Travel, Currency and Money saving tips for Lebanon
This diminutive Mediterranean nation is a fascinating nexus point of the Middle East and the West; of Christianity and Islam; of tradition and modernity. It’s a place where culture, family and religion are all-important, but where sectarian violence can too often erupt – claiming lives and scarring both the landscape and the national psyche.
What currency to use in Lebanon?
ATMs are readily available in the large cities, but tend to become scarce in the less touristy regions.
There are many money exchange kiosks in every city in Lebanon, especially in Beirut, however it does depend on where you are going to stay to determine if it is easy to reach one of them. Good advice is to have dollars (USD) with you when you arrive in Lebanon because it is used pretty much everywhere in Lebanon, and you can pay by using US Dollars. It will be very easy to end up with Lebanese pounds once you have spent some USD and recieved some change. You can get Lebanese Pounds from everywhere (shop, hotel, supermarket...) by asking to do an exchange. All credits cards are widely accepted.
How to get around in Lebanon?
There are no air services operating within Lebanon, but the country is so small that you don’t really need them (you can drive from one end to the other in half a day).
Minibuses travel between Beirut and all of Lebanon’s major towns; the only route that has large, Pullman-style buses is Beirut–Tripoli.
Buses usually have a route number and the destination displayed in the front window, but this is usually in Arabic only. Government-run buses have red number plates, and there are a number of independently owned microbuses that cover the same routes; note that the embassies of foreign countries recommend using the government-run buses only.
You need to be a competent driver with very steady nerves to contemplate driving in Lebanon, since rules are cheerfully flouted. A three-lane road, for example, can frequently become seven lanes and intersections are a survival-of-the-fittest experience. Hairpin bends and pot-holed roads are frequent in the mountains, and few roads are gritted after a snowfall.
Most routes around Lebanese towns and cities are covered by service, or shared, taxis, which are usually elderly Mercedes with red licence plates and a taxi sign on the roof. You can hail them at any point on their route and also get out wherever you wish by saying ‘anzil huun’ (drop me off here). Be sure to ask ‘servees?’ before getting in (if it’s an empty car), to ensure the driver doesn’t try to charge you a private taxi fare.
Travel tips for Lebanon.
The official language in Lebanon is Standard Arabic, but the most common tongue heard is Lebanese Arabic. Many locals also speak English and some French. This is especially true of people who work in the tourism and business sectors. Travelers should expect English to become less common when travelling outside of the cities and in the more remote areas.
Accommodation in Lebanon is expensive. Nevertheless, since it is a small country, you can find a budget hotel in Beirut and use it as a base to explore the rest of the country, for practically your whole stay. In many towns and villages, there’s no budget accommodation. The main modes of transport are service taxis, bus and car. There are no railway systems in Lebanon. All types of public transportation vehicles (taxis, buses, minivans and even trucks) can be identified by their red-colored license plate.
One of the breadbaskets of ancient Rome, the Bekaa Valley is littered with ancient sites. The world-class ruins of Baalbek, site of the Roman solar cult Heliopolis, are the valley’s star attraction. The soaring Temple of Bacchus, circa 200 AD, is one of the best preserved and most majestic Roman ruins in the world, featuring more than a dozen 19m-high columns and exquisitely preserved reliefs.
Send Money to Lebanon - Best Rates
To get a good (and fair) exchange rate when sending money to Lebanon you need to find and compare exchange rates for International Money Transfers (IMTs).
The available FX rates for sending money abroad can be very different to the mid-market (wholesale) rate which you see reported online and in the News.
You should especially compare your own bank's exchange rates to those available from Money Transfer specialists to see how much you can save - we make that calculation easy in the below table.
Get a better deal for foreign transfers to Lebanon
When sending money to Lebanon it’s important to compare your bank’s rates & fees with those we have negotiated with our partner money transfer providers.
To get a better deal you should follow these 4 simple steps :
- Open an account with a BER reviewed FX provider (id docs may be required)
- You specify the local or Lebanese pound amount you want to transfer
- Make a local currency domestic transfer for the requested amount to the provider's bank account in your country
- Once your funds are received by the provider the converted LBP amount will be transfered to the recipient account you specify in Lebanon.
Use the above Send to Lebanese pound calculator to compare the exchange rates of FX specialist providers rates versus your bank's standard rates you can hopefully save around 5% and maybe more -
end result is more Lebanese pound deposited into the recipient bank account and less margins and fees kept by the banks!