The official Lebanese currency is the Lebanese pound or lira (LL). Notes are available in denominations of: LL1,000; LL5,000; LL10,000; LL20,000; LL50,000; and LL100,000. There are also LL250 and LL500 coins.
U.S. dollars are used widely throughout the country. Restaurants, hotels, and stores often quote their prices in U.S. dollars, and many establishments will convert and provide U.S. dollar prices for you upon request.
The US$/LL exchange rate is relatively stable, hovering around US$1=LL1,500. The appreciation of the Euro since early 2002 has benefited European travelers. Check the Yahoo! Currency Converter for the latest exchange rate before you go.
Major credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Diners Club) are accepted at most large establishments throughout the country. ATMs are also widely available in Beirut and larger cities and will usually dispense both U.S. dollars and Lebanese pounds.
Exchanging tourist checks is carried out in some Lebanese banks. As for local or foreign currencies, they can be exchanged at the exchange offices that are spread in the cities.It is not uncommon to pay “tips” at café houses and restaurants. A tip value ranges between 5% and 10% of the total value.
Telephone system in Lebanon is well-developed and many public pay phones are available. International phone calls are expensive, and phone cards are available and less expensive from dialing directly from your hotel room. These cards are sold at newsstands, from service shops, and telephone and OGERO centers.
Most Lebanese use mobile phones, and coverage extends throughout the country.
The country code for Lebanon is (961). This is followed by the local area code and the telephone number. If you are dialing Lebanon from outside the country, omit the (0) in the area code.
Since 2004, there have been public telephone centers in the main districts and cities. Pre-paid phone cards are used for domestic and international communication. These cards are sold at newsstands, from service shops, and telephone and OGERO centers.
Telephone Number Codes in Lebanese Cities:
El Matn (Brummana, Beit Meri): 05
Baabda – el Shouf (Deir el Qamar, Beiteddine): 05
North Lebanon (Tripoli, Zgharta, Bsharreh, Ehden): 06
South Lebanon (Sidon, Tyre): 07
Beqaa (Zahleh, Baalbeck): 08
Kesrouan (Jounieh, Byblos): 09
All numbers starting with the code 03, 70, 71, 76 belong to the Mobile net.
The Post – The Internet
Post service in Lebanon is provided by “Liban Post”, a company whose offices are spread in Beirut and in the Lebanese regions. Its offices open from Monday to Friday (8,00a.m. – 5,00p.m.; and on Saturday till 1:30p.m.. There are public post boxes in different parts in Beirut.
In Lebanon, there are also private companies for quick post service.
Addresses of “Liban Post” In Beirut
Tel.: 01-629629 – www.libanpost.com.lb
Makdissi street (Hamra), Riad Solh Street (City Centre), Omar Bin el Khattab Street (el Basta), Gouraud Street (Gemmayze), Sassine square (Ashrafieh), Boulevard Saeb Salaam (Mazraa), Taqiyyiddine el Solh Street (Raouche/ Koreitem), Baabda, Borj Hammoud, Adlieh and Badaro.
There are Internet cafés available throughout Lebanon, and many larger hotels now offer high-speed and wireless Internet access for free or for a small fee.
Metric scale is used in Lebanon.
No inoculations are necessary in order to enter Lebanon. Visitors are advised to drink bottled mineral water with intact caps as most Lebanese People do since pipe water in the houses is not always good for drinking. Most Lebanese water companies are professional. In order to avoid infectious diseases during the first days of your stay in Lebanon, it’s advisable to abstain from eating sea foods, raw foods and unwashed vegetables. As is the general traveler’s rule, to be absolutely safe, do not take ice in your drinks, and eat only cooked food and fruits that you can peel.
Lebanese foods are delicious, and sometimes they are difficult to digest. On sunny days, it’s better not to be exposed to sunlight for a long time.
Pharmacies are plentiful and well-known for their professionalism. Some of them offer free home delivery services.
Beirut hospitals are well-known for their professionalism.
Emergency numbers in Beirut:
Doctors under request: 01-444400
Red Cross: 140
American University Hospital: 01-350000
Hotel Dieu Hospital 01-615300
St. George Hospital: 01-585700
Rizk Hospital: 01-200800
Getting to Lebanon
By Air & Sea
Beirut International Airport at Khaldé officially called Rafic El Hariri Airport (7km south of Beirut) is Lebanon’s only international airport. The airport is served by many international airlines, as well as the national carrier, Middle East Airlines (MEA) www.mea.com.lb. Connections to cities in the Middle East, Europe, North America, Asia, and Africa are frequent. http://www.beirutairport.gov.lb/
In addition, several steamship lines connect the ports of Beirut www.beirutairport.gov.lb, Jounieh and Tripoli with the rest of the world.
There are four border crossing points between Lebanon and Syria: Masnaa (on the Beirut-Damascus Highway), Qaa (at the northern edge of the Békaa Valley), Aaridé (north of Tripoli along the coast), and Aabboudiyé (northeast of Tripoli).
You can travel between Lebanon and Syria by private/rental car, bus, private taxi, or service taxi. Nationals of many countries can get a Lebanese visa at the border.
Getting Around in Lebanon
For the independent traveler, it is possible to make your way to the main attractions in Lebanon via a combination of buses and taxis, or rental car. The small size of the country makes such trips very manageable. High-quality traditional and ecotour operators also offer a wide variety of tours and packages that explore destinations throughout the country.
From Beirut International Airport
Taxis are widely available at the airport, and most hotels in Beirut can arrange for a taxi driver to pick you up from the airport. The price is usually around US$25-30 from the airport to a hotel in downtown Beirut.
The two main bus companies in Lebanon are the public bus company, OCFTC, and the private bus company, the Lebanese Commuting Company (LCC). Both OCFTC and LCC have buses that run on extensive routes from Beirut to towns throughout the country. The price of a one-way ticket is usually LL1,500 to LL3,000 (US$1 to US$2) per person. The two main bus stations in Beirut are Cola roundabout (for destinations to the South and Beqaa valley) and Charles Helou Station (for destinations to the North). Charles Helou is the only formal station and is divided into three signposted zones:
Alternatively, you can hire a taxi and driver from one of the many private taxi companies to take you on a return trip to a destination outside of Beirut. You should be sure to agree on a round-trip price ahead of time. Round-trip prices range from US$50 to US$125, depending on the destination and type of car desired. The taxi will pick you up from your hotel.
Shared service taxis (“servees”), which run on set routes in Beirut and between towns throughout the country, are also widely available. These are a less expensive option than hiring a private taxi. Fares are LL2,000 (US$1.33) in and around Beirut, and LL2,000-LL10,000 (US$1.33-6.67) for destinations outside of Beirut.
Rental cars are widely available in Lebanon. Rental costs may range from US$25-100 per day, or higher, depending on the type of car. Most rental companies will also provide a driver with the car, for an additional fee of US$25-50. Fuel prices are relatively reasonable in Lebanon, by European and American standards.
Drivers in Lebanon should exercise caution. In general, traffic jams are common, parking is difficult, and traffic rules are not enforced. Outside of Beirut there is a shortage of road signage, and those signs that do exist are usually in Arabic.
An International Driving Permit is required if you want to drive in Lebanon.
Organized Bus Tours
A number of traditional tour companies take tourists on full-size, air-conditioned buses to the main tourist destinations in Lebanon. Check with these tour operators for tour package options.
Another option is to see the country as part of a small, outfitted group. Outdoor adventure and ecotour operators will arrange transportation for packages in different price ranges. An added bonus is that guided outdoor or cultural activities are included and tailored to your group’s interests. Other than independent travel, an outfitted trip can be the best way to truly explore the country and experience Lebanon’s culture and nature.
Lebanon's steep terrain and the state of many urban roads demand a rugged, all-terrain-type bicycle. There are no designated bike lanes or routes.
Lodging places are plentiful in Lebanon: Hotels, camps, youth houses, residence with families and so on. The Lebanese are known for their hospitality; they are always willing to welcome tourists. Accommodation prices (at hotels) depend on feast days and seasons. High season times in Lebanon are summer time, mainly June, July, August and September. This period is the most costly one with the arrival of Lebanese emigrants to Lebanon from the Gulf or western countries. Low season time begins in October and ends in May. Costs of hotels accommodation are negotiable in this season.Hotels
Lodging in a room belonging to a monastery or a guest house whose prices are moderate is possible. 03-513766 – 01-614678 or go to:
Monday - Friday, 9am - 6pm.
Bookings can only be made online.
Lodging service in some old newly rebuilt houses is offered (Batroun, Ghabaleh, Choueir, Beit Meri).
One may contact el Mashrek Apartments. 03-664138
There many furnished apartments in Lebanon. Contact the Public Bureau of Tourism to get a list of these furnished apartments.
Skiing and sports
Lebanon is one of the few winter sports centers in the Middle East and certainly the most extensive. The season begins in December and continues until April in a winter landscape surprising in its variety and beauty. The largest resorts have hotels, chalets and other facilities, including good ski lifts. There are six winter resorts: The Cedars (2,300 – 2,850 meters), Laklouk (1,840 – 2,000 meters), Faqra (1,765 – 1,975 meters), Qanat Bakiche (1,840 – 2.000 meters), Zaarour (1,700 – 2,000 meters), Mzaar Kfardebian (1,946 – 2465 meters).
Lebanon’s long varied coastline and its Mediterranean climate make it an ideal place for water sports. Numerous resort complexes, beaches and swimming clubs have aquatic amusements and sports on offer, including water skiing, surfing, underwater fishing, sailing, scuba diving and snorkeling.
Equipment for water skiing and scuba diving can be rented from clubs and shops.
As tempting as the seaside is, many more sports opportunities await the visitor. Tennis, squash and football are all popular. There are fitness clubs where it is possible to work out, as well as groups interested in judo, karate, yoga, gymnastics, parasailing, golf www.golfclub.org.lb, cycling, canoeing, kayaking, mountain climbing, potholing and caving http://speleoliban.org/ http://www.alesliban.org.
In Lebanon there are many opportunities to benefit from Tax Free Shopping, more than 1200 retail outlets are offering the service. The affiliated stores are displaying a well-known Tax Free Shopping logo, and helpful staff will guide you through the process. VAT refunds are processed by Global Refund company.
You pay 10% VAT on the purchases you make; the VAT rate is common in all registered shops no matter the type of goods. Tourists departing from Lebanon are entitled to a VAT refund on goods purchased during their stay. Every foreigner or Lebanese person residing abroad, and whose stay in Lebanon does not exceed three continuous months, is entitled to ask for a VAT refund. A VAT refund is not applicable to services (hotels, telecommunications, car hire, guided tours, flowers Lebanon, etc.), Lebanese foodand beverage (restaurants, cafes, supermarkets), fuel, or tobacco.
Example: If you make your purchases on April 10th, you must leave the country no later than July 9th. Assuming you have spent the amount of LBP100,00 (around US$100) including VAT, the VAT amount will be LBP13,636 and the refund amount LBP11,000 which is always 80% of the VAT amount, after deduction of the handling expenses.
3 steps to claim back your VAT at Beirut International Airport or on the borders:
1- In the store:
2- Through customs show the following:
3- To collect your refund you can choose between:
in the country:
For comments/complaints, contact the Airport Police Department on the
following telephone numbers: 961-1-629625 961-1-629517/8
Restaurants, Night Clubs & Beaches:
The Tourist Control Department at the Ministry of Tourism is the appropriate reference which receives all kinds of complaints concerning the touristic institutions and treats them. Keep all your bills and receipts to be able to present any complaint. Hotline: 1735 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Ministry of Tourism
550 Central Bank St. Hamra Beirut
P.O.Box: 11-5344. Beirut, Lebanon
Fax: 00961-1- 340945
Tourist Information Offices
The office of Tourism in Hamra opens from Monday to Saturday (8:30a.m. – 4 p.m).
Beirut – Hamra
Tel: 01-340940/1/2/3/4 ext: 313
Karami square, Ahmad Karami Bldg.
Near Jeita Grotto
Lebanon Tourist Office
124, Street Faubourg St. Honoré.
75008 Paris – France
Tel: (33)-1-43591036 • (33)-143591213/4
E-mail : email@example.com
Near Byblos Castle
Lebanon Tourist Office
1-Talaat Harb Street ( Midan Al Tahrir)
Cairo – Egypt
Tel & Fax: (202) – 3937529
Tourist Control Department
Tel: +961 1 343209
Fax: +961 1 743763
Police Touristic Department:
Tel: +961 1 752428-9
Fax: +961 1 343504
Other important contacts
Hotline: +961 1 612401 or 1717
Tel: +961 1 425610-1-2
Tel: +961 1 629150
Fax: +961 1 394302
Fire Brigade: 175
Civil Defense: 125
Internal Security: 112 (Emergencies)
Police Headquarters: 160
Phone Information: 120
International Operator: 100
OGERO (Telephone Service): 1515
Lebanese Red Cross: 140
Civil Defense: 125
Weather Forecast: 1718
Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport: 150
Syndicate of Hotel Owners in Lebanon
Sodeco Square - Beirut
Tel: +961 1 202059 / +961 1 201002
Mob: +961 3 862000
Syndicate of Furnished Appartment Owners in Lebanon
Hawai Tower – Karakas - Beirut
Tel: +961 1 808620 / +961 1 860196
Mob: 961 3 213611
Syndicate of Touristic Seaside Resorts In Lebanon
Jounieh Chiir - Lebanon
Tel: +961 3 203340
Syndicate of Restaurants, cafés, night clubs and pastries owners in Lebanon
Tel: +961 1 363040
Syndicate of Arabic Sweets Owners in Lebanon
F: +961 1 792198
Association of Travel and Tourist Agents in Lebanon
Berty Pharmacy- Achrafieh - Beirut
Tel: +961 3 705502 / +961 1 395600
Fax: +961 1 200176
Consumer Lebanon Association
Tel: +961 1 750650
Fax: +961 1 750650
www.consumerslebanon.org / info@ consumerslebanon.org