Be careful when transferring funds to Syria. Due to American sanctions, Syrian banks do not accept transfers in US dollars, only euros and ATM charge 5% plus your card charge to give you money. However the transmitting bank will not tell you that they cannot transfer dollars to Syria, until you ask them.
- Work Abroad
- Budget Travel
- Business Travel
In Damascus It is normal to hear car and taxi drivers use the car horn to push the other drivers in front to move further,even there is no traffic,
So my tip is to make sure you have earplugs if your hotel is near high road to be able to asleep the drivers use horn24/7 they do not care if people are sleep at night.
Is it acceptable to drink alcohol? What about drug use?
Drug use is strictly prohibited in Syria, and carries very stiff penalties for usage or possession, and no distinction is made between “hard” or “soft” drugs”. If you’re carrying pot, weed, hash or marijuana for medical use or otherwise, do not attempt to enter Syria.
Drinking Alcohol in public is unacceptable and not recommended (and sometimes illegal) except in tourist resorts like Lattakia. In all other cities, you can drink alcohol at the resturants or bars that serve it, as well as in private in your hotel room. You may bring alcohol with you to Syria, but maybe required to pay duty tax.
Syria is not like Dubai you find alcohol ONLY in bars of hotels.
in Syria you can purchase alcohol easily from liquor shops and bars as well.
Bottle of Beer is is aboit half US dollars in shops,while 2 US dollars in bars..
When is the best time to visit Syria?
- The best time to visit Syria is spring or autumn, as the temperature is in the mild mid 20s. Winter is too cold and Summer is probably too hot for all but the most hardy traveler, add to that frequent electricity and water shortages during the hot summer months.
Wasta is a word often heard in Syria. It is Arabic and translates as something like authority, influence, political (or other) power, connections, or a combination of those terms. In practical terms it means that some rules can become more flexible if you have wasta, or know someone who has wasta. Also, a bit of wasta can smooth or speed up business transactions, bureaucratic issues, and other official procedures. At its best (or worst, depending on your point of view), a good dose of wasta could keep you out of jail or save you from other unpleasant consequences of dubious activities.
The common English expression "it's not what you know but who you know ... " is a rough equivalent of wasta.
On the wasta scale (not that there is an official one), things that can make a difference in the Syria are your nationality, your profession, who you work for, who you know, your political position in the country, your connections to people in positions of authority. Money and how long you have lived in the Syria don't usually directly affect your wasta level but indirectly they do since longer term residents may have built up a larger network of high-wasta friends, and rich people often associate with other rich people who may be high-wasta individuals.
Many expat residents learn about wasta through a driving experience. In simple terms, the more wasta someone has, the less likely they are to cop a fine and/or be blamed if there's an accident. Wasta can result in some unusual situations for example, green lights were actually red when you went through them because the person who crashed into you had enough wasta to change the color retroactively. Indications of higher levels of wasta on the road are dark tinted or mirror tinted windows (30% maximum is the law so anything more than that means it's likely they have enough wasta to get around this rule), number plates with fewer than 5 digits (but anyone can buy them now if they have enough cash so it's not as good an indication as in the past).
Wasta is something that many expats, especially westerners, find difficult to come to terms with but you'll find it easier to enjoy Dubai if you get used to that rather than try to fight it. And of course it helps if you can elevate your own wasta level somehow.
Wasta and Bribes
Don't confuse wasta with bribery. If you try to bribe a government official, for example a police officer who has just pulled you up for driving though somebody's garden, you should expect to be punished fairly harshly for trying to bribe them. And if the owner of the garden that you drove through has some wasta, then you'll probably be even worse off. In the business world, things may operate a little differently. Just as anywhere else in the world, the negotiation of business transactions and contracts is not always done on a level playing field, and bribes ... er gifts ... might be part of your discussions with interested parties.
Wasta also means to pull some strings. is widespread in Syria and bribery as well under Syrian baath party.
Syria has its own rules for changing the clock, which differ from those in Europe. It might be on Thursday/Friday night and then it might be on Friday/Saturday, but it will NOT be the last Sunday in October.
If you are leaving Syria during the last week of October/March first week of November/April. then be sure to check when the clocks change, or risk missing your departing plane.
- Business Travel
- Budget Travel
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
One of the major problems in Damascus was the lack of information in other language than Arabic. We try to visit the city without a guide, what is not difficult, taking a taxi in some points and walking. But it is hard to understand what you are seeing if there isn’t written information. So buy a good guide book …
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
- Road Trip
If you are mailing your passport to the Syrian embassy in the United States, you should know that it will take about three weeks to be processed. It cost $100 for Americans and $68 for Romanians. If you need to contact the embassy, keep calling until someone picks up the phone. There is little chance that they will return your calls or reply to an email.
Phone: (202) 265-4585
It is true that Damascus –and Syria in general- is really a very safe place. People are friendly and hospitable and if you express a common sense, you’ll never have any problem. I never felt unsafe and although I could speak only two or three Arabic words, people were always willing to help me. The only “danger” as other Vters have said, is the taxi drivers: always ready to overcharge and cheat you and never have a taximeter or small change. The best way to deal with them is to avoid using a taxi, but if you have to, then discuss the price beforehand and keep in mind that a simple cross-town ride costs around 30SP.
Yes, they are friendly to Americans there. Yes, they can distinguish between politics and private people. The most famous is an American Immigration official who spent part of his holiday in Palmyra and left his card there for all to see. (At leasrt that is what he claimed to be, civilian I mean)I heard they were even friendly to civilian Israelis who sneaked in.
Really, I never felt so safe ANYWHERE else. Close to zero sexual harrassment (compared to what I tend get in the West), zero hostility, sincere smiles and laughs on odds instead of nagging, people are honest, sincerely hospitable and don't get on your neck the way they do in package tourist ressorts elsewhere. People are always hanging out on therstreet chatting or having tea and so are watching what is going on around them ( plus the usual secret police and staff having an eye out) but the only negative effect you will likely notice of these circumstances is when you decide to write political messages to amnesty international or something. This setting makes for very safe walking by yourself until late at night.
And just the way people react to civilian strangers in that special spot on earth: Should you get lost, some elderly couple or another person might insist on helping you find your way back by bussing you there in their midst, as happened to fuzzy me who always gets lost and has a hard time crossing busy intersections by herself. Very easygoing and caring people.
As a not too ugly single female, you might get more marriage proposals than you can politely refuse though. Always these suitors!
...In that love that never ends
Touching my arms
You told me words of hope
Watching in your eyes
I felt you are the one
Close to your scent
I knew my life was changing
Loving that hope
A gift filled from love
Watching your eyes
I felt i was the one
Cause close to my scent
You knew your life was changing
Wishing to live
An endless gift of love.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
police is everywhere,with or without uniforms,political police,private police,economic police,antizionist police,and so on...so be politically correct with everybody,do not say in public that you dislike the arab leaders;how many of them in damascus main street? so the result is that nobody will bother you in the street because of the fear of the police
- Historical Travel
Just avoid accounts at the Commercial Bank of Syria.Try traveller checks and cash.The system with ATM is not very trustworthy yet(there are two machines,as far as I know, one opposite Cham Palace Hotel and one at City Mall).If you plan to stay long time there is Western Union office(Ommayad sq,Athnan Malki str,2nd building after Library al Assad).
Just avoid the bank, you will anything else but problems getting your money.
This is a painful story...First of all have coins with you, because even if there is a taxi meter you will pay more if you don't have little money with you.Usually drivers pretend that
1)they don't have change,or
2)they really don't have, so you have or to surrender or to find a shop near that will change the money,or
3)they keep tip by themselves and you find yourself fighting about 25 sp(or more...)...Which generally is not a big thing, but if you think that mini buses take just 5 liras for a ride, then yes, you feel bad throwing money from the window...
If the taxi doesn't have a meter wait for another if you have the time(damascus is full of taxis, rarely you won't find many),if you don't or bargain the price from before(nothing more than 70 sp for rides inside the city),or pay last minute as much as you think and leave(but try to be fair anyway,and of course you must have the price exactly or you will have to fight again).No, this won't cause you trouble. If the driver disagrees strongly call the police, he is illegal anyway...
By all the ways even if you agree the price or not, with taximeter or not ,if you use them often at the end you will have a nervous breakdown...So, better with minibuses(and it is more fun also)
The general rule is to not show a lot of your skin. You will see many Syrian women dressed really modern and sexy and with tones of make up and... and....But don't forget, that YOU are the foreighner here. So try to be very conservative with your clothes if you don't want to give the wrong message and make more people to really like you.