Monday, March 2, 2015

Travel ID Changes - What you need to know!

Are you aware that recent federal laws have changed what documents are acceptable for identification?

If you are like most travelers, probably not!  Sure, you might know that a passport is now required for all international flights, and at a minimum the Enhanced Drivers License is required for Sea and Land crossings to Canada, Mexico, and Caribbean countries.

However, many of you use a drivers license as proof of your identification just about everywhere, including  while traveling. Are you aware that for a number of states, your drivers license is currently not accepted as identification in many federal facilities, and in the near future WILL NOT be accepted for use in travel aboard commercial aircraft! It could also prevent one from touring the White House, a Dam, Nuclear facility, or other locations requiring ID clearance.

How did this happen?

Following the events of 9/11, the Federal Government put into place tiered identification policies, which restricted what types of identification could be used to access facilities that needed high security or if exploited, were a risk to the public. As part of that effort, the government began the process to require all states to issue driver licenses that had to meet 31 specifications for security. 

Called REAL ID,  these drivers licenses would be accepted by the federal government for access to facilities, and those that were not up to the Real ID standard, would be excluded in phases. In 2016, non-compliant drivers licenses will be excluded as  a form of identification when boarding commercial aircraft. For some, this includes Enhanced Drivers Licenses from the affected states!

Whom does this apply?

Currently, the following states/territories DO NOT have licenses that meet the federal standard: 

  • Am.Samoa
  • Arizona 
  • Idaho** 
  • Louisiana 
  • Maine
  • Minnesota+
  • New Hampshire**
  • New York+
+ Federal officials may continue to accept Enhanced Driver’s Licenses from these states.
** Has an expired extension and will be subject to enforcement beginning January 19, 2015

The following states/territories have licences that do not meet the federal standard, but have received an extension. If they do not comply within the extension, they too will be excluded:
Potential Non-Compliant
  • Alaska*
  • Arkansas*
  • California*
  • Guam*
  • Illinois*
  • Kentucky*
  • Mass.*
  • Michigan*
  • Missouri*
  • Montana*
  • New Jersey*
  • New Mexico*
  • N. Carolina*
  • N. Dakota*
  • N. Marianas*
  • Oklahoma*
  • Oregon*
  • Pennsylvania*
  • Puerto Rico*
  • Rhode Island*
  • S. Carolina*
  • Texas*
  • Virginia*
  • Virgin Islands*
  • Washington*
(source - Dept of Homeland Security)

A study of why some states are not compliant, is largely a state's rights defense, or a privacy issue. However, until the states either work it out with the federal govt, or choose to comply, the traveler is still at the mercy of the government in terms of travel.

What Can You Do?

Until this matter gets resolved, your best option is to secure a Passport. Issued by the State Department, it will provide acceptable identification for all air travel, and will be accepted as identification at all federal facilities that allow public access. Valid for 10 years, not only will it make your domestic and international travel much simpler, but it can be used for employment as your sole ID - no longer bringing in multiple forms of ID for that new job.

Securing a passport is fairly simple. Visit the Passport Wizard from the State Dept's website.Once complete, deliver your application to one of these official locations.

What Else can you do?

Always protect any travel investment with insurance. Your can read more about your options, or even insure direct online.

Need a passport in a hurry? Visit the passport page at East-West Global Travel, and select our RUSH MY PASSPORT option.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

East-West Global Travel certified as Hong Kong Specialists!

We are honored to have become the most recent Hong Kong Travel Specialists serving the Gilbert, Mesa, and the entire Metro Phoenix area. With this new expertise, we are prepared to provide you the finest travel experience that Hong Kong can offer.

Certainly, you may be asking , "Why should I visit Hong Kong?" Its our hope that the following information will inspire you to visit Hong Kong - Asia's World City! We are ready to answer your indepth questions, and arrange your travel.

Basic Information:

Hong Kong consists of three main areas with the beautiful Victoria Harbor at the heart of the city. Hong Kong Island lies to the south of the harbor, while the Kowloon Peninsula forms its northern shores. The New Territories expands further north from Kowloon to Mainland China, plus the Lantau Island and over 260 outlying islands, totalling a size of more than 1,100 square kilometers (about 425 square miles).

There are more than seven million people in Hong Kong. Over 90% of the population is of Chinese descent. The international community includes people of many nationalities.

Hong Kong has a sub-tropical climate with distinct seasons and corresponding celebrations.

Entry Regulations

In general, all visitors to Hong Kong must have a passport that is valid for at least one month after the period of their intended stay in Hong Kong. At East-West Global, we strongly recommend 6 months. All potential visitors are strongly advised to check with their Chinese embassy and consulate, or the Hong Kong Immigration Department, for full details of passport and visa requirements, and East-West Global can assist with these services.

  • Visas: US Passport Holders DO NOT require a visa for stays of up to 90 days.  Visitors are required to have adequate funds to cover their stay without working, and to hold an onward or return ticket (unless in transit to Mainland China or Macau). 
  • 144-hour Convenient Visa to Guangdong Province: Foreign nationals in Hong Kong can visit Guangdong province for a maximum of 144 hours (six days) via entry ports in Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen, Zhaoqing, Huizhou and Shantou* using the 144-hour Convenient Visa.

Monetary Exchange:

Travelers who intend to stay in Hong Kong for more than a few days should pick up an Octopuscard. This is an extremely versatile stored-value electronic card that can be used for most public transport, as well as purchases in convenience stores, fast food shops, supermarkets, cake shops, vending machines, and more.


Hong Kong offers many choices in hotels, including historic and world-famous venues, major international chains, and local brands
Hong Kong's guesthouses provide clean and comfortable budget accommodation, with air-conditioning and individual washrooms.
Price-conscious travelers can find a room from Hong Kong Youth Hostels Association. Most are located in the New Territories near to scenic areas or close to hiking trails and marine parks.

East-West Global Travel is prepared to provide you web resources dedicated to travel consumers, who wish to discover Hong Kong. this free resource contains a lot of comprehensive information and a wide range of useful tools available to help visitors like you, plan a memorable trip to Asia’s World City.

Travelers who work through a savvy agency,  such as East-West Global Travel, should plan to visit Hong Kong during one of its grand seasonal events!

Annual Events:

Hong Kong has a year-round calendar full of events and happenings celebrating different festivals. This blending of Eastern and Western cultures, tradition and modernity, showcases how this city earned its reputation as the events capital of Asia. At East-West Global Travel, we feel these are some of the best celebrations and festivals worthy of our travelers:

Hong Kong Chinese New Year — It’s the biggest celebration of the year in Hong Kong. Colorful Victoria Harbor, the annual International Chinese New Year Night Parade with amazing performers, festive flower markets packed with people, and more: in Hong Kong, visitors can experience a unique Chinese New Year. fireworks over January to February *

Hong Kong Cultural Celebrations — Visitors can witness four fascinating traditional festivals at once and experience the vibrant living culture of the city. The birthdays of Tin Hau and Tam Kung are celebrated with traditional dragon and lion dances, while for Buddha’s birthday, devotees gather Cheung Chau at the spectacular Cheung Chau Bun Festival. April to May *
to ritually bathe statues at different Buddhist temples across the city. The exciting Bun Scrambling Competition and parades are held on

Hong Kong Summer Fun — This extravaganza brings you a
colourful line-up of cultural festivals, fun-filled expos, themed tours and pop concerts. Partying, shopping, dining, music and entertainment rise to new heights with promotions throughout the summer. June to August

Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival — From an ancient Chinese festival to one of the world’s greatest parties! Every year, boats, beers and cheers draw hundreds of thousands of spectators to Victoria Harbour for the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival! June

Hong Kong Halloween Treats — Halloween is widely celebrated around town and no one can escape the festive atmosphere! People dress in make-up and costumes for parties, and enjoy holiday entertainment and activities at shopping malls and attractions. The whole city is full of themed decorations and special menus. Its unique blend of East and West makes Hong Kong an extraordinary Halloween destination. September to October

Great Outdoors Hong Kong — Late fall to early winter is the best time of the year to enjoy the outdoor treasures of Hong Kong. The comfortable weather allows nature lovers to explore the city’s scenic landscape and see its diverse wildlife through a series of guided tours. Famous locations include Hong Kong Global Geopark of China and the city’s longest hiking trail, MacLehose Trail. November to February

Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival — This month-long gourmet extravaganza celebrates the finer things in life, including delectable international wines and cuisines. The event kicks off with a world-famous four-day party and is followed by a series of events and promotions, including street carnivals and dining offers. November

Hong Kong WinterFest — Hong Kong’s unique mix of Western and Eastern culture makes
Christmas here extraordinary. During the holidays, colorful lighting and decorations are everywhere. Visitors can enjoy lively entertainment, seasonal sales and tempting festival menus. The celebration reaches a climax on 31 December with a spectacular pyrotechnics show over Victoria Harbor to welcome the new year. November to January

Perhaps your travel experiences are more suited to the study and appreciation of the arts. Here are the  some of the major recurring art events to look out for when planning trips:

  • Hong Kong Salsa Festival (Feb) 
  • Hong Kong Arts Festival (Feb – Mar) 
  • Entertainment Expo Hong Kong (Mar – Apr) 
  • Hong Kong International Film Festival (Mar – Apr) 
  • Le French May Arts Festival (May) 
  • Chinese Opera Festival (Jun – Jul) 
  • Made in Italy: Quality & Lifestyle (Jun – Jul) 
  • International Arts Carnival (Jul – Aug) 
  • Autumn Thematic Arts Festival (Oct – Nov)

For the Kids:

Hong Kong offers some of the finest family-friendly Theme Parks, all packaged in the best Oriental experience. Asia's World City also offers outstanding natural environment experiences, authentic cultural destinations, and uniquely fascinating experiential opportunties. Here are some of our favorite:

Hong Kong Disneyland — A world of fantasy that families and kids cannot miss! This unforgettable experience begins with a magical journey through seven themed lands – Main Street U.S.A., Fantasyland, Adventureland, Tomorrowland, Toy Story Land, Grizzly Gulch and Mystic Point. There are also exhilarating rides, amazing adventures and fantastic shows, such as Flights of Fantasy Parade, Mickey’s PhilharMagic, the Golden Mickeys, Fantasy Gardens, and many more. Do not forget to look for your favorite characters and catch the fireworks at night. Located at Lantau Island. Visitors can take MTR and switch to the Disneyland Resort Line at Sunny Bay Station.

Hong Kong Wetland Park — A world-class ecotourism park where visitors can discover some of Hong Kong’s unique plants and animals. The park is home to an impressive cast of wildlife, including birds, butterflies, amphibians, fish, and more! Visitors can learn about the importance of wetland and wildlife preservation through two areas, Wetland Interactive World and Wetland Reserve. Other features include Stream Walk, Mangrove Boardwalk, Butterfly Garden and three bird hides. Located at Tin Shui Wai, New Territories. A bus runs daily from Admiralty or Sheung Shui to Wetland Park.

Ngong Ping 360, Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery — Ngong Ping 360 is the ideal starting point of a journey to explore Lantau Island. A 25-minute cable car ride from Tung Chung will take visitors straight to the 1.5-hectare Ngong Ping Village, where a wide array of shopping and dining options can be found. The Crystal Cabin’s glass bottom offers an astonishing panoramic view of the beautiful sea and mountainside along the ride. With just a five-minute walk from Ngong Ping Village, travellers can also visit the renowned Po Lin Monastery, Ngong Ping Piazza and Wisdom Path, as well as the Big Buddha, one of the world’s tallest bronze outdoor sitting Buddha statues. A breathtaking sunset view from the mountain makes the perfect conclusion to a day out in Lantau. Located at Lantau Island. The Tung Chung Cable Car Terminal is about a five-minute walk from MTR Tung Chung Station.

Ocean Park Hong Kong — Since its opening in 1977, Ocean Park has offered world-class amusement through its animal exhibits, thrill rides and entertaining shows. This marine-themed park is also dedicated to promoting education and conservation. The park is divided into two areas, The Waterfront and Summit, which are connected by the Cable Car and Ocean Express funicular train. Attractions include Sichuan Treasures’ pandas, Sea Jelly Spectacular and fantastic themed zones like Aqua City, Old Hong Kong and Polar Adventure.

Sky100 Hong Kong Observation Deck — Located on the 100th floor of the International Commerce Centre, Hong Kong’s tallest building, the sky100 Hong Kong Observation Deck is the highest indoor observation deck in the city, offering incredible 360-degree views of Victoria Harbor. A high-speed lift takes only 60 seconds to travel up 100 floors

The Peak — At the highest point of Hong Kong Island, visitors enjoy the most spectacular view available of the whole city and beautiful Victoria Harbor, day or night. To find the perfect spot for these incredible views, try Sky Terrace 428, a large viewing platform at the anvil-shaped The Peak Tower, or the free-entry observation deck at The Peak Galleria. Other vantage points include Lugard Road Lookout, Lions View Point Pavilion and the 3.5-kilometre Peak Circle Walk. Don’t forget to take a ride on the historic Peak Tram: it’s one of the best ways to travel up and down the peak.

Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade and Avenue of Stars — A stroll along Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade leads past the Clock Tower, Hong Kong Cultural Centre, Hong Kong Space Museum and Hong Kong Museum of Art. While enjoying the glamour of Hong Kong’s film industry at the Avenue of Stars, don’t miss the multimedia show, “A Symphony of Lights”, involving more than 40 buildings on both sides of the harbour. Guinness World Records has recognized it officially as the world's largest permanent light and sound show, and it’s held daily at 8 p.m. for free.

Colonial Monuments — Beginning in 1841, Hong Kong lived under British governance. This colonial influence is reflected in the city’s culture as well as its many historical sites of interest. Tourists can learn more about Hong Kong’s past at places like 1881 Heritage, Duddell Street Steps & Gas Lamps, Lui Seng Chun, Murray House, Old Central Police Station Compound, Old Supreme Court Building, Tai O Heritage Hotel (Old Tai O Police Station) and Yau Ma Tei Theatre.

Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple
Places of Worship — Hong Kong is a melting pot of different cultures and religions, and there are many active places of worship across town for its many faiths. Attractions include Happy Valley Hindu Temple, Jamia Mosque, Khalsa Diwan Sikh Temple, Ohel Leah Synagogue, St Andrew's Church and St John's Cathedral. Of particular religious and historical importance to Hong Kong are Che Kung Temple, Chi Lin Nunnery, Man Mo Temple, Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple and Tin Hau Temples. There are even modern temples, such as the LDS Hong Kong Temple.
LDS Hong Kong Temple

Museums — Hong Kong has a diverse selection of museums, such as Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum, Hong Kong Heritage Museum, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence, Hong Kong Museum of History, Hong Kong Science Museum and Hong Kong Space Museum. Tourists who are interested in the art, culture and history of Asia’s World City can buy a MuseumPass for unlimited admission to the seven museums above.


Hong Kong is praised as a shopper’s paradise by many overseas visitors, with unlimited variety and
choices to satisfy even the most selective of shoppers. Whether a visitor is a hardcore bargain hunter or an upscale trendsetter, there’s plenty to choose from in Asia’s World City.

Open-air Markets and Shopping Streets: The South China practice of grouping similar businesses means Hong Kong has an abundance of markets and shopping streets. Goldfish, birds, clothes, electronics and shoes – if it’s worth shopping for, it has a street here. Bargaining is common and adds an entertaining interactive element to deal-hunting.

Outlets: Hong Kong has a number of factory outlets with international and local brands, as well as boutiques selling mid-
priced youth street labels. These outlets abound at Ap Lei Chau and Granville Road in Tsim Sha Tsui. The city’s largest outlet mall is Citygate Outlets in Tung Chung, with more than 80 international brands and year-round discounts of 30 to 70 percent.


When travelers visit the culinary capital of Asia, they’ll be amazed by the wide selection of dishes available. With more than 11,000 restaurants at your service, from low-priced meals to luxury menus, finding local flavors, international cuisines or special diets will be a simple delicious journey.

At East-West Global Travel, we have access to a number of resources that we can provide our clients to assist in preparing for a visit to Hong Kong, or enhance the experience once you have arrived.

East-West Global Travel can provide a one-stop portal to you, offering comprehensive information on shopping, dining and accommodation, as well as useful maps and tips to enhance your travel experience in Hong Kong.

In addition to this portal, our clients can take a closer look at Asia’s World City by downloading mobiles apps at the website. These apps cover a wide range of topics such as travel packing, heritage walks, city walks, and local delicacies.

For interested travelers, East-West Global Travel is happy to offer e-Guidebooks on Dim sum, feng shui, history, tea, trams and travel – there’s a guidebook for just about everything in Hong Kong. Our collection of downloadable e-Guidebooks provides useful references for visitors on the go. Here are some highlights:

  • Local Delicacies Guide – A guide to Hong Kong's must-try staples, including congee, rice, noodles – and even rice noodles. 
  • Self-guided Walks – Eight walks along colourful streets, busy markets, and serene temples. Explore Hong Kong on foot! 
  • Living Culture Guide – Whether its feng shui or ancient festivals, explore the traditions, rituals and quirks that keep Asia’s World City ticking. 
We anticipate you have enjoyed learning a little more about Hong Kong, and have added it to your travel bucket list. Please let us know how we can assist you in fulfilling your plans to Hong Kong or any of the world's destinations!