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Bahrain is a tiny little country in the Arabian Gulf with a population of 1.7 million people, and only connected to land by a bridge from Saudi Arabia. Bahrains’s main source of income used to come from pearls that were shipped worldwide, until 1932 when oil was found in the country. Aside from oil, Bahrain is well known for being part of the GCC (Gulf Corporation Council) and for holding Formula 1 races.
The Ultimate Bahrain Travel Guide
Don’t miss: From Riyadh: A Weekend Trip to Manama, Bahrain
Is Bahrain Safe to Visit?
I visited Bahrain as an American solo female traveler and felt entirely safe. Of all of the gulf countries, Bahrain is pretty liberal but you still need to be respectful and mindful of Muslim culture and beliefs. And just like any other country that you may visit as a solo female traveler, it is always necessary to practice the same safety precautions as you would anywhere else in the world. Don’t leave your drink alone, don’t accept drinks from strangers, don’t walk alone at night, and watch your belongings to avoid petty theft.
GENERAL SAFETY TIPS TO FOLLOW
- Copy your passport. Keep a copy in a separate place from where you keep your passport. Take a picture on your phone and send it to loved ones in case anything were to happen.
- Copy your vaccination card and keep pictures of it on your phone as well.
- Know the number and address of the US Embassy (or whatever country you’re from). In this case, the US Embassy number is +973 1724 2700 and the address is 6H3C+V8G, Rd No 3119, Zinj, Bahrain.
- Know how to dial out – the code for Bahraini numbers is +973.
- Know how to contact the police – 999.
- Travel with travel insurance to ensure that you’re covered in case anything were to go wrong. I prefer to use World Nomads.
Getting a Visa for Bahrain
If you are coming from a GCC country (Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE) you do not need a visa. If you’re coming from elsewhere you can get a visa on arrival once you show your passport. A single entry visa costs about 5 BD or $15. If you pass into Bahrain via the King Fahd Causeway (the bridge connecting Saudi Arabia and Bahrain), you do not need a visa. (If you want to purchase a visa before arriving to the country, you can do so here).
The Best Time to Visit Bahrain
Because of its location, Bahrain is hot and humid year-round. I would highly recommend avoiding visiting the country in the summer months and instead visit in the winter between December-March. There is very little rain and no snow in Bahrain so you don’t need to worry about a “rainy season”.
Bahrain operates on the Bahraini dinar (BD). It’s separated by 1,000 fils with three decimal places denoting the fils. At the time of writing, 1 BD = 2.63 USD. The easiest way I’ve found to convert currencies is with the free app Xe.
In my experience, everywhere I visited took a debit/credit card so I did not need to have cash on hand.
As far as tipping, it is not common to tip taxi drivers but when you go out to eat you’ll usually notice a 10% service fee added to your bill. If you want to you can leave an extra 5-10% on top of that, but it is not necessary.
What to Wear in Bahrain
While Bahrain is one of the more liberal countries in the Middle East, the population is still predominantly Muslim so it’s imperative to dress appropriately when you visit. While you can get away with wearing bikinis to the beach, shorts out at night, etc… I still recommend bringing clothes to cover up for the more conservative areas like the souk and mosques. It is not required to wear an abaya or a hijab in Bahrain.
When I visited Bahrain I wore shorts and a long-sleeve shirt to brunch/out at night. When I walked around during the day I wore a long dress with straps. And when I visited the souk I wore light pants and a light sweater. While I did receive a few looks here and there, nobody said anything to me. If stares make you feel uncomfortable, I would definitely recommend making sure that your knees and shoulders are covered at all times.
Getting Around Bahrain
Getting around Bahrain is easy and affordable. Uber operates in Bahrain and they are readily available and easy to get. The Uber drivers double as cab drivers so it will look like you’re getting into a cab when you get your Uber.
If you do want to take a traditional taxi, just hail one down. Know that it is illegal for the taxis to run without the meters going so if they do that to you, your ride should be free.
Language/Simple Phrases to Know
The main language in Bahrain is Arabic. English is widely spoken by most everyone and signs/menus/etc are all converted to English. But just in case, it is handy to know these simple Arabic phrases to help you get by.
- Hi – Marhaban
- Goodbye – Ma Salama
- Thank you – Shukran
- You’re welcome – Afwan
- Toilet – Alhamam
- “I’m done” – Halas
Bahrain was a lovely country to visit and very easy to get around and communicate. If you’re on a mission to see every country in the world or you’re already exploring the Middle East, I’d say visit especially if you’re craving a sense of normalcy (drinking, wearing shorts, etc). However, I wouldn’t recommend flying all the way from across the world to visit this country.
For more destinations in the Middle East, don’t miss my guides to Saudi Arabia!