If you’ve seen Lebanon on the news you probably know that it has a rocky political climate and seemingly precarious security situation. It’s easy for news outlets to report exaggerated news and for governments to place it on a no-visit list without properly weighing the risks. Lebanon is perhaps one of the most misunderstood countries, so here’s why you should not be afraid to visit.
It’s not what it seems on the media
News outlets are prone to exaggeration, and in Lebanon’s case they do it a lot. From outside the country it may seem like Lebanon is a war zone waiting to happen, given its controversial history. However, the reality is different. The locals live quite casually and normally, and are quite used to empty threats. If you were to arrive in Lebanon right now you would find it safe to walk the streets, indulge in the nightlife and visit its beautiful cities.
It’s had a history of war but…
…it’s not constantly volatile. Having been through a brutal Civil War, a conflict with Israel and numerous terrorist attacks, the Lebanese have developed a thick skin, coping mechanisms and an unwillingness to allow the peace to be disrupted. Lebanese people want political and economic stability. The country is currently experiencing a boom in its culture and art, and is not seeking a set-back.
The people are very helpful
Once you’ve braved the trip to Lebanon despite your anxiety and friends’ warnings, you’ll quickly find that the locals are extremely helpful, friendly and generous. A Lebanese person will typically not hesitate to help you with directions or run to your aid in case of an emergency. The locals are quite used to tourists, and most people in the street can speak reasonable English and/or French.
The culture is very easygoing
Lebanon is full of differences, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. Home to several sects, religions, cities and cultures, the Lebanese tend to be used to difference. There are no stringent dress codes to follow or one “right” way to act (other than courteously). Be mindful of the people around and you should be fine, and even welcomed warmly.
There’s a lot to enjoy
The main reason to keep Lebanon on your travel list is the sheer amount of history, culture and fun you’ll experience in such a small country. There’s prehistoric as well as Phoenician heritage, and the most recent wars have given it a curious mix of rundown and urban vibe. On the one hand you will see high rises and luxury shops and on the other bullet-scarred buildings and Roman ruins. You’ll experience beautiful nature in the north and iconic beaches on the coast. Every corner of Lebanon is worth exploring!