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November 9, 2019

Things to do Kigali Rwanda

Visited Kigali in October 2019 for 3 days, it is a very clean and beautiful city.

Weather: October is slightly cold, bring a light Jacket.

How to get there: There are buses from neighboring countries, I flew from Kampala to Kigali on Rwanda Air, flight time was 40 minutes as opposed to 9 hours on a bus.

Safety: Kigali is a safe city, it felt very safe even at night.

Stay: I stayed at Mijo Hostel, in a dorm, it was 15 USD a night, the hostel is amazing. Huge hall with breakfast and sitting area, and a balcony at the back with views of the city center. It was close to several eating places, I ate at Gusto Italian pizzeria and Orchard Bakery and Cafe.

Airport visa, and how to get to the city: US citizens have visa on arrival, the cost is 30 USD, Airport to city Taxi was 15 USD. No Scams, my taxi driver spoke French and we had nice conversation, he was from the neighboring country of Burundi. Older people speak French and younger generation speak English as a second Language.

Transportation: I used a motorcycle driver to take me around Kigali

Things to do and See

Kigali Genocide Museum


This Museum is dedicated to the Rwanda genocide, the slaughter of Tutsi by Hutu.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rwandan_genocide

This museum is about a very sad past in Rwanda, the entrance is free, though donations are expected. Free guided tours are offered. Give yourself about an hour to see the place


Kimironko Market





One can find everything in this market from fresh produce to clothing to electronics and the list goes on, do yourself a favor and go with a  local and not alone.

Presidents Palace Museum


This Museum has been renamed to Rwanda Art Museum, beautiful paintings and art work inside. This used to be former President Habyarimana's home. There is an entrance fee to see the museum and to see the plane wreckage behind the museum, it includes a guide. The plane wreckage is of the plane that was shot down caring Habyarimana.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juvénal_Habyarimana

Photography is not allowed inside.

Grand Mosque 
Avoid

This was mentioned in a guide book to Rwanda so I decided to check it out. It was a Friday, a prayer day so I did not go inside as there were too many people there, my motorcycle driver wanted to pray. I decided to go to a coffee shop and wait for him.


Nyarutarama Lake Avoid

Again This was mentioned in a travel guide book to Rwanda so I decided to check it out. Little bigger than a pond, some kids were fishing there.

Happy Travels!

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October 30, 2019

Things to do in Kampala Uganda

Visited Kampala in October 2019 for 4 days.

Weather in October is rainy, I was lucky and it rained mostly during the night, I did rain once during the day while I was at lake Victoria, the rain lasted an hour and I ate a seafood lunch at one of the several restaurants till the rain stopped. Bring a light waterproof jacket, the days are warm and nights are cold.

How to get there - Kampala is the Capital of Uganda. I flew on Kenya airways from Nairobi Kenya on a direct flight to Kampala, there are buses from Kenya and Rwanda that go to Kampala, the flight was under an hour and a bus from Nairobi will take 12 hours.

Immigration Visa and Proof of yellow fever shot: American passport holders have visa on arrival, I paid 50 USD, they can also ask for proof of yellow fever vaccine. There is a makeshift clinic at the airport that will give you yellow fever shot for 40 USD.

You can also apply for eVisa here.

Picture above Right is a Buganda Monument, on The Royal Mile, the Gates are locked and only open for the King, only the King can pass through the gates and everyone else has to go around

Airport to City: The airport is in Entebbe and not in Kampala, an hour away. I took a Taxi, I had already researched the price, it was 30 USD, once out side the airport a taxi driver approached me, he asked me for 40 USD I countered at 30, he agreed and we were off to my hostel.

There are ATM's at Entebbe airport.

Stay: I stayed at Fat Cat Backpackers Hostel in a private room for 34 USD a night, Breakfast included, Very well located with several eating places nearby, I ate twice Indian vegetarian food at Hi Point Restaurant across the street from the hostel.

Scams in Kampala: I was taking pictures of Indian Temples around Kampala City Center when this man approached me and asked me if I was a Journalist, I said no and he shows me an ID and say's he is a cop and wants to see my passport, I knew it was a scam. I replied lets go to the Police station, and my motorcycle driver came over. I explained to my motorcycle driver whats going on, the driver told me he is fake cop and yelled at the scam artist.

Things to do in Kampala

My Hostel arranged for a full day tour of Kampala for 40 USD, the tour was on the backseat of a motorcycle also known as boda boda tour. Riding on the back of a motorcycle in an east African country is not for everyone. After breakfast at 9 AM my tour guide and motorcycle driver was waiting for me, he gave me his second helmet and we were off to see Kampala.

1) The Bahá'í House of Worship in Kampala


It's the only one in Africa and One of only seven Baha'i temples in the world. Its on a small hill with beautiful grounds, highly recommended.

No photography is allowed inside. Tours are free.


2) Gaddafi Mosque


There is a fee to enter the Mosque and go to the top of the Minaret, I had a tour guide that explained the history of the mosque, its located on Kampala hill in the old part of the town. Impala Animal used to live on the hill, and that's how Kampala got its name meaning land of the Impala.

As the name suggests, it was built by Gaddafi of Libya.

The inside is beautiful, the dome artwork was dome by Moroccans, the carpet came from libya, the stain glass from Italy and cannot remember where the chandeliers came from. Also I do recommend going to the top of the Minaret, one can see all of Kampala from all directions. Pretty cool.



3)  Buganda Kings (Kabaka) Palace

Above the Ceremonial Parliament, the king goes there once a year as per my guide. 



Above the Kings palace. There is an entrance fee to the palace that comes with a guide, the guide called it Mengo Palace. Visitors are not allowed inside.

The Royal Mile to the Buganda Parliament building from the Kabaka Palace is very impressive.

The guide went on to explain the history, then we walked past some corn plantations to visit Idi Amin’s torture chamber. about 20,000 people were murdered there, the place used to be filled ankle high with water and then people were electrocuted. Having seen the movie 'Raid on Entebee', I knew some history.




4) City Center

The above picture taken from the balcony of a bar, there was soccer betting going on in the bar. It is legal to bet in Kampala. The hustle and bustle of the big city, quiet the chaos. Well worth a visit. I did not shop or eat there, I did visit the Indian Hindu and Sikh Temple there.


5) Lake Victoria Kampala


The lake is the largest in Africa and it stretches as far as Kenya and Tanzania, I went to the fish market and did eat at one of the many street restaurants there, also I was the only tourist there.

Fish Market Photos

Happy Travels!


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September 3, 2019

Things to do In Rio de Janeiro Brazil

Rio de Janeiro, visited this Amazing city in the last week of August. The weather was just perfect, T shirt and shorts weather with slightly cooler nights.

Arrived at Rio de Janeiro–Galeao International Airport early morning, Immigration is quick and easy, took 2 minutes and I was out in the Arrival area of the Airport looking for an ATM machine, there are no ATM/Cash Machines in the international Arrivals, had to walk all the way to Domestic arrivals to find an ATM. There are several currency exchange places at the airport, which I did not use.

US passport holder do not need a visa for Brazil, check if you need Visa here.

Airport Taxi, there are official Taxi booths at the airport, use your bargain skills at those, the cost of a taxi from airport to city is about 60 Riyal. The airport has free Wi-Fi and you can try Uber also. 

Safety - I found Rio to safe, I took cabs at night, they have meters, no issues there, I also used Uber and the city metro all safe, I had my camera and cell Phone in My hand and no one tried anything, I actually found people to be friendly and helpful, basically I found Rio to be very safe. Now keep in mind that I didn't go walking into any favela's by myself. However I was drinking beer out in the open at street parties by the ocean with the locals, I am not suggesting you do this.

Tip for those who don't speak Portuguese, learn a few words or get an app as the everyday people you encounter in Brazil like cab drivers, asking people for directions will not know English 




Stay I stayed at an BNB found on booking.com and I paid USD $26 a night with breakfast included. It was close to Uruguai Metro station in Tijuca neighborhood, across the street was the Assai supermarket with restaurants, ATM's and taxi stand.

Food - tons of options, I recommend atleast checking out Confeitaria Colombo in Centro Rio.

Colombo Bakery 


Free Walking Tour - That's the first thing I did in Rio and am a big fan of walking tours. The tour starts in Centro and ends at the Selaron Staircase in Lapa, Lapa has some great clubs and Bars if checking out the city nightlife is your thing to do. Lapa also has Carioca Aqueduct to bring water to the city, built in the 1800's.

Carioca Aqueduct rio
Lapa Arches


Christ the Redeemer Statue 


One of the 7 wonders of the world, my 2nd day in Rio was spent in Rio at Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain. My advise is to get there early or else you'll be among large crowds. I off course slept in and was among large crowds. Took uber to the Christ the Redeemer hill and a Train to the top, train ticket was about USD $15 round trip, gave my self time to admire the statue and take in all the amazing view of the city from the hill. You'll have to climb stairs to see the statue.

There is a one room small chapel under the statue, where a baptism was going on while I was there.

Once back to entrance down the hill, some guy with a suggestion to eat his restaurant across the street. And all the walking up the stairs and down had left me hungry and I went there for lunch. The food was delicious, the place was clean and the price was reasonable. I don't remember the name of the place.



SugarLoaf Mountain

From Christ the Redeemer hill I took a cab to Sugarloaf, didn't have much luck trying to find a bus. The cab ride cost was about 8 USD. The cab rider dropped me at the entrance to where one buys the ticket for the cable car. Once inside you can buy the ticket though self help touch screen monitors. The round trip cost is 99 Brazilian Riyal. Try to be the first few people in the cable car, and get in the front for some amazing views.

The cable car takes you to the first hill, we walk though souvenir shops and cafes, to take the 2nd cable car to Sugarloaf. You see some amazing views all directions. Give yourself a good 2 hours to see and walk around.

 

Later in the evening I ran into some street parties by the ocean front where street vendors were selling beer and people were plating music, Rio is a fun place.

Next Day I went to Gloria Street Market, it was a Sunday and you can find some of the freshest produce and seafood here. There are also clothing vendors, antique vendors my main focus was food stalls.




Mureta da Urca

A 10 to 15 minute walk from Sugarloaf Mountain, A great place to watch the Sunset and drink beer. Also a cool place for people watching, street vendors will be selling beer there. People will be playing music and musical instruments.


Beaches

I spent 2 evenings at the beaches in Rio, some of the best beaches are Ipanema and Copacabana beaches






Happy Travels!

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July 13, 2019

4 Days in Washington DC

Washington DC, where do I start. Well for starters 4 days is just not enough, one needs atleast 2 weeks or more. I tried to make the best from the time I had.

Visited during the 4th of July weekend, the weather is hot and humid in July.

Tip: You'll be doing a lot of walking, bring a comfortable pair of walking Shoes


Day 1

Airport, Arrivals and Transportation. Arrived at Washington Dulles International Airport from Austin Texas. From Airport to my hotel in downtown DC, I took a Airport shuttle or a shared van, the cost was $32. I choose to stay in Downtown DC for the first night so that I could walk to the 4th of July fireworks, seeing the fireworks with the Washington monument is the background is spectacular. My hotel was on 7th street and China town, a 2 mile walk to see the 4th festivities, before going I was told by many people, its going to be too crowed on the 4th, yes there were crowds though there was enough room to comfortable sit on the grass at the National mall to see the 4th of July (American Independence day) celebrations.

National Mall is basically a park with Memorials, Monuments and museums on both sides.

The night time view at the National Mall, of the Washington Monument on one end and the US state Capitol on the other are worth checking out, with the capitol all lit up.

Day 2

Checked out of the hotel, staying in Downtown DC can be expensive though it served well for me to walk back and froth to see the independence day celebrations, a friend let me stay with for the rest of trip.

My first stop of the day was the White house, wanted to take that selfie and get that out of the way. Took uber to get there.



After lunch at a Ethiopian restaurant, there are quite a bit of immigrants from Ethiopia in DC as per the owner as I was telling him about my trip to Ethiopia, I was off to the national mall. My frist stop the Washington Monument.

From there I walked to the WW2 Memorial, Picture below. You can also see the Lincoln memorial in the background.



From the WW2 memorial, I walked to Lincoln memorial, now I was there on a friday and the Lincoln memorial was really crowded. It is impressive and a must see in DC.

From Lincoln memorial I walked to Vietnam War Memorial, Korean War Memorial.



My last stop was the MLK Jr Memorial, another must see.


It is very impressive and you can walk down towards the water to see the Jefferson Memorial from far.

All the walking, I was tired, took a ride share to Downtown DC for dinner/drinks.


Day 3

The plan was to wake up early and go see the Supreme Court, the US Capitol and the Library of the congress, I was so tired cause of all the walking, by the time I left the house it was already noon.

Supreme Court - clicked a few photos, its a neat building. I didn't try to go inside.

U.S. Capitol - now I was told I needed a reservation, which I didn't have to see the dome from the inside, so basically I tried my luck, went inside to the reservation desk and was given a sticker which allowed me to be part of a tour of the capitol.


There are long line for the tours, the inside is beautiful. There is a gift shop and a reasonable priced cafeteria where I had lunch

From the US Capitol one can walk to the library of congress, through indoor walkways, so that you can bypass security as when entering the Capitol, one has to have security check done.

Library of Congress is very impressive and another must see.



One of the earliest publication in the world The Gutenberg Bible is also at display at the library.

Next stop Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, another must see. While at the museum see the hope Diamond which receives over 100 million visitors a year.

Photo of the dinosaur I took in the museum.




Day 4

Decision making day on what to do, Arlington Cemetery or Old Town Alexandria Virginia. And the winner is Old Town,  its on the shores of Potomac River. Just beautiful. One can easily spend a day in old town, and for those interested you can take a river cruise. Several eating places, can be a bit pricey. If driving from D.C. one passes past the pentagon.





Any DC suggestions?
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April 13, 2019

Things to do in Ulaanbaatar Mongolia

Visited Mongolia during the first and second week in April, Mongolia is located in Central Asia in between China and Siberia with an average height of 1,500m above the sea level. The country is the least densely populated country in the world and it features a vast country with evergreen trees, endless grassland, and rugged mountains.

Ulaanbaatar has limited number of International flights mostly from China, Seoul, Hong Kong and not too sure but limited flights from Germany. I flew MIAT (Mongolian Airlines) from Hong Kong, Immigration is quick and easy, no visa needed for US passport holders.

Visa Info

Once outside Chinggis Khaan International Airport in Ulaanbaatar, there was snow on the ground. April is still cold in Mongolia.

Airport to City, Taxi cost was USD $ 12. My Hostel arranged for a airport pickup.

Stay - I stayed at Zaya Hostel USD $12 a night for a private room with shared bath. Breakfast Included.

Picture to the right - Traditional Mongolian boot, largest shoe in the world, in Genghis Khan Theme Park, Chinggis Khan Statue Complex. In Tsonjin Boldog, about an hours drive from Ulaanbaatar.

Ulaanbaatar is surrounded by hills, the landscape outside the city is just beautiful. The City itself is just another big city, with rush hour traffic problems. Most people in Ulaanbaatar live in Apartments, in endless neighborhoods of Soviet-style blocks.

Currency - For hotels and Tour companies you can pay in USD or use Visa Mastercard, However do keep some Mongolian Tughrik  or MNT. For example I bought soup in Gorkhi-Terelj National Park and ate in a Yurt, where no one spoke English and was glad to have local currency.

Things to do in Ulaanbaatar

 

Now I was there in April, it is cold and not a tourist season. So Gobi desert was out, if you are there in summer, there are good things to be heard about gobi desert tour.

TIP: If you have time, book your tours while in Mongolia, online prices are just too expensive. One would imagine on-line prices to be cheaper, its quite the opposite.


1)  Chinggis Khan Statue Complex - Largest equestrian statue in the world at the time of writing this post.




I took a tour which included Chinggis Khan Statue Complex, Turtle Rock in Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, Ariyabal Meditation Buddhist Temple, Lunch in a Ger or Yurt as it is called in English, drive around UB. The cost was $100 USD.

From UB, its about 45 minutes drive to Chinggis Khan Statue Complex, its Chinggis and not Genghis as per my Mongolian guide.

There is an entrance fee of 30,000 Mongolian Tughrik or around 22 USD, there is a display of rural Mongolian life, history of the Khan's and a stairway to the top of the horse. Spent an hour there, that's enough time and was off to see turtle rock.

2) Turtle Rock

About a 15 minute ride from Chinggis Khan Statue Complex, the best of the trip was a lunch in a yurt with Mongolian folks. they cooked me fried bread with stuffing, and didn't want any money from me, I left a tip.




3) Ariyabal Meditation Buddhist Temple

My Last stop before heading back to UB, from the entrance to the meditation center there is mile and half to 2 mile hike upto the Buddhist Temple, I was out of breath by the time I reached the top. One can do free camping and meditation in the summer there. There is also a bunk hall if you don't want to camp.



There is Tibetan Buddhist Mantra 'Om Mani Padme Hum' painted in nearby Hills.

View of the hills from the Monastery, pretty amazing!

 

In Ulaanbaatar, one place everyone visits is the Genghis Khan Square 




The square is surrounded by hotels, opera, stock exchange, government buildings.


If you want great views of the city of Ulaanbaatar, head to Zaisan Memorial Hill See video below




Choijin Lama Temple

This temple can be found in Ulaanbaatar and it is a perfect place to go while in Mongolia because of its mesmerizing architecture and its history. At the main temple, you will find an extensive collection of religious instruments, copy of the 108 volume Kangyur, thangka paintings, and hand-printed 226-volume Tengyur that was brought from Tibet by the Bogd Khan. Some of the things not to miss at the monastery is the 18th-century gilt statue of Buddha Sakyamuni and the statue of Choijin Lama Luvsankhaidav.

Clean Air - To and From the Airport, both the cars were electric, so was the van that took me Gorkhi-Terelj National Park. Ulaanbaatar being one of the coldest capitals in the world, there is lot of coal burning in the winter, the government there is changing that for cleaner means of heating.


Picture above, my friend and guide in Magnolia with his wife,  in Traditional Mongolian attire 

Ulaanbaatar is also home to Naadam Festival held in July, they include Archery, Horseback riding and wrestling competitions. 

#Mongolia 

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January 20, 2019

Top 3 Things to do in Kuwait City

Visited Kuwait City in December 2018, arrived on a MEA flight from Beirut. My Itinerary was Layover in New York, 5 days in Lebanon, Kuwait, Bahrain, India, and onward to Hong Kong, China and Mongolia.

Bottle of water is more expensive than Petrol in Kuwait. One of the reason you'll see big cars and SUV's on the freeways.

American Passport holders have visa on arrival, you will need to go the visa on arrival office near gate 2 to get the paperwork taken care of.

Visa Info


Withdrew local currency at the airport ATM, Once outside the airport, I ignored the cab drivers that approached me and took the Airport bus to my Airbnb. The city buses are the best way out of the airport.

Kuwait is an expensive destination, an average 3 star hotel will cost upwards of 100 USD. I was only there for 2 days.


Kuwaiti dinar is at the time of writing this post, the world's highest valued currency $3.30 USD equals 1 Kuwaiti dinar.



Top 3 Things to do in Kuwait City

 

Souk Al-Mubarakiya

 

This is a massive shopping Souq with Apparel Shops, money changers, food courts, perfume shops, vegetable and fruit market, seafood market, the list goes on.



Souk Al-Mubarakiya



Above the seafood market and one of the many eating courts in the Souq.


Kuwait Towers


Went to See the Towers twice, one during the night to see all the lights and once during the day. Took a cab from the grand Mosque to get there.




Grand Mosque




The interior is pretty amazing, went there during the night and during day time, walking distance from the Kuwait Souq.

If you are into shopping (which I am not) Check out the Avenue Mall, it's one of the biggest malls in the middle east, I saw it from the outside on my way back to the airport.



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January 17, 2019

Visit to Baalbek and Anjar Lebanon




Visited Baalbek in December 2018, weather was perfect, some of the best roman ruins I have seen. You can read about the history at UNESCO world heritage site at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/294

Safety: There are travel warning for tourists going to Baalbek and Anjar due to its close proximity to Syria and Hezbollah presence. I didnt have any issues. I even hitchhiked from Anjar to the main road 15 minute ride to catch a bus, this nice Armenian gentleman gave me a ride. Anjar is located in an Armenian resettlement town and Baalbek is Hezbollah with souvenir vendors selling Hezbollah T shirts.Anjar is 5KM from Syria, there are mountains between the 2 countries.

Suggestion: Visit Anjar before visiting Baalbek reason being Baalbek is pretty amazing and Anjar will be a let down if you visit Anjar afterwards.

How to get to Baalbek from Beirut, take a taxi to cola bus station. From there take a minibus to Baalbek, the minibus cost is 6000 Lebanese Pounds or about $4 USD. The distance is about 85 kilometers from Beirut or half way between Beirut and Damascus Syria.

I did a day trip, day is plenty to see baalbek and visited the town aswell, get lunch ect. There is a lot of army presence in town.



Entrance to the Temple of Jupiter, There were hardly any tourists there because of all the travel warning to that area.

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Temple of Bacchus, Above, dedicated to God of Wine. People drank a lot of wine as beer and Whisky was not so popular, this complex was built before Christ. Some of the most fertile land on the planet is here as per the info I got from the Baalbek museum.


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Inside Temple of Bacchus, me at the Alter. No Wine though.

Anjar


While Baalbek is Greek-Roman, Anjar is supposed to be from Arab times, its all ruins and nothing like Baaalbek, looked very Roman with all the arches.

anjar lebanon
Anjar


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January 16, 2019

Discover Beautiful Bahrain

Bahrain is a fascinating travel destination for those who are willing to venture a little off of the beaten path. It features beautiful architecture, warm hospitality and rich culture, as well as natural beauty including glorious beaches. Visited Bahrain in December 2018. Weather in December is excellent.

The Kingdom of Bahrain is a small island nation located off of the coast of Saudi Arabia. It consists of one large main island, as well as several smaller, outlying islands.

Saudi Rials (currency) is accepted in Bahrain, exchange rate differs.

It is a very multicultural place, with four official languages: Arabic, Farsi, Urdu and English. Due to its large expat community, Bahrain is a blend of many different cultures. Plus, as Bahrain’s is one of the few nations in the Middle East where alcohol can legally be purchased, it is a popular getaway for those in neighboring countries.

History lovers will also love visiting beautiful Bahrain. Bahrain has been an important trading post for centuries, so there are many ancient and historic sites to explore. Some of the most well-known include the Barbar Temples, the earliest of which takes from 3000 BC, and Souq al-Khamis, a stunning mosque that dates back to the eighth century.

TIP: Bahrain can be expensive. My hotel room was $100 a night, USD.
Airport to hotel was 5 Bahraini Dinar, about $15 USD.

Bab Al Bahrain
Bab Al Bahrain
Bab Al Bahrain, the main entrance to the Manama Souq. Manama Souq has a lot of shops selling souvenirs and Arabian lamps and artifacts. There is also other excellent shopping, from small bazaar stalls through to high-end luxury designer boutiques. One of the largest and most luxurious malls is the Moda Mall, however, if you are looking for Bahrain’s famous yellow gold, you should head for Gold City in Manama. Just FYI, I rarely shop, just went to see the glitter.



One of the main cultural attractions in Manama is the stunning Al Fateh Grand Mosque. The architecture of this mosque is absolutely beautiful, and it is open to both Muslims and non-Muslims. You are welcome to take a tour which will show you the most beautiful parts of the mosque, as well as share some information about the Islamic faith.


If you’re looking to relax or perhaps escape the hot sun, Bahrain also boasts several beautiful beaches, such as glamorous Marassi Al Bahrain, with its calm water and many beach parties.

All in all, Bahrain is a beautiful and underrated travel destination. Whether you’re hoping to enjoy the many fabulous restaurants and bars, or perhaps to discover the historic sites, you’re sure to be fascinating and enthralled by this amazing country.


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January 13, 2019

Things to do in Beirut Lebanon

Byblos Lebanon
Byblos Lebanon
Visited Beirut Lebanon in December 2018, days are nice and pleasant and evenings and nights Get cold during December in Beirut Lebanon. The winters are quite mild.

Airport immigration is quick and easy, have you hotel arrange for airport pickup to avoid any taxi scams. Airport to downtown the cost for a taxi is about USD 15. The ride is less then half an hour.

Safety: I found Lebanon to be very safe and did not have any issues at all.

Stay: I stayed at a hotel close to downtown, awesome location, close to several eating places, walking distance to Beirut souk and tourist attractions. The cost was USD 35 a night. Check booking.com for some great hotel deals.

Food: Lebanon is one of the best countries for awesome cuisine. Here is my recommendation 'Le Chef', Gouraud Street, Beirut. Tabbouleh salad there is amazing, I paid under USD 10 for a beer, fresh bread, olive oil, Salad and a main dish. Mar Mikhael and hamra street are another great location for food and clubs.

Transportation: I used minibuses to travel outside of Beirut, and within Beirut did a lot of walking and used shared cabs.

Money: 1 USD equals to 1500 Lebanese pound at the time of writing this post, there are ATM's everywhere. I use XE app on my smart phone for currency conversion.

Language: Most people will speak some English, I used google translate twice.

Travel Guide book - check out Bradt's Lebanon.


One of the first things that every traveler will want to do when they arrive in Lebanon is visit the National Museum of Beirut.  Inside, there are archaeological artifacts that share the history of the country and the people that have lived there over the years.  The two most popular exhibits are the Phoenician gilded bronze figures that were found buried near the Obelisk Temple at Byblos and the Phoenician marble statues of baby boys from the 6th century.

After seeing those exhibits, everyone will be ready to venture over to the Byblos Castle, which was constructed during the 12th century by the Crusaders.  This castle was constructed, dismantled, and reconstructed, a couple times, which makes it a unique piece of history that is thankfully still standing.


Byblos

One of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From Beirut, I took a minibus, paid the bus driver 2000 Lebanese pound one way or $1.50 USD. The minibus dropped me on side of a main highway, from there I walked through open-air bars, souvenir shops, and outdoor cafes to the historical sites. From Beirut to Byblos it took about half an hour by Minibus.



The entrance fee to the main historical site is 6 or 8 thousand Lebanese pound, I cannot remember. The whole Complex and the museum is worth visiting, it dates back to 8000 BC.







Pottery found in Byblos from 3000 BC - 1600 BC

Beirut can seen by walking to most places, I did take the cab twice to Cola bus station to take the mini bus to Baalbek and back to downtown. The cost of the shared cab was 3000 Lebanese pound or $2 USD.



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If you anywhere close to downtown you cannot miss the above Mosque and church.

I visited Beirut during Christmas Holidays, the whole Downtown Beirut was decorated with lights and Christmas decorations. Beirut Souq, was all decorated. Now this is nota  traditional middle eastern Souq, its very modern with all the designer brand name one can think of.

People in Beirut are very friendly. One does see some army presence in Beirut due to close proximity to Syria, overall its very safe.

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