Is it safe to travel to Lebanon? The short answer is that yes it is, but the country is going through massive problems and due care should be taken when you visit.
To read if it safe to travel to Syria click here.
Why is Lebanon such a mess right now?
Plagued by a previous civil war, occupation by Israel and religious tensions Lebanon was supposed to in boom time right now, but things have sadly not worked out that way.
Why is Lebanon such a mess currently? There are a whole myriad of reasons, such as its lack of oil, its proxy status between rival camps, as well as its failed electoral system (confessional), which far from enriching multiculturalism has merely caused more divide.
This has meant that the currently is currently suffering from rampant inflation, power cuts and inflation. There have been various protests, many bloody, but none have really fixed anything.
Is it safe to travel to the Hezbollah areas of Lebanon
OK, so first off we are not advocates for Hezbollah, nor are we saying anything bad in case you happen to be a member reading this. Despite being designated as a terrorist organization Hezbollah are also politicians and run large parts of the country.
On the ground in these areas security is arguably better than in other parts of the country and you are very safe to travel to these areas regardless of religion, and this includes Jews. Do though be respectful of their beliefs, whether you agree, or not.
Is it safe to travel to Lebanon – Inflation
The level of inflation in the country has meant that the official and real exchange rates are more than 100 times different to each other. Alas like a communist state this has meant that peoples salaries, savings and ATM’s even mean nothing.
From a safety in Lebanon point of view this means only bringing cash and changing money via the black market, which far from black is an accepted part of everyday life. Do not use ATM’s, credit cards, nor even apps like Uber that are linked to your card.
I met a Japanese girl literally trying to survive on $15 as she thought she could just use her card.
Inflation also leads to poverty, which in turn leads to petit crime, which we will get to in a bit.
Safety in Lebanon – lack of electricity
The inflation thing means that the government only provide 3 hours of electricity at the “official” exchange rate. This means a number of things, firstly only major hotels have guaranteed electricity and that people truly rely on generators. This makes Beirut not a very feasible place to live.
It also means dark alleys even in places like Hamra street, to stay safe in Lebanon bring a torch with you it comes in very handy!
Is it safe to travel to Lebanon – petit crime?
Dark streets are a muggers playground, and muggings, or pickpocketing of foreigners do happen in Lebanon. Like anything use common sense, be careful in crowded areas such as markets, or the dark alleys of the city.
Violent crimes such as kidnappings and the like are not common, neither is terrorism, although one should always be vigilant.
You can check out the UK Foreign and Commonwealth office advisories here
Is it safe for women to travel to Lebanon?
We will give the question of if it safe for women to travel to Lebanon its own article, but overall yes it is, but with a few caveats. Firstly Lebanon has a huge prostitution industry based around its super clubs north of Beirut. These women are supposed to come ons special visas.
This can often lead to suspicion from immigration for sole female travellers to Lebanon from Asian, or Eastern European countries for example.
Sexually Lebanon is a liberal place in comparison to the region, which means men are not shy to approach you, which can be good and bad. But this is not the case in the whole of the country and some people are very religiously devout, so modesty should be shown in general when you traverse the country.
Is Lebanon safe to travel for gay and LGTB+ people
Same sex relations are not illegal in Lebanon, but how you will be treated at a gay bar in Beirut compared to heart of Hezbollah is very different. Lebanon is open my Middle-Eastern standards, but not by European ones. Discretion is still key and most people, particularly religious do not have a high opinion of the gay community.
The same can be said for a trans-traveler to Lebanon, with where you are denoting how open, or conservative you should be.
Is is safe to travel to Beirut
Beirut is a wonderful place with great nightlife, so it is also the place that attracts those looking for money. Nightlife wise you will probably find yourself at Hamra Street, this is a great place, but is also now heavily associated with beggars, and street walkers in Beirut, both of whom will approach you.
There are also a number of blind spots in the city, which again increase the chances of being mugged. Don’t go heavy handed at night with big expensive phones, or cameras! Quite simply.
So, overall is it safe to travel to Lebanon? Yes it is, but while the country is going through so much turmoil due diligence is an important part of your trip.
To read about our Lebanon Spring Tour click here.