I am seeking advice from anyone with experience of visiting Yemen.
I will be travelling to the country in 13 days time and will spend roughly 6 weeks in the country. What I am seeking is local culture advice, specific do's and don'ts, winning favour and generally keeping on the right side of protocol.
I've read the travel guides, security reviews etc so I am fully up to speed on the conflict in the country and the basic survival/living aspects, but anyone with first hand knowledge I would appreciate your views.
Also any recommendations of things to do out of the norm I would be interested in.
6 weeks should give you plenty of time to visit the parts that are open to tourists.
Things that should not be missed:
- Sana'a - the old city, qat chew, weddings, the brand new president's mosque, KFC garden on a weekend evening, not for the chicken, but to watch Yemeni families relax and enjoy the "outdoors", lunch at the fish market, Bait Baws, Wadi Dhahr, Shibam, Kawkaban, Thila, Hababa, etc. Recommended hotels for low-mid range budget: Arabia Felix and Dawood, for high-end: Burj Al Salam. The weather is warm and sunny in the day and cool at night, absolutely perfect for traveling.
- Haraz mountains: enough trekking for a week.
- Al Mahwit and Al Tawila: great scenery.
- Ibb and Jiblah
Things should be seen if you have time:
- Taiz, Aden
- Zabid, Bait Al Faqih(the Friday market)
- Socotra Island, Kamaran Island
The war is raging in the North, people are rioting in the South, and the tribes are restless in the desert. Many areas are completely closed to tourism, such as Saada, Shihara, Marib (might be doable with an expensive guided tour), and the area between Aden and Mukalla. It certainly isn't the best time to visit Yemen, but if you are determined, dress like a local, use local transportation, and stay away from other tourists. Yes, one foreigner is a much smaller target to kidnappers than a group.
Feel free to ask if you more specific question.
CTC, thank you for the reply. You have provided some useful pointers there.
Did you have much difficulty with getting travel permits out of Sana'a? I will be basing myself in the Old City for most of the time as I am studying Arabic there 4 days a week, but will be travelling out for the weekends. I wont be visiting Socotra island on this trip but will hopefully when I return to the country next year.
You can get travel permits easily from the tourist police office in the old city, but you can only go to places that are open to tourists and you have to specify your travel dates. Nowadays, they inform the check points, so if your name is not on the list on a specific route, you will not be allowed to go through.
Be safe and enjoy your time in Yemen.