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Lebanon

Author kintante
Registered
#1 | Posted: 21 Jan 2019 07:38 
Freshly back from Lebanon I thought I write down some general tips about visiting the country and what impressed me most.

Driving in Lebanon
I rented a car, which allowed me to visit all WHS, 4 TWHS and Beirut in 3 full days without getting crazy on the pace (rather relaxed for me). If you consider self-driving just be warned that Lebanon was probably the craziest country I drove so far and my list of countries is not too short. Apart from the crazy drivers, the country is also full of badly maintained streets, loads of military checkpoints and tiny mountain roads.

Beirut is not a good location to locate yourself. Try to avoid Beirut whenever possible. Traffic is terrible and you will lose hours crossing the city. If you have to cross the city, try early morning, evening after 6 pm or on Sundays.

Be aware of the snow in winter. I planned to drive from the cedars of god to Baalbek. 1h15mins on google maps. Unfortunately the road over the mountains was closed due to heavy snow fall and I had to take the route all the way back to Beirut to use the Beirut-Damascus high way that is always open. Baalbek itself was also covered in snow and hotels there

Money and internet
Credit cards are accepted in some hotels and some restaurants. Make sure you always have some cash. Gas stations and smaller restaurants only accept cash. You can pay in Lebanese Pounds or USD.

Internet proofed to be a major problem for me as I tend to adjust my plans ad hoc, using mobile data. Neither my travel SIM nor my Swiss provider had a package or even a price plan for Lebanon. Only bigger restaurants, hotels and malls offer Wifi and sometimes a Lebanese phone number is needed. So I was mostly offline. Download all you need before you get there.

Safety
I arrived to a summit of the Arab League and Beirut was flooded with soldiers. In general, there are so many soldiers and police around that I never felt unsafe. The UN is also present, especially in Tyre. Probably the biggest safety issue in Lebanon is to get into a car accident. Else than that I could drive and walk around whenever and wherever I wanted. I didn't see too many foreigners so people are happy to see a tourist and what you mostly hear is "welcome".

Visiting Beirut
Beirut is mostly a huge, chaotic and messy place. The national museum however I would highly recommend. It has very interesting displays from Tyre, Byblos and Baalbek and helps to complete the picture. The Hamra district is probably the authentic part of Beirut, with normal prized shops and restaurants. The Corniche (Paris road) attracts a lot of locals but has next to nothing but the sea view to offer. If you want to show pictures of the city at home that don't make others feel sorry for you for having been there, go to the zone around Place d'├ętoile. There is a parking lot next to the statue of martyrs. All buildings there are reconstructed, the streets are clean and there is a variety of international brand shops, expensive hotels and restaurants. It felt rather unreal for me after having visited the rest of the country. Much like Disneyland. At least you will find some well-embedded archaeological sites like the Roman baths there.

Author meltwaterfalls
Registered
#2 | Posted: 22 Jan 2019 06:49 
kintante:
If you want to show pictures of the city at home that don't make others feel sorry for you for having been there

:) That feels very familiar.

Thanks for this run down it is rather useful to have these, even if Lebabon isn't in my current plans. Were you travelling solo on this one?

Author Zoe
Registered
#3 | Posted: 22 Jan 2019 10:58 
kintante:
Lebanon was probably the craziest country I drove so far

THAT feels very familiar :/ only places where you don't self-drive beat it (Bangladesh, India). Iran is close second. Surprised didn't damage the car in either country though.

Author kintante
Registered
#4 | Posted: 23 Jan 2019 03:51 
meltwaterfalls
Yes, was alone this time. Flight times from Switzerland are not kid friendly (return on Monday 03:05-06:30 am). But I would not have safety issues to bring my family.

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