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A country known for its political unrest might seem like an odd choice for a solo travel adventure. However, don’t let the reputation intimidate you, as Lebanon is a good option for solo travelers if you take some precautions.
Lebanon is very small, comprising just 10,452 km2 (smaller than the state Connecticut, at 14,357 km2). Its crime rates are relatively low. Plus, the culture is family-oriented and tradition is important, meaning that encountering overt signs of hostility from locals is rare. Locals are very welcoming — to the extent that this might seem overwhelming after a while! Most Lebanese can also understand basic English, and many are fluent. If you need help, many locals will go the extra mile to provide it.
Despite the good-natured locals, it’s also important to keep your wits about you. Especially in Beirut, listen to local instructions and stay away from empty streets, alleyways and the southern parts of the capital, and you’ll generally be safe. That being said, the apathy that marks many other cosmopolitan international cities is not as widespread in Beirut or any Lebanese city, so if you’re in a crowded place and need help, people are likely to rush to your aid.
Use your instincts to guide you through situations you think may be dangerous. Buy a Lebanese phone number or ensure your roaming service is functional. When you ride a taxi make sure you’re not straying from where you’re supposed to be going by checking on Google Maps. Try walking instead of taking transport if the destination is close and it’s not late in the evening.
For a solo traveler in Beirut, the best place to stay is Hostel Beirut. Staying here provides a safety net and a way to meet other travelers. If you want a bit more luxury, try the Le Gray in Downtown or the Four Seasons in Minet El Hosn.
As a safety measure, inform the hotel staff or your family/friends back home whenever you leave the hotel, and let them know when you expect to be back. This creates a network of people who will notice if you fail to make it back to your room.
In many other cities, there’s nothing that can’t be seen in a day trip while basing yourself elsewhere. Look for travel services and groups to join if you want to see places like the Roman Ruins of Baalbek, the Old Souks in Jbeil and the Baatara Gorge Waterfall in Batroun.
Quality Inn Tripoli, Rashid Karami Int’L Fair – Tripoli, Lebanon, +961 6 211 255
Don’t be afraid to visit Lebanon on your own. It’s a beautiful country with tons to see and do, from the nature in the north to the bustle of Beirut. The media often exaggerates safety situations, but make sure to avoid places that locals warn you against.