Countries Visited

Svalbard Spain United States of America Antarctica South Georgia Falkland Islands Bolivia Peru Ecuador Colombia Venezuela Guyana Suriname French Guiana Brazil Paraguay Uruguay Argentina Chile Greenland Canada United States of America United States of America Israel Jordan Cyprus Qatar United Arab Emirates Oman Yemen Saudia Arabia Iraq Afghanistan Turkmenistan Iran Syria Singapore China Mongolia Papua New Guinea Brunei Indonesia Malaysia Malaysia Tiawan Philippines Vietnam Cambodia Laos Thailand Myanmar Bangladesh Sri Lanka India Bhutan Nepal Pakistan Afghanistan Turkmenistan Tajikistan Kyrgyzstan Uzbekistan Japan North Korea South Korea Russia Kazakhstan Russia Montenegro Portugal Azerbaijan Armenia Georgia Ukraine Moldova Belarus Romania Bulgaria Macedonia Serbia Bosonia & Herzegovina Turkey Greece Albania Croatia Hungary Slovakia Slovenia Malta Spain Portugal Spain France Italy Italy Austria Switzerland Belgium France Ireland United Kingdom Norway Sweden Finland Estonia Latvia Lithuania Russia Poland Czech Republic Germany Denmark The Netherlands Iceland El Salvador Guatemala Panama Costa Rica Nicaragua Honduras Belize Mexico Trinidad & Tobago Puerto Rico Dominican Republic Haiti Jamaica The Bahamas Cuba Vanuatu Australia Solomon Islands Fiji New Caledonia New Zealand Eritrea Ethiopia Djibouti Somalia Kenya Uganda Tanzania Rwanda Burundi Madagascar Namibia Botswana South Africa Lesotho Swaziland Zimbabwe Mozambique Malawi Zambia Angola Democratic Repbulic of Congo Republic of Congo Gabon Equatorial Guinea Central African Republic Cameroon Nigeria Togo Ghana Burkina Fasso Cote d'Ivoire Liberia Sierra Leone Guinea Guinea Bissau The Gambia Senegal Mali Mauritania Niger Western Sahara Sudan Chad Egypt Libya Tunisia Morocco Algeria
Map Legend: 28%, 75 of 263 Territories

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Financing the Middle East

You don't to be an oil mogul to travel in the Middle East, but it wouldn't hurt. Here's the lowdown on what Andy and I spent during our time in a few countries in the region. These rates include any visa or exit fees, activities, food, lodgings, and transport for two people, but not flights. (And we included the numbers for Egypt in our last Africa finances post.)

Jordan: $103/day. You can find fairly cheap food (50-cent falafel sandwiches!) and budget hotels ($15-$30 a night) in most places in Jordan, and public transport isn't crazy expensive. What drives the average up is high admission prices for tourist attractions--the main example for this being Petra, which costs a whopping 50 dinar (about $70 US) per person to visit for the day. Our jeep tour around the Wadi Rum desert was a bit expensive too. But since those are the two coolest places to visit in Jordan, there's pretty much no getting around forking over the money. No visa fees here if you're a US citizen, but there is an exit tax (which we learned the hard way is nonrefundable , even when Syria won't let you in and you have to come back into Jordan).

Israel: $94/day. Israel is basically the opposite of Jordan in expensiveness--many historic sites of interest are free to visit, but food is incredibly pricey...and good luck finding a hotel room(or even two dorm beds) in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem for less than $55 US per night. Public transport is also quite expensive, though Israel does have an excellent network of buses, so at least it's fast and easy to get around, with no negotiating necessary.If you want to visit Israel on a small budget, we recommend trying to couchsurf. Again, no visa fee if you're American, but a hefty exit tax upon departure.

Turkey: $82/day. Turkey is pretty good value, since for the most part it feels like you're in Europe, but you're paying closer to developing-world prices. Istanbul is expensive, with two dorm beds (around $10 per bed) costing much less than the cheapest double room we could find (around $35), but even there, you can always find a cheap kebab if you don't want to eat fancy. In the rest of the country, we were able to afford better food and a private room most of the time. As for transport, a quirk we discovered in Turkey is that an overnight bus pretty much always costs the same price (around 50 lira, or $33) no matter how far you're going, so we paid the same for a 7-hour overnight bus ride as we did for a 20-hour one. Buses are kind of pricey, but quite luxurious, with personal seat-back TVs (Turkish-language movies and shows only, sadly) and refreshment carts bringing you coffee, juice, and packaged cakes at random times (usually right after you've dozed off for the night).

That's all for the Middle East. We wish we could bring you some financial data on Syria, but they turned us away at the border for not having a visa arranged in advance in the US. Feel free to write to their government and complain on our behalf.

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