Anyone been to Syria recently?

Oct 9th, 1999, 09:11 AM
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Anyone been to Syria recently?

I am planning a trip to Syria in about a year. The three cities I would like to visit include Damascus, Aleppo, and Palmyra?

I plan on teaching myself a bit of Arabic. With that having been said, is it worth taking a pre-arranged group tour in the country? I am pretty good about traveling independently- but I wonder if the language barriers will get in the way.

Any good recommendations on mid-range hotels in Damascus, Aleppo, or Palmyra? Comments on bus and train travel in Syria would also be appreciated.

Thanks in advance for all replies!
Nov 9th, 1999, 01:12 PM
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You might want to read this Sunday's New York Times Travel section which has three very informative articles on Syria.It sounds fascinating. You can access it on the web.

From everything I have read, Syria is about to become a popular choice for travelers and is being touted as the next Turkey. If that is the case, I'd go now, before they start selling "I got a kick out of the Crusader Castles" t-shirts.( I plan on going this April).

Nov 13th, 1999, 11:47 AM
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I was in Syria last June and I loved every minute of it. It is easy to get around as buses go everywhere, dirt cheap. For 3 dollars you can ride from Damascus to Aleppo, 5 hours in air-con with a steward who will serve unlimited amounts of chilled water!!! The people are incredibly hospitable, take your time to get to know them and let them invite you to their houses, you are in for a treat. The arabic will help, but young people will know English...More important, read up on the customs and try to respect them and you will be treated like a king.
Good Luck,
Nov 15th, 1999, 10:27 AM
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My son and three of his GenX friends recently went to Syria on their own and had a great time; he remarked on how friendly the people were to him. He didn't seem to have a problem about language. Have fun!
Nov 24th, 1999, 06:32 AM
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I agree with the other posts on Syria: Travel is easy, cheap, and everyone I came accross was very nice. I would, however, not rely on English. True, people may have a basic understanding, but I found it quite limiting. Of course in Palmyra, the tourism has led to a spread of English more so than the rest of Syria.
If you can grasp some Arabic, fantastic. Your French will come in handy and Russian in Aleppo.
As for a guide, I would suggest the Rough Guide to Syria - more informative and accurate than the Lonely Planet.
Have fun!
Nov 25th, 1999, 11:11 AM
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Hi Bill,
I was in Syria in 1996. In Damascus the bus stop is near the center- within walking distance. At that time, conventional buses in and out of Palmyra only ran once or twice a day. Informal buses, aka privately owned minivans, come and go from the town next to the ruins of Palmyra, next to a small park. If you see minivans parked in this area, they are probably about to go somewhere and may be the only transportation out of the town for most of the day. I didn't go to Aleppo, but did go to Hama and enjoyed it.The Noria hotel in Hama is good. Homs is a transportation hub to go in all directions and you may have the opportunity to know the bus station well. Taxis congregate there too and are cheap. I only know one word in Arabic but had no trouble. It helps to know that Syrians don't call Palmyra by that name; rather, they call it Tadmor. Likewise, Crac des Chevaliers is called Al Hosn. Independent travel in Syria is easy and cheap. The people are polite, don't hassle you like in Egypt or Turkey (places I also love), and at that time were quite unused to seeing western travelers. A little staring was common. But the people are very very Friendly. You will enjoy it.
Dec 9th, 1999, 07:33 AM
Heather Burles
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Hi. Syria is a wonderful country to visit. The people are very friendly and hospitable. I learned a bit of Arabic before I went there in 1995. I lived in Damascus, studied Arabic with a private tutor, and then travelled around Syria. I recently published a book, "Smouldering Incense, Hammered Brass: A Syrian Interlude", about my experiences there. The publisher's web site is:

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