Photo by Piotr Chrobot
A Mediterranean nation that is shaped by its contrasts… Lebanon is characterized by it being the nexus point of the East and The West, of tradition and modernity, of Christianity and of Islam.
Hedonistic, self-indulging and glamorous – Lebanon is fiery, it’s mysterious, strong and most importantly – it’s an incredible destination to visit. Despite the turbulent past that has shaped the country, you’ll find a heady gastronomic experience, a nightlife that doesn’t stop and an arts and culture scene unlike any other.
Think mysteries, spice markets juxtaposed with European edifices and medieval ancient ruins contrasting the luxury beaches. Even though Lebanon is known for its political unrest, the country is still one that should be on your bucket list.
Choosing Lebanon for a solo travel adventure might seem like a crazy thing to do, many may even find it intimidating. However, everything can work out perfectly if the right precautions are taken.
You are fiercely independent, you should not be afraid of exploring new places on your own, you should not think twice about embarking to undiscovered places and discovering yourself. Many are discouraged by the horror stories, but that’s the thing. The bad stories are the only ones you get to hear.
As long as you remain a little cautious, Lebanon will unveil all its wonders to you so you can explore this incredibly rich country. In this article, I will provide a women’s handbook to visiting Lebanon.
What to Pack and What to Wear
How to dress
Lebanon is incredibly diverse. It’s a country where mixed religions intertwine effortlessly and different religious sects practice their beliefs freely. You will find that in every neighborhood and in every city in Lebanon, the clothing requirements end up differing.
The long story short: You may dress as you please. There is no dress code. This is not Saudi Arabia or Iran.
The long story: There are some neighborhoods that may end up being more conservative than the others, and you will need to dress accordingly. Also, Lebanese women are extremely (almost intimidatingly) stylish.
So what do you need to know while you pack?
- While packing, use packing cubes. They are essentially small containers that are made of fabric and can be compressed in your bag. The advantage? You’ll be able to fit twice or three times the amount of clothes you can bring. They’ll be organized, wrinkle-free and ready for you to take out. As they can come in multiple sizes and shapes, you need to check the best packing cubes before purchasing your favorite.
- Bring the most stylish outfits you have. It does not matter how skimpy they are. When Lebanese women go out at night to party, they bring out the absolute best they have. Consider it a fashion runway! Bring your most glamorous outfits.
- If you’re visiting in summer, bring shorts, swimsuits, and nice dresses. Always make sure to add a few long skirts and cardigans, and one or two scarves to cover up in case you end up in more traditional and conservative places.
- If you’re traveling in winter, warm jackets, thermals and windbreakers are essential. The weather gets really cold in Lebanon, and your trip will rapidly turn into a nightmare if you’re not appropriately dressed for the weather.
- I’ve written destination tips that you can read before you travel to get a gist of the types of places you will visit and therefore pack accordingly. Is the town you’re visiting mostly a Muslim one? What types of attractions will you visit? Are there going to be a lot of religious and sacred sites? The more you know about where you’re traveling, the easier it will be to pack.
Tips for Your Trip to Lebanon
Lebanon is a great solo-travel option
The thing about Lebanon is that it’s relatively small and compact. Tradition and family bonds run deep into the hearts and personalities of its citizens and you will see that they’re extremely friendly and helpful. It’s quite rare to find hostile locals, and if you’re ever in trouble, know that someone will always be there to help. The Lebanese are not there to haggle with you, take advantage of you as a female tourist or scam you.
Learn how to stay safe
Despite the good-natured locals and the array of destinations you can visit, it’s always essentials to take a few precautions to stay safe.
- Don’t walk in dark, empty streets alone.
- Make sure you have a Lebanese SIM card that works.
- If you’re going to be meeting someone, set the place to be at your hotel.
- Always ask your hotel receptionists about what to do/what not to do.
- Hang out with like-minded travelers and take care of your belongings at all times.
- Do not get too intoxicated at clubs and always keep your guards up.
- Try not to walk home, and it’s recommended to take Ubers instead of taxis late at night.
- Choose a central location to stay at.
Do your research
Lebanon is known for its instability and political turmoil, so here are a few things you need to do before and during your trip there:
- Read travel alerts from your home government.
- Avoid any rallies and protests.
- Talk to locals online to get a better picture of what’s going on.
- Research before going on day trips.
In most towns in Lebanon, Arabic and French are the two most widely spoken languages. However, in Beirut, you will have no problem at all speaking in English.
Carry Cash with You
Always carry cash with you as a lot of places end up not accepting credit or debit cards.
Where to Go
Of course, Beirut is the top destination to visit. You’ll be met with an unparalleled nightlife, incredible attractions and a contemporary art and culture scene. Apart from Beirut, here are some places you can visit:
- Sidon for the medieval castle.
- Baalbek for its Roman temples.
- Tripoli for its Islamic architecture.
- Qadish for the nature.
Despite the instability in Lebanon, if the needed precautions are taken into consideration, you are bound to have a good time. Always be careful, plan everything before arriving, dress accordingly, take care of who you hang out with and you will have a trip of a lifetime.