Friday, April 17, 2015

Traveler’s Checklist

Do all the people you know travel? Are they already asking you to join them and that you are already itching yourself to? However, a trip requires careful planning.  Before you pack your bags and hitch hike with your friends, Westhill Consulting Travel and Tours has listed some important steps you can take to prepare for a safe trip anywhere: 

Be Aware of Any Travel Alerts and Warnings for Your Destination
The State Department may issue Travel Warnings to recommend postponing travel to a country because of widespread civil unrest, dangerous conditions, terrorist activity or, in some cases, because the your country has no diplomatic relations with the country and may have great difficulty in assisting foreign citizens in distress. Travel Alerts disseminate information quickly about terrorist threats or other relatively short-term or transnational conditions that could pose significant risks to you and affect your travel plans.

Do You Have All Required Travel Documents?

Most foreign countries require a valid passport to enter and leave. Some countries may allow you to enter with only a birth certificate, or with a birth certificate and a driver’s license, but all persons, including U.S. citizens, traveling by air, must present a valid passport to reenter the United States. Some countries have the strictest policies in knowing fraud passports entering their country.

What about your children?

Some countries have instituted requirements to help prevent child abductions and may require travelers to present proof of relationship to the children and evidence of consent from any non-accompanying parent(s).  Visit our child abduction country information pages for information about your destination.

When does your passport expire?

Some countries require that a traveler’s passport be valid for at least six months beyond the dates of the trip. Contact the embassy of your foreign destination for more information. Foreign embassy and consulate contact information can also be found in our Country Specific Information pages.

Do You Plan to Drive Overseas?

If you plan to drive overseas, you may need to obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP).  Many countries do not recognize your local driver’s licenses without an accompanying IDP, and it is illegal to drive without a valid license and insurance in most places.  You should check with the embassy of the country where you plan to travel to find out more about driver’s license and car insurance requirements.  If you will be residing overseas for an extended time, say, Jakarta, Indonesia or Singapore, it is a good idea to obtain a local driver’s license as soon as possible, since IDPs have a limited validity.  Foreign countries may also require that persons considered resident obtain a local driver’s license if they are going to drive.  To renew a U.S. driver’s license while abroad, contact the Department of Motor Vehicles in your home state. IDs are also important to verify your identity so that you would not be tagged as scam.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Baby Travel

The idea of flying with kids is probably the biggest single cause of stress for traveling parents. Nobody looks forward to lugging a lot of luggage through the airport with a tired and unhappy child (or children) in tow, and the prospect of keeping them seated, quiet, and happy for hours on end can be terrifying. While we can't promise that your kids won't have a meltdown, Westhill Consulting Travel and Tours in Jakarta travel tips will help streamline your air travel and keep everyone in a better mood! 

Getting Ready
The first step is to get to the airport early. It is time consuming to get through the airport and security in any circumstances and you won’t be as able to make a last minute dash to your gate as you would without a child (or children) in tow. The extra time at the airport will give your child a chance to exercise (find an empty gate area or ask if there is an airport play area) in between the long car ride and the flights.
Eat at the airport
When possible, check in and secure your seat assignment online before you leave for the airport. Don’t forget to print the boarding passes & put them in your carryon!
Be sure to pack your itinerary (including any phone numbers you'll need) and a map of your destination in your carryon. Nothing is worse than struggling to find your hotel with tired and full of complaints children in tow.

Checking In
If the line is long, the open spaces in the airport can be a good place to let the kids run a little while one parent waits in line to check the bags. Remember to stay close in case the gate agent needs to see each of the passengers or check id.
Don’t check your stroller unless you plan to carry your child in a sling. Most airlines will allow you to push your stroller all the way to the gate. They’ll then check it at the gate and have it waiting for you outside the plane door when you deplane. Some airlines will even let you bring a small stroller on board if there is space.
Make sure that your stroller has a tag with your name, address, and phone number. If you do check and review your stroller, consider packing it in a bag as many airlines consider strollers “fragile items” and will not reimburse you for damage.
If you are travelling with a lap infant in a carrier car seat, consider keeping the car seat with you until you find out whether there is a free seat on the plane that you can use for the baby.
Check with your airline in advance about baggage restrictions. On international flights, some airlines like that in Singapore, Beijing, China and Jakarta, Indonesia will allow a lap infant to check baggage; other airlines exclude baby items like a car seat or stroller as part of the parent's baggage allowance.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Pack and Go

Each one of us deserves a vacation every now and then. It can help us live life. All work is no good. We all need to relax for a while and have a little time to enjoy. We at Westhill Consulting Travel and Tours call it Traveling Life.

Admit it or not, the first issue we have during the travel is on packing. Yes, you read it right. Issue. Packing is a big challenge prior to traveling and it leads to a big issue. Here are some tips for you to review the next time you are packing all the stuff that you have:

• Pack as light as possible. Ask the simple question: “Do I want it or do I need it and if I need it am I will to cart it around?” There is little you really need when you travel.

• Travel with a light backpack. If you are moving between places, backpacks leave your hands free to hold their hands.

• Pack just a few clothes with only a couple complimentary, solid colors — no patterns. Black is a good idea if you need to be able to dress up and be casual.
• Pack only what you can carry on to the flight. Warning: excess baggage is expensive.

• Put everything you want to bring in a pile and slowly strip away things that aren’t necessary.

• Leave the laptop behind, as well as blackberry and any other tech gadget. For computer addicts, being away from the internet’s constant flow of data for a few days recharges and relaxes you in ways that you never experience at home.
• Bring along a small, foldable umbrella to protect against the UV rays of sunlight and possible rain.

• Most toiletries can be found easily in your destination country so you won’t have to file complaints on where to relieve yourself.

• If it’s something you think you can buy there more cheaply than at home, then don’t bring it (especially if it’s something you don’t already have).

• Bring one book, and when you’re done, find a book-exchange and trade it for a new one.

• In Asia, especially when you are traveling in culture-filled cities such as Jakarta, Indonesia, Singapore and Bangkok, Thailand sarongs are a traveler’s best friend! A sarong works as a towel, a skirt, a makeshift bag, a scarf, a sheet. They’re especially good to have if you’re traveling low-budget, staying in hostels or guesthouses, which often don’t offer towels or even top sheets. The best thing is that they dry really, really quickly, even when it’s humid. A wet towel can take all day to dry in the tropics, and if you have to stuff it in your bag before it’s dry it can get all dank and mildew, and so can all your stuff.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Preparing for the Last Six Months of the Year


Now that we are nearing the second half of the year and spent the first half working hard, it may be good to spend some part of your time once every month in visiting wondrous places in Asia . Westhill Consulting Travel and Tours have listed a special place to spend your weekend at.

July – Sumatra, Indonesia
Sumatra is the second island popular for surfing with the most number of surf spots, with 18 altogether and an island away from the capital, Jakarta, Indonesia. The common time for surfing is around May to September with the trade winds blowing from east to south-east. From October to April, winds tend to come from the west to north-west, so the east coast breaks get the offshore winds.

August – Chinatown, Singapore/ Chinese Enclaves, Malaysia
            If you are up for a little visit to the dead, you should join the celebration of Hungry Ghost Festival in basically almost all of countries with Chinatown of their own. In Asia, the celebration of the event is widely awesome in Singapore and Malaysia.  The Hungry Ghost Festival celebrates the Taoist belief in the afterlife.
Chinese communities in Malaysia and Singapore believe that the gates of Hell open on the 7th lunar month, freeing the spirits of the dead to roam in the world of the living.
The living, in turn, must make offerings of food and burnt prayer money to the souls of the dead to appease them. They shouldn’t show complaints or heavy feelings, though, as ghost are said to hunt those that do.

September – Borneo
Malaysian Borneo is one of those rare places where you can sense the adventure in the air, along with the green smells from thousands of miles of rainforest just waiting to be explored. Borneo is the third-largest island in the world, and a virtual paradise on earth for anyone who shares a love for plants, wildlife, and adventure.

October - Beijing, China
Asia in October can very enjoyable; the month is a transition period. Countries with hot summers and high humidity finally start to cool off, and the leaves will be changing colors in China, Japan, and other parts of East Asia. Families with young children and backpacking students have all returned to their home countries for school, so many islands and attractions are less crowded. You can explore the Forbidden City and the Tiananmen Square and find out the hidden secrets of Chinese cultures.

November - Rajasthan India
Occupying the northwest corner of the subcontinent and bordered by Pakistan, Rajasthan is India's desert state. Forget the typical drab desert; Rajasthan, India, is famous for its colorful cities, brightly dyed traditional attire, and romantic history of forts, desert raids, and epic battles. If you've ever wanted to ride a camel across a desert, Rajasthan is the place!

December – Luang Prabang, Laos
While most people would stay at home and spend the holidays surrounded by snows, turkeys and Santa, some people would try out holiday getaway visiting exotic places and thinking or reviewing how people in the rough places celebrate their Christmas.
One of the most charming cities in south-east Asia, Luang Prabang is the most popular tourist attraction in Laos. Until 1975, when the communist took over the country, it was the royal capital of Laos. The main part of Luang Prabang is located on a peninsula between the Nam Khan and Mekong rivers. A collection of golden-roofed temples, wooden houses and crumbling French provincial buildings fill the main roads. At dawn, monks from the various monasteries walk through the streets collecting alms of rice.

Monday, April 6, 2015

When to Go Where in the First Half of the Year

Many people are asking us the best time to visit Asia and where to visit. We at Westhill Consulting Travel and Tours have listed some of the best places to go for a whole year long. You may use this list for next year or start your country hopping right away. 

January - Unawatuna, Sri Lanka

If you are looking for a summer getaway in the month of January, then, Unawatuna is the best place for you to visit. While the calm water and smaller waves don't make for good surfing, Unawatuna is the best pick for swimming and a family-friendly beach.

February - Langkawi, Malaysia

Asia in February is fantastic, assuming that you stay closer to sea level or take advantage of the tropical weather in Southeast Asia. We have reviewed a lot of places while much of East Asia is cold and snowy you’ll find plenty of sunshine and dry weather throughout most of Southeast Asia.
Duty-free Langkawi, Malaysia, is one of the busiest and most popular tourist islands in Southeast Asia. Despite the rampant development on some beaches, Langkawi remains green, beautiful, and was declared a World Geopark by UNESCO in 2007 -- attracting plenty of ecotourism. The island lures in plenty of Malays and international visitors with incredible natural beauty and easy accessibility from the mainland.

March - Koh Lanta, Thailand

Set in the Andaman Sea, the island of Koh Lanta, Thailand, is beautiful yet hardly developed. Hordes of island-bound tourists seem to skip over Koh Lanta on their way to neighboring Phuket or Koh Phi Phi and miss out on one of Thailand's best island destinations. While many people are filing complaints on the melting weather in some of Asia’s featured countries, Thailand is a good place to go in the cool breeze of March.

April - Bali Indonesia

Bali sits in the exotic reaches of the Indonesian archipelago. In comparison with the country’s capital, Jakarta, Indonesia, Bali is known for its captivating jungles and scenic beaches; Bali serves as a welcoming haven for tourists in search of mystical temples and seaside respite. As with any destination, determining the best time to travel to Bali depends on a wide variety of factors, including the personal preferences of individual visitors. April is one of the best months to enjoy popular places such as Bali before the summer crowds arrive.

May - Osaka, Japan

May is the best time to visit Japan with the fair weather appropriate in this country. You can visit Osaka Castle or Universal Studies in Japan when you are up to a different kind of fun and visit away from the beaches.

June - Incheon, South Korea

Arts, entertainment, fashion, history and nature: Incheon has it all (and more)! The city is undergoing an extravagant real estate development, with a projected finish date of 2015. It also expects a large number of visitors for its 2014 Asian Games. Visitors can peruse designer shops in the Bupyeong district, enjoy events at the Arts Centre or discover local history.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Westhill Travel Review: Unseen Asia

If you think you can think you have traveled to every farfetched tourist spots in Asia, think again. We may have beaten you in finding exotic and unseen tourist spots in the region yet. Westhill Consulting Travel and Tours in Jakarta have this outrageous list of must-go places in the most extremes of Asia.

These are the list of some of the many wonders that people living in a melting pot of races are:

Shodoshima, Japan

            Foreigners rarely travel the roads to these lush olive groves, hot springs and wild monkeys. The 817-meter Mount Hoshigajo-san, which translates as “Mount Kingdom of Stars,” is an excellent vantage point for Shodoshima’s scenic landscape, including the famous Kankakei and Choshi-kei valleys. The island’s many hot springs provides reprieve for tired feet after a long day of country rambling.

Ratu Boko, Indonesia

The Yogyakarta region is practically a museum of Indonesia’s dynastic history. The famed Buddhist temple Borobodur and its Hindu counterpart Prambanan typically lure crowds for its detailed relief.

Nearby, however, the oft-overlooked palace complex of Ratu Boko provides an even more imaginative glimpse of the region’s cultural and religious origins.

Set on a ridge called the Thousand Hills, Ratu Boko offers expansive views of Prambanan as well as Java’s most active volcano, Mt Merapi. Only the foundation of the palace remains, as do former bathing pools. A mysterious well near the complex’s cremation site is a place of pilgrimage for the region’s Hindus, who say the water has sacred properties. The archeological site is just a plane away from the country’s capital, Jakarta.

Haputale, Sri Lanka

The misty Haputale is a wonder at dawn like any other hidden mountain secrets in the world. Every morning, bundled up Tamils sell English vegetable but instead of fraud lively scenes, all you is around you is a bizarre mountain ridges. You will definitely find remnants of Sri Lanka’s British legacy in numerous plantations around town.

Son Doong Cave, Vietnam

            This is Vietnam’s largest cave is more than 200m high, 150m wide and 5km long. The cave has its own river, jungle and climate. It is located in the heart of Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park in Quang Binh province. The cave has only been open to public for 4 years since it has been discovered by a British traveler in 2010. Warnings to those who would want to camp there though: stray animals are also found inside the cave and there may also be unknown creatures lurking there.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Best Bite on the Best Beaches

Asia is the best place to go if you are into islands and beaches. With its strategic location surrounded by main waters, oceans and seas, Asia is home to thousands of beaches. Westhill Consulting Travel and Tours in Jakarta has gathered some of the best beaches in Asia which is worth a review and a visit sooner and later:

Ko Adang – Thailand
Thailand's remote Ko Adang is an ideal island for nature-loving travelers who seek a less-populated haven well away from peak-season beaches packed with sunbathing limbs. With plenty of hiking trails, deserted white sand beaches and jungle waterfalls there's enough here for day-trippers from nearby Ko Lipe along with those who plan to spend a longer stretch of time exploring all this island has to offer. We assure you that no complaints will you ever say about this beach.

Ko Chang Noi – Thailand
Not to be confused with the far bigger and better known Ko Chang of Trat province in the Gulf of Thailand, little Ko Chang -- or, as we have always known it, Ko Chang Noi -- is a formidable destination in its own right. One of Thailand's quietest most relaxed, and undeveloped islands, Ko Chang Noi makes up for its lack of sparkle with an artsy, laid back atmosphere you'll find nowhere else. Don't expect luxury resorts and bus loads of short-term holiday makers but rather rustic bungalows and a unique community of artists, writers, and musicians who return for long-term stays year after year. If you like nature and reggae music and are looking for an escape from the world -- then Ko Chang Noi is for you.

The more pristine beaches of Jakarta are located in Thousand Islands, the only regency of Jakarta Special Capital Region. Being located further away from Java Island, the islands' beach is less affected by pollution coming from the Jakarta Bay. Being a coral island, the beaches of Thousand Islands are white-sanded.

The province of West Java contains beaches on both its northern coast and southern coast. The beaches of the northern coast are known for its calm water due to the low wave-energy of the Java Sea. The more notable beaches on the southern coast are known for the big waves and famous for surfing.

Don Khon – Laos
This beach is skipped by many budget travelers because most of the accommodation is mid-range. However although there aren't 40-odd places to choose from, there are budget options here and staying on Don Khon is far more of a Lao experience than Don Dhet. There are options for cycling and walking and lots of general hanging out watching life flow by -- oh and there are dolphins too.