Lebanon is a country rich in natural scenery it's diverse patchwork of Mediterranean-lapped coast, rugged alpine peaks and green, fertile valleys is packed into a parcel of land some 225km (140 miles) long and 46km (29 miles) wide.
Once known as the ‘Paris of the East', Beirut commands a magnificent position, thrust into the Mediterranean. Behind the city are towering mountains, visible when the traffic haze settles down. The Corniche seafront boasts beaches, restaurants, theatres and a dazzling variety of shops and restaurants.
Beirut suffered greatly from Lebanon's 16-year civil war, but following an impressive and ongoing process of reconstruction, the city was poised to become one of the most popular tourist and business destinations in the Middle East before the Israeli attacks of 2006.
Outside of the capital, several UNESCO World Heritage Sites await, many of which reflect the country's various ancient civilizations. Phoenician tombs, Roman temples, Crusader castles and Mamlouk mosques can be found in the cities and ruins of Baalbeck, Byblos and Tyre. The town of Aanjar in the Bekaa Valley contains an Umayyad site from the 8th century - a unique historical example of a commercial centre that was inland. Within the mountainous interior of the Kadisha Valley, ancient monasteries and churches can be seen, including a chapel built into the rock face.
HOW TO GET TO LEBANON
People of all nationalities require a visa for Lebanon bar Gulf countries (but not Yemen). Nationals of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC) countries, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and the USA can get a tourist or business visa on arrival at Beirut International Airport, or at the border with Syria.
Lebanon denies entry to travelers with evidence of a visit to Israel in their passport.
Note that visa rules and regulations can - and do - change in Lebanon; always check the latest information with your embassy/consulate.
At the airport, visa stamps are sold at a window on the right (open 24 hours), just before passport control. Visas for 48-hour transit and one-month visas are issued free of charge; a three-month visa costs US$34. Note that the 'three-month' visa requires you to extend this before the end of your first month. Visas (including multiple-entry visas, which are useful if you're planning to go in and out of Lebanon from Syria) can also be obtained in advance at any Lebanese embassy or consulate.
Those wishing to study in Lebanon can apply for a student one-year residence visa (LL250, 000) with a letter from the school, two passport photos and two copies of your passport details.
All nationals from the UK, Australia, Canada, USA and other EU countries are required to hold a passport valid for at least six months. For all other nationals please contact the embassy or the consulate in your home country for further detail.
»» Visa Note
Nationals from the UK, Australia, Canada, USA and other EU countries except nationals of Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia who must obtain a visa prior to arrival, can obtain their visas on arrival at Beirut International Airport or any other port of entry at the Lebanese border, providing passport holders do not possess an Israeli stamp, and they hold return or onward tickets. All visitors requiring a visa should contact the consulate (or consular section at the embassy) before leaving for details about where to obtain their visa.
»» Applications to:
Please contact the Embassy of Lebanon or the Lebanese Consulate for details regarding visa and passport validity.
WHAT TO DO AND NOT TO DO
»» Stay safe
The political situation remains unstable after the "Cedar Revolution" (Syrian withdrawal) of 2005 and the Israeli invasion of 2006. Some innocent bystanders have been killed by bombings and assassination attempts directed at politicians, and during the Israeli attacks in 2006. Rallies and demonstrations are common and occasionally turn violent. It is recommended you inquire about the political situation in the country before visiting. Since a new president has been elected in Apr.2008 the political situation has been relatively stable, and tourism has flourished.
»» Useful phone numbers:
• Police: 112
• Fire brigade: 175
• The Red Cross (Medic Response): 140
• Directory Inquiry: 120
»» Stay healthy
As a key destination for health tourism in the region, Lebanon has a professional and private healthcare system. Located mainly in Beirut , key hospitals include:
• AUH (American University Hospital), Hamra area: +961-1-344704.
• RHUH (Rafic Hariri University Hospital), Bir Hassan area: +961-1-830000.
• Hotel Dieu de France, Ashrafieh area: +961-1-386791.
• Rizik Hospital, Ashrafieh area: +961-1-200800.
• Mont Liban Hospital, Hazmieh area: +961-1-955444.
• Sacré Coeur Hospital, Hazmieh area: +961-1-451704.
• Tel Shiha - Zahle, Beqaa
- “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”
Lebanon is a country of many different religious sects and so, it is wise to respect the religious differences of the Lebanese population. It is recommended to wear modest clothing when visiting religious sites (mosques, churches, etc) and when visiting rural towns and villages. However, Beirut is very much a cosmopolitan city.
Clothing considered 'western' is generally acceptable, but Westerners would probably feel more comfortable in Beirut, Mount Lebanon, and along the coast, which is dotted with sea-resorts.
In Tripoli, especially in the old city, it is recommended that women dress conservatively. The same applies on most traditional “souks” in the country. The Southern Suburb of Beirut, known as 'Al-Dahiye' in Arabic, is a Hezbollah stronghold and hence there too it would be advisable that women travelers dress modest. In general, Lebanese are accustomed to different lifestyles and some do not take offence easily, especially with matters related to dress. Others will.
Generally there are no particular cultural rules for this matter in Lebanon. Diversity appears also in the Lebanese clothing. For instance, mini skirts can be seen beside Islamic veils. However, wearing short clothing, such as short pants, is to be avoided in certain places such as the souk of Tripoli or Sidon… To visit religious places, modest clothing is required. Women need headscarves when visiting mosques, usually provided there.
The first two digits of telephone numbers in Lebanon refer to the area code.
Payphone cards are available in post offices, kiosks and the supermarket prices range from 10 000 LBP to 30 000 LBP. You can choose to either have a mobile phone or use the telephone booths. If you do buy a mobile number, you have to remember to recharge the card. This depends on which card you bought. Before you leave you can sell your number to any shop provided it still has credit on it.
Internet connections are very common in Lebanon. Cyber-cafes are widespread in cities as well as most villages. Many hotels also provide internet connections.
It is recommended to go directly to the post office for any postal needs, since there are few letterboxes in the streets. The mail forwarding is fairly fast (about one to two weeks for Europe and North America). International express parcels services are also represented.
It is necessary to have an international driving license in case you don’t have a Lebanese one. Be sure at all times to drive on the right side of the road.