions in towns and cities, you can only turn right on a green light. In some parts of Quebec, right turns on red lights are not allowed.
You can hire and drive a car in Canada using a full UK driving licence. You don’t need an International Driving Permit. Carry both the plastic photo card and the paper licence with you at all times.
Take out full insurance cover if you hire a vehicle.
Obey speed limits and take extra care when travelling on country roads. Watch out for wild animals.
Winter driving conditions can be extreme. Monitor local news and weather broadcasts and take advice before driving in winter. Snow tyres are required in some provinces.
For detailed information on road conditions throughout Canada and safety tips, see the Government of Canada, the Canadian Automobile Association and the Travel Canada websites.
Air travel
Check with your airline and Canadian Air Transport Security Authority for information on screening procedures and prohibited/restricted items on board an aircraft.
Wildlife
If you are hiking or camping, be considerate and cautious of local wildlife. Take all rubbish with you, and treat any food items with great care to avoid attracting animals to your site. Animals with nearby young or nests will be particularly aggressive when protecting their territory. Research the region and learn how best to deal with the local wildlife you might encounter. Take particular care if you’re touring an area where bears have been sighted. Keep a safe and legal distance from any wildlife including marine animals and birds and closely follow park regulations.

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  Australia Travel Guide
Posted by: stjong - 11-07-2016, 10:46 PM - Forum: Country Travel Guide - No Replies

Australia Travel Guide
Australia is a land of savage beauty, big adventure and even bigger horizons. There are good reasons why it finds itself touted as one of the ultimate travel getaways;
it has personality in spades, landscapes to die for and more than its fair share of sunshine. And if beaches, rainforest and outback aren’t your thing, then its major cities are outstanding destinations in their own right.
In many ways the country breeds extremes. The fiery atmosphere of an Aussie Rules match in Melbourne and the champagne glitz of Sydney Harbour belong to another planet entirely when compared to the quiet expanse of the Red Centre or the surf-bashed coastlines of the west.
Likewise, 40,000 years of Aboriginal culture sometimes seem an unnatural bedfellow for the famed “no worries mate” BBQ lifestyle of modern times. When taken as a whole, however, the sum of Australia’s contrasts make it a destination that is as fascinating as it is diverse.
Knowing where to go is arguably the toughest part. There are well-travelled paths, with Sydney and the east coast being a perennially popular choice, although when you’re faced with a country of this magnitude potential itineraries are numberless. The Great Barrier Reef? Uluru? The Great Ocean Road? Kakadu? Hobart? The Kimberley? When the tourist board controversially coined the slogan “So where the bloody hell are you?” it raised a fair point.
There are iconic Aussie clichés by the barrel-load (from cork hats, barbecues and koalas to crocodiles, cricketers and bush tucker) but the real beauty of the place lies in the stuff you’re not expecting; the dusty open road that unfurls to reveal verdant hills; the cold beer at an outback pub that turns into an evening-long session; the stroll to the beach that throws up a street market, open-air concert and implausibly beautiful sunset.
A trip Down Under has long been synonymous with escape, exploration and adventure – an image that’s unlikely to change anytime soon.
Last updated: 22 March 2015
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. ‘We’ refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Crime
The level of crime is no higher than in the UK. Be careful with personal possessions and travel documents in cities and popular tourist destinations. Avoid carrying everything in one bag. Don’t leave bags unattended in vehicles, internet cafes, pubs or clubs. Theft from safety deposit boxes is common in the cheaper hotels and hostels. Be particularly vigilant at night in the busy tourist areas of Sydney like Kings Cross, down town George Street, Hyde Park and Centennial Park.
There have been some serious sexual assaults against British nationals in Australia. Take care in the town centre of Alice Springs at night. There have been a number of incidents of harassment, robberies and attacks (including sexual assault) on foreign tourists. Alcohol and drugs can lead to you being less alert, less in control and less aware of your environment. If you are going to drink, know your limit. Drinks served in bars overseas are often stronger than those in the UK.
Beware of online lettings scams in which prospective tenants are asked to transfer a deposit to an overseas bank account in return for keys to a rental property in Australia. British travellers have fallen victim to these scams.
You can reduce the risk of losing your passport by getting a proof of age card. This is an accepted form of ID for many services like opening bank accounts or entering licensed premises. By getting a card soon after you arrive you will limit the need to carry your passport with you.
If your passport is lost or stolen you may be able to get an Emergency Travel Document (ETD) from the nearest British Consulate. However, we can only issue an ETD for urgent travel, not for general identity purposes.
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Local travel
Australia is a huge country. If you’re bushwalking or exploring national parks it can take hours to get help in the event of an emergency. The terrain and intense heat can have a severe impact on your capabilities. Take plenty of water and a means of rigging up shelter from the sun. The NSW Police Force website provides further advice on bush safety, most of which applies throughout Australia.
Australia is home to a number of dangerous animal species, from crocodiles, jellyfish and sharks to poisonous insects, spiders and snakes are found in many parts of the country. See the Wet Tropics Management Authority website
The Tourism Australia website has extensive information on travelling around the continent. The Australian Government’s National Visitor Safety Handbook also contains comprehensive travel safety advice on Australia.
Swimming safety
Rip currents are the main surf hazard for all beach users. They can occur at any beach, and can sweep even the strongest swimmer out to sea. Rip currents are directly responsible for 20 coastal drowning deaths and over 15,000 rescues in Australia each year (source: Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA)). There are more British victims than any other foreign nationality, with as many as 400 British nationals rescued and up to 4 drowning each year.
Take the following simple precautions:
– Always swim between the red and yellow flags – these indicate it is a supervised location where a lifesaving service is currently on duty.
– Don’t swim at unsupervised locations.
– Read the safety signs – they indicate current and typical hazards for that location.
– Ask a lifeguard for advice – they are there to provide safety advice and make your experience safe and enjoyable.
– Always swim with a friend; never alone.
– If you get into trouble, stay calm and attract attention by calling and waving your arm above your head.
– Never swim after drinking alcohol or taking drugs – they impair your ability and judgement in the water.
Further guidance on beach safety is available on the SLS website.
Rivers and pools can be subject to sudden flash flooding as a result of heavy rain elsewhere in the area. There have been cases of British nationals being injured by diving into water which was too shallow. Make sure that there is sufficient depth of water before diving, and always follow warning signs if present.
Road travel
As a visitor, you can drive in Australia if you have both parts of your UK driving licence: the photo-card and paper licence. You may encounter difficulties if you only have one of these. You must carry your driving licence and passport when driving. If you intend to stay in Australia and you hold a permanent visa, you can drive using your UK licence for a maximum of 3 months, after which you must apply for a local licence.
Make sure you have sufficient insurance, including if you borrow a car from a friend or relative. Hire car insurance often doesn’t cover driving on unsealed roads; check your policy before you set off.
In 2012, there were 1,310 road deaths in Australia (source DfT). This equates to 6.0 road deaths per 100,000 of population compared to the UK average of 2.8 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2012.
Driving laws and regulations differ in each state/territory. Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is illegal. The penalties can be severe. You must wear a seat belt at all times.
If you’re hiring a car immediately on arrival be extra careful – you will be jetlagged and tired from your flight. Take regular rest breaks when driving long distances; there are many rest stops provided.
Prepare thoroughly if driving in remote outback areas, which can present unexpected hazards. Ensure you have a roadworthy vehicle fitted with GPS and two spare tyres. Take good maps and extra food, water and fuel. Plan your route carefully and seek local advice before you set out. Leave your route details and expected time of return with the local tourist authorities, police, your hotel/hostel, or friends and relatives and let them know when you’ve arrived safely.
Check road conditions before beginning your journey; stay with your vehicle if it breaks down; and avoid travelling in extreme heat conditions. Sudden storms and strong winds can make driving difficult. Take particular care when driving on unsealed roads, 4WD tracks and desert/beach roads. Northern Territory Police have in the past warned tourists to stay off unsealed tracks in remote areas of Central Australia following reports of stranded motorists.
Following a number of serious accidents, all vehicles on Fraser Island must observe a maximum speed of 80km/h on beaches and 30km/h in towns. 4WD vehicles must carry no more than 8 occupants (including the driver) and all luggage must be carried inside the vehicle. Avoid driving at night and be aware of beach hazards like ditches created by the surf. Fraser Island is unique but remote, and emergency services can take many hours to reach an accident. Carry a well-stocked first-aid kit and personal medication as there is no pharmacy on the island.
Mobile phones
The mobile phone network generally works well in cities and large towns but coverage elsewhere can be very limited or non-existent. If you’re travelling to remote areas, check with your phone provider about coverage. You can use your UK mobile phone in Australia if global roaming has been activated, but making and receiving calls can be expensive. Many visitors prefer to buy an Australian SIM card on arrival. Australian SIM cards are available at some Australian airports, and at convenience stores and supermarkets.
Political situation
Keep up to date with local and international developments and avoid any demonstrations or large gatherings of people.

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