I am planning to travel from Israel to Jordan, then to Syria, Turkey and across Europe.
Most people say, ''oh you are brave'', ''its not safe for a girl'' and things like that.
Has anyone done that before? I am familiar with local culture and customs and I think that as long as you behave appropriately and respect other cultures, you should be fine. I will be wearing proper clothes; I dont drink or smoke.
Any comments/tips advises would be appreciated.
I've already got a Syrian visa, so I wont change my plans. what should I be especially cautios about?
Hello Inga and welcome to the Forum!
If you are familiar with the culture, don't drink or smoke, and wear proper clothes, you will not have any issues in the countries you mention. The most amount of hassle (mostly related to getting you to purchase things) will be in Istanbul (with Petra getting an honourable mention), but the rest of the places you travel will not be an issue.
I am a male, but I did meet solo females travelling through Jordan and Syria and none of them had any problems. The part of the Middle East you are travelling to is not anywhere near as threatening to females as people who have never travelled there would have you believe. The attention you receive will be from hawkers or curious locals wanting to speak to a female. You are much more likely to be the target of overt (and covert) sexual advances in Europe than in this part of the Middle East.
You will particularly like Syria, the people are extremely warm and welcoming. There are other posts about this on the forum - including Woman travelling in Jordan
- message #3 is of interest.
Thanks, Camel, thats very reassuring. I am looking forward to the trip.
Glad you are looking forward to the trip - it is a fantastic part of the world!
Re Syria - I think you'll wonder why you were anxious prior to departure, as once you arrive, you will find it a very easy place to travel. In fact, every single traveller I met said: a) "I wish I had more time in Syria!" and/or b) "I will come back to this country again." Make sure you see Palmyra and Krak des Chevaliers.
Jordan is also a great country, with Petra and Wadi Rum the essential stops. I based myself in Madaba in Jordan and I really liked that town a lot - a nicer place to stay than Amman. Even though Syria and Jordan are quite conservative countries, it is not to the level as to make you uncomfortable.
Turkey is the most liberal of the countries - they have even had a female Prime Minister! It is the country where you will experience the most amount of attention (mostly trying to sell you a carpet!) - but if you use common sense, it is highly unlikely that you get yourself into any situations where you will feel threatened. Ephesus was probably my favourite place, though Cappadocia and Istanbul are other highlights.
I think I will consider this thread to be a recomendation for Syria. Putting Syria on my 'to go to list' now.
Since you have been to India Mel, I would compare Syria to India in terms of hospitality - just minus the beggars and a lot cleaner.
Which airport in Syria is the main one to fly into? Those search engines for finding flights can get complicated sometimes with the number of airports they list for every country. It can be difficult to figure out which is the main one. There are 12 airports listed for Syria in the search engine I use for finding flights.
Minus beggars and touts is quite a bonus! That is what made travelling in Iran so relaxing too. 😊
Damascus (Airport Code: DAM) - and once you have arrived, it is easy to move around as it is a small country.
Touts are almost non-existent by comparison with other countries that are real pros at the practice - such as India and Egypt. You'll get a few around the main souq in Damascus, and also at Palmyra in the east, but that is about it.
I did a couple of quick searches. I can expect to pay between 370 and 400 Euros for a return flight from Germany to Demascus airport.
What are the prices like for actually being in Syria for public transport, hotel rooms etc?
I might manage to get there next year. I have not booked any of my flights for next year yet. Have to wait until after Christmas to book them, but at least I can enjoy planning them now. The next years schedule is getting quite crowded, so some coin tossing may be needed. 😊
Transport is very cheap - if you look at a map - travel between Damascus and Aleppo is only a few Euros by bus. An average meal is about 1-2 Euro, and I remember eating a French Fries shwarma for about 50 Australian cents! (Might add this fact to the French Fries thread). Accommodation is a bit more than India, but not by much. Upper end budget rooms with private facilities are about 15 Euros per night - more in Damascus.
Syria is probably second to India as my favourite travel destination - I'll definitely go back in a few years.
Prices looking good! 😊
Do you know if the visas are easy to get? I havent yet checked if I need one, but I am presuming that everybody does.
You will need one in advance, and they are easy to get - as long as you do not have an Israeli visa in your passport.
I am doing the hard sell with trying to persuade my boyfriend to come to Syria with me. Maybe if I tell him about the 50 Cents French Fries Shwarma, he will be won over. We are planning to go to Norway to see the Midnight sun next year, but maybe that can be bumped to the year after in favour of going to Syria instead. We went to India together and he loved it, so I quoted what you said Shane about liking it almost as much as India.
Cool about the visas! Thanks for the info Shane. 😊
We have decided to go to Syria(me, my boyfriend and daughter) next year. We discussed the pros and cons of choosing it over the Midnight Sun trip. After weighing up the pros and cons I was back on the fence not being able to choose. My boyfriend now prefers Syria, so that is where we are going. Shane saying it is second only to India for the travel experience won my boyfriend over.
Also, found some Syrian consulates in Germany, so hopefully they can provide the visas. Hopefully being foreigners here in Germany wont make getting the visa more complicated and expensive like it did for the Indian one. But, as long at it is actually possible to get it who cares! I am getting all excited about this already, even though we are not going until next year, time flies.....
Are there any not so great times of the year to go to Syria, appart from Ramadan? Is it ever too hot there? Over 40C is too hot. Also, is there a best time of the year to go?
If you have a blog about Syria Shane, would you mind posting a direct link to it here.
Great that you are going to Syria! Do not go in winter - as it rains in the hills, but the desert areas are fine; however in summer the hills are great, but the desert is oppressive. Ramadan next year will be in summer, so that makes it easy to avoid both. I would chose from March-May and from September-November.
My blogs are as follows - I loved it so much that I wrote three!
One Castle to Rule Them All
Day Trip to a War Zone
The Smiling Soul of Syria
The above blogs are in the order that they were written.
Please show them to your boyfriend as well!
I love those water pipes, especially the fruit scented tobacco ones. I loved the apple ones in Egypt. Will they think it is weird if I smoke those in Syria? Where would be the place to do it, without getting a heap of sexism aimed at me. In tea houses? In fairly fancy restaurants? Hotel lobbeys? In Egypt, I used to just smoke them in the tea houses. It did amuse the all male customers in there, but not in a bad way. One even said ''well I suppose you have to try everything''. I wouldnt dare take out a regular cigarette in Egypt and smoke it in public. I made that mistake once.
I saw local Syrian women smoking in the restaurant where that photo was taken - the Naranj. I would strongly recommend you visit this place in Damascus - upmarket and filled with both locals and foreigners. From the place in the photo on the right, head east and keep to that main road/path - about one kilometre east, the restaurant is on the left-hand side on a corner of the main thoroughfare you've just walked on - it is adjacent to a small open area (think there was a church on the other side of the area).
You will find the sexism in Syria much less than in Egypt. However, when you go to a place you will soon see if smoking these is considered acceptable for women - as other women will also be smoking. My Japanese friend even smoked some of this in the Naranj and no-one even noticed. You will probably only get away with smoking in certain places in Damascus, Aleppo and Palmyra.
Places like Iran and Syria are certainly better for travelling in than places like Egypt and Morocco these days. Exotic, peaceful(well for the tourists at least) and hospitable. Nothing wrong with Egypt and Morrocco basically, but they have lost a lot of their innocence.......
We will certainly go to that resturant if we stay in Damascus. Thanks for the tip! 😊 Dont know yet if we will stay there for a few days or go straignt to the bus station from the airport and head out to a desert oasis or someplace.
What about headscarfs? Do I need to wear one? Not the end of the world if I really have to wear one, but I certainly wont do it unless it is for legal or safety reasons.
You won't need to wear one unless you go into a mosque, so bring something to cover your head if you wish to visit religious sites. The only fashion suggestion is to wear long loose clothes - nothing short and nothing tight fitting.