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Travel to Lebanon - HELP

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Hello, I was wondering if somebody could provide me with some advise on travelling to Beirut this July. I am an Asian American and am planning to travel there for a week. Are there any safety issues I need to be concerned about? Can you also recommend some really neat places to explore? Lastly, any feedback on cultural issues/risks for asian americans in Beirut these days.

Thank you so much!

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    I am going to take up a new job in Beirut later this month. Last time I was there was 3 years ago and in total have been 6 times. Safety in general is not too much a concern nowadays. When I first went there it was a little more of a concern with soldiers occassionally stopping cars and asking whether we had any weapons on board. Also had occassional Kalashnikov firing - for celebrations only, but there was the general idea that you the weapons were to have been handed in! Still be careful of taking photos is there are any soldier camps around - some on the sea front which you will pass in all likelihood.
    Taxis are easy to get - so avoid the most obvious danger of being ripped off by the hotel taxi charging 4x what you should pay. Get hotel to write in Arabic any specific destination and your hotel - although that should be generally understood. Can't say I saw too many Asian or American tourists in my times there, but I do not think there is any great concern in going, but one big thing is to be careful of is talking politics unless you are happy to criticise Israel with no qualifications or you are totally comfortable with the person you are talking to. It can get uncomfortable if you are not careful. Beirut is the city always recommended by other Arabs as being the place that has the best looking girls and best food - often by people that have never been there- but it is totally true. Lots of good restaurants. One of my favourite Lebanese places is Pigeon Rocks Cafe over looking the Rocks on the sea. But Beirut trendy restaurant scene has a lot of changes. Circus I think is still popular. Wealthy Beirutis love eating out late and often in big groups - so you can feel a bit of a gooseberry if there are just two of you, let alone one.
    There are a lot of good hotels now. I have stayed at Le Cavalier - 3 star OK but nothing special, Meridien Commodore- good- and Riviere. Riviere definitely superior - on the Corniche with good swimming pools. Avoid Marriott totally - awful location. Also can get cheaper apartment style accommodation - should find on internet. I used to stay in West Beirut - near American University of Beirut- which is fine. East side is more Christian and more French speaking. Go down to sport clubs like Long Beach or Sporting - in Raouche. They have large swimming pools there and you can lounge around for the day - I think cost is about $7 or so. Can swim in the sea , but when I was there it was not recommended from pollution aspect, but I think it is much better now.
    Go up to hills - Ahden is a really nice trip with a fantastic restaurant there. Jounieh for night life (coast north of Beirut)- but Friday and Saturday night the road is hugely busy until really late. Anything called a Super night Club has lots of Eastern European girls who are not secretaries - say no more. Night clubs are night clubs. Can hire a driver for low sum (through taxi company) - driving is awful so do not do it yourself.
    Let me know when you are going and if I have been there for more than a few days will be able to tell you more. Lebanon is not exactly the most common thread here!

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