Is Lebanon Safe in 2019? Tips and Travel Advice

Is Lebanon safe to visit RIGHT NOW? You can travel to Lebanon if you're familiar with these 17 Lebanon travel tips...

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The former home to the Phoenicians, Lebanon is PACKED with a whole lot of history. You can explore ancient ruins here. There’s amazing food. You can go skiing. You can chill on the beach. Lebanon is GREAT!

Lebanon also happens to be wedged between some pretty brutal conflicts. There’s Syria and the war surrounding it. There’s Israel to the south. Palestinian refugees and Syrian refugees are spilling into the country. Terrorist attacks are common.

Naturally, you’re going to be wondering, “Is Lebanon safe?” It’s a fair question. We have decided to tackle it by creating an EPIC insider’s guide to staying safe in Lebanon. If you’re worried about visiting, we are here with information and tips to help you out.

Not only will we discuss the no-go zones, but we’ll be going through a whole lot of safety tips, some specifically for families and even solo female travelers. We want everyone to be able to travel smart around the world!

 

Lebanon Sea

Welcome to our massive Lebanon safety guide!

 

How Safe is Lebanon? (Our take)

Beautiful Lebanon is the place to go if you want a slice of unadulterated landscapes, beaches, a Mediterranean meets Middle Eastern vibe, and a TON of culture – there are surprisingly 18 recognized religions here!

However… Due to its past (and actual geographical position), Lebanon is caught up in a whole lot of trouble. This means it may not be the safest country.

Tell people you’re going to Lebanon and there’ll definitely be some raised eyebrows. A civil war ended in 1990 and today there’s unrest. The main issues? Hezbollah and the Syrian War.

There’s also tension with neighboring Israel.

That doesn’t mean you can’t travel in Lebanon or that something will happen to you while you’re there, but many countries’ governments advise their citizens against certain regions of Lebanon. While it’s true that the security situation can deteriorate pretty quickly in this part of the world, and yes – it’s true that terrorist attacks occur, Lebanon as a country – as a culture – is pretty safe for travel.

 

Is Lebanon Safe to Visit? (The facts.)

2 souvenir shop lebanon

Beirut’s streets are filled with all sorts of enticing shops because of Lebanon’s unique cultural heritage. Photo: Flickr

It might not be intuitive, but tourism has been pretty important to Lebanon’s economy.

Before the civil war kicked off in 1975, Beirut was considered ‘the Paris of the Middle East’ – a hub of culture, and a melting pot of thousands of years of history.

Tourism obviously took a massive hit from the civil war. It’s been gaining a small percentage each year, in the first half of 2018 there was a rise of 3.3% (on the year before): just over 560,000 tourists visited.

The tourism sector is not very well established though. The UK, Australia and the USA warn citizens against travel to Lebanon. There have also been a handful of suicide bombings in recent years.

On the 2018 Global Peace Index, Lebanon sat at 141 out of 163. Not great.

HOWEVER: This still places Lebanon as one of the safest countries in the Middle East. As a result of this, it sees a high level of tourists from the region.

But you can’t escape the fact that it’s basically wedged between two of the world’s most infamous ongoing conflicts – Syria to the north, Israel to the south.

Statistically speaking, it’s not exactly safe to visit Lebanon. Let’s have a look and see if that’s still the case right at the moment…

 

Is it Safe to Visit Lebanon Right Now?

The thing is, a lot of people ARE visiting Lebanon currently. And they’re having an AWESOME time.

We can’t exactly say that it is safe to visit Lebanon right now though. There are too many warnings from governments across the world for us to give an unreserved ‘go ahead’.

And you can’t go to every area of Lebanon. You should not be going to these places: Palestinian refugee camps (specifically Ain El Hilweh in Saida), within 5 kilometers of the border with Syria, or the Hermel area.

Even the southern suburbs of Beirut are ‘no-go’, so is Tripoli and areas to the north of the city are also not safe because of ongoing clashes; plus anywhere south of the Litani River. 

You also have to be careful in Beqaa Valley since drug cultivation has resulted in heavy gang presence in the area.

There have also been protests in the South, which a traveler shouldn’t get tangled up in.

A fair few places in Lebanon aren’t safe for travel. That’s very clear. Everywhere else – though you should be careful is open for business!

 

Lebanon Travel Insurance

Get insurance! Even if you are only going on a short trip, you should always travel with insurance. Have fun while visiting Lebanon, but take it from someone who has racked up thousands of bucks on an insurance claim before, you need it.

As a wise man once said, if you can’t afford travel insurance, you shouldn’t be traveling – so be sure to get your backpacker insurance sorted before you head off on an adventure! We highly recommend World Nomads.

 

To find out why we recommend World Nomads, check out our World Nomads Insurance review.

If you want to shop around a little, then read up on competing companies and what they can offer. There are lots of insurances out there, so don’t feel limited.

 

17 Top Safety Tips for Traveling to Lebanon

Old City Lebanon

Lebanon invokes more fear than necessary in potential travelers.

Government advice may be practically screaming ‘don’t go to Lebanon!’ But we would disagree. There’s not been a war IN Lebanon since 1991, the Lebanese-Israeli War lasted just one month and ended in 2006. Most bad stuff in this country is spilling over from other conflicts. Still, it’s a very volatile part of the world, so apart from general travel safety tips, here’s some specific safety advice for when you feel like going to Lebanon!

  1. Celebratory gunfire is common – to speeches, victories, political demonstrations. If you hear it, head into a building!
  2. Stay aware of the security situation – watch TV, listen to the radio, check Twitter, whatever – things can change quickly.
  3. Take care around BIG events – people attending large gatherings, sports events, that sort of thing – they can be targets of terrorist attacks
  4. Yes, there is a threat of terrorism – there’s not a lot you can do about it, but stay vigilant.
  5. Don’t wander off the beaten track – we mean literally. There are plenty of landmines still out there. Maybe use a guide
  6. Listen to police/officials – there are plenty of military checkpoints. If you’re stopped, comply. They’re there for your safety.
  7. Don’t take photos of military sites – it’s kind of obvious. Why would you? Snapping pics anything that isn’t an obvious tourist sight might get you pulled aside.
  8. Respect local traditions – be aware of how you’re behaving and how it could offend people, e.g. eating in public during Ramadan.
  9. Dress modestly when you go to religious sites – if it looks like other people are covering up, then you should too.
  10. Do NOT use drugs in Lebanon – use of cannabis is widespread but police CAN use entrapment techniques. Even a small quantity is an offense that could land you in prison.
  11. Refrain from same-sex public displays of affection – LGBTQ travelers, take note. This is punishable with prison time.
  12. Learn a bit of Arabic – this can help keep you safe, help you get around the country, help you eat, etc.
  13. Look after your belongings – don’t walk around with your bag open or anything like that. It’s not common, but thieves DO exist.
  14. Similarly, don’t walk around looking wealthy – it won’t help you stay out of trouble.
  15. Don’t carry loads of money around with you – it’s better if it’s not there to steal, or go missing, in the first place. You can secure extra cash you think you’ll need in a security belt.
  16. Carry your ID around at all times – you’ll need to show it if someone official asks for it. A copy will do.
  17. There are earthquakes in Lebanon – knowing what to do in the event of a big one will keep you safe.

Surprisingly, outside of the things that governments are warning people about (and scaring them away from Lebanon in the process), this country is pretty safe. Crime levels are relatively low and it’s one of the more stable Middle Eastern countries, though at the moment that isn’t saying a lot. Like most places, travel smart, be aware of your surroundings, be culturally aware. You should be fine!!

 

Keeping your money safe in Lebanon

There may be a TON of issues affecting Lebanon’s border areas (and more places besides), but as a humble backpacker, you’re probably not going to get caught up in any of that. The usual worries apply – and that means losing your money.

It’s the most common annoying thing that’s likely to happen any traveler anywhere in the world, and something that can not just put a dampener on your trip but cut it short. Our suggestion is simple: wear a money belt.

The best way to keep your money safe is with an awesome security belt

If you go searching for a money belt online, chances are you’re going to come up against a whole galaxy of choice that will pretty much leave your head spinning. The one we would definitely recommend, however, is the Active Roots Security Belt.

This thing is awesome. In a super simple way. It looks like a NORMAL BELT. It’s cheap. It’s sturdy. What more do you want?

Open up the zip, stick in your stash o’ cash for the day, explore. It’s as simple as that. Pickpockets are going to find it PRETTY hard to pick your pockets when there’s nothing in your pockets to pick. Your money is going to stay safe in the belt. Thieves aside, if you’re a forgetful person and tend to leave stuff lying around, or losing things, then this will help: your belt will always contain some money to fall back on.

If you need a little more room for your passport and other travel valuables, have a look at a full-size money belt that tucks under your clothes instead.

If neither of those options appeals to your refined fashion sense, don’t compromise! Opt for an infinity scarf with a hidden zipper pocket.

 

Is Lebanon safe to travel alone?

Solo Traveler Lebanon

Looking for an adventure?

Traveling solo to Lebanon is probably best done by those who have a fair bit of travel experience under their belt. Outside of Beirut, things get a bit difficult; infrastructure isn’t well developed and you may be more than a little shocked if this is your first time!

If you’ve experienced solo travel in other countries, you know that it’s going to be a rewarding experience. Seeing a place at your own pace, meeting new people, learning about a culture, etc. But to help you, here are some pro tips for solo travelers in Lebanon.

  • Get yourself a Lebanese sim card. They might be a little more expensive than you’re used to back home but they are definitely well worth it if you’re thinking of traveling to Lebanon by yourself. This allows you to keep in touch with people, call accommodation, restaurants, keep track of where you are on maps. You know, usual benefits of a phone.
  • Get to know other travelers in Lebanon. There are meet-up groups, such as Travel Massive Beirut and weekly Couchsurfing meet-ups in the city, too. Have a look online and find the type of group that’s right for you.
  • Don’t go off-grid! Keep your family up to date with where you are and what you’re up to. Not only is this going to give them peace of mind – because they probably think you’re crazy for heading to Lebanon – but it’ll keep you connected, grounded in reality, and ultimately it’s SAFER when someone knows where you are.
  • Use reputable hotels. Make sure you do your research and read reviews. Is the area sketchy? Are the staff awesome? Are the rooms gross? Is it secure? All that stuff. If it ticks all of your boxes then go ahead!
  • Know emergency numbers. Keep them saved high up on your contacts too. Imagine scrolling through your phonebook in an emergency situation.
  • Stay away from streets that look deserted. It’s probably a good way to get into trouble – day or night.
  • Join a tour! Aside from all its other benefits, even for experienced travelers, Lebanon is going to be tough. Whilst Beirut will be fine, getting out into the rest of the country is going to be tricky. There’s a lack of accommodation, public transport, that sort of thing. So finding yourself a reputable tour company will definitely open up the country for you – and safely too.
  • Ask local people for insider knowledge. If anybody’s going to know the country, it’s going to be the people who live in it. Ask the manager at your hotel, the staff, a local you may get chatting to. There’s more to life than what your guidebook recommends.
  • TRAVEL LIGHT. This is a top tip. Limit yourself to one bag and don’t make it too heavy. If you’re traveling around, the last thing you need is a load of baggage. One will do.

If you’ve lived the backpacker lifestyle before, get stuck into Lebanon as a solo traveler! It may seem like a bit of an odd choice taking into account all the instability in the area, but don’t let that put you off. It’s a small country, meaning it’s easy to traverse. Crime rates are pretty low and people here are hospitable. Despite what your government might be saying, you probably should go to Lebanon if you’re seriously thinking about it!

 

Is Lebanon safe for solo female travellers?

Female Traveler Lebanon

Because of its image, few take advantage of Lebanon’s beauty!

Surprisingly (for some of us), you can have an amazing time as a solo female traveler in Lebanon. It’s actually fairly easy as a solo female traveler here. You can wear Western clothes. You can wear swimwear on the beaches. It’s family-oriented, so people are pretty nice. It’s all-around great.

Lebanon feels part-European, part-Middle Eastern. That means the culture is generally quite relaxed – and there’s not even a lot of hassle from men here! But you may be concerned about your safety, so here are some tips to help with your travels.

  • In Beirut, Western clothing is normal. You won’t have to wear traditional Middle Eastern style clothing at all. Skinny jeans, for example, are common. Other areas of the country might not be so liberal. Observe other women wherever you are and try to imitate (as best you can) how they’re dressed. It’s the best way to blend in.
  • The only time you need to wear a headscarf is when you go to religious sites, specifically mosques. Usually, you’ll be provided with something to cover your legs and arms too.
  • When you get onto a bus, the front two rows are for women. Try to sit next to a woman if you can. It’ll just be more comfortable and appropriate for the situation.
  • If you do drink (yes, there’s alcohol), drink responsibly. Don’t lose sense of where you are. Honestly, surpassing your limit is not a good way to go in ANY country you’re visiting for the first time.
  • If you get chatting to a man whilst you’re out and he seems overly interested in who you are, where you’re staying and what you’re doing, don’t tell them. Someone who SEEMS nice might have bad intentions. So please lie and don’t give the address or name of the hotel you’re staying in.
  • Harassment levels are low in Lebanon. However, that doesn’t mean that it won’t happen at all. If someone is bothering you, ignore them. If it gets too much – if you feel uncomfortable or that you are in ACTUAL danger – then draw attention to yourself.
  • The best way to enjoy Lebanon with complete peace of mind is to book yourself onto a tour. This will make exploring the country SO much easier. You’ll also get to meet like-minded people, which is never a bad thing if you’re traveling by yourself. Get chatting and you may make yourself a new mate.
  • When you’re looking at booking accommodation for yourself, make sure it’s well reviewed by other solo female travelers. That is going to be the best way to find something that fits you. Knowing that other women traveling by themselves liked the accommodation you’re looking at in probably means 1) it’s safe 2) the staff aren’t weird 3) it’s social.

 

Don’t lose your money to a pickpocket! There are tons of ways to store valuables and goods while traveling but a travel scarf has to be the least obtrusive and the most classy.

The Active Roots Zipper Scarf is your run-of-the-mill infinity scarf but with a hidden pocket that’s big and sturdy enough for a night’s cash, your phone, a passport and (hell with it) some snacks too!

We wouldn’t blame you for thinking Lebanon wouldn’t be appropriate for solo female travelers, what with the conflicts in neighboring countries, the hangover of civil war, AND the fact that it’s a Middle Eastern country, how could it be safe for women?

Don’t be scared! Lebanon is an exciting and welcoming place for solo female travelers. You’ll be able to meet a load of new people, go out and enjoy yourself, even have time to soak up some rays on the beach wearing swimwear. It’s a cool place.

Loads of solo female travelers go to Lebanon and report back with amazing stories – the lack of harassment, lack of crime, lack of sketchiness, and the respect they get. Make sure to bring some clothes to go out in Beirut – it’s a party city alright!

 

Is Lebanon safe to travel for families?

Family Lebanon

Beach days exist here like they do in any other sandy, coastal place!

Families can have a pretty good time in Lebanon.

All the conflict surrounding the country aside, it’s actually a family-friendly destination.

Beirut, for example, has a whole lot of stuff going for it. Planet Discovery Children’s Museum, then there’s the Sanayeh Public Garden and the Beirut Waterfront – at 4.8 kilometers long, this makes for a perfect stroll with the kids.

Head to Tyre and all of its Roman ruins, or check out the old Crusader’s castle at Byblos. Good fun for exploring.

In addition to all that there are beaches and beach resorts, complete with kids’ clubs.

Celebrations are a BIG THING in Lebanon, too; this country observes not only Christmas and Easter but also Ramadan and Eid!

However, in this part of the world, there are a few things to take into consideration before you start planning your family to Lebanon.

Is Lebanon Safe with Small Children?

Summers are hot and humid. 300 days of sun, they say. This can be a little tricky with a small child. You’ll probably want to stay somewhere with a pool and air-con in the summer. Visit from September—October or April—May for less humidity and heat.

You’ll have to be sticking to bottled water and be careful with where you eat (but more about food and drink later).

Traffic can be CRAZY in cities like Beirut. This means you’ll have to be very cautious about crossing the road.

Obviously, cities can be overwhelming at any time, even without kids. So head out and explore what else the country has to offer. There’s tons of nature to discover in Lebanon – for example, the Shouf Reserve, a natural cedar reserve where you can stay in a heritage house nestled amongst the trees. Sounds nice, right?

You’ll be able to get your hands on supplies for small children in shops and pharmacies in Lebanon. These won’t be hard to come by.

Basically, Lebanon is pretty safe to travel for families. No doubt you won’t be heading too far off the beaten track anyway, meaning that ‘unsafe’ areas of the country will be literally miles from your mind.

 

Is it safe to drive in Lebanon?

City town Lebanon

If you’re feeling courageous, get on the roads!

If you want to drive in Lebanon, you’re going to have to be confident about it!

It’s the sort of country where the rules of the road just go out the window. The unexpected can happen at any moment. Driving will be challenging – from the quality of the roads (crazy bends and potholes) to city traffic, and even military checkpoints.

It pays to be cautious and confident if you plan to drive around Lebanon. That said, it can be a super exciting way to get to see parts of the country that you would otherwise miss.

Car hire is fairly cheap, which is always good for a budget traveler. But again, you will only want to do this if you’re looking for a real challenge.

Rules are continuously flouted. Two lane roads become packed 6 or 7-lane nightmares of overtaking and honking; expect random U-turns; traffic lights (if there even ARE any) are mostly ignored. In the cities, it’s probably going to take you a long time to get anywhere!

Outside the cities, mountain roads come with deadly hairpin turns. Combine those with generally crazy driving and it’s a mix for disaster. And DON’T drive outside of cities at night.

Military checkpoints will be set up along major and smaller roads. They’re for your safety more than anything else. You’ll need to have your ID on you and just do as they ask you.

At the end of the day, driving in Lebanon is challenging and potentially dangerous. However, driving is an option to avoid taxis and public transport. It really does depend just how confident and experienced you are as a driver and what your travel needs are.

 

Is Uber safe in Lebanon?

Uber has a patchy past in Lebanon.

In 2017 Lebanon’s Interior Minister warned people NOT to use Uber. He said:

“I call in your name on all Lebanese not to use this Uber transport service because we do not consider it to be safe and there are taxi offices to use instead.”

This statement came after a British embassy worker was murdered by their Uber driver.

That said, since then, there HAVE been reports of even solo female travelers using Uber to get around – without issue – and finding a pretty straightforward and friendly way to get from A to B.

Note: women shouldn’t sit in the front seat or talk with the driver about anything apart from directions. Small talk often sends the wrong signals.

Make sure the car that picks you up really is for you, i.e. the car make is what it says on the app, the driver looks like their photo, etc.

Other than that, Ubers are a cheaper alternative to private drivers basically. Uber is safe in Lebanon, but we advise caution.

 

Are taxis safe in Lebanon?

Taxi lebanon

Fun fact: a lot of Ubers are actually licensed taxis. Photo credits: Flickr

There are shared taxis which ply the roads in most urban areas around Lebanon.

These usually have a red number plate and a TAXI sign on the roof. They are also, for some reason, often an old Mercedes.

You can hail these and jump in, then tell them where you want to go. If it’s empty, just make sure you won’t be charged a ‘private taxi’ fare. But if you want the taxi all to yourself, you say ‘taxi’ instead of ‘servees’; make sure you barter a price first.

There HAVE been warnings to not use shared taxis. There have been incidents of physical attacks against passengers. If you DO wish to use shared taxis to get around, we’d say do so with caution; the fact that another random person gets in beside you means they can’t guarantee absolute security.

Private taxis can be arranged through your accommodation. These CAN be expensive if you want to hire them for the whole day. The obvious advantage is that the staff at your accommodation will be able to recommend companies which are safe to use.

Note: A lot of the taxis in Lebanon are not in good condition – no seatbelts, squeaky brakes, not being able to open the windows.

Taxis in Lebanon are safe-ish but there have been incidents and the cars aren’t up to the standards some are used to. People do use them though. If you’re really worried, ask your hotel to hook you up with a reputable company.

 

Is public transportation in Lebanon safe?

Bus Lebanon

Though not the most comfortable, these busses are safe. Photo credits: Flickr

Despite having a super modern international airportthe rest of Lebanon’s public transport leaves a lot to be desired. Though limited, public transport is safe in Beirut.

First off, there are minibusses. These ferry people around towns along certain routes. It’s the usual, pack-it-’till-it’s-full and then go. Passengers can get off whenever they feel like it. They’re not regulated and a lot of Lebanese people don’t use them (they drive instead), but still, they’re pretty cheap!

Then there are government-run buses, which have red number plates and the destination shown (somehow) on the window screen – only in Arabic though, so get learning!

These tend to be SAFER – or at least less old and packed – than the minibusses and they’re also pretty cheap.

There is an ongoing project to map all the bus routes in Beirut which can help you get around. You might find it pretty handy.

Long-distance travel means coaches. Head to the inter-city bus station at Charles Helou Station (northbound) or Cola Station (southbound) to get one of these. Lebanon is a pretty small country, so there are no MONSTER journeys on cramped buses to worry about.

Lebanon has no trains. Sorry about that. The national bus system is used by tourists and locals alike to get around the country. It’s pretty straightforward.

Keep everything on you in transit. When moving from place to place, you shouldn’t store travel documents in a bag, even if it’s under your seat or overhead.

A full-sized money belt that stays tucked under your clothes keeps your documents and cash organized during your travels and assures nothing critical gets left behind or stolen.

 

Is the food in Lebanon safe? 

Falafel

You’ll want to try everything! Do it slowly, though.

Thanks to the Lebanese diaspora, Lebanese food is pretty well known. And there’s A LOT on offer. To start things off, there are more than FIFTY mezze dishes. Breakfast means manakish (bread topped with cheese and herbs), lunch on baba ganoush, and dine on tasty kibbeh.

We are pretty sure that everything you’re going to encounter food-wise in Lebanon is going to be delicious. But this mix of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean won’t always be cooked up hygienically. So here are some tips to help your stomach through it all.

  • Not all restaurants are equal. Some will be dirtier than others. Just take a look before you head into anywhere: does it look clean? If it’s a bit sketchy-looking in terms of hygiene, use your head and move on.
  • On a similar note, and to save your stomach, you should go to eateries that are packed with locals. The more the merrier. If these places are popular, they’ll be tasty and unlikely to give you any tummy-related illness. Don’t go to the place next door that’s empty just for the sake of saving a few minutes of waiting.
  • Learn a bit of Arabic. Just a little bit. It’ll help you decipher what ‘falafel’ is in Arabic script, for instance. We’re not saying you become fluent overnight, but at least being able to visually pair stuff you WANT to eat with how it looks in Arabic will help A LOT, especially in less touristed places.
  • Don’t be afraid of street food. Honestly, one of the best things you can do in Lebanon is get yourself a falafel sandwich. There is a chain of street food eateries all over Lebanon called Sahyoun – people claim it’s the BEST in the business. Look one up and get involved.
  • The food is tasty, definitely, but don’t eat everything all at once. Don’t overdo it. You probably won’t be used to the richness and the different spices used. Trying too many things on your first few days is not a good idea. Your stomach won’t be used to it. Guess what happens next.
  • Try to eat things that have been freshly cooked as opposed to stuff that’s maybe been sitting around for a while, especially on hot days (which is most of them). You won’t even be able to count the germs.
  • For that reason, if you’re staying at a beach hotel that offers a buffet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, maybe give it a miss once in a while (if not for the whole time). This is bound to be where food gets left sitting around and, unless you’re really splashing out, won’t be the tastiest food imaginable. Head outside and try some real food.
  • We wouldn’t recommend at all that you go to tourist restaurants. These will be super gaudy and have English menus offering international instead of actual Lebanese food. They often aren’t very focused on taste, nor hygiene, and will be more about making money.
  • Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands. SUPER simple tip right there.

The food in Lebanon basically means that you’re going to be embarking on a foodie odyssey. There are so many different types of tasty dishes here. If you’re already obsessed with food, get ready to be led around more by your nose and your stomach than by your guidebook!

All that hummus. All that bread. We’ll leave it there for now. Just remember: don’t get overexcited by the food in Lebanon and eat too much. Be wary of where you eat, and if in doubt, go where the crowds go. Be smart and stay healthy.

 

Can you drink the water in Lebanon?

The water in Lebanon is said to be safe to drink.

However, many people don’t drink it and opt for bottled water instead, but we never recommend using so much pointless single-use plastic.

We suggest that you drink filtered water and bring a refillable bottle. You might not find filtered water everywhere you go, which is why we recommend traveling with a filter bottle.

Want to save the world? Single-use plastic bottles are a huge threat to Marine Life – Be a part of the solution and travel with a filter water bottle.

The GRAYL GEOPRESS water bottle is the ONLY all-in-one filter water bottle setup you’ll need. Whether you need to purify the water from a hostel sink in Kathmandu or a stream trickle in the Andes, the Geopress has got you covered.

 

Is Lebanon safe to live?

Saida Lebanon

Lebanon is a beautiful Mediterranean destination!

Lebanon is a pretty cool country to live in.

All those days of sunshine, ancient cities to explore, and VERY tolerant for the region – we mean churches and mosques side-by-side.

Safety concerns include living between Syria – the worst humanitarian crisis (arguably) in recent years – and the ongoing mess that is Israel and Palestine.

Day to day life in Lebanon is safe, but the country has its own setbacks and stresses since the decades-long Lebanese Civil War.

If you live in Beirut, for example, you’ll have to deal with mad traffic. But outside of the capital, the infrastructure is lacking and in some places you’ll have to pay for generator electricity.

There’s a lot of rubbish that isn’t properly disposed of and pollution is poorly regulated.

An increase in population, with Syrian refugees spilling over into Lebanon, means that unemployment is rife; it also means tensions. Don’t forget those Palestinian refugee camps.

You’ll have to get used to seeing gun-toting soldiers roaming the streets. They don’t threaten your safety, but they might be unnerving to some.

Safe places to live include parts of Beirut like Badaro, with its bars, restaurants, and proximity to cultural stuff; beautiful and pricey Downtown – the part we think gives it that ‘Paris of the East’ vibe; and Raoucheh, featuring modern buildings and sea views. Near the capital is Hamra, which has entertainment, universities, and is chill and walkable.

All in all, Lebanon is a pretty chaotic place to live. Its own history, as well as the tense political landscape of the region, DOES shape the country, but it has escaped direct involvement in most conflicts. People speak French, Arabic, and English. The culture is warm and open to outsiders. It’s tolerant. 

You’ll need to get some hefty research done before you consider moving to Lebanon for whatever reason, but if you feel like an adventure – we’re all for it!

 

How is healthcare in Lebanon?

Around 90% of healthcare in Lebanon is private. Public healthcare is available, however, and Beirut has the best facilities of either private or public. Most doctors will also speak some amount of English or French.

Lebanon boasts a high concentration of doctors – the highest per person in the Middle East.

Medical treatment in hospitals is usually pretty high quality, especially in Beirut. 

If you have an emergency, call 112 and request an ambulance. This – and subsequent treatment – can be pretty expensive, however, so you’ll need to make sure you have some sort of health insurance.

The quality is of a Western European/Developed Western standard though and comes at a cheaper price than it does in the US for example.

Pharmacies are all over the place. If you have a medical worry, explain your symptoms and the pharmacist will probably be able to recommend something to you. You’ll be able to buy a selection of medication over the counter. If you need a prescription, they’ll direct you to a doctor.

Though you might not expect it, healthcare is actually pretty good in Lebanon. Don’t sweat it!

 

Helpful Lebanon Travel Phrases

The official language of Lebanon is Arabic and knowing a few words of it will certainly help you over the course of your backpacking journey. Amazingly (but not so surprisingly), many Lebanese people are fluent in English, French, or both. I met dozens of trilingual Lebanese folks.

For the most part, you can get by on English or French, and any Arabic you learn will only be a bonus. Plus, the locals will greatly appreciate your effort to learn.

Here are a few useful Arabic travel phrases to get you started:

Note: Arabic does not use the same alphabet as English, so these translations are transliterations of how the word would look if written using the English alphabet.

Thank you – Shukraan

Hello – Salem a leahkum (for Muslims) /Bonjour (for Christians)

Is this the bus to…? – Hal hadha hu albas?

Do you have meze – Hal ladayk maza?

Where is the toilet? – ‘Ayn alhamam?

Please – Raja’

Let’s go – Yala 

How’s it going? — Key fik (spelling not accurate)

No plastic bag please — La kys min alblastyk alraja’

How much? — Kam althaman

I am lost – ‘Ana dayie

Beer – Bayra

Can I camp here? – Hal yumkinuni almukhayam huna?

 

Final thoughts on the safety of Lebanon

Mosque Lebanon

Are all your fears settled?

Saying you’re going anywhere near Syria at the moment is going to make people think you’re crazy. We don’t think you’re crazy though. As long as you’re not actively seeking out an actual warzone, chances are you’re going to be safe.

Lebanon itself, though small and pretty much engulfed on all sides by super volatile situations, is safe. It’s a tolerant, open society with Western ideals, where it’s majority Christian, with the next biggest religion being Islam and there are still another 16 official religions of the country! Lebanon is friendliness, openness, tolerance, and fun combined with cool history and landscapes.

Terrorist attacks aside – because these happen in alarming rates in Western countries too – Lebanon is a refreshing anomaly of the Middle East. It may not have great infrastructure thanks to its previous conflict, but that’s in the past. The future of Lebanon is a good one. It’s got a lot going for it. And if you’re drawn there, whatever you do, don’t forget travel insurance!

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Disclaimer: Safety conditions change all over the world on a daily basis. We do our best to advise but this info may already be out of date. Do your own research. Enjoy your travels! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links which means we earn a small commission if you purchase your insurance through this page. This costs you nothing extra and helps us keep the site going.


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