Solu Khumbu Everest Region, Sagarmatha National Park, Himalayas, Nepal, Asia

Travel News: the new Everest railway & Icelandic volcanoes

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By Steve Vickers
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Steve Vickers checks in with another suitcase full of travel stories, including news of free wi-fi on London’s red buses and the new ‘roof of the world’ railway line that’s bringing tourists closer to Mount Everest.

More on Myanmar visas

Last month we reported that Myanmar (Burma) was about to introduce a new e-visa that would make it easier for tourists to gain entry to the country. Since then Burma’s immigration and population ministry has fleshed out those rumours, confirming that the new, online application system will open for business on the September 1 this year. In fact, a beta version of the site is already up and running.

Tourists from more than 40 countries are eligible for the 28-day e-visa, which costs US $50 (around £30). To give you some perspective, that’s more than double the walk-up fee charged at the embassy in London (£14). But at least you can do everything from the comfort of your computer.

Explore Myanmar (Burma) along the Irrawaddy >

Free Wi-Fi on London buses

London bus, London, England, UK

Passengers travelling aboard London’s famous red buses are being offered free wi-fi for the first time. Transport for London (TfL) is currently testing wireless internet access on two of its buses and, if the trial works well, the plan is to expand the technology to other buses across the city. Instead of raising fares to cover the cost of any future expansion, TfL says it hopes to work with sponsors. So keep your phone primed for a major wi-fi roll out (with accompanying adverts) in the not-too-distant future.

Trains closing in on Everest

Diesel locomotives have begun plying a new stretch of the world’s highest railway, according to state-run media in China, taking train passengers ever closer to Mount Everest. The new section of track stretches from the Tibetan capital Lhasa to Shigatse, some 250km to the west. That means passengers can now begin their rail journey in Beijing in the northeast of China and finish up (around two full days later) just 240km from Everest itself. Reports suggest the service is initially open to Chinese tourists only; it’s not yet clear when foreign tourists will be able to make the journey.

A paw show

British Airways has come up with a novel new way of reducing stress levels among its passengers. The airline is about to launch a new in-flight channel on its long-haul services that focuses entirely on fluffy animals. Really.

British Airways plcImage: British Airways

The idea is that watching cuddly cats and dogs on the “Paws and Relax” channel will help passengers (including those of a nervous disposition) to relax and enjoy their flight. Not so different, I suppose, from the tried-and-tested gin and tonic.

Find out how you can put an end to your fear of flying >

Icelandic volcano

By now you’ve probably read about the ‘new’ volcano that’s threatening to erupt in Iceland. Intense tremors have been detected around Bárðarbunga, the second-highest mountain in the country. Airlines now fear a repeat of the chaos that ensued in 2010, when a huge ash cloud from another volcano – Eyjafjallajökull – grounded flights across Europe.

You can keep an eye on the latest seismic activity at Bárðarbunga on the Icelandic Met Office website, or catch a glimpse of the volcano itself with this brand-new webcam, located 30km away.

Eyjafjallajokull eruption, Iceland, EuropeThe 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption, Iceland

Final call: travelling through sound

Along with sights, smells and flavours, the sounds that you’re exposed to when visiting a new place can help to shape your whole experience. Sound Transit is a website that takes advantage of this phenomenon, allowing you to make virtual journeys across the world with only your ears for guidance.

Type in your departure city and where you want to end up, just like you would when booking a flight, and the site will create a unique soundscape for you, often dropping you off somewhere unexpected along the way. I travelled from the centre of London to the chirruping jungles of Laos, with a quick transfer through Berlin’s underground system en route. And it seemed to do the trick: right after pressing the play button, I wanted to throw some clothes in a bag and travel.

Spotted an unusual travel story? Let us know on Twitter (@RoughGuides) or Facebook, or comment below.