Where is Iraqi Kurdistan?
It is is the northern territory of the Republic of Iraq and the southern part of the Kurdistan region as a whole. Iraqi Kurdistan is considered to be one of the four parts of Kurdistan, which also includes parts of southeastern Turkey (Northern Kurdistan), northern Syria (Western Kurdistan), and northwestern Iran (Eastern Kurdistan). You can read about the differences between Iraqi Kurdistan and the Republic of Iraq here.
How do I get to Iraqi Kurdistan?
The easiest and most convenient way to get into Erbil is by plane. The country is served by two international airports: Erbil International Airport and Silamani International Airport. However, most passengers will arrive in Erbil as it has the most connections. There are daily flights from Europe and Turkey as well as other Middle Eastern cities, such as Beirut, Dubai and Amman.
You can take a bus from Istanbul the border town of Silopi for around €20, and then take a shared taxi over the border, but please be advised this bus takes over 24 hours to arrive.
Is Iraqi Kurdistan safe?
Absolutely! Iraqi Kurdistan is renowned to be a safe place, especially for foreign tourists, but as always you should always keep a watchful eyes on your belongings. It is governed separately from the Republic of Iraq and as such has its own military and security forces. Levels of terrorism are extremely low and violent crime against foreigners are close to non-existent.
Do I need a visa to get into Kurdistan?
Citizens of the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Turkey and all EU countries are given a free 30-day entry stamp on arrival into Iraqi Kurdistan. The stamp will be processed at any border and is usually hassle-free.
For all other nationalities, an “Iraqi – Kurdistan Region” visa must be arranged in advance. YPT can arrange this but the cost is usually around €200 so it is not cheap. If you are staying for 10 days or more, additional forms must be filled out at a residency office within 10 days of your arrival.
If you are visiting Kurdistan after a trip to southern Iraq, then your Iraqi visa will also cover your time in Kurdistan.
Do they speak English in Kurdistan?
You’ll have no issues with English in the bigger cities in the region, especially Erbil. Although Kurdish is the official language, plenty of people will be able to understand basic Arabic and English – especially young people.
To read about the Yazidi click here.
What should I pack?
You can read our blog on what to pack for your trip to Iraqi Kurdistan here.
What plugs do they use?
The most common type of plug sockets here are types C and G. Type C is the two pronged socket you’d find in European countries and type G is the socket you’d find in the United Kingdom. We would suggest bringing a multi socket adapter just to make sure you can cover all bases. Iraqi Kurdistan operates on a 230V supply voltage and 50Hz.
Can I drink in Iraqi Kurdistan?
Alcohol is available. Liquor stores can be found just about everywhere in the cities of Erbil and Suleymaniyah, while bars are plentiful too. Drinking out in bars and restaurants tend to be a little pricey, but prices of buying drinks from the local stores are pretty reasonable. Drinking in public parks and plazas is legal, but some locals and police officers might still take offense to it. So just be sensible and try and be as discreet as possible..