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Travelling virgin seeks advice on Middle East

Some questions about travelling to the middle east.
15 years ago, May 31st 2007 No: 1 Msg: #14696  
Hi, I'm looking for a bit of advice. I'm trying to plan a trip from home in Britain, beginning in Iran then on to Turkey (preferably by train), from there to Lebanon via Syria (again, by train if possible) and from there, a flight back home (Britain). I'm intending the whole thing to take about a month or so with the time divided roughly equally between these places.

I've never travelled alone or anywhere like this before so any advice from people who've been to any of these places is appreciated. I do have some specific questions though:

Is the route I've described even possible?

Are Visas necessary to travel to Lebanon and Turkey, as I know they are for Iran and Syria?

Regarding Currency, is it best to carry dollars and euros, or to take local currencies instead/as well

I would prefer to travel alone, rather than as part of a tour, is there any specific information I should know as regards this?

Finally, recommendations for things to do and places to stay!? I'm on a medium/low budget and I'm organising this at very short notice. The purpose of the trip is mainly cultural and I don't mind being on the tourist trail, as long as it's not for the whole time.

Thats all I can think of, sorry for rambling and thanks in advance for any help offered!


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15 years ago, June 5th 2007 No: 2 Msg: #14880  
Hello pad,
I cannot say about Iran, but I have been in Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. This countries I did by bus, there are plenty of them, the countries are small (besides Turkey) and the roads aren't bad. The buses are also good m(not europe standard but much better than Africa for example). I don't even know if their are trains to do this routes.

The visas for these countries you can get in the borders, but this also depends on your nationality. Check the site www.projectvisa.com for more detailed information about visas for your nationality. The division of time also don't need to be equal, Lebanon for example is much smaller than all the others. And Turkey their is an amazing quantity of things to be visited. You could spend a whole month there easily.
For the money, dollars are THE currency. Everybody accepts and there is a big Black Market; meaning that you can change everywhere, even if their is not change bureau in the city. Myself I have some dollars with me, but to avoid carrying too much dollars, I use credit cards (VISA) to withdraw the local currency in ATMs (they have them everywhere in the middle east, even Yemen where I'm now). Don't worry about getting the local currency before hand, you can always change dollars (US of course, Namibian dollars for example wouldn't help much) in the border. But know the exchange rate before hand. Write down before you leave home the exchange for every country, don't just believe the people in the borders. If you don't know is better to ask the immigration officers, they are more reliable than the people in the street.

For places to stay I used the "Lonely planet middle east". Gave me all the basic information that I needed. Reply to this

14 years ago, July 16th 2007 No: 3 Msg: #16501  
N Posts: 2
they are right about the currency, everyone accepts dollars but there are also ATMs. Getting Visas shouldn't be a problem, but i'd suggest making sure you don't need one for Lebanon before you leave. I went to Turkey with a British passport and i didn't need a visa, because it's technically partially in Europe (I landed in Istanbul). Reply to this

14 years ago, July 27th 2007 No: 4 Msg: #16911  
why don't you think of visiting Jerusalem

its very historical city

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14 years ago, September 18th 2007 No: 5 Msg: #19613  

I’m getting you very well, and also I understood that what’s your planning. Your planning is good, I will suggest for turkey. It's very good place, we can get all this things there...


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14 years ago, September 20th 2007 No: 6 Msg: #19735  
You can get a Lebanese visa at the border (although there's ongoing tension in Beirut/Lebanon after the recent assassination and depending on the presidential election results on the 25th, it could get worse, so monitor the media. Although Israel is currently threatening war with Syria, things seem safe for now - any trouble is likely to remain in the southern Golan Heights area anyway. It's always best to get your Syrian visa in your home country as their policy re offering on the spot border visas always changes. It's generally possible to get it, but some people have reported difficulties. Bus is your best bet, as mentioned above. You should get the Lonely Planet Syria and Lebanon guide - it will answer all your questions - unfortunately it's 4 years old (my husband and I are currently updating it) but we were recently in Syria doing research and surprisingly not a great deal has changed (apart from the usual changes - a restaurant/hotel or two going downhill, a few closures). I don't get royalties so that's not why I'm plugging it, but we've looked at the competition and ours still holds up as being the best.

Haven't been to Iran yet (and you have the US threatening war there, but that probably won't be for a while - our poor region!), but Syria, Lebanon and Turkey are three of my favourite countries - not only do they have some spectacular historical/archaeological sites and stunning landscapes, the people are the friendliest and most hospitable in the world. Have a great time! Reply to this

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