Safety for Women in Tunisia
  • I am thinking about going to Tunisia on holiday this year and was wondering how safe it is to go as a couple of young women particularly if one of you is blonde? We've had hassle in other countries like Egypt and Gran Canaria (and Italy) and are hoping Tunisia isn't as bad?
  • Tunisia is a wonderful country to visit and it is extremely safe. I am a blonde now living in tunisia. I do get stared at - by both the men and the women. Some comments are passed but generally I use humour to get by or just ignore. It is not like Egypt!!! But you should pay respect to the culture of this country. If you run around in shorts and singlet tops expect some to be treated in a different manner. My advice is to dress conservatively - loose pants and tops, long skirts etc. cover your legs and shoulders and you should be fine. You will see Tunisian women wearing varying degrees of western dress and some very tight jeans on the young, but remember they are Tunisians and you are not! Above all Tunisians are wonderful, friendly and hospitable people and you should enjoy your time here. If you need anything further I can certainly give some assistance.
  • Hi Lesley, thanks so much for your comments. A lot of the hotels have got bad reviews on trip advisor etc. do you have any tips. I'm used to going on Greek Island Holidays and staying in basic accomodation with a half decent shower so I certainly don't need something luxurious.

    There is a group of us travelling (not sure how many yet) and we're more likely to want to do stuff than hang around the hotel although a few days sun-bathing will be a must.

    I went to your website but it didn't seem to have anything on Tunisia unless I'm missing something?
  • Hi Suzy - we haven't loaded the Tunisia pages as yet but hopefully that will happen this month. Hotels in Tunisia can be a bit hit and miss to be perfectly honest. Let me know which areas you are travelling to and I can give you some recommendations. In the beach areas there are mostly tourist resorts and I would recommend these to you. Sousse, Monastir and Hammamet and some in between are beautiful. How long do you have in Tunisia? It takes time to get around as the roads are quite bad and I don't advocate driving unless you like to live dangerously. If you want I can recommend an itinerary for you.

    Cheers,
    Lesley
  • Hi Lesley

    That would be amazing - thank you. We've never been to Tunisia before so as far as areas go we aren't that fussy. I did like the look of Sousse. We will hopefully be 2 weeks but if there are 4 of us then 2 of us will only stay for 1 week. We really want to do some of the historical stuff and I love architechture but as I said there will definitely be some sun-bathing required and the beaches at Hammanet did look stunning.

    Suzy
  • Hiya,
    I'm travelling to Port el Kantoui in 3 weeks time and am going to get my traveller's cheques today.
    The travel agent has suggested i buy euros because they're commission free, whereas pounds are 1-2% commission.
    However, I don't want to lose out on money when I come to change them back if I don't spend them all.
    Would anyone suggest euros or pounds are better?
    I've only posted this here, because Lesley, you sound like you know a lot!
    Thanks!!
  • I've heard alot of great things about Tunisia. It seems that from the what I've read and researched from different websites, one of the top concerns of women from America are for the blonde and blue eyed. (of course I know that concerns are for all women) But does that mean that dark-skinned women are less likely to be harassed? Or does it just depend. I am a black woman with long hair.

    I'm learning as much as I possibly can about things before I just hop on a plane and go. And I working on learning French and a little bit of Arabic.

    I hope this makes sense and that I don't sound silly. =)
    Thanks
  • Hi Suzy - let me have an email to: lesley@destinationsbydesign.com.au and I'll send you a detailed itinerary with recommendations for hotels. Also let me know when you intend to come to Tunisia. The hotel rates go up in summer (of course)!!

    Emiwee - it is better to bring cash if you can, but the bigger banks will exchange travellers cheques in USD, Euro or GBP - but even so the bank will charge you when you change them. You should always change your TD before you leave Tunisia as the rate outside the country is always bad!

    Hey Nikki - are you travelling by yourself or with a companion? The level of harassment here is much lower than in other countries. Tunisians are very used to seeing dark-skinned women. In our larger cities we have people from Sudan, Mali, Niger etc. but you will be stared at, not because you have dark skin but because you are a foreigner. Well done for learning some of the language, this is appreciated very much. We have a dialect here that is slightly different to the formal Arabic. If you go to www.tunisia.com there is a language forum with some excellent words and phrases you can use. And no you do not sound silly!! As I always counsel women - take it all with humour and when it all gets too much ignore it totally.

    Enjoy Tunisia - it is wonderful - it is my home and I love it.
  • Thanks Lesley. I will take all the counsel I can get. =)

    It will be a little while before I go because I have to save up so I'm not sure if I will be by myself or with friends. I did invite one of my friends so far and she is up for coming with me as long as she has the money. So we will see.
    Also, I did meet a Tunisian man (22) online through my college network. I have been talking to him just for short time now, and he is constantly showering me compliments, always wanting to talk to me, and tells me he misses me alot. And since this is not something I am use to, I have been questioning myself and trying to challenge his motive. He appears to be a guy who just wants someone to talk to but I don't know and I guess time will tell. And I did check out tunisia.com. And last night I had the guy pronounce some of the words in Tunisian Arabic for me and it was fun and it sounded funny coming out of my mouth because I'm not use to it yet- lol.

    Thanks
  • So let me know if you have any advice about my recent post above.
    Thanks
    Nikki
  • Nikki - please be extremely cautious!! He may be genuine but the chances are slim. I have heard these stories so many times. Do not send him any money no matter what. Tunisia is a wonderful country, but for the local population it is very hard. Jobs are scarce, the cost of living is expensive here (for locals) and the monthly wage is very low. (I am married to a Tunisian) You are more than welcome to email me at: lesley@destinationsbydesign and I can give you more detailed information

    L
  • Hello. I am thinking of travelling to Tunisia for a family holiday in October. My grils will be 8 and 4 and need a safe, clean sandy beach outwith the hotel. Somewhere with a relatively short transfer time from the airport would be good too. We are looking to go all-inclusive, as it suits us to pre-pay for food and drinks and don't know which area to go for as we haven't been before. Hotels that have looked nice were in Monastir, Hammamet Yasmine and Skanes. Any advice from people a bit more travelled than us? Any helpful suggestions would be very welcome.

    thanks,
    Joyce
  • Joyce - most of the areas that you nominate are a good one hour from the airport. The travel time is always dependant on the time of day, the amount of traffic and the condition of the road!! Most of the resort hotels in any of the areas you mention will be fine. Monastir is lovely as is Sousse. I am not sure if you can pre-pay for your food and definitely not your drinks! October is still warm but the nights can be quite cool. But I hope you don't intend to just stay in the hotel for your time. There are some wonderful sites and great shopping in the medinas and souks that you and your daughters would love and you will get a taste of my wonderful Tunisia.

    Lesley
  • Going to Tunisia, Monastir in the next few weeks. My wife is pregnant and we are a little nervous. What are the medical facilities like in Monastir ? Are there private hospitals nearby. We have full medical insurance but the medical setup is confusing
  • Hi, i am travelling to tunisia tomorrow with my boyfriend, i have recently read in the paper that couples that check in at some hotels that are not married under 25 years of age may face a fine or prosecution is this the case?

    Hope i dont sound silly

    Sarah
  • Sarah - I may have already missed you - Tunisia is an Islamic country and a man and woman in the same hotel room who are not married is considered 'illegal'. However, depending on where you are visiting, resort and tourist hotels do not usually give foreign couples any problems. If you are asked, then my advice is to tell them you are married but did not realise that you had to have your marriage certificate with you. Act appropriately and you will encounter very few problems.

    Enjoy my Tunisia
  • I would like to ask Lesley a question: my husband and I are travelling to Port el Kantaoui in September. He is disabled and more often than not has a sleep in the afternoons. During this time I usually go for a wander round the shops etc. I am aged 62 and wondered just how safe it would be for me to walk around this area on my own. I have very blond hair (well white acually)
  • Hello, we are going to Tunisia in November, for 7 days. We are staying in the Sahara Beach Hotel, in Skanes. Do you know of this area? If so what is it like? Will it still be hot enough to get a tan? Hehe.

    Thanks
  • Also, what is the currency in Tunisia?

    Thanks
  • Marie, take a look at the Word Travels guide to Tunisia, including details on currency and exchange rates.
  • Hello,
    my friend and I will be travelling in Novemeber to Port El Kantaoui and staying in Hotel Marhaba Palace. Has anybody heard of this hotel?
    We are only 23 so we were hoping there would be plenty of things to do - like tours etc.
    Are tours to the sahara out of the question being quite far away?
    Any advice from people a bit more travelled than us? Any helpful suggestions would be very welcome.

    thanks,
    Abbie
  • Hi,
    I am looking to book a week's holiday in Tunisia in September for my honeymoon. Can you advise the best reort / s to stay in, based on the following criteria: On a beach; not too far from decent nightlife; within reasonable distance of the airport (1 hour approx) and also have good areas for shopping, places of interest, and areas where we can experience some of the culture. From what you have stated before now Tunisia sounds a wondeful place to visit these days and my parents are also looking to visit for two weeks (when we get back) and they like to get off the beaten track and explore a little and experience the real place and it's people and culture
    Many thanks
    Steven Bird, age 24 years
  • Hello,

    I am a singer traveling soon to Tunis for a concert. I usually wear a shaggy blonde wig
  • Hi all - sorry but I have been away for a couple of weeks and now back in my beloved Tunisia. So first let me answer your questions in sequence:

    Bev - You are staying in a very touristique area and all the shopkeepers, locals are well acquainted with foreigners and tourists. You will be very safe!! Don't worry, even though the men will look (in tunisia this is a national past time for both men and women), you will not be hassled but more often you will be complimented. Enjoy it and your time here!!

    Marie - you will still be able to tan and it will still be nice and warm. Skanes is a tourist area so expect to see other foreigners like you trying to get that golden glow. Currency in Tunisia is the Dinar with denominations in notes up to TD30 with 1000 millims to the dinar.

    Steven - I will answer you in an email

    Sistasinga - Tunisians will know Tina Turner, they enjoy music and will be happy to see you on stage. No it will not turn anyone off - what sort of headress????
  • Hi---going to Tunisia next week. Can you tell me if its acceptable for women/men to wear shorts? Would really appreciate any comments as this is our first trip.
  • Hi Sherri,

    Hate to tell you this but it really is not acceptable for either sex to show legs so if you want to show respect to the locals, shorts are out. However, if you are staying within a resort with pools etc, then it will be fine.

    Enjoy Tunisia - it is a wonderful part of the world,

    Lesley
  • Hi Lesley, I will travel to Tunisia at the end of august. I was hoping you could help me with a couple of things? First one being... We are staying in Sousse, would it be best to book transfers to the hotel before i leave or to get a taxi outside the airport? Also, I see you say its not respectful to wear shorts if out and about. Is this for all shorts? As i cant see my partner being too happy about having to wear long trousers in that heat! Maybe ok to wear cropped trousers or not? Thanks for your help. B
  • B - just so you are aware, Ramadan begins on 22 August and ends 21 September (approx). this is a very lively time but Muslims must behave quite correctly during this time. Depending on which airport you arrive at, you should have no problems getting a taxi, however, if you feel better knowing that you are being met then by all means book before you leave. It is some distance from Tunis Carthage airport and will be quite pricey.

    If you stay within your resort then shorts and other beachwear is fine, but respecting the local customs and culture will always give you better interaction with the locals. Yes it will be hot and cropped pants for men is acceptable, but unless ladies want to have undue attention paid to them - wear loose cotton skirts, pants and tops.

    L
  • Thanks for your advice Lesley :-)

    B
  • Hey Lesley, my sister and I have just booked a weeks holiday to Hammamet, Tunisia for end of July. Im the typical irish girl, pale skin and red hair - will this cause any offence?
    Would you be able to tell me anything about this area, maybe local places to eat and traditional dishes that we should try.
    would it be OK to wear maxi dress' and the likes around this area or would that be a no?
    Also is ther any traditonal experiences which we should try when we are there?
    Finally is there alot of 'wildlife' in the form of bugs and insects around hammamet?
    Thanks in advance
    C
  • Hi C,

    Hammamet is a very popular tourist area and has a great beach. Your pale skin and red hair will not cause any offence - why would you think that?? I absolutely recommend that you try harissa which is a paste made with fiery red chilli and eaten with olive oil as a 'starter'. You should also definitely try cous cous and absolutely fish. Tunisians know and cook fish better than anyone else!

    Yes, maxi dresses are fine. I'm not sure about the bugs, but there will be mosquitos, flies but not a lot of creepy crawlies if that's what you are worried about. There are many cultural events around in the summer and you can find out about these by searching the internet or by asking at the hotel. Music festivals are the best and you can see and listen to traditional music or the next big thing. A good site is: www.tunisia.com for events.
    I hope you enjoy your stay!!
  • Hey!
    My friend and I are both twenty heading on our first holiday to Tunisia. I've just been reading up on what is and isn't respectable for visitors to wear. How is this etiquette reflected in beach wear? Swimwear etc. I'm currently buying my holiday wardrobe and would like to buy accordingly, though I imagine the heat will hit me hard with shorts out as an option. :)

    Also, what's the nightlife and shopping like in Port el Kantaoui?

    Thanks for any advise that can be offered!
  • Confused - if you stay within the resort then you can wear normal swim wear. Let me clear up something.....................my suggestions on clothing are only that suggestions. After living and travelling in North Africa and the Middle East for many years I find that if I am respectful to the local cultures and customs then my experience is richer and I am able to interact with the locals rather than just being a tourist. This has given me the opportunity for a deeper understanding rather than a surface skim. I am fortunate to have made many friends in this part of the world. I am not suggesting that you will have a deep experience in a week at a resort and what you all wear is totally up to you but I have had many complaints over the years that 'you' have been hassled, stared at, had passing remarks made. Well if you go around with things hanging out and lashings of flesh expect this but don't complain or get angry. Also you need to understand the perception of western females is that we have loose morals (majority true??), sleep around and one night stands are the norm. Remember that this is the perception and reality may be far from this. If the heat is a problem then come later in the year when it is far more pleasant - look at most of us in the street and you will see that we wear cotton/natural fibres, loose and flowing so that air circulates around our body and keeps us cooler. Look at the dessert dwellers and you will see that they are totally covered to keep out the sun and heat - makes sense doesn't it? I don't mean to lecture but I am an educator.

    Enjoy all that Tunisia has to offer even if you have to cover your bits for a few days - your experience will be all the richer for it.
  • Thanks for the advise. As you say, the 'dress code' as such is more a matter of respect to the local culture than a point of law or necessity. We wish to be respectful as such and not draw any undue attention or cause offense to our hosts and this is the only reason for such questions. Apologies if my earlier post suggested otherwise in any way. Dont worry "covering our bits for a few days" will most certainly not be any problem.

    Looking forward to finally getting there!
  • Hi Lesley - I've really appreciated all the advice you've given to the posts above as they answer most of my questions about Tunisia. My Husband and I are planning to come to Skanes Next Year with our 2 girls,(6+3), and yes we like to spend time at the pool, however we still like getting out and about too. What would you recommend as activities suitable for our family group?
    I acknowledge and appreciate the recommendations around appropriate dress code when out and about from the hotels, however I wondered about Children - It's difficult to buy loose long clothes for my two. Do the same guidelines apply?
    Many Thanks in advance,
    L-A
  • Hy
    I was traveling a lot 2 Tunisia too. My husband is tunisian, but (sadly) we living in my country now. Someday maybe we could go living there.... Inchallah! But our way of living is more tunisian even here (we coocked tunisian food, use tunisian spices, smoke chicha....)

    Many time I flew in tunisia aloan and I have to say, I didn't have any bad experiences. People are realy very friendly and so easy...relaxed....so my advice to You all - VISTI MY BEAUTIFULL COUNTRY, RELAX THERE AND GO WITH THE FLOW....MARHABA

    I'm sorry because my english is a little rusted (I'm from Slovenia)

    Teya
  • Dear Confused and everone else - our internet connection has been down (normal) and I just read my last post - ooohhh - sorry I don't mean to lecture and I do try to assist as I want everyone to have the best time possible in this beautiful country.

    Leigh-Anne - children have the advantage of dressing as they wish!! They can run naked if they want.........it's just us (especially as women) who must cover up. And these last few days the heat has been intense and very uncomfortable apart from being in our house and the shower!! there is a lot to do with children in and around the Skanes area. I will send a separate post but also you may like to go to www.tunisia.com where they have a lot of good information and I can also recommend the Lonely Planet.

    Swakira Teya - I too love the tunisian food and my mother-in-law just gave me some of her home made harissa which is great - it's hot, hot, hot and I love it. I am glad that you keep some of the Tunisian way of life even in Slovenia.
  • Hi there.
    I am only in Tunisia for four days - I love having a walk around, drinking at cafes and seeing a few sights...I like towns or cities to walk around in but that are low key and I don't want to spend all my time in a car (landing in the main airport in Tunis). The beach is not needed unless there is an amazing one that should not be passed up. I live on the beach in Italy so I get enough sun and fun at home. I am not so interested in ruins or that type of thing, but love interesting culture, arcitecture and museums. I am willing to spend about 50 USD a night on a nice guesthouse or hotel...help?? I need suggestions as this was an unexpected trip and I leave next week to see about a job in Tunis.
    Oh and what food or resturants do you like the most? Food is important to Italians! Like spicy food the most, but something different too!
    thanks in advance.
  • Hi there Scoop - there really is no such thing as 'low key' in Tunisia. As you are only here for 4 days why not spend them discovering the capital Tunis. Whilst you say you are not keen on ruins this is the home to the most famous Roman ruins of Carthage that are spread out around the city. The Bardo museum is also a wondrous place with the story of Tunisia from the Phonecians right through to modern times. The mosaics are fantastic! You can spend a day here. The old city of Tunis is great, the souk is under cover and operates as it has done for centuries. Ask directions to the stall where the traditional red hats are made and you can watch as the old men make these as they have forever. In this area there are some great restaurants. To be honest, it is always difficult to recommend a restaurant as the quality changes often depending on clientele and prices in the markets.As you like spicy food then this is the place to be - try harissa, a fiery red chilli paste that is guaranteed to make you sweat. Tunisians love hot (as in spice) food but be aware that if you order what you think is entree and main such as soup and main course, everything will be presented on the table together. This is normal. Our national dishes are cous cous with fish, meat or chicken, spaghetti but not as you know it - made with tomato paste and harissa and served with meat, or fish etc. then you could try Tunisian Tagine but not as in Morocco. This is an egg based dish with vegetables rather like a quiche but much more delicious. And please, please, try the salad mechwia made from tomato and chillis - ok, now I'm hungry!! Also try the green tea with pignon (pine nuts). the coffee is also excellent, ask for either a kawa express (espresso) or kawa arabia/turque (turkish). they are served very sweet so if you don't want so much sugar ask for bidoon sukar. Guesthouses are not the norm here and the star rating for hotels does not match that in Europe. It is always a bit hit and miss. the hotels in Tunis are not cheap but I am sure you could find a 3 star that would represent good value. I have heard good things about the Africa Jade hotel but a search on Trip Advisor on the web will yield you with some good reviews of other hotels in the area.

    I do hope you enjoy Tunisia - I live here and I love it!!
  • All great suggestions, so thanks so much. We were thinking Tunis, but then someone mentioned Sousse and Djebar as other options...maybe we can do two days in Tunis and two days in another. Maybe since the job is in Tunis I should check it out more and see if I like it. Thanks again!
  • Sousse is within striking distance of Tunis but it takes a while to get there and is dependant on the traffic and the day. Djerba is probably too far - it takes us at least 4 - 5 hours to drive there from Tunis. It is beautiful though!! It is the island off the east coast known as the Land of the Lotus Eaters and once you have been there it keeps drawing you back until you don't want to leave.

    But enjoy Tunis it's a good city.
  • Hi Lesley,
    Going to Sousse next sunday.Your comments are most helpful.Do blond haired teenage boys get stared at? Do you have to dress appropiately for meals in hotels or does it depend on the hotel ?
  • Hi Orks - anyone with blonde hair is the object of the stare! Depending on the hotel you are staying at in regard to meals. My advice is not to go to meals in bathing suit or short shorts otherwise you will have the staff falling over themselves to assist you :) I am sure you will have fun and just so you know it is very, very hot here!! Sunscreen is a must

    Enjoy
  • Hi
    Myself and my two sons are going to Port el Kantoui in 2 weeks.
    I am wondering what clothes we should bring for going down the town in the eve? Do I need to cover my shoulders etc etc? Also both my sons are fair with 1 being really blonde will they encounter problems? I am a single mother
  • Debs,

    Covering the shoulders is a good idea especially as you are on your own so to speak. Your sons will not have any problems they will be adored!! tunisians love and cherish children and will pounce on your two sons (if they are young) and shower them with affection.

    Lesley
  • Thanks Lesley
    Was a bit worried but you've put my mind at ease. We're really looking forward to our hols

    Debs
  • Hi Lesley

    I am going to Tunisia for 9 days (i.e. a tour) and would like to know if there is any local tour that offer a "stars trip" (i.e. probably half day or one night) in desert as I really want to see millions stars in the sky.....

    Many thanks,
  • Hi Jenny - I am not sure if there is a local operator who does just 1 day. It will depend on when you are coming and when you want to go to the desert. I ask as the desert is a long, long way from the cities. If you give me your rough itinerary I can find out for you.

    Cheers,
    Lesley
  • Hello My husband and I are going to hammmet on the 19th. First time in tunisia going to the chich kahn hotel. I'm confused about what to wear, I'm hearing horror stories of food poisoning and being told not to leave the hotel? can anyone ease my mind about what to wear if we do leave the hotel as I normally wear shorts? Is it ok to wear a bikini by the pool?
    thanks
  • and I forgot to mention the money....whats the best option? Do i take sterling and change it in the hotel or as in other hotels will the exchange rate be ridiculous? thanks
  • Hi Lesley

    Here is my itinerary:

    Day 1: Tunis - Sidi Bou Said - Carthage Ruins
    Day 2: Tunis - bardo Museum - Medina - Monastir
    Day 3: Monastir - EI Jem - Matmata - Douz
    Day 4: Douz - camel ride - Chott Ej Jerid - Tozeur - By Jeep (Chebika - Tamerza - Mides)
    Day 5: Tozeur - Sbeitla - Sousse
    Day 6: Sousse - Kairouan - Port EI Kantaoui - Hammamet
    Day 7: Hammamet - Cap Bom (Kelibia. Kerkouane. Haouaria) - Nabeul
    Day 8: Hammamet - Tunis

    Many thanks,

    Jenny
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