Friday, May 24, 2013

Chile-Peru border crossing & bus from Arica, Chile to Tacna or Arequipa, Peru

Tacna Peru Arica Chile Border Crossing
We made quite a number of border crossings during our South America trip, seven to be exact. One of them was the border crossing between Chile and Peru via the border towns of Arica (Chile) and Tacna (Peru). Direct buses to Peru are difficult to find in Chile's northern cities. At the bus stations, we were advised that we might have a stronger chance of finding buses to Peru from Chile's border town Arica. So we took an overnight bus from San Pedro de Atacama via Calama to Arica.

Arriving in Arica the next morning, the surprise was there were no bus routes from Arica (Chile) even to Tacna and further on to Arequipa (Peru)! After asking around and struggling with our broken Spanish, we were finally pointed to one of the bus counters which offered a service to Arequipa from Arica. But it involved taking a taxi from the bus terminal in Arica to Tacna, and catching the bus to Arequipa at the bus terminal in Tacna. The total cost of the service was US$40.

Tacna Peru Arica Chile Border Crossing
Tacna Peru Arica Chile Border Crossing
There were four of us foreigners who did the trip plus another local since taxis take in five people before they leave. The trip between the bus stations in Arica and Tacna is about 56 kilometers and takes an hour or two depending on Immigration lines.

Tacna Peru Arica Chile Border Crossing
Passport stamps from Chile and Peru. Peru is the 50th country/territory I've visited!
The taxi service assisted us through Immigration control for Chile and Peru and prepared our arrival cards for Peru. In Peru, we had to take our luggage down for Customs. But it was quite straightforward and not much of a hassle.

We were dropped off at the bus terminal in Tacna where the taxi driver purchased our onward tickets to Arequipa. It was convenient alright. But I did the math after observing tariff signs posted in the taxi and the bus terminal.

The commuter taxis called colectivos charge CL$40 (US$8.20) per person for the trip between Arica and Tacna or v.v. The local who was with us paid that amount directly to the driver. The bus from Tacna to Arequipa was S./20 (US$7.50). So the total cost, if we knew how to do it on our own, was just US$15.70. We were overcharged US$24.30 per person! But we also felt the taxi driver purchased cheaper bus tickets since we were assured by the agent in Arica that the bus would serve us lunch which unfortunately was not the case.

So to make the long story short, if you want to travel from Arica (Chile) to Tacna or Arequipa (Peru), exit the Arica Bus Terminal and look for the colectivo taxis right beside it and find a ride to the Tacna Bus Terminal. At Tacna, you have more choices and can easily purchase bus tickets for your onward travel to other cities in Peru.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Grab your Resorts World Sentosa promo rates now!

Resorts World Sentosa Singapore
Singapore is host to the nearest Universal Studios to the Philippines. I got to enjoy the theme park during a recent trip to Sentosa. I must say, it's really a great experience, especially for families with kids. But even those young at heart will enjoy the exciting movie-themed rides.

And since it's summer, now is the perfect time to go to Singapore (or go back if you've already been) with your family and friends!

Check this out, if you book between now and August 29, 2013, you can avail of super affordable and must-avail hotel deals and attraction offers using your BDO Credit Card.  

The promo package details are as follows:
  • 3D/2N Sentosa Getaway at Hard Rock Hotel®, Hotel MichaelTM or Festive HotelTM, from SGD608 nett, inclusive of breakfast for two;
  • Two (2) Universal Studios SingaporeTM Adult One-Day Pass; 
  • Two (2) S.E.A. AquariumTM Adult One-Day Pass; and 
  • Two (2) Adventure Cove WaterparkTM Adult One-Day Pass
Rates are SGD608 nett (low) & SGD708 nett (peak) for stay period from May 1 to May 23, 2013 and SGD688 nett (low) & SGD788 nett (peak) for stay period from May 24 to August 31, 2013.

You may also avail of other superb offers for your trip to Singapore using your BDO Credit Card:
  • SGD10 off on one (1) Adult One-Day Pass at Universal Studios SingaporeTM and get additional SGD10 discount retail voucher;  
  • SGD50 Package for one (1) S.E.A. AquariumTM & Adventure Cove Water ParkTM  Adult One-Day Pass. 
Promo period is from March 20 to August 29, 2013.

Promo Mechanics:
1. The promo is open to all active BDO MasterCard, Visa, JCB, UnionPay and American Express Credit Card Cardholders.
2. Promo period is until May 31, 2013 for Universal Studios SingaporeTM Pass and Bundled Tickets to S.E.A. AquariumTM & Adventure Cove WaterparkTM and until August 29, 2013 for the 3D/2N Sentosa Getaway, with hotel stay period of May 1 – August 31, 2013.
3. To avail of the offer, Cardholder must use his/her BDO / American Express Credit Card.
4. Bookings and payment may be done on-site and via promotion link on the Resorts World SentosaTM website with BDO MasterCard, Visa, JCB and UnionPay Credit Cards, while American Express Credit Cards may be used for on-site transactions, by specifying “BDO Promotional Universal Studios Singapore.”
5. Universal Studios SingaporeTM and S.E.A AquariumTM + Adventure Cove WaterparkTM Bundled Tickets are valid for purchase of up to 6 tickets per card per transaction.
6. Offers are not convertible to cash or gift certificates.
7. Offers cannot be exchanged for other items or discounts and cannot be used in conjunction with other promotional offers, privileges and VIP cards.
8. For hotel room accommodations, advance reservation is required. Blackout dates and specific hotel standard terms and conditions may apply.
9. Rates may be subject to applicable taxes and/or service charges.

What are you waiting for? Visit https://www.bdo.com.ph/promos/resorts-world-sentosa and book your trip to Singapore now!

Saturday, May 04, 2013

South America: Applying for visas to Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile,Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay & Venezuela in the Philippines

Argentina Uruguay visa application in Philippines
One will appreciate Europe's Schengen visa when planning a trip to several countries in other regions or continents since visas have to be obtained separately. South America is one example since Philippine passport holders can travel visa-free to only six of the twelve countries of the continent. Here are visa requirements and embassy and consulate contact details for South American countries and territories (as of 3 May 2013).

Argentina
The Argentine Republic has an embassy in the Philippines. Filipino citizens require a visa to visit Argentina. To begin the application process, you may get an application form from the embassy:

Embassy of the Argentine Republic
8/F Liberty Center, 104 H.V. de la Costa Street
Salcedo Village, Makati City
Telephone No. (02) 8453218 / 8453219 / 8453230
Fax No. (02) 8453220

The following are the requirements for application:
1. Duly accomplished application form. Note that you should not fill in the date when you sign the form. The date should be the date of your interview. If you fill this in, you will be asked to fill out a new one on the day of interview
2. One passport sized photo pasted on the application form
3. Valid passport and photocopy of the information pages
4. Letter of request from the applicant stating the reason for the visit
5. Original Certificate of Employment indicating salary and duration of leave. For business owners, SEC or Mayor's Permit (original and photocopy)
6. Bank Statement (at least three months). They don't accept Bank Certificates.
7. Confirmed hotel bookings or hotel vouchers
8. Confirmed air ticket (original and photocopy) or booking certificate
9. For minors traveling alone, Affidavit of Support from parents, DSWD permit to travel (authenticated by DFA), photocopy of birth certificate and parents' marriage certificate.

Note that it takes at least five (5) working days to process a visa. It will definitely be more since applicants are called for interview first. And it will take another two (2) days after visa is approved before it is released. Filing of applications is from 9:30 to 11 a.m. only

Bring all the requirements to the Embassy of the Argentine Republic. The staff will only accept applications with complete requirements. If your requirements are complete, you will be asked to wait for a call to schedule your interview. You may also be asked to submit additional documents if after evaluation, the Consul feels that there is missing information.

The Embassy will call you to schedule an interview, usually in the morning at 9:30 a.m. The Consul will interview you about your trip. If your application is accepted, you will be asked to pay the visa fee (peso equivalent of US$50) at BPI Tordesillas and come back with the deposit slip. A claim stub will be given to you for pick-up of your visa two days after. Releasing is from 2 to 4 p.m. only.

Bolivia
The Plurinational State of Bolivia has an honorary consulate in the Philippines. Filipino citizens traveling to Bolivia as a tourist or for business do not require visas for stays of not more than 30 days, provided that they will not seek any employment in Bolivia. To confirm this information, you may contact the consulate:

Consulate of the Plurinational State of Bolivia
c/o Mindanao Container Corporation
6/F 110 Legazpi Street
Legazpi Village, Makati City
Telephone No. (02) 8924304 / 8931727

Brazil
The Federative Republic of Brazil has an embassy in the Philippines. Filipino citizens traveling to Brazil as a tourist or for business do not require visas for stays of not more than 90 days, provided that they will not seek any employment in Brazil. Otherwise, a visa is required. Note also that upon arrival in Brazil, passports must be valid for at least six months, and that you have ready with you a copy of your ticket, itinerary, hotel accommodation and possibly proof of financial capacity if these are requested. To confirm this information, you may contact the embassy:

Embassy of the Federative Republic of Brazil
16/F Liberty Center, 104 H.V. de la Costa Street
Salcedo Village, Makati City
Telephone No. (02) 8451869
Fax No. (02) 8452076

Chile visa application in Philippines
Chile
The Republic of Chile has an embassy in the Philippines. Filipino citizens require a visa to visit Chile. To begin the application process, you may get an application form from the embassy:

Embassy of the Republic of Chile
17/F Liberty Center, 104 H.V. de la Costa Street
Salcedo Village, Makati City
(02) 8433461

It required extra patience on our part and several visits to the embassy to apply for visas to Chile. The following are the requirements for application:
1. Application form (one copy per person). Note that entries in the application form must be typewritten. No need to submit pictures.
2. Passport with at least six months validity.
3. Formal letter of request from the applicant addressed to the Consul stating purpose, duration of visit and means of travel.
4. Recent medical certificate (within the last three months) stating that the applicant is free from tropical disease.
5. Itinerary indicating arrival to and from Chile. Also bring a copy of your plane ticket. They don't have this on their checklist which is quite unfortunate since your application will not be accepted if you don't have this requirement. So you'll have to come back again the next working day unless you could produce a copy before 12 noon. And make sure it is a full print out (nothing missing or no parts cut) since they could use it as an excuse to let you come back.
6. Bank certificate of the applicant indicating own economical solvency to support a travel and stay in Chile as well as return to the Philippines. Note that they only accept bank certificates and that they are very stringent with this requirement. To put it bluntly, you have to show them you're loaded.
7. If you are invited, a letter of invitation from your host in Chile, with attached copies of Passport and National Identification Card properly notarized and legalized in Chile.
8. If you don't have a host, proof of confirmed hotel bookings or hotel vouchers. They also don't have this on their checklist and again, your application will not be accepted if you don't have this requirement. Also, if you have companions, make sure the booking submitted includes all names of each individual applicant since they will also require this and let you come back if the booking is only under one name.

Note that it takes five (5) working days to process a visa. So if you apply on a Monday, you will get it the Monday after. Filing of applications are from 8 a.m. to 12 noon. Note also that you may not retrieve your passport while it is with them. Retrieving it will mean withdrawal of the application and you will have to start the process again.

Bring all the requirements to the Embassy of Chile. The staff will only accept applications with complete requirements. If your requirements are complete, you will be asked to wait as the Consul evaluates your application. The Consul may ask you to produce more documents and resubmit again or call you for an interview. If your application is accepted, you will be given a claim stub for pick-up the week after.

Visa fee is US$30 for single entry and US$60 for multiple entry. Exact amount is required. Releasing is from 12 noon to 2 p.m. only. On the day of release, between 9 to 10 a.m., you will have to get a deposit slip from the embassy and pay at the Metrobank branch on the ground floor. You unfortunately cannot pay beforehand. You have to submit the deposit slip to the embassy before 10 a.m. so that they will process your visa. Failure to do so would move your visa release by another working day. You will be asked to come back at 1:30 p.m. to pick up the visa. But the wait could take from a few minutes to several hours. So unless you have a lot of time on your hands, you can ask someone else to pay and pick-up your visa for you.

Colombia
The Republic of Colombia has an embassy in the Philippines. Filipino citizens traveling to Colombia as a tourist or for business do not require visas for stays of not more than 90 days, provided that they will not seek any employment in Colombia. To confirm this information, you may contact the embassy:

Embassy of the Republic of Colombia
18/F Aurora Tower
Araneta Center, Quezon City
Telephone No. (02) 9113101
Fax No. (02) 9112846

Ecuador
The Republic of Ecuador has an honorary consulate in the Philippines. Filipino citizens traveling to Ecuador as a tourist or for business do not require visas for stays of not more than 90 days, provided that they will not seek any employment in Ecuador. To confirm this information, you may contact the consulate:

Consulate General of the Republic of Ecuador
The Phinma Plaza, 39 Plaza Drive
Rockwell Center, Makati City
Telephone No. (02) 8700575 / 8700510

Falkland Islands
You will have to get a visa from the British Embassy.

French Guiana
You will have to get a visa from the French Embassy.

Guyana
The Republic of Guyana does not have a diplomatic mission in the Philippines. Filipino citizens require a visa to visit Guyana. Unfortunately, there are no instructions where to apply for a visa. Here are the visa requirements and visa application form. You may try obtaining it from the honorary consulate in Seoul, South Korea:

Consulate of the Republic of Guyana (Seoul)
Trico International Ltd.
Rm. 201, Hyunjin Building
226-29, Yunnam-dong, Mapo-gu
Seoul, 121-865
Republic of Korea
Telephone No. +82 (2) 7847202
Fax No. +82 (2) 7849073
E-mail: whkim@tricoint.co.k

Paraguay
Although the Republic of Paraguay has an honorary consulate in the Philippines, they do not issue visas. Filipino citizens require a visa to visit Paraguay. Visas must be obtained from the Embassy in Seoul, South Korea. You may course it through the consulate:

Consulate of the Republic of Paraguay
Suite 801-802 One Global Place
5th Avenue cor. 25th Street
Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City
Telephone No. (02) 5193863 to 66 / 5193870

Alternately, you can apply for a visa in another South American country. If you apply in Bolivia, it will take at least three working days to process in the embassy in La Paz or the consulates in Santa Cruz or Cochabamba. In Argentina, you can get it after one working day. It's US$65 for single entry and US$100 for multiple entry.

You will need two (2) of each the following:
1. Passport size photos
2. Photocopy of your passport
3. Photocopy of your round-trip ticket
4. Photocopy of your temporary entrance stamp to the country where you are applying for a Paraguay visa
5. Photocopy of your credit card or other proof of income

Peru
Peru has an honorary consulate in the Philippines. Filipino citizens traveling to Peru as a tourist or for business do not require visas for stays of not more than 60 days, provided that they will not seek any employment in Peru. To confirm this information, you may contact the consulate:

Consulate General of the Republic of Peru
Suite 404-405 CLMC Building
259 EDSA, Greenhills, Mandaluyong City
Telephone No. (02) 7260355 / 7260359

Suriname
The Republic of Suriname does not have a diplomatic mission in the Philippines. But Filipino citizens traveling to Suriname as a tourist or for business do not require visas for stays of not more than 90 days, provided that they will not seek any employment in Suriname. To confirm this information, you may contact the embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia:

Embassy of the Republic of Suriname (Jakarta)
Jl. Darmawangsa VIII / 16,
Kebayoran Baru, Jakarta Selatan 12160, Indonesia
E-mail : surinameembassyjkt@gmail.com
Telephone No. +62 (812) 83625355 / +62 (813) 18792809

Uruguay
The Rep├║blica Oriental del Uruguay has an honorary consulate in the Philippines. Filipino citizens require a visa to visit Uruguay. To begin the visa application, request for application forms and requirements via e-mail at uruguayconsulate.philippines@gmail.com. 

Consulado de la Rep├║blica Oriental del Uruguay
2F GT Tower, 6813 Ayala Avenue corner H.V. Dela Costa Street, Makati City
Telephone: (+632) 857-5955 / Trunk line (+632) 898-8599 Loc. 5955
Fax: (+632) 856-3848
Email: uruguayconsulate.philippines@gmail.com

The following are the requirements for application:
1. Applicants must fill in visa application from A1 and the corresponding form B:  (B1) Tourist Visa, (B2) Business Visa or (B3) Conference Visa. Forms must be filled in English and preferably digitally, be sure to attach supporting documents. Afterwards applicant must send it to the Consulate of Uruguay (Manila) by e-mail, fax or courier.
2. Copy of passport (front and back)
3. Hotel reservation or itinerary and lodging accommodation (Please provide name, contact number, e-mail and address, should be based in Uruguay)
4. Airline ticket
5. Request letter stating your reason of going to Uruguay and indicate contact details (address and contact number)

Requirements for B2 and B3 are slightly different. Note that it takes at least three to four weeks to process a visa since approval comes from Uruguay. Once the applicant has submitted all important documents, the Consulate will inform applicant about the status of the application after three or four weeks. Once the visa has been approved, the Consulate will contact the applicant to arrange for an appointment.

On the day of the appointment, the applicant must deposit the exact amount of visa fee to the Consulate's bank account and bring the deposit receipt which is to be submitted to the office staff. Visa cost is US$42 depending on the current exchange rate that the Consulate is using. Exact amount will be given prior to the appointment.

Venezuela
The Bolivaran Republic of Venezuela has an embassy in the Philippines. Filipino citizens require a visa to visit Venezuela. Please visit the embassy for more details:

Embassy of the Bolivaran Republic of Venezuela
Unit 17-A Multinational Bancorporation Center
6805 Ayala Avenue, Makati City
Telephone No. (02) 8452841, 8452842
Fax No. (02) 8452866

Each country in South America also has its own currency. I've experienced the difficulties first hand. But that's another story!
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