Just stopping by with a question...
I'm heading for a one week trip to Tunise in the end of May and I was thinking if anyone has been there before?
I've heard pretty crazy stories about that country...and mostly the stories are about the local ppl living there. It's an arabic country and they're pretty strict about everything.Their culture is complitely different compared to European.I hope it's safe for me and my friend (two scandinavians) to travel there.
Anyone who's been there..tips are welcome!
Hi there, i went to Tunisia about 3 weeks ago, over Easter, so i may be able to dispense with some help.
You're right about them being quite strict as it is an Arabic country but most arabic countries are. They dont mind tourists drinking at all but it is better to stay slightly covered up, particulaarly if you are a woman. They don't mind it so much on the beach but if you are walking around in the town, a long skirt of trousers and a shirt is better to wear. A girl i met out there had some serious problems with locals following her and taunting her because she insisted on wearing hotpants and very small t-shirts.
I went with my family and although we are from london we often had locals come up to us convinced we were swedish, so i think it is nothing strange about scandinavians being out there, i met a few.
The locals will insist on trying to sell you something, even if you showed no interest in buying it. The best thing to do is just walk away or say 'No' quite clearly and they may let you off.
I was staying in a purpose-built tourist town called port el kantouie, which is a bit too full of just tourists although quite a nice place. We went on a two-day desert safari around the inner of the country which was definately the highlight of the trip so i strongly recommend something like that.
Overall the country if safe for travelling around, but just be wary about the locals insistence to haggle with you; we got something from 1200 dinar to 110 dinar and didnt even want it. Although at times it may seem the locals are being a bit pushy, you just have to remember that this is their culture and as long as you are clear things will be fine.
I hope i haven't put you off it in any way, that wasnt my intent, i thouraghly enjoyed it and had no real problems, as i am sure you will too.
I found Tunisia a fairly friendly and easy country to travel in. The Tunisians are mostly islamic, they're pretty tolerant though, but as Chris_Huh says covering up a bit (if you're not on a tourist beach) is a good plan.
Public buses are dead cheap and pretty comfortable, if you can work out the timetables. Pretty much everybody over the age of 20 seems to be bilingual French/Arabic so if you can speak any French that will be dead useful.
The Bardo Museum in Tunis is pretty interesting, particularly if you're interested in Roman stuff as they've got tons of it. Also the suburb of Sidi Bou Said, about half-an-hour from the centre of Tunis (you can get the train there) are really pretty, lots of whitewash building in gardens running down the cliffs to the sea.
Going to the desert is, as Chris_Huh suggests, definitely worth it, you might get a trip that will take you to El Jem Roman colisseum and the star wars sets at Matmata.
I have never been, but i did watch a program about Tunisia today. It appeared that Tunisia is one of the most liberal muslim countries, but the usual common sense rules apply. Dress conservatively and you shouldn't be subject to too much unwelcome attention. Looked an interesting place to visit. Have fun.
Yeah I've been told that we should try to wear more restrained clothes because of culture things.This is not a problem for us because of course we want to respect their culture.It will be uncomfortable to use long pants,tees etc but we'll manage!And yeah on the beach we'll wear bikini's and I've heard that it's not a problem for the locals.
We are going to Sousse, which is about 30km's from Monastir (the place where the plane lands).
For Magykal and Chris-->did you find hard to higgle while shopping in bazars? I heard that few people where higgling there once and in the end they didn't want to buy the stuff so the local sellers started to stone them.Crazy stuff.
I'm sure we'll be fine.Yeah I sure wanna try that two day safari near Sahara.Our tour-operator has got this excursion.
I did have a situation with a knife while haggling, but it wasnt too serious. What happened was that i walked past a shop and glanced at what he had. The guy immediately jumped up and started trying to sell me a knife, it was a nice knife i just didnt want it. He started at saying it was 145 dinars and then ended up at about 20. I was by myself at the time but my little brother joined me to see where i had got to. The seller then took the knife out and held the back of the knife (the non sharp side) to my little brothers neck and smiling. Obviously we didnt find this too amusing and told him that we didnt want it and walked away. Although he did seem to be doing it more to show how 'cool' you can look with a knife to try and make a sale i found it a little too intimidating.
That was the only problem and was in sousse, in the main market area. But apart from that normally the haggles go fine and can be quite interesting, although do get tiring after a while when you realise you have to do it for almost every purchase you make. I think now it is so touristy that they know that if they can't make a sale to you they will be able to to someone else not long after.
Also, i might as well mention the Government Shops. You tour operator will probably tell you about these but they are generally shops that are endorsed by the Government and therefore have set prices for certain items. We went to one in sousse and bought a few things, like a carpet and chess set. I have a feeling that although you pay slightly more in these places for slightly better goods the shop owners are charging more than they should be and our taking some money for themself, but that may just be me.
They will usually state a price and more often than not will offer you it cheaper "as you are their friend". The best thing to do is state a price between a thrid and a half of the price they stated. So if they say that some shoes are 30 dinar then you would probably say something like 10 dinar. Don't say something too ridiculously low as you will have to start again, they wont be too offended and will raise the price again. Sometimes you can get it down to a third of the price but settling at half the price is quite good.
If you state the price before they've mentioned it you could find yourself offering them way too much, it is unlikely but could happen.
Sometimes they will suddenly start to offer you it with womething else, which no doubt, you will not want. So you have to be wry of exactly what you're buying. I met someone out there who coulod speak arabic, she was a tourist, and was saying that whenever you are haggling with them they are constantly swearing at you as soon as they speak arabic. Which i found quite interesting.
The main place for shopping in Sousse is called the Medina, and is pretty easy to find. It is enclosed in an old castle-style wall and most buses stop near there.
The government shops can be worth going into, you don't haggle with them so it can be a nice break from haggling. All the prices are listed next to the things so it is clear how much they are. The items in these shops are usually better quality; we bought a shisha pipe from there as they are the sort of things you want to make sure are going to work. I wouldnt suggest staying away from the government shops but if something seems a bit expensive you could probably get it cheaper somewhere else.
When it comes to buying carpets the shop owner will take you into a room with all the carpets and offer you tea, the tea is usually quite nice, it's minty, and it would be nice to accept it, even if you don't drink it all. They then start to take all the carpets out to show you them and often explain to you what they mean. Buying a carpet from Tunisia is nice because they are good quality but can cost a fair bit. They will gladly make up one to your design and size and then ship it home to you. I think we bought a pair for about 900 dinar or something, which is quite high i think, but it was from a government shop.
I think you can get quite cheap clothing although a lot of it is leather, which is good if you're into that but it makes it harder to find other stuff if you're not.
I'm sure you'll have a great time and the haggling can be fun
It is best not to touch anything unless your thinking of buying it but usually it doesnt matter so much, there's not much they can do if you decide not to buy it.
In April it wasnt that hot, i think one day it did being to rain a bit but by the end of May it should have got quite a bit hotter.
We had no trouble getting alcohol, although i dont think there will be many off licences, but in cafes and bars there was no problem. I didnt try any clubs in town, there was one on the resort i was staying at that i went into but wasnt too great.
The bars at the hotels are usually fine and will offer most drinks, even ones from back home, probably. I'm not too sure about going into a bar that is owned by another hotel, but it should be ok. I can't see really how they would stop you, it wouldnt be worth their while making sure you show your key or something when you go into the bar.