I filed a vacation leave in July dated 8-15 of December 2017 not knowing what I’m going to do or where I would go. I just started working in UAE and I am glad to hear that I could file a vacation leave anytime within the contract period.
UAE is situated between central Asia, Africa, Europe, and the central part of middle east. Once you have reached this place, there are so many countries and places that are one cheap flight away and one of those cheapest countries to fly from UAE is Georgia (country) and Armenia. These countries are particularly popular travel destinations from UAE and most of my friends already visited these countries so, I guess it’s my time to go.
Are Georgia and Armenia a visa-free country for Philippine passport holder?
For an expat like me who has UAE resident visa, entering Georgia is visa-free up to 90days and I was able to get a visa-on-arrival in Armenia and which I’ve paid 6000 drams (45dhs).
Moreover, for my fellow Filipinos and friends out there who don’t have a resident visa from middle east like UAE and still wishes to visit these countries, don’t be discouraged as you can easily apply for e-visa through this link (Georgia) with a visa fee: 20 USD and for Armenia, you can visit their website here.
It was nearly the end of November and I had to cram booking tickets and accommodation. I had to think twice whether to get a tour package or choose DIY. I want to have a flexible schedule since we will be traveling to two countries and I thought I could nail my budget itinerary so I chose the latter. However, while preparing for this trip, I got stressed out and spent more money than I expected. Nevertheless, it was a surreal experience and worth all the hassle.
I must say, I am not an expert in booking flights and what I am going to say here is based solely on my own personal experience and opinion. I booked all of my flights with FareCompare website, an airfare comparison shopping site which is partnered with several online travel company such as Cleartrip, TripAdvisor, AsfarTrip etc. Booking on this site would give you cheap deals but be aware of Asfartrip as their customer service sucks! I do recommend to book directly at FlyDubai website in case you plan to do DIY. Furthermore, check cancellation/amendment policies of each travel company as well as the airlines before booking.
Whenever I travel, I usually choose to book in Airbnb for my accommodation as it is relatively cheap. You will have a variety of options from a single room to entire flat or house, amenities, location, and the reviews are genuine. Moreover, living in a room, a house or flat in a different country would add up to your local experience and hosts are normally helpful in arranging airport pick up and drop off, tours, tips, and direction in getting around the city.
Below was my home while in Georgia and Armenia:
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Tbilisi:Studio KI-1 at Marjanishvili Square ₱1,004 per night – It situated right through in the heart of the city and near to all shops and tourist attractions. The flat is on the 11th floor and has a terrace overlooking the old Tbilisi. It is spacious with mini sala and kitchen. Everything you need is in the house and you can even cook! Our host, Keti was kind and very responsive to all my queries.
Yerevan: NEW cozy Studio by Opera house! Heart of the city! ₱1,205 per night – Just take the name literally (lol). It is cute and small, good for 1-2 person only and near to everything. Hayk is a friendly host and gave us lots of tips, arranged airport pick up and drop off, recommended restaurants to eat. He also prepared apples (Yellow apple- loved it) and coffee when we arrived.
Georgia (Country) and Armenia are located in the Caucasus region of Euroasia. It is made up of Caucasus mountains which means all other attractions are a long drive from the city. I will write a separate blog regarding this. There are a lot of tour operators in Georgia and Armenia, however, some are expensive. I found a cheap one but there are bad reviews regarding bad driving habit and tourists had limited time to each destination.
Furthermore, streets signs, public transportation sign boards, restaurants, and shops are written in their own language. Drivers as well don’t speak much English so it would be hard to communicate if you are planning to get a tour when you get there. I am lucky to meet BEKA from White Travel because I didn’t have to worry about the pickup and drop off from Tbilisi airport, he is also conversant in English and he rides an Audi car. (Insert emoticon here lol)
In Armenia, our host Hayk organized the pickup and drop off at the airport which cost $10 which is a bit expensive compared to 5000 drams you can haggle from taxi or buses. Again, I chose this because of the aforementioned reasons above and to avoid the hassle.
Another option is booking a package with an airline, tours, and accommodation in a respective tour agency like Holiday Factory. This is a good choice too – just look out for discounts. I have not tried it yet as I want flexibility in each travel.
If you’re traveling from December – February, make sure to bring thicker clothes and bubble jackets. I had to purchase one from Terranova cost 159 lari (232dhs) (3158php) because the jackets I packed wasn’t enough. A pair of good boots which could keep your feet warm and last during rain and snow is a must. A pair of gloves, thick socks, bonnet or cap.
Money and Currency
The currency in Georgia is Georgian Lari, while Dram is the monetary unit of Armenia. Before traveling, make sure to change your money to USD so you can get a higher exchange.
Tip: Don’t exchange all of your money at the airport, just enough for your taxi and food upon arrival. It is better to exchange it downtown to get a higher rate.
What to Bring?
Adaptor- Dear friends, our power socket here in Dubai has 3 rounded holes, however, all facilities in Georgia and Armenia use a power socket which is type C or F which has 2 rounded holes. So make sure to include this in your travel essentials. We did bring one but if you’re going to take Keti’s apartment, she has everything you need. 🙂
Power-bank – Hence you will be traveling all day and you don’t want to miss taking photos of the beautiful churches and breathtaking Caucasus mountain full of snow just because you run out of battery.
Camera/Phone/Charger – Guys common, don’t leave the house without checking that you have these three basic things aside from your visa, documents, and passport.
Toiletries – The weather is cold so make sure to bring at least 75ml lotion to keep your skin moisturized and oil to make it warm. Tissues are provided normally by your host or hotel but bring small wet wipes for an emergency. Don’t forget to bring your own soap, shampoos, and conditioner to avoid spending more and put these in a zip lock plastic or tape the lock of each container in case it opens on its own.
P.S I am not a professional writer so pardon for any grammatical lapses, typo errors and such. This blog is my online diary to account my life and travel experience. Should you have questions, you may send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM me on my Instagram account @joymelgarejo. Happy Travels! Next – Places to visit in Georgia.
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