Lebanon is a beautiful travel destination that offers many diverse experiences in such as a small territory. A brilliant jewel in the crown of the Middle-East, this small country has been an attracting tourist in droves over the last few decades. If you are visiting Lebanon for the first time, there are things you need to know before you arrive.
Lebanon is generally safe to visit. However, you can’t just wander freely across the whole country. There are areas to avoid such as certain suburbs in the south of Beirut, the Palestinian refugee camps, Tripoli, Hermel, south of the Litani River, Beqaa Valley, areas north of Beirut and southern Lebanon. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t travel to other places in Lebanon or that something will happen to you there. Visitors simply need to take sensible precautions such as not wandering alone at night or leaving their valuables unattended.
Lebanese people are generally multi-lingual. Arabic is the official language in Lebanon, but there are several other languages that are spoken all over the country including French and English. If you are planning to travel to Lebanon, be sure to learn some basic words and expressions in Lebanese Arabic. These will come in handy when you want to communicate with the locals. Staff at many restaurants and hotels also speak English, although French is far more common.
A free 1 month single-entry tourist visa to Lebanon is available for citizens of many countries. This visa is renewable for 3 months and is available at the Rafic Hariri International Airport. The visa can be obtained on arrival by citizens of countries including Australia, Canada, USA, the UK and several others. A paid visa-on-arrival system is in place for some other countries. Lebanon denies entry to travellers with an Israeli stamp in their passport.
Also known as the Lebanese lira (LL), the Lebanese pound (LBP) is the official currency in Lebanon. US dollars are secondary currency here and are also accepted countrywide. ATMs are widely available and reliable, dispensing cash both in Lebanese lira and US dollars. ATM fees for withdrawing money using a foreign card vary widely so be sure to try a few. Credit cards are accepted in most high-end restaurants and accommodation. If you pay with cash, you will often be given change in a mixture of Lebanese lira and US dollars. It is best to carry the local currency when shopping for souvenirs.
Lebanese people are generally amazing. You are likely to receive a warm welcome everywhere you go. Arabic hospitality is legendary and you can expect to be spoiled time and again by your new Lebanese friends.
If you’ll be travelling to Lebanon by air, you will land at the Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport. Located 9 km from downtown Beirut in the southern suburbs, Rafic Hariri is the main hub for Lebanon’s national carrier and charter carriers. One of the top airports in the Middle East, the airport’s departure area features 2 exclusive lounges. Travellers who like to shop can take advantage of the large duty-free retail space. Other airport facilities include a bank and ATMs, as well as free internet services.