Bordered by Russia, Ukraine,
Poland, Lithuania and Latvia, the former USSR republic today remains with one foot in the future and one firmly planted in the past.
Having attained its independence in 1991, Belarus is still under solid authoritarian rule, with a large swath of the population happy to conform to the old ways, although among the younger generation that is changing.
Visa requirements for Belarus
With a traditional Soviet mind-set, Belarus still oversees a strict rule that requires
visas for all foreign travelers, so extra planning is needed even for a brief visit into the country.
In order to obtain a visa for visiting Belarus you must first obtain a copy of tourist voucher issued by tourist company or hotel in Belarus approved by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
So why put up with all the hassle? Ask anyone who's been there and discover that Belarus can be mind-altering trip that combines east and west - and past and present - with the richness of Belarusian culture creating a one-of-a-kind travel experience you won't soon forget.
A music group in traditional costume entertains visitors on a tour of Belarusian folk traditions.
The first stop in Belarus for many travelers is the capital city of Minsk.
Reduced to rubble during World War II, little remained of its
centuries-long past which gave Soviet architects free reign in
redesigning the city as an ideal Soviet metropolis.
impressions are of a trip back in time to a coldly impressive
city of wide avenues and awesomely expansive city squares
stay for awhile and peel Minsk back in layers to find hip
restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and public parks that soften Soviet-style
Minsk don't miss an overnight trip from the city for a contrasting
look at wet and swampy Pripyatsky National Park, home
to a breathtaking array of 800 different plant species, 200 species
of birds, and some 50 mammal species including the zubr, or
larger cities, more western flavor can be found in Brest, on the
border with Poland. For historians, Brest province is also notable
as the birthplace of former prime minister of Israel, Menachem
Begin. Another Israeli leader of note, Golda Meyer, grew up near
the town of Pinsk, a bit further west. And art historians may
want to plan a pilgrimage north to Vitsebsk, the birthplace of
painter Marc Chagall.
Overall, anywhere you go in Belarus expect to see (in the grand Soviet tradition)
a large police presence especially in the larger cities. Here you can at least take comfort in the knowledge that you are in one of the safest places in all of Eastern Europe, and where crime is practically nonexistent.
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