kami

Can't live without travels! Wherever she goes she always looks for alternative spots or street art. A huge fan of Central Europe and off the beaten path places and a living proof that you can balance full time job and extensive travel!

Is Lebanon safe?

1 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 Google+ 0 Pin It Share 1 StumbleUpon 0 1 Flares ×
I didn’t know many people who have visited Lebanon, yet alone solo female travelers. But this Mediterranean country has been on my mind for a long time, a missing puzzle in my Middle Eastern jigsaw. Now, that Syria is off limits and I lost my chance to go there because of my unjustifiable fears I felt that Lebanon might be in a way what Syria could have been: hospitable people, incredible views and monuments and the most delicious food. Couple of times before I was this close to booking a ticket and visiting Beirut but in the end I always chickened out. Last year solo trip to Iran gave me much needed confidence and I didn’t miss the next chance – as soon as I found a good offer on flights to Beirut I booked them right away. So what that I had to wait another 9 months for the trip itself.

Byblos, Lebanon

Recent events in Lebanon

In the meantime the situation in Lebanon has changed, or at least that’s what we’ve heard in the media. Literally few days after I booked my flights to Beirut was shook by the garbage crisis that led to the revolution (that eventually didn’t change much but banned local people from the areas around the government buildings in downtown Beirut). A day before the tragic Paris attacks ISIS hit Beirut too, just the media didn’t cover it as widely as they gave all the attention to Paris. On top of that there was the ongoing refugee crisis where media reports focused mostly on Europe but every now and then we could hear that still the majority of people from Syria fled to Lebanon. In a country of 4.5 million inhabitants there are around 1.5 million refugees! This didn’t sound like the best place to travel to, did it?

Beirut street art

My concerns before trip to Lebanon

I’m a planner. For most of the time when I go somewhere I try to at least book accommodation so I can be calm I have a place to sleep every night. Yet for some reason I postponed all the preparations for my trip to Lebanon till the last moment. Even if I didn’t dare to say it out loud I was a little bit scared, all the bad news in the media made me feel uncertain about my trip. When I was telling people around that I’m going to Middle East again the majority just asked „is Lebanon safe?” and instead of being supporting they questioned my recent travel choice. Even my boss didn’t really want to give me days off for this trip and when he finally did he said, rather seriously, that if someone kidnaps me he will kick my ass. That was actually the nicest thing I’ve heard that day. But all these concerns made me even more worried, I only put on the brave face.

Beirut, Lebanon

A week and a half before the trip I had really bad feelings and a mini panic attack. I even googled „is Lebanon safe” only to see the warning at the website of Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (as well as similar institution of other countries). All of them said „don’t go”. I shared my concerns on my Facebook page and I was flooded with supporting messages. Finally I felt that someone is on my side and don’t think I’m crazy or stupid to travel to Lebanon! Some of you even offered to connect me with their friends there or asked around about safety in Lebanon. That was the kick I really needed! On the next day I woke up knowing I will go to Lebanon, no matter what other say. It’s been my dream for way too long to lose it in such a silly way! And as it turned out it was the best decision ever!

is lebanon safe?

Arriving to Lebanon

My flight landed in Beirut at 3am, a horrendous time to think properly. Yet I needed to stay focused so when asked by the border officer if I visited Israel I’d answer correctly. This is the question you can be sure of when entering Lebanon and so I kept repeating myself that no, I haven’t been to Israel. The border officer, a guy more or less in my age, started flipping through my passport, asking about all my stamps and my solo travels. He couldn’t understand why I’m travelling on my own and asked few times an uncomfortable question if I need a friend in Lebanon. After realizing a second meaning of it and my firm „no” as an answer he finished with my visa procedure really quickly and eventually didn’t even asked me about Israel. It was probably my weirdest border crossing but in the end I made it, I was in Lebanon!

flag of Lebanon

As there was no point in going to the unknown city in the middle of the night I found a rather comfortable bench and napped till 8 in the morning. A short taxi ride later I was already at the entrance to my hostel in one of the coolest areas of Beirut – Gemmayzeh. The city seemed to be still recovering from the Saturday night fever and it was just so calm and quiet, it wasn’t Beirut I was about to experience in the next week! After resting for a while I was ready to start discovering the city. I’m not going to lie, there was a voice in my head constantly asking is Lebanon safe and telling me to be super cautious. But as it quickly turned out there was nothing to worry about. At first sight Beirut was just a normal city, a hectic capital and a busy Middle East metropolis. The biggest danger was heavy traffic and unpredictable drivers!

Beirut, Lebanon

Safety in downtown Beirut

Since my first day in Lebanon was 1st of May I stumbled across two political demonstrations in the downtown area. Normally I’d stay to look at the scene, after all it could have told me so much about the place I’m visiting. But a responsible part in me won and very sadly I turned around and walk away. I felt like so many people is keeping fingers crossed for me during this trip I promised myself I will stay away from any potential problems. The downtown of Beirut has an interesting security solutions anyway. Everywhere around you can see police or army, patrolling the streets. While a lot of people might have problem with that I actually feel much safer then and so they didn’t bother me at all. The very central area, with government buildings, is closed and barricaded anyway and if you want to get inside you need to enter at one of few checkpoints. After garbage crisis that led to protests in September 2015 this part of central Beirut is closed to many of the Lebanese people, the policeman who guards the checkpoint decides who can get in.

Beirut, Lebanon

I also learnt the hard way that it is not allowed to take pictures of just about everything in downtown Beirut. While the closed area around the clock tower and the parliament building were ok (even if you were under the constant surveillance of military people) outside of this small quarter things got more complicated. It happened to me few times in the places where I had thought I’m fine to take pictures that the military guys stopped me and said it is forbidden. I was always willing to cooperate, showing them the picture I took (of the buildings around) and it was always fine, I wasn’t asked to delete the picture even once. Eventually one of them explained me that it is forbidden to take pictures of any military objects and people, and with all those checkpoints around it wasn’t an easy task!

Beirut, Lebanon

Safe (and not so much) areas of Beirut

The website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it is strongly advised against visiting southern suburbs of Beirut, that’s also where the cruel attack in November 2015 happened. Even if I didn’t plan to go anywhere near southern parts of the city this got me slightly worried. After all it is still one city and the airport is located somewhere there too. But again, there was nothing to worry about. When you visit Beirut there will be no need to go to the southern suburbs. Even when you stay in the central areas there will be plenty to see and do, and most of all these will be safe parts of Beirut. I spent the majority of my time in Gemmayzeh, Mar Mikhael, Achrafieh, Hamra and Downtown and it was all more than fine! There wasn’t even one situation where I’d be in some kind of danger or when I felt unsafe (well, except of crossing the street of course ;)). The same goes for the epic nightlife in Beirut – most of the events happen in Gemmayzeh or Mar Mikhael, most of the bars and pubs are located there and you will be more than fine joining the evening crowds!

Beirut, Lebanon

Safety in Lebanon outside of Beirut

My initial plan was to be based in Beirut and go to couple of day trips around: to Byblos, Tyre, Saidon or Baalbek. I was supposed to go with Viator Tours as these were the best deals I found online. Unfortunately I had to change my plans, due to the health issues I’ve been dealing with I only went to Byblos, on my own. And it was really fine, local people were the nicest, taking care of me along the way so I would find my way around, go where I need to etc. And Byblos was pretty amazing!

Byblos, Lebanon

Again, the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that it’s strongly advised against going close to the Syrian border, that includes cities of Baalbek and Tripoli. But then someone wise said that if tour companies go to potentially dangerous places (and they do run tours to Baalbek on daily basis) it can’t be that bad. After all safety of the customers is the most important for them. I met numerous people in Lebanon, also girls travelling solo, who went to all the places I had in my plans. And they all said it was really fine, they felt safe for all the time. I only once heard of someone who knows someone who heard gun shots when visiting spectacular ruins of Baalbek. But the sound was coming from far away and no one around seemed to be bothered with that.

Byblos, Lebanon

Solo female travel in Lebanon

And how is it to do a so called solo female travel in Lebanon? Again, there was nothing extraordinary and besides the usual common sense and more modest clothing in certain areas it is like in every other place. I’ve visited more demanding/annoying destinations for solo travelers (Iran or Morocco, just to name few) and Lebanon was just normal. There’s really nothing to worry about! But remember, it’s Middle East, things can change very quickly!

Beirut, Lebanon


Sorry to interupt but would you like to be the first one to read my posts (mostly) from off the path places in Eastern Europe, the Balkans and Middle East? Then sign up to my newsletter! I promise no spam, just new posts landing directly in your mailbox. Simply click on the picture below! Thanks!

newsletter


Is Lebanon safe?

Even if I was really freaking out before my trip now my answer to the question „is Lebanon safe?” would be yes. Yes, but… It is a normal country where people, despite all the problems, somehow live and enjoy their lives (the nightlife scene and the number of cafes, galleries and people at the seaside just proves it) but with the current political situation and the global war against ISIS things might change very quickly. If you plan a trip to Lebanon research the current situation there and if you can – get in touch with local people who live there, they will be your best source of information! And when you finally visit Lebanon I bet you will love it! After all it’s a wonderful country of hospitable people, the best food and incredible monuments that is worth all the effort!

Is Lebanon safe

Lebanon practical information

How to get to Lebanon?

I flew to Beirut from Warsaw with LOT Polish Airlines for a really good fare, 170USD/160€ return. You should definitely check if they have any good deals with a connection in Warsaw! Or you can always look on SkyScanner for other options (I always use it for all my flight searches!), there are couple of airlines that fly to Beirut airport.

There is no public transport from Beirut airport, you have to take a taxi. The price should be 25USD max. You can use two currencies in Lebanon: Lebanese pounds and US dollars. The value is 1USD = 1500LBP. You can pay in one currency and get the rest in another one, or you can mix them as you wish.

Where to stay in Lebanon?

I’ve decided to have my base in Beirut and do day trips from there. The place I stayed at is not on any booking services but it was in Gemmayze and I think this is the best area of Beirut, for numerous reasons. It’s centrally located, artistic, with lots of galleries, street art, famous stairs and cafes. You can book your accommodation in Beirut here!

Where to eat in Lebanon?

In Beirut I ate most of my meals at Cafe Em Nazih. The food was the most delicious ever and the prices were the most affordable I found in Beirut. But the list of good restaurants in Beirut serving Lebanese food is really long and I’m sure no matter where you go it will be a food heaven! Lebanese food is simply the best!

Lebanon packing list

First of all you need good walking shoes as public transport in Beirut is really difficult to figure out and taxis are rather expensive. That said the air pollution mask is a good idea too as the traffic is crazy and walking along the roads make it rather difficult to breath sometimes. Sunglasses are a must as well! Lebanon is in the Mediterranean climate with lots of sunny days and sometimes it’s just unbearable to walk around without the sunglasses on! Women should also have a scarf with them – you won’t enter the mosque without one and it’s always better to cover your hair with your own scarf than with the borrowed one! I also found Lifestraw Bottles super useful when traveling! I always travel with a guide book, in Lebanon I used Lonely Planet Middle East and it was super useful.

I never go anywhere without a travel insurance as you never know what might happen! In countries like Lebanon, where the risk is higher, I can’t even imagine not having an insurance! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Note: I visited Lebanon in May 2016 and all the opinions are based on this trip.

Did safety reasons stop you from travelling? Have you been to Middle East? Would you like to visit Lebanon?


If you’re looking for articles about any place in particular this map with posts might be useful for you. Or just take a look at the „destinations” page.


LIKED IT? PIN THIS POST!

Is Lebanon safe- (2)       Is Lebanon safe- (1)


There are some affiliate links in this post which means I earn a small commission from every purchase you make through my blog. It’s at no extra costs for you but helps me run this website. Thank you!

love, kami 2

If you enjoyed that post why don't you share it with your friends? That would mean so much to me! Also be sure to join 20.000+ fellow travelers and follow me on Facebook, Twitter, G+ or Instagram for travel updates and even more pictures! If you don't want to miss new posts sign up to my newsletter!

Print Friendly
1 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 Google+ 0 Pin It Share 1 StumbleUpon 0 1 Flares ×
30 Cze '16

Related Posts

There are 51 Comments.

  1. I love that you are so honest in your post. Safety and Russian relations with Turkey have kept me from visiting. I actually had a layover in Ataturk airport back in January, and that was the same time Russia closed the borders to Turkey because of political issues. I was in Spain and my boyfriend texted me saying they closed the border. I freaked out and couldn’t find my flight. I thought they had canceled it only to realize that I was looking at the wrong day. It’s so weird to me though that there was just a bombing there a few days ago. I’ve never been that close to an ISIS attack and I just keep thinking how busy the airport was and what could have happened. I try not to let the ISIS problem get to me though because that’s how they win, but you also have to be cautious and realize they are a threat.
    Jasilyn latest post…What It’s Like to Be a Foreigner in RussiaMy Profile

    • kami
      22:20 04/07/2016

      Thanks! I had similar thoughts about recent Ataturk airport attacks – I had layover there twice last November and it was crazy busy. I just couldn’t stop thinking what if this would have happened then… It’s not easy to keep the ISIS problem away from our minds, I’m dealing with it as well but, just like with Lebanon, it gets me every now and then

  2. We have the same feelings about safety but still a little bit afraid… :( Our dream is to visit Lebanon and Jordan it’s something that we really, really wanna do, but we still don’t have the courage to do it. Anyway your trip was so great and you are so brave! :*

    • kami
      22:22 04/07/2016

      Thank you! I don’t think there’s anything to worry about in Jordan, there’re so many tourists visiting every day and it’s just fine, I actually haven’t heard about any terrorist attacks there. Lebanon is more tricky but still rather safe. I really hope you will go to both countries soon!

  3. I remember your post on Facebook, where you were considering your trip to Lebenon – go or stay at home? I completely understand you, but now you have to be very proud of yourself that you finally went there! As you said – when somebody goes to some place, it’s very important to make a research and talk to local people, cause they are the best source of information. What’s more, people shouldn’t consider TV as a god and then they will understand that not every east country is dangerous and they will stop frighten you before your trips :) Kamila – you are the best and keep going!
    Agnieszka latest post…Chełmiec – Góry Wałbrzyskie (KGP)My Profile

    • kami
      22:24 04/07/2016

      Thank you! I try to stay away from media (I’ve been living without the tv for some 13 years now and don’t miss it) but sometimes we’re surrounded so much with all the tragic news that they still play with our mind. But most important is to keep the distance from media and do a proper research in other sources!

  4. Good research is a must! One cannot only relay on one-sided information. I am glad you decided to go and see for yourself how Lebanon feels like. And I am glad that you returned safe and sound :)
    Aleksandra Makulska latest post…Spacer w chmurachMy Profile

  5. Interesting that they asked you so many questions at immigration! They simply stamped mine without questions (and I have a lot of stamps in the passport) – German passport. My gf is HK-Chinese with a British passport though, and the lady at immigration asked her if she doesn’t need a visa to visit Lebanon, and if she was sure she landed at the correct destination ;) We also walked away from potentially „dangerous” demos during our time in Beirut, to learn one was simply a religious celebration and the other one a student gathering, but not a demo. The closed off area wasn’t closed off and very busy in June 2015, and we took pictures of just about everything!

    • haha, that’s so funny about the correct airport :D must be so unusual for someone to travel to Lebanon ;) apparently the downtown area was closed after garbage crisis in autumn last year – too bad as it looked really depressing

  6. People here in the states ask me all the time about the „safety” when we travel especially when we went to Ukraine, Bosnia, and South America. People have a pretty irrational fear of the unknown and the rest of the world. My parents and my wifes parents are always worried for us but i still feel safer than back here in the states with all the gun crime. Thanks for the update!

    • I think this comes from the lack of knowledge and, like you said, fear of the unknown. But these are normal places like any other, people live there! I actually feel safer in Ukraine or Bosnia than let’s say France or UK!

  7. Tak. Nie pojechaliśmy do Wenezueli, bo tam spory kryzys jest od dłuższego czasu, choć byliśmy blisko granicy. Dodatkowo utrudnił nam dotarcie tam fakt, że tę bliską nam granicę Kolumbii z Wenezuelą zamknięto ze względów bezpieczeństwa.

  8. Ciągle poluję na jakąś szaloną środę i loty do Libanu. Coś widziałaś może ostatnio? :)

  9. Zdecydowanie tak, chociaż czasem warto się przełamać, bo moze się okazać, że byliśmy w błędzie.

  10. W tych czasach, w których żyjemy, ludzie szukają informacji a propos tego, czy rzeczywiście miejsce, do którego jedziemy jest bezpieczne, więc takie wpisy są ważne! Zazdroszczę miejsca, zrobiłaś mi ochotę na Liban! :)

  11. Oj, wielokrotnie. Ale też kilka razy jechaliśmy w różne miejsca tuż po jakimś zamachu lub zamieszkach, bo nie było innego wyjścia :) Tego Libanu zazdroszczę, przyznam się, że miałem zerowe pojęcie o tym, jak to tam wygląda – dopiero teraz odkrywam go dzięki Twoim relacjom…

  12. Nigdy nie musiałam przekładać podróży z uwagi na bezpieczeństwo na miejscu, ale też nigdy nie wybierałam z góry miejsc „ryzykownych”. Trzy razy załapałam się na powódź w Tajlandii, ale nie dotknęła mnie ona praktycznie w ogóle.

  13. Pamietam jak pytałaś czy jechac. Dobrze ze pojechałaś :)

  14. My ze względów bezpieczeństwa ominelismy niestety Wenezuelę i większe miasta Hondurasu ( jak znane z morderstw San Pedro Sula), ale w tym drugim przypadku mam wrażenie, że raczej nic nas nie ominęło

  15. 20:18 05/07/2016

    I guess I have never travelled to any place which would be considered unsafe. Well, once I went to South Sudan, and many people looked at me saying „are you out of your mind?” but i had friends there and knew it would be safe. It was even funny to be accompanied by a goverment bodyguard with a pistol while going to Imotong Mountains. But if I had bad feelings I would never force myself to go anywhere that might be considered unsafe…

    • kami
      20:16 21/07/2016

      So you did go to the supposedly dangerous place after all ;) I don’t think I know anyone else who have been to South Sudan!

  16. I try to visit only quite safe place and to be honest trip to Lebanon isn’t my dream. Maybe in the future it will change… :) Anyway you are really brave but I know you are a good planner which is very important in those kind of travels.
    Gadulec latest post…Filipiny w pigułceMy Profile

    • kami
      20:17 21/07/2016

      Thank you :) and who knows, maybe at some point you will change your mind about travels to Lebanon too :) ?

  17. Ty potrafisz zachęcić do miejsca, o którym przeciętny człowiek nawet nie pomyśli.

  18. Alex
    00:36 13/08/2016

    This is a great article! I’m really hoping to travel to Lebanon with my mother in December since we both love middle eastern culture and roman ruins, but she’s a bit wary of the security situation. Our other option for December is Iran, which she feels more comfortable with. I’d be happy with either!

    • kami
      12:04 31/08/2016

      Actually both countries are great but so different! Food wise I’d definitely go for Lebanon but architecture was better in Iran. I loved both places, maybe Lebanon slightly more. No matter where you go you will love it for sure!!

  19. I’ve never been to the Middle East proper (just Egypt and Turkey which are not geographically considered Middle East) but this will change in March when I’m planning to visit Israel (for a conference) and Jordan. Funnily enough, I was looking at a map last night wondering: could I also „hop” into Lebanon? It’s so close. However, if border officials are so concerned about you having been to Israel, what do they do when you’re crossing into their country from the Israel side?? Great post by the way.
    Marie-France latest post…A week-end in Quebec’s Coaticook ValleyMy Profile

    • kami
      08:15 30/09/2016

      Thanks. You will love Israel and Jordan, I’m sure of it! Unfortunately you’re not allowed to cross the border or Israel and Lebanon so the only way is to fly from Amman, Jordan. And remember to avoid stamping your passport both in Israel and Jordan so the officials at Lebanese border won’t know you were in Israel – the same story goes for entering Iran.

    • Ymor
      11:41 28/10/2016

      Hello!
      Lebanese girl over here!
      Well, sadly, you cannot get in lebanon if you have an Israeli stamp on your passport, because Israel is considered the enemy by the lebanese government. However, lots of lebanese people travel to Israel by going to jordan, then Israel, then back to jordan and then lebanon. And while they are in Israel, they don’t get their passport stamped, they only get a paper or smtg. I had been told that the Israeli people are fine with that and don’t mind not stamping your passport. However, I’m not sure… never tried it before.
      Andd, based on your name… I think you speak french, so you’ll be fine over here. Lots of people speak french, it is like our second language. While others have english as their second language. So if you speak both, you’ll be more than fine.
      Annd… well I guess that’s it.
      Oh and if u ever visit us, make sure you eat a man’oucheh and bzourat. You won’t regret it.
      Best regardss!

      • kami
        21:51 01/11/2016

        Thank you for this amazing comment! I miss man’oucheh and Lebanese food sooo much!!! ;)

  20. piotr
    17:32 27/10/2016

    Jak widzisz możliwość podróży do Libanu motocyklem ? Jak wygląda tam biwakowanie?

    • kami
      21:48 01/11/2016

      Przyznaje, że na motocyklach sie nie znam zupełnie. Ale wydaje mi sie, że łatwo nie będzie – wąskie uliczki, ruch ogromny, jeżdżą jak wariaci… Podobnie z biwakowaniem, nadźgane tam zabudowań wszędzie, wiec może być ciężko. Ale i nie interesowałam się za bardzo tematem.

      • piotr
        13:35 02/11/2016

        Ok. Dzięki. Ale może nie tak postawiłem pytanie. Czy jest w Bejrucie port do którego przyplywają statki z np. Grecji albo skąd indziej. To że mają conajmniej 2 cempingi to wiem z internetu. Oba nie daleko od Bejrutu. A wogóle to może powinienem zacząć od tego że bardzo zazdroszczę Ci podróży tam. Kiedyś może i mi uda zrealizować marzenie żeby dotrzeć tam motocyklem. Póki co, inna droga niż morska odpada ze względu na sytuację w Syrii.

        • kami
          22:50 04/11/2016

          Aż poszukałam w internetach, bo mnie temat zaintrygował, i wyszło mi, że było połączenie z Turcji do Tripoli na północy Libanu, ale obecnie wygląda na to, że jest zawieszone… także chyba póki co podróż lądem do Libanu odpada niestety :( ale może zdecydujesz się bez motoru, naprawdę warto!

          • piotr
            22:51 06/11/2016

            Dzięki Ci serdeczne za wszystkie info, ale bez motocykla ?!!! Nie da rady. Wszędzie jeżdżę motocyklem. A podróż do Libanu to takie moje marzenie i pewnie się spełni, kiedyś……

          • kami
            12:55 16/11/2016

            to trzymam kciuki, żeby jak najszybciej sie spełniło, chociaż pewnie łatwo nie bedzie…

  21. Hi,

    I live in Dubai so Lebanon is right in my ‚neighborhood’. However, I do have a lot of hesitation. I’d love to see it one day since there are a lot of seat sale of budget airlines flying from Dubai. Your post is very helpful. Thanks!
    Grace @ Sandier Pastures latest post…10 Reasons why we love living in the UAEMy Profile

    • kami
      21:07 03/12/2016

      You definitely should consider Lebanon as it’s not that dangerous! You just need to talk to locals and they will advise you the best. Most of the central Beirut is really safe to visit, and so amazing!

  22. Tesa Bandiyoko
    12:41 19/12/2016

    Hi Kami,
    I came across your blog as I am planning to travel to Lebanon with a couple of girl friends in February 2017. I know someone who lives in South of Lebanon who has reassured me that it is safe there. When did you go there ?

    • Hattori
      13:12 25/12/2016

      south of lebanon is not a place to go for vacation. it got nice villages and great food but its too religious. u need to be in cities, mainly beirut. its always safe, like every other country, there are places u should avoid. and february isnt really the vacation time in lebanon unless u like to ski, otherwise move it to the summer.

    • kami
      22:17 25/12/2016

      I was in Lebanon in May 2016. And still I would recommend to stick just to the center of Beirut, there’re plenty of things to do and see there anyway!

  1. Pingback: 17 Muslim Countries to Visit in 2017 - MarocMama

Leave a Reply

*

CommentLuv badge

Let’s become friends!

Join me on Facebook for even more travel updates!