Top events in Lebanon

April
26

Launched in 2009, the inaugural event was the first Argentine tango event ever to take place in Lebanon. Since then, the festival has attracted...

June
01

The beauty of the summer-long Beirut Nights is that you never quite know who you’re going to see. It could be an up-and-coming Lebanese talent...

June
03

Like the Beirut Tango Festival, the Beirut Spring Festival’s pedigree only stretches back as far as 2009 but it’s no less good for that. Focused...

Baalbek, Lebanon
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Baalbek, Lebanon

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Lebanon Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

10,452 sq km (4,036 sq miles).

Population

4.1 million (2013).

Population density

395.3 per sq km.

Capital

Beirut.

Government

Republic.

Head of state

President Michel Suleiman since 2008.

Head of government

Prime Minister Tammam Salam since 2013.

Electricity

230 volts AC, 50Hz. Round two-pin, round three-pin and square three-pin plugs are used.

Fringed by golden beaches, peppered with World Heritage Sites and home to the Middle East’s premier party city, Lebanon has all the hallmarks of a classic traveller’s destination.

Yet the reality, alas, is not quite so rosy. Still recovering from a brutal civil war (1975-1990), the conflict in neighbouring Syria is spilling across the border and the Bekaa Valley remains a stronghold for the militant group Hezbollah. Suffice to say, cautious tourists have stayed away.

Nevertheless, for now, a fragile peace prevails in Lebanon, which extends a warm welcome to foreign visitors. Nowhere is this clearer than in the capital, Beirut, a friendly party town sandwiched between the Mediterranean Sea and the foothills of Mount Lebanon.

Characterised by its affable inhabitants, dramatic coastline and delicious cuisine, bustling Beirut sits at the crossroads between Europe and Arabia. Influences from east and west abound – it is not uncommon to hear the call to prayer competing with DJs in some of the livelier parts of town.

Although buildings still bear the scars of past conflicts, the city is a forward-thinking capital where the biggest danger nowadays seems to be the traffic – crossing the road can feel like an extreme sport.

Though small in size, Lebanon boasts five UNESCO World Heritage Sites including the city of Byblos, one of the oldest Phoenician ports, and the haunting remains of Baalbeck in the Hezbollah-run Bekaa Valley, one of the finest examples of Greco-Roman architecture in existence.

Other highlights including the magnificent cedar forests and Christian monasteries of the Holy Valley, as well as the ancient cities of Tyr and Tripoli, home to one of the oldest seaports in the world.

And if that’s not enough, there’s always skiing in Mount Lebanon. Granted, it might not be an obvious place to hit the slopes, but there are few places in this world that can offer sun, sand and skiing in one day. But then Lebanon is not your average destination.

Travel Advice

Last updated: 24 April 2015

The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.


Crime

The risk to tourists from petty or violent crime is moderate. There is a risk of vehicle crime and bag snatching. Take sensible precautions to protect yourself and your belongings.

There are increasing reports of armed robberies in shared taxis (known locally as service taxis) with passengers being robbed by either the driver or other passengers. Don’t use shared taxis or taxis hailed on the street. Only use taxis from recognised companies. Hotels can advise on firms with cars that are recognised as being safe and well maintained. 

Local travel

There have been an increasing number of violent incidents in the north-eastern Bekka Valley. Armed incursions and shelling across the Syria border have occurred in several locations including Wadi Khaled, Al Qaa, Hermel, Baalbek and Aarsal. These have resulted in a number of casualties. Since early August there have been clashes between extremist groups and Lebanese security forces in and around the town of Arsal. This resulted in the deaths of 18 soldiers and over 50 gunmen, a number of soldiers are now being held captive by the militants.

Tension in the city of Tripoli is high. Over the past year sectarian clashes resulted in a number of deaths. Further clashes are likely. On 7 August, a homemade explosive device was detonated in the al Khanaq area of Tripoli which resulted in 1 death and 11 people injured.

Palestinian refugee camps are volatile environments where the Lebanese state has limited capacity to impose law and order. There has been a long pattern of violent clashes in particular in Ein El Helwe camp near Saida in southern Lebanon.

The deployment of UN peacekeepers in the area south of the Litani River has led to a period of relative calm between Israel and Lebanon. However, the situation remains unpredictable. Between 11 and 15 July there were 4 separate exchanges of rocket fire between southern Lebanon and northern Israel. No casualties were reported on either side. Although de-mining operations have made a big impact, there is still a large amount of unexploded ordnance, including cluster bombs, in remote areas.

There have been armed clashes and exchanges of gunfire in recent months in Saida resulting in injuries and fatalities. Road blockages and protests in the city are a regular occurrence. There is a possibility of further clashes and violence in the town. The southern suburbs of Beirut have seen a number of explosions in recent months.

Road Travel

Roads, including the Beirut airport road, are subject to closure without notice. There are no current reports of problems on the Airport Road.

You must hold an International Driving Permit to drive in Lebanon. This must be certified by the Lebanese authorities on arrival.

Driving standards are poor and the accident rate is high. Traffic lights are not always observed. It may be better to hire a car with a driver if you’re inexperienced. You must wear a seat belt (if fitted). Avoid travelling at night outside towns if possible. Vehicles with diesel engines are banned.

Carry ID with you at all times and be prepared to stop at check points to show your papers. The army have set up temporary check points on major and minor roads.

Political situation

The security situation can deteriorate quickly. Demonstrations and other forms of civil unrest can occur at short notice and often turn violent. Regional developments can have an impact on the local security situation. Monitor local media and avoid all protests.

TV

LBCI  

New TV

NBN

Future News

OTV

Radio

Radio One 105.5 FM

Voice of Lebanon 93.3 FM

Radio Oreint 88.3- 88.6 FM

Sawt El Ghad 97.1- 96.7 FM

BBC Arabic 93.1 FM

Websites
www.naharnet.com (English)
www.nowlebanon.com (English)
www.dailystar.com.lb (English)
www.bbc.co.uk (English)
www.bbc.co.uk/arabic (Arabic)
www.elnashra.com (Arabic)
www.tayyar.org (Arabic)

 

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