Maha Nuvara, Kandy in English, is the center of the Kandy District and the Central Province in Sri Lanka. Colombo may be the nation’s seat of government but Kandy acts as the cultural capital, being the last kingdom of Sri Lanka. Kandy may be only 115 km away from Colombo but it is starkly different in terms of both its cultural offerings and its climate. The 500 meter altitude is responsible for its largely different climate. As for culture, Kandy is the center of the last Sinhalese Kingdom. Associated with it then are evidences of history, such as antiques and old architecture. Kandy does offer modern hotels but activity seems to come to a halt at night. This calm and quiet place is home to only about a hundred thousand people.

The people of Kandy are mostly Buddhists. The cultural capital is then generally calm, with few incidences of crime. It is evidently more peaceful than other parts of Sri Lanka. However, Kandyans are no longer as trustworthy as historical records proclaim them to be. So when you do visit Kandy, take care of your belongings as you would in any place.

The best way to reach Kandy is from Colombo. You can travel to Kandy via bus, train, taxi or mini-van. Your best choice will be to ride the train so that you can enjoy the view. Choose the intercity express train and book it on advance to avoid having to ride other trains, which can be both late and crowded. You can also take an air-conditioned bus. However, women are warned against sitting with men they do not know; it is best to sit next to another woman. In Kandy, you can experience its local transport, the Three-Wheelers or Tuc-Tuc. You can also walk around to best appreciate the place. The cultural capital’s temperature is generally warm, in the high twenties or low thirties, in the Celsius scale.

Coming from the United States, you will need a passport which is at least six months valid. You are not required to have a visa, however, but you need to show proof of return travel.


Riyadh is Saudi Arabia’s capital and largest city. Its name comes from the plural of “rawdha,” which is an Arabic word that means garden. This may sound strange at first because Riyadh arouses visions of dusty deserts instead of lush gardens but “rawdha” is more like a garden that sprouts after rain falls on a desert. This may prove to be prophetic in the sense that formerly viewed as a mere dusty capital city, Riyadh is now considered as one of the world’s fastest-growing cities. According to the latest measurement, the city has 4.7 million registered residents.

Modern Saudi Arabia is best seen in Riyadh. The modern buildings rise against the backdrop of deserts and camels. Even with sparkling sports cars driving by, people still do not forget to stop when it is time to pray. The star-quality establishments that have made Riyadh a truly modern city are not able to erase the conservative nature that The Kingdom is known for.

Fly into Riyadh through the King Khalid International Airport. There are three other international airports within the country but it is best that you arrive at Riyadh’s main airport. Within Riyadh, you can get around by bus, train or car. The city’s bus system does not only connect you to cities within Saudi Arabia but also to nearby countries. The weather in Riyadh is very hot. The temperature can burn up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit on average during the summer. Winter can provide you with much needed mild or cool weather conditions.

If you are visiting from the United States, you will need a passport valid for at least six months. You also need to bring documents such as your return ticket. You will generally only be allowed a visa to Saudi Arabia if you are only passing through, visiting relatives or are there for religious or business purposes. If you are visiting as a tourist, you have to be part of an approved tour group.

San Marino City

The City of San Marino is a small city in an already tiny country of the same name. The country, the Republic of San Marino, is located in the Italian peninsula. Its capital city, the City of San Marino, is actually only the third largest city in the republic and is not even the center of business. The city is smaller than Borgo Maggiore, a city which also acts as the capital of business. However, San Marino City is considered to be more attractive than cities larger than it. It is also located on a mountain top and is crowned with the same name as the country. San Marino City is home to only 4,5 thousand people according to the latest measurement.

There was a time when San Marino City was the only city of the republic it belongs to. This must be why the city is named after the country. The capital city of San Marino does have its share of tourists, being visited by about three million a year even though it is a very small city of about 1600 square miles. These few square miles are home to seven parishes, including Muntalbo and Casole.

The whole republic of San Marino has a gorgeous Mediterranean climate. It is rare to find yourself caught up in freezing temperature or in a sweltering hot one. This means that you do not have to worry too much on temperatures which are about subzero or over 195 degrees Celsius. If you still want to avoid its warm summers and cool winters, you can always visit during another season. If you do get to visit, know that you need to book a flight to a nearby city because the whole republic does not have an airport. Consider booking a flight to Rimini, Forli, Ancona or Bologna. Once inside the republic, you can get around by bus or car as there are no railways.

If you are a US passport holder, you do not really need a visa to stay in San Marino for 90 days or less. Just present your passport. You will also notice that the country does not have strict border controls so you can easily drive from a nearby country.


Cebu City, called the Philippines Queen City of the South, is the capital of the Cebu province in the Philippines. First to have Spanish influences during the country’s period of colonization, it is now one of the most developed cities of the South East Asian country. It is the Visayas island’s worthy alternative to the country’s capital, Manila. In fact, it can act as a temporary reprieve from the chaotic Manila traffic. Cebu City offers both colonial architecture and modern buildings just as it can offer both preserved nature and man made beaches. Its 7,104.3 square miles is peopled with about 800 thousand residents according to the latest measurement.

Cebu City has been witness to several historical events that changed the Philippines forever. So when you visit, make sure that you see Magellan’s Cross, a testament to the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan in 1521. Other historical relics are also deeply religious, showing how much the Spaniards have influenced the whole country during the three hundred plus years of colonization. You may better get a taste of Cebu City’s cultural by visiting during one of its festivals. A blend of paradise and metro, Cebu city offers you not only a walk at the beach but eating at high-class restaurants, featuring a wide array of International cuisine. You like to go out at night? Enjoy your night out at Mango Square located in the center of the city featuring several discotheques as Auto Shop, Beat, VooDoo, Juliana’s and Pump but also bikini bars such as Vikings, Silver Dollar, Love City and Temptations.

You can gain entry into Cebu City via the Mactan-Cebu International Airport. You can also enter via ferry from one of the nearby islands; Cebu’s seaport is the country’s busiest. Inside the city, you can get around easily by taxi. Be wary of unmarked taxis and fast-changing meters. If you are willing to keep on asking for directions, try riding the country’s local public transportation – the jeepney. The weather in Cebu City is tropical, which means that it is warm all year round. Temperature ranges from 72 degrees Fahrenheit to 91 degrees Fahrenheit.

People from most countries can earn a temporary visa lasting up to 21 days in the Philippines. You have to consult Immigration if you want to extend your stay. You can apply extension through student visa, employment visa or investor’s visa status.


Abuja replaced Lagos as the capital city of Nigeria in 1991. The changing of power is complete because Abuja now houses the Nigeria’s government offices. Not only that, it is evident that the new capital city has been given a lot of attention by the government. Abuja is beautiful and very wealthy. A visit to the Nigerian city will welcome you to modern architecture and business-focused establishments while retaining natural wonders through its rivers, parks and gardens. Abuja is home to 800 thousand people according to the latest measurement.

Wealthy and considered by many as much safer than Lagos, Abuja seems to have a good start as a capital city. However, Lagos is still popularly viewed as the main entry point to Nigeria. Abuja, like Port Harcourt, acts as an alternative. Though the city is considered to be one of the safest metro areas in Africa, it is still best to practice precaution wherever you may be. Beware of pickpockets and armed robbers. If you are driving through the city, make sure that all of your doors are locked and your windows closed. Make sure you do not carry with you loads of cash.

Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport is your key to Abuja, Nigeria. You can book a flight through KLM, British Airways and Luftansa. Expect traveling to Abuja to be easier in June of 2009 when you can get a direct flight from Atlanta, Georgia via Delta Airlines. You can get around in the city by bus or by car. If you want a taxi, make sure that you hail one from the green cab system to be safe from potentially dangerous unofficial cabs. A taxi may, however, save you from a hot, humid temperature that may peak at 104 degrees Fahrenheit. The nights can be cool as 54 degrees Fahrenheit.

To get a Nigerian visa, you must have a passport that is valid for up to at least six months. You must also present your yellow card or current vaccination certificate along with evidence of sufficient funding for your stay. Round trip tickets are also necessary to show that you are planning to stay in Nigeria for only a certain period.


Antananarivo is the capital city of the African country of Madagascar. It is a great place to visit if you want to be right in the middle of seemingly non-stop activity. The busy market scene is the best place to describe the energy of the city. In the market, you will find all sorts of goodies and even strange products, such as live animals. You have to go through this bustling crowd with your own brand of energy; however, the markets can be noisy and the goods can be intermixed with unlikely neighbors. For example, electronics can be wedged next to bamboo products. Antananarivo is home to about a million and a half people according to the latest measurement.

Immersing into the Antananarivo scene must be done with an active, healthy body. Everything seems to be bustling with energy. Unfortunately, this also means bumper-to-bumper traffic. This in turn means, in the case of Antananarivo, pollution coming from the spewing vehicles. Amidst the chaos, you can find several gems such as its fifty churches; some are mosques and cathedrals. Still, experiencing these examples of historical architecture is best done when you actually mingle with the throng of locals and tourists.

You will arrive in Antananarivo on the Ivato Airport. Note that this airport is completely different from what you may be used to. To get around the city, you can ride a bus or a taxi. However, you can also have a little bit of workout by walking around the city. If you choose going around on foot, you reward yourself with being closer to where the action is at all times. Do not worry: Antananarivo does not heat up as much as other African cities. The temperature range is from 48 degrees Fahrenheit to about 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

You will need a visa to stay for up to three months. You will need to present your travel itinerary, passport, passport photo and filled-out form. If you are planning to stay for more than three months, you have to file your request at the Embassy of Madagascar in Washington.


Hailed by many as one of the most breath-taking cities in the world, Budapest is Hungary’s capital city. It is also Hungary’s largest. Its beauty largely owes much to the fact that Budapest can offer both natural wonders and architectural gems in one sweeping panorama: the River Danube glitters from the sparkling city, especially by night. The city is east of the Buda Hills and is sometimes dubbed as the City of Spas because of its several thermal baths. According to the latest measurement, Budapest has recorded that about 1.7 million people regularly enjoy Budapest.

Budapest is a great place for both fun-loving tourist and the historian. The party-until-dawn vibe, combined with the intricately detailed buildings, creates a feast for the senses. You will not lack for cultural immersions in the City of Spas. There are theaters and operas to dress up for and folk music to dance to and be free with. If you look closer though, you will find some cracks on the city’s porcelain perfection. The city has endured and has tried to rise against past troubles with pollution and decaying infrastructure. Still, even through ghostly reminders of a not-so-pretty past, you will find both residents and tourists enjoying the romance provided by Budapest.

The fastest way to get there is to book a flight stopping at Budapest Ferihegy International Airport. From there, you have a vast choice of public transport, from buses and taxis to railways and trams. If you want to truly enjoy the city’s culture go for unique rides, such as chairlifts and trolleybuses. Keep away from unmarked taxis, however; they are unregistered and the drivers may ask you to pay ridiculously high fares. Before you visit, take note that the summers can get sweltering hot; the temperature can reach 86 Fahrenheit or even 105 Fahrenheit. The winters have freezing temperatures of as lows -23 Fahrenheit.

If you are going to visit Hungary as a tourist, you do not need a visa to stay for up to three months. However, you must show documents that prove that you will be leaving the country at a certain date. Your US passport must also be valid for at least three months more than your planned stay. You may be able to stay for more than three months but you have to bring additional documents, such as proof of financial capacity, tickets, hotel reservations and insurance policies.

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