Lebanon can be divided into 6 regions:
Many cities in Lebanon have English names which are significantly different to their Arabic names; the Roman versions of the Arabic names in given in parentheses below.
The people of Lebanon comprise a wide variety of ethnic groups and religions, with the majority split between Christian (Maronite, Greek Orthodox, Greek-Catholic Melkites, Armenians, Protestant, Coptic Christians) and Muslim (Shi'a, Sunni, Druze). Other smaller groups include Alawites. There are a large number (over 250,000) of Palestinian refugees in the country. The population increases dramatically in the Summer months (June to September), due to the large influx of tourists and the temporary return of a large number of the Lebanese diaspora.
People are very easy-going and welcoming. You should not be scared of talking to people on the streets and asking information, since most of them will do their best to help you. In general, though, avoid any comment on politics and religion.
Lebanon is populated by a very open and highly educated people.they are known for their love of life,generosity and wild spirit.they tend to neglect regulation and insist on respecting all others.
The Lebanese people know how to live despite political turmoil. Lebanon is a world-class party destination and has been rated by the New York Times as the number 1 tourist destination in the year of 2009. This is partly due to its spectacular nightlife. It features several clubbing locations such as the thrilling Gemmayze district or the Monot Street where people party far past dawn. It boasts several renowned DJs but it has also been visited by some of the world's most famous such as Tiesto, David Guetta, Armen Van Buren, Paul van Dyk who frequently visit Lebanon in tribute to its party animals. Many world famous bands and performers have performed in Lebanon (or have shows planned)as well such as Keane, Deep Purple, The Pussycat Dolls, Akon, Snoop Dog and Gad Elmaleh. Pamela Anderson and Paris Hilton have both hosted parties in Lebanon and The Pussycat Dolls spent a night in the lebanese nighclubs. Lebanon is also known for it's skyhigh rooftop bars such as the Sky Bar. Lebanese clubs and bars are world-class, marvelous, and fascinating destinations. Greater Beirut is a sleepless city, as the great majority of it open 24 hours a day.
Lebanon also has a huge beach party scene having exquisite beaches and beach resorts such as Oceana, Laguava or Edde Sands and Janna Sur Mer.
Lebanese locations are widely diverse and exhibit "occidental" life style that is omnipresent to the degree that you will no doubt commit the mistake of thinking you're in a grand European capital in one moment and Las Vegas in another.
Lebanon had once been called Switzerland and Paris of the East. The recent wars have diminished this status but the Lebanese have always acted in unexpected ways. Their pursuit of happiness and fun overshadows their financial capabilities.
Lebanon has a temperate Mediterranean climate, with warm, dry summers and cooler, wet winters.
Summer is generally considered the best time to visit, as there is virtually no rain between June and August, and the temperatures range between about 20-30°C (68-86°F). At this time it is very humid on the coast, but dryer and somewhat cooler (but not cold) in the mountains.
Autumn and spring are also good times to visit, with a bit more rain but without the tourist crowds attracted in summer.
Snow falls for a large part of winter in the mountain regions that form a large portion of the country, and there are numerous ski resorts. However, the coast is still relatively mild, with maximums rarely falling below 13°C (55°F).
Lebanon is 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), and observes daylight savings from end-March to end-October.
The official language of Lebanon is Arabic. The Lebanese dialect is similar to other Arabic dialects, like those of Syria and Jordan. However, The Lebanese dialect of Arabic is very different from some other dialects, particularly the dialects from Persian Gulf countries.
The large majority of the lebanese are trilingual.French is widely spoken and understood, owing to Lebanon's period as a French mandated territory after the First World War. English is increasingly more widely used, especially in the cities, and among the younger crowd. Most young people will understand French, English and Arabic. Generally, signs and outdoors are written in at least two languages.German and spanish are also spoken as well as Armenian.
See also: Lebanese Arabic phrasebook
Lebanon has a number of both Christian and Islamic holidays. Holidays that are observed by the Lebanese Government are indicated in bold letters.
All in all ,Beirut, Lebanon's capital city, is a vibrant, stylish metropolis with all of the fun fashion and flare that any city lover would look for ranking it among the world's top tourist destinations. Being perched on the shore of the marvelous Mediterranean Sea, Beirut has a special climate that is perfect for year round visits. Beirut has something to offer that no other world capital has. The exuberant Lebanese people who enjoy a variety ranging from roadside a la Parisienne coffee shops,to rooftop open air cafe, with cutting edge fashion and the latest in world trend hosting the world class Lebanese designer boutiques such as Issam Chammas, Elie Saab and Bassil . (Lebanese designers have dressed stars such as Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Brad pitt, Anne Hathaway, Katy Perry, Paula Abdul, Carrie Underwood, Helen Mirren, Halle Berry, and Beyonce for the Oscars, Cannes festival, Grammy awards and many others). Boss, Teddy Smith, Paco Rabban, Marc Jacob and any other name that might come to mind, Lebanon's got it! Don't forget exploring the treasures of the country's national museum or dancing till the break of dawn at one of the many many Lebanese trendy clubs or lounges or even relaxing away at one of the country's numerous relaxation spas or leisure clubs.
Non-nationals must have a visa to enter Lebanon. Three-month visas are free for nationals from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and Jordan. Other nationals can obtain a 15-day visa for LL25,000 (US$17), or a three-month visa for LL50,000 (US$35). These visas are single-entry; nationals of many countries can also obtain multiple-entry visas ($75 valid for six months). The 48 hour free of charge transit visas (valid for three calendar days) are not issued anymore, eventhough the signbord at the border still mentions it.
Visas can be obtained at Lebanese embassies and consulates in other countries, or upon arrival at Beirut airport and other points of entry.
Entry is refused if holding used or unused, expired or valid visa for Israel, or having any Israeli stamp endorsed on passport.
Beirut International Airport (BEY), is located 5 km (3 mi) south of the city centre) - Middle East Airlines services daily to Abidjan, Abu Dhabi, Accra, Amman, Athens, Cairo, Cologne, Copenhagen, Dammam, Doha, Dubai, Frankfurt, Geneva, Istanbul-Ataturk, Jeddah, Kano, Kuwait, Lagos, Larnaca, London-Heathrow, Milan-Malpensa, Nice, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Riyadh and Rome-Fiumicino.
In addition the Airport is served by foreign airlines
For flights from the United Kingdom try Turkish Airlines, Cyprus Airways or Czech Airlines. These three airlines are often cheaper even than MEA or BMI direct from Heathrow. Czech airlines are consistently the cheapest bet from Manchester.
Direct flights from the U.S were again permitted by the U.S Government effective June 9, 2007; however, at present no airline offers direct service to the Americas from Beirut.
Several buses a day from Damascus; range from slow and uncomfortable to fast and not that uncomfortable. Ditto for Homs-Beirut via Tripoli.
No service availble. But there are many companys that offer visits to lebanon as a cruise.
Lebanon is a small country and it is possible to drive from north to south in under 3 hours. The main means of transport are service taxis, bus and car.
The majority of travelers use service taxis to get from place to place. "Service" taxis often operate like buses on set routes between towns and cities, though they can be hired to visit other places with some negotiation. Each taxi carries between 4 (inside Metropolitan areas) to 6 (farther distances) passengers, who share the fare between them. The Fare is 1500 LL (Lebanese Lira) which is about 1 USD $ for short distances of a couple of Kilometers/miles, and increases depending on both distance to be traveled, traffic on that specific road and of course, like everything in Lebanon, persuasion/negotiation skills. A private Taxi ride, without having to share with other passengers is similar to a "Service" Taxi, in that the same pre-negotiation is required to determine the fare, and as a rule of thumb, costs the same as a fully loaded "Service" Taxi (the fare * number of passengers). note that the mostly known taxi company is Allo Taxi, you simply can reach them by dialing 12 13 from any phone. Allo Taxi's website
Taxis and "service" taxis are basically the same, and the mode of operation depends on the availability of passengers and their demands. The majority of "service" taxis in Lebanon are 1975 Mercedes cars that roam the streets searching for passengers using their car-horns. Newer car models working as mainly "service" taxis are appearing on the Lebanese streets with nevertheless the same price tag as their elder sisters.
All types of public transportation vehicles in Lebanon (taxis, buses, mini-vans and even trucks) can be recognized by their Red-colored licence plate.
City link bus routes are available and cheap. Most buses depart from the Charles Helou Station or the Cola Station in Beirut. Although buses are outdated, use diesel, and dirty due neglect from the government and people.
No trains in Lebanon.
Car rental is relatively expensive in Lebanon compared to elsewhere in the region. Reasonable, if not exactly cheap rates can, however, be found with perseverance and negotiation and - once you have your rental - fuel is easy to get.
Lebanon's roads are generally in quite poor condition and Lebanese drivers are not known for their caution and demonstrate very little respect for other road users. Road rules are practically non-existent (apart from driving on the right - well, mostly....), traffic is often jammed in big cities and there are no speed limits. Exercise extreme caution when driving in Lebanon. Note that even in central Beirut, even in areas undamaged by the Israeli assault, there can be massive potholes on busy multi-lane roads (at best you will crack a hubcap if you go over one).
The dangers of driving in Lebanon can't be emphasized enough. Driving in Lebanon should be considered an extreme activity for Western drivers accustomed to safe driving. Law enforcement, traffic lights, traffic control, road markings, street names and rights of way are virtually non-existent in a country of 4 million people but with cars outnumbering them. Mountain driving is particularly hazardous, often involving 1-car roads zig-zagging back and forth up the mountain over shear valleys with no safety barriers. The Lebanese call the valleys along these mountain roads "Wadi Jamajim" (Skull Valley).
Simply trying to park a car is a discouraging activity. The ability to park a car in Lebanon is a tourist attraction in itself, often accomplished in non-existent spaces while under pressure from traffic.
Lebanon is a country rich in natural scenery from beautiful beaches to mountains and valleys. Lebanese people take pride that Lebanon is one of the few countries that gives you the opportunity to go skiing in the morning and going to the beach in the afternoon.
Beirut Downtown Visitors from all around get astonished by the beautiful downtown. Beirut also has a vast array of nightclubs, restaurants and other entertaining places, including the famous Place de l'Etoile, where hundreds of tourists pass by and enjoy a delightful meal or a cup of coffee at the outdoor cafes. In addition to those, the capital provides other restaurants and hangouts that people of all ages can enjoy and have a wild time with Electronic, Oriental, Pop, Blues, and Jazz Music provided by many fine bars, nightclubs and live music venues.
Baalbeck Roman Temples in the city of Baalbeck are among the largest and most beautiful Roman ruins.
Al Bass Archaeological Site, Tyre, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the largest and best preserved Roman archeological sites in the world. The site is made up of a huge Necropolis, a massive monumental arch leading to a Roman Road, alongside which there is an excellent example of an acqueduct as well as the largest and best preserved Roman Hippodrome found to date.
Jeita Grotto Jeita Grotto is nominated to be one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Jeita Grotto is the jewel of tourism in Lebanon offering to its visitors qualified modern services and accommodation in harmony with a fascinating nature. It creates a magical trip which enables them to spend a day of wonder-filled adventure by being carried away from a tangible world to a wonderland where are found 2 fabulous grottoes full of an unimaginable beauty and of a magical fascination! It is a source of attraction for whole the families wishing to discover a mysterious world in the heart of the earth.The “Touristic Site of Jeita” gathers all elements of nature such as stone, water, trees, flowers, air and animals in a venturous environment and with a touch of Lebanese cultural heritage. It is one of the most impressive and interesting natural sites in the world.
Beiteddin One of the most precious Arabic architectural jewels is the palace of Beiteddine. This historic monument comprises of two large courtyards: the “midane”, a vast rectangular place for visitors, and a smaller one for the royal private apartments, with a magnificent fountain in its centre.
Qadisha Valley (Holy Valley) In north Lebanon, the “Holy Valley” spreads from Bcharreh to the coast. Classified under UNESCO's world heritage, its countless caves, chapels and monasteries as well as its luxuriant vegetation transformed it into the most famous natural site of Lebanon.
Anjar is a city in the Beqaa Valley with tens of local restaurants where you can enjoy the unique Lebanese cuisine. The city is home to the unique ruins of an 8th century Omayyad city.
" Byblos" is a must see as well being a competitor as one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.
http://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotos-g294005-Beirut.html#21068316 is a cite that offers some insight to lebanon's beauty.
Lebanon has six ski resorts with groomed slopes, catering to skiers and snowboarders of all levels. Beyond the ski-able domains await you kilometers of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails waiting to be explored; Lebanon has something for everyone. Each of the ski resorts has a different flavor; however, it is Faraya Mzaar (Kfardebian) that offers world-class infrastructure and facilities for the tourists, at less then 40 minutes drive from Beirut.
Lebanon is an ancient country with plenty of ancient ruins,castles,temples and historic sites.The bachus temple,the roman ruins,the baalbeck castle,the beiteddine castle,the lady of harissa,the ottoman mosques,the ancient churches and cynagogues as well as byblos and tyre,the ancient cities where alexander came and where princess elissa fled and founded the city of carthage are popular cites.
The Lebanese currency is the Lebanese pound, abbreviated "LBP" or "Lebanese Lira" abbreviated "LL", which is the most common abbreviation. Its value is kept stable relative to the US dollar, with a value of about LL1,500 to US$1. Either Lebanese pounds or US dollars are accepted almost everywhere, and it is common to pay in dollars but receive change in pounds (in which case, make sure you don't get short-changed).
Bills used are LL1000, LL5000, LL10,000, LL20,000, LL50,000 and LL100,000.
There are LL50, LL100, LL250 and LL500 coins. LL50 coins are virtually never used.
Correct as of November 2009:
Lebanon fosters exquisite cuisine ranging from a mezza of vegetarian dishes such as tabouleh, fattoush, and warak anab to delicious dips like hommos and moutabal.
Must haves include Lebanese barbeque such as shish tawouk (barbequed chicken) - usually consumed with garlic, lahm mishwe (barbequed meat), and kafta (barbequed seasoned minced meat).
A full meal at an Arabic restaurant can cost as little as 15 us dollars (22500 LL) depending on where you go.
"Lebanese fast food" is also available as sandwiches offered in roadside shops, such as shawarma sandwiches (known in other countries as doner - or gyros in greece. Shawarma, as opposed to doner is seasoned with tarator sauce based on sesame oil, vegetables and is rolled in lebanese thin bread)the best place to eat "Lebanese fast food" is at BarBar Restaurant in Hamra . Various barbequed meat sandwiches are also available, and even things such as lamb or chicken spleen, brains, lamb bone marrow or lamb testicles can be served as sandwiches.
Breakfast usually consists of maneesh which looks like a folded pizza, most common toppings are zaatar ( a sort of paste made from thyme,oregano, sesame seeds and olive oil), jebneh (cheese) and lahm bi ajin (minced meat). Some new trendy places such as "zaatar w zeit" and "Leil nhar" experiment with new toppings, such as "halloum and bacon". Both places stay open 24 hours a day and partygoers often go there for a bite at 4 in the morning.
Another traditional breakfast food is knefeh; a special kind of breaded cheese that is served with a simple syrup in a sesame seed bread. It is also served as dessert, but somehow it tastes better in the morning; it is also extremely filling!
Lebanon is also very famous for its arabic sweets which can be found at leading restaurants. The city of Tripoli, however, is THE city for Lebanese sweets. Many critics refer to it as the "Sweet Capital" of Lebanon, the Hallab sweets is the place to visit when making a trip to Tripoli.
If taking a trip to the Bekaa, the restuarants known as the El-Wadi restuarants in Zahle serve exquisite Lebanese food. In Beirut, Abd el-Wahab in the "Monot" area also serves axcellent lebanese food in a traditional setting.
world famous fast food chains such as kfc,mcdonald's,pizza hut,burger king or domino's pizza and many other are widely spread and easily found across the country. french,chineese,italian,american,and japanese cuisine are also widely spread and are found in virtually all of the country's malls.(such as chopsticks,sushi-ko,bob's,creapaway,water mellon...)
cafe's also exist virtually everywhere(starbucks,dunkin donuts,moka and more...)
Lebanon's wines have an international reputation. Grapes have been grown since antiquity, and the vineyards, largely in the Bekaa Valley, produce the base wine for distillation into the national spirit Arak, which, like Ouzo, is flavoured with aniseed and becomes cloudy when diluted with water. Arak is the traditional accompniment to Meze.
But the grapes have also historically been used to make wine. This used to be predominantly white and sweet, but the soliders and administrators that came to administer the French mandate after World War One created a demand for red wine, and large acreages were planted especially with the Cinsault grape. Over the last 20 years these have been supplemented with the most popular international varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
Wineries often offer wine tasting and are very welcoming. The highly individual, old fashioned, Chateau Musar, is based at Ghazir, 15 miles north of Beirut, and trucks in the grapes from Bekaa. In Bekaa itself, wineries include the large Kefraya, Ksara, the oldest winery of all, Massaya, a fashionable new producer in Tanail, and Nakad in Jdeita, which like Musar has stuck with an idiosyncratic old fashioned approach. Kefraya, in the West Bekaa region, also has a nice restaurant attached and the region itself is beautiful to pass through.
Lebanon and specially Beirut is famous for its excellent night life. The choice can vary from international nightclubs such as the famous "Buddha Bar" or "Crobar" to many local clubs that cater from teens to seniors.
Favourite areas to go out are "Monot" and "Gemmeyzeh" Streets in "Ashrafieh" area of Beirut and the newly built "down town" area. The downtown area is popular with tourists, particularly Arabs from the Gulf. As for Westerners the Gemmayzeh area would be more appealing, Monot has died down in recent years and all of he pre-clubbing activity is mostly centered in Gemmayzeh.
It is worth mentionining that in Beirut, one would usually have dinner aroung 9, go for a few drinks in the pubs in Gemmayzeh at 11, and then go to a club at around 1:00 am and then continue to B018 at aroung 3:00 to 4:00 am. If amazing night life does not interest you, or you prefer to get to bed earlier then I would recommend having a drink in Gemmayzeh where most of the pubs are done in very good taste and it will give you the opportunity to get a good idea of Lebanese culture.
Intercontinantal Pheonicia- Le Royal- Le Vendome- Le Meridien- Radisson Sas- Grand Hills Hotel- Metropolitan ( Habtour )- those are all 5 stars hotels and there are many others. There is also the intercontinetel phoneicia,the habtoor and the sofitel. Le gray and the four points by sheraton are schedueled to open in lebanon.
A handful of private schools, such as the Lycée Français (several branches over the country), the Collège Protestant Français college notre dame de jamhour and college elysee amongst others follow the official French curriculum. The official French Baccalaureate exams can be taken in Lebanon.
Some schools (such as I.C. or "ACS")teach English as a first language and follow the english curriculum.
The American University of Beirut - AUB is considered the best English university in Middle East. The teaching language there,is English. Other anglophone private universities are: Antonine University - UPA | Notre Dame University - NDU | LAU ...
Some private universities have French as the main teaching language. Université St.Joseph - USJ is one of these, it is an old and respected institution in Lebanon, and probably offers the best price/quality ratio among private universities in the country. It is the private university which has enrolled most of the Lebanon students as well as foreign students from other countries in Middle East, Africa and Europe. Other francophone private universities are USEK and Balamand.
The Lebanese University is the state owned / public university and is the largest learning institution in the country. It offers virtually free tertiary education.
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.
You should know that Lebanon is still included on the US State Department's Travel Warnings list, which is reserved for only 29 countries in which long-term conditions make the country relatively dangerous. Though the State Department advises against travel to Lebanon, this does not mean that the country is truly unsafe to visit; there is much to see there, the vast majority of Lebanese are friendly, and most tourists experience no problems whatsoever. Nonetheless, travelers should be more vigilant than usual, particularly Westerners.
It is highly recommended that you register with your embassy before you go, and that you review your country's respective travel warnings and country specific information. The following general rules should keep you safe:
Do not travel after dark. You may visit well-lit and secure areas of cities like downtown Beirut, but be observant at all times. Be aware that employees of most Western governments must adhere to strict security measures and curfews. Call ahead for taxis, or arrange your transportation through a trustworthy hotel. Be wary of overly friendly strangers and solicitors. Do not discuss your itinerary in public. Try to avoid political or religious discussions with people other than those you know well and trust. Avoid demonstrations, large gatherings and any form of political unrest. DO NOT enter Palestinian refugee camps, regardless of your nationality, without protection. Try not to loiter near areas where many foreigners are known to congegrate, such as night clubs. While attacks are still very unlikely, these are prime targets for terrorist organizations. Be particularly careful when traveling to or from airports. Like in any country, particular regions and cities are more dangerous; be aware of these before you visit. In general, southern Lebanon is more dangerous than the north- avoid the Israeli border at all costs, and consider the risks carefully before going south of the Litani river. Tripoli (Tarabulus) in the north has witnessed several terrorist attacks. While the Bekaa valley and Beirut are largely safe, certain areas of both should be avoided and again, you should be observant at all times. Do not enter the southern suburbs of Beirut. Be certain your hotel, your emergency contacts, and your embassy always know your travel plans. Memorize or carry your embassy's phone number at all times.
While you must decidedly be more vigilant in visiting Lebanon, danger is very unlikely if you adhere to these rules. Despite its inclusion in most travel warnings lists, Lebanon is decidedly NOT in the same category as places like Somalia, the eastern DRC and Chechnya. Assuming that war is not immediately imminent and that the political situation is largely stable, you should not hesitate to visit the country; general common sense and consistent communication with your embassy will eliminate nearly all dangers.
Useful phone numbers:
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:
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 (Churches, mosques, etc) and when visiting rural towns and villages. However, Beirut is very much a cosmopolitan city. Clothing considered 'western' is generally acceptable, thus Westerners would probably feel more comfortable in Beirut, Mount Lebanon, and along the coast, which is dotted with sea-resorts where thongs and "topless" are not uncommon. 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 Hizbolla stronghold and hence there too it would be advisable that women travellers dress modest. In general, Lebanese are accustomed to different lifestyles and some do not take offence easily, especially with matters related to dress. The lebanese are people of diversity and respect and accept all others.