Tourists (including Lebanese expatriates) are especially vulnerable to scams in Beirut, and often these relate to overpricing. There is a broad perception that all foreigners have a wealth of riches, and more disturbingly, that they are powerless to complain in the event of being ripped off. A lack of regulation for many basic services in Lebanon (e.g., public transport) mean that the threat of a complaint will do little to set things straight, and your best bet is to be as vigilant as possible in the first place.
Public Transport and Taxis
When traveling in Beirut, always:
1. Let someone know where you are going and have someone expecting you on arrival. Try to avoid traveling alone.
2. Always carry your mobile phone in an easy to reach spot.
3. If traveling by taxi, always agree to the fare in advance, and pay only on arrival.
4. Ask for local recommendations on cab companies/operators - people are less likely to give you a bad experience if there's reputational damage involved.
5. In cabs, always pretend to be interested in the services of your taxi driver for future use (e.g., day rates, extended private touring) even if you are not - entertain this by asking for a contact number and tell your driver you'll "get back in touch, maybe (insert random day here) next week". If you have a good experience, it might even be a handy number to have.
You may be warned about carjackings by your car rental company; a known trouble spot is the Emile Lahoud Autostrade linking Mt Lebanon (Bikfaya area) with Beirut. Heed any recent advice.
Street signs in Beirut are generally poor, and those placed on motorways often provide insufficient notice of an impending junction or exit. Unless you're certain about your route, try to avoid driving at night, which can lead to hours of frustration.
While the Lebanese are an affectionate (and genuinely friendly) lot, beware of anyone random introducing themselves to you on the street with a hug or a handshake that draws you in to an embrace - often with a line like "oh, its you! how are you!". The assailant then threatens the victim to hand over money/wallet/phone/jewelery in a way that avoids public spectacle.
If you are unlucky enough to fall ill, head straight for the American University Hospital - aka 'the AUH' (near the AUB campus) - you will need to pay around $40 USD upfront (cash or major credit card) and be reimbursed later by your insurer.
Pharmacies in Lebanon are able to prescribe drugs on-the-spot. While this is likely to be a boon for a minority of travelers, it can leave you even more ill than when you came in to begin with. Don't chance it - see a doctor first.
Escaping to the mountains near Beirut is a good option for those about to burn-out. Aley and Beit Mery are both near enough to the city (20–30 minutes) and are generally clean and green.
Radio in Beirut is quite popular, particularly with the younger people who listen to the English-spoken stations as all events and concerts are advertised through those. Arabic and French broadcasted stations are plentiful, and are worth a listen if you'd like to experience the traditional culture. Below are radio stations that are broadcasted in English:
Official Newsboxes can be found throughout the commercial areas in the city, mainly in Sassine Square ashrafieh, Verdun st. Verdun, Concorde st. Hamra. All Minimarkets/Supermarkets/Hypermarkets distribute newspapers and magazines as well.
There is a huge variety of Arabic newspapers of all sorts, as well as ethnic newspapers such as the Armenian Aztag Daily.
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