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budget travel in Bahrain

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We, a group of 4 travellers will be going to the Emirates for 10 days during Easter and will be stopping in Bahrain for one and a half day. Would like to get more information such as :

Is it safe to drive in Bahrain? Is an international driving permit strictly required? As we are planning to visit places like archaelogical sites and temples, is it more convenient to hire a car?

We would like to stay in budget hotels, provided they are clean. What's the cost like? What about youth hostels, are they OK and can we just walk in.

Is one and a half days enough to see most of Bahrain. Any recommendations?

Hope to hear a reply soon.

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    I have just caught your posting while surfing the stuff about Africa.
    I lived in Bahrain for a few years just before the gulf war and I am still in contact with some people there.
    It is a lovely little place , little being the operative word, as it is only about 120 Square miles and most of the south of the island is a no go area taken up by an American air base.
    It is full of ancient burial grounds and archaeological sites and has an excellent museum,very modern and high tech which gives a good history of the Dilmun civilisation. There is a good tourist office in the centre just by the Souk or market
    Driving is no problem and completely safe. However taxis around the main town Manama are reliable and not too expensive but agree the price when you get in the Cab to avoid misunderstandings.
    The main town is mainly modern and air conditioned. It will be hot in April but not unbearably so. The people are very friendly and helpful and there are a great number of ex pats from all around the world You can drink alcohol in most of the hotels which have excellent food and entertainment (mainly Filipino copy bands)
    I had an international driving licence when I was there but I am not sure of the rules now. There are very strict rules about traffic accidents and these must be reported to police however minor. The only warning that I could give you is that on Friday (the Islamic holy day) there is a great influx of Saudi ‘tourists’ who frequent the Hotels and while in the main very friendly ‘they cant hold their drink too well’, as we say in Scotland, so just be slightly wary of driving on a Friday night.
    Of course it is 10 years since I lived there but it is quite sleepy place and I don’t imagine it has changed too much. Feel free to e mail me if you want any more info and I would be interested in your experience.
    Me, I am off to Capetown for three weeks in April and I am looking forward to that!
    Bob Scott

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    It is safe to drive in Bahrain but you will need an international driving permit or Bahraini driver's permit.
    If you aren't used to traffic circles it can be a bit intimidating at first.
    The sites and temples are a bit spread out so you'll need to get a car. I don't believe there are any "tourist guides" either. Check with the Bahrain Museum.
    There aren't really any hostels in Bahrain. I recommend you don't look for "budget hotels". The health and cleanliness standards vary a great deal. There are recognized hotel chains such as Holiday Inn, Ramada Inn, Diplomat. There are other non chain hotels available, some are less "western" in focus than others and might appear to be a bit restrictive as far as alchol, single men and/or women, dress, pool availability, etc. Most hotels will have rooms available but I recommend trying to call ahead.
    Whether or not one and a half days is sufficient to see Bahrain is hard to answer, it depends upon what you want to see...there is a very good museum, and collection of Koranic art at the Bait el Koran, the digs, a few "resort" type activities, the shopping souqs, modern shopping centers, resturants, some night life, resturants or roadside food stands,fishing dhows (boats). It
    can be very modern or very old fashioned.
    I'd stay longer but that's me.

    I hope you enjoy it.

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    Dear John,
    Although Bahrain is a small Island you will need atleast 3 days to have a look around. A trip across the causeway to the Saudi border is excallent. The people in Bahrain are the most friendly in the Gulf area and it is very safe getting around even after dark. Hope this is helpful. Have a nice trip.

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