Safety for Women in Tunisia
  • I am traveling in Italy with my 12 year old daughter this fall (we are Americans) and have decided to include a 10 day trip to Tunisia. I was thinking of taking a boat from Sicily. We are looking for more of an adventure and beach resort experience. I would appreciate any guidance on an economical itinerary for our journey. Thanks.
  • too busy - I don't know who is giving you this information but it is all wrong!! You can wear a bikini within the hotel but be aware that mostly the staff are all male and they will look. I've never had food poisoning here but it is something you can pick up anywhere. Most tummy troubles come from meat and fish so make sure that it is fresh. You will find that mostly it is grilled on a flame which should be fine. But don't let this put you off the food. It's yummy especially cous cous and definitely try the harissa - it will kill any bug that you may have!! If you don't leave the hotel then there is really no point in going to another country for a vacation is there? Of course it is safe to leave your hotel, take a walk, go to the market, visit the shops, take a coffee but be aware that if you wear shorts you will be stared at. You will never see a local woman or man for that matter showing their legs so take your lead from them, but of course if you wear shorts please don't complain about being stared at. You can bring sterling but change it at the bank rather than the hotel. The banks usually have competitive currency exchange, the hotels of course will take their bit and you will get less. Don't be afraid of Tunisia - it is beautiful and the people are hospitable and wonderful. Embrace the culture and you will go home richer for the experience,

    Lesley
  • Hi Alison,

    I don't know about the ferry from Sicily but can do some research for you. It would take sometime though! I'm not sure what you mean by economical but keep in mind that your US$ will buy a lot here. For foreigners this country is very cheap! Adventure and beach resort do not go hand in hand! I suggest that perhaps as you have only 10 days that you look at some of the tours that are offered and consider doing that, you will get to see quite a lot, you will have others around you and it will be cheaper than doing it on your own.
  • Hi Jenny = In a lot of the cities you visit you will be very near to the desert. Are you able to break from the group for a couple of days and then rejoin or is that not possible?
  • Hey Lesley - just returned from my holiday in hammamet, and wanted to say thanks for the advice. As you say there is nothing to worry about, we (my sister and i - both in 20s) had an amazing week. The clothes situation - same as any holiday wore bikinis in resort and dressed up nicely in evenings when out for food - but wouldnt this be the case in any country - I dont know many who would wear swimwear to dinner!! The staff in hotel both male and female were absolutly lovely - animation were great - even taking us out to sample the tunisian night life! Food was mostly great - harissa def a fave! Would just say to watch out for water mellon (cultivated with chlorinated water) - we were warned early on thankfully however others werent as lucky and got a few tummy bugs!! Yeah there were times when men stared, i got more email address' and phone numbers in a week than i have done in my life, but just take it as a compliment and with a pinch of salt and there is no problems at all. Tunisia really is a beautiful part of the world and i would reccommend it to anyone - dont be put off by the bad reviews which toallty scared the life out of us after we booked our hol!! For everyone going to tunisia - have a great time, I cant wait to return!
    C
  • C - I am so, so, so pleased that you love my adopted country and I am so happy that you had a great time. You see - I told you so!!! I hope you plan to come back soon. I know about those phone numbers............but you are so right, take the compliment and smile inside.

    Lesley
  • Hi Lesley

    I am afraid I can't break from the group for a couple of days, therefore, I would like to find a "short trip" (i.e. few hours or 1 night) to the dessert and rejoin the group in the morning. Is it difficult?

    Thanks.

    Jenny
  • Hi Lesley,

    I saw an earlier post where someone had asked about wearing shorts in the city centres and was wondering if that's the same everywhere? My girlfriend and I are travelling to Skanes next week, but will be travelling through to Sousse (which i hear is very popular with tourists) and was wondering if they would be so strict on it there.

    Many thanks, Keiren.
  • Jenny - you may be able to find a company in Tozeur who can offer you an overnight. Let me do some research and get back to you.

    Hi Keiren - yes Sousse is a popular tourist spot. Keep in mind that others apart from tourists live and work there. No-one is strict here, we certainly do not set rules for foreigners or tourists. My advice is always for your comfort and safety. You will NEVER see girls/women wearing shorts and rarely a male. If you want to avoid feeling discomfort then pay respect to the culture and the country. Believe me, you will have a happier time and a great holiday.
  • Terryanply - Turkey is not like here!! It is a multicultural and mixed religious country. Tunisia is Islamic - nothing else. Yes, you can go out but you need to be careful where you go and of course it will depend on where you are visiting. Be aware that coffee houses are mainly populated by men so if you see lots of men sitting outside, pass by (preferably on the other side of the street). In restaurants you will be ushered to the 'family' area. This is for your comfort. In some of the tourist areas there are discos but these are also populated by the locals looking for a 'good' time. Under no circumstances should you go to what you think is the local bar. Muslims should not drink but those that do tend to overload! Alcohol is available in the hotels and that's where I suggest you get a 'beer' at the end of the day.
  • 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 Lesley,

    My girlfriend and I are coming to Tunisia later this month. We are both under 25, she has blonde hair. I have read 2 or three pages of discussion on Tunisia on this website and many more websites reviews. It looks like a wonderful country and i have even started to try to learn a few handy phrases (please, excuse me and thank you's etc.) i hope we find it to be just that. My question regards having read earlier that couples who are under 25 and are not married should not share a hotel room as it is "illegal", clearly this caused some concern to both of us. We have an all inclusive deal to a large hotel (port el kantaoui) which i presume will be filled with tourists(hopefully not!), do you think this will still be a problem? As we dont want to cause offense before having even arrived at our room and were unaware of this when we booked. I'm also aware that it is ramadan at that time of year so thought this might play a factor? Sorry for taking so long to explain!

    Kind regards, Joe.
  • Hi Joseph,

    Tunisie is a wonderful country with lots of historic sites and interesting places to go. I am sure you are going to enjoy it. And fantastic that you are learning some phrases: Salem (literally peace but also hallo) is a good all round term when you meet someone or go into a store. You are right, it is not permitted for unmarried couples to share a hotel room, however, you are staying in a touristique area and
  • Hi Lesley

    I would like to check on a couple of things??

    I am going to Tunisia, Hammamet, Yasmin Beach Hotel, In November, I am traveling with 3 friends, 2 x Girls 1 x Boy, We booked but could only get 2 rooms, 2 in each.... I have read a few comments on here, and am now unsure if I really want to go?? I have read that it is considered “illegal” for men and women under 25 to share rooms?? Also that it is recommended that we wear correct clothing? Would a bikini be frowned upon on the beach?? I am, sure that I am not alone in thinking that on a beach holiday a bikini is normal dress code?? I do not wish to cause any offence, but also want to feel comfortable and enjoy my holiday without constantly being on guard if I am wearing the wrong thing??

    Can you please advise
    Thanks in Advance
    Looie
  • Hi Lesley
    My husband and I are hoping to travel to Tunisia next February. I have two questions. What will the weather be like? And also how easy would it be for us to visit the Medjez-ek-Bab War Cemetery? We have recently discovered that that is where my husband’s uncle was buried and we would like to visit his grave since we will be relatively close. Would it be possible to hire a car and driver and if so how much would it be likely to cost?

    Sara
  • Hi, im going to Tunisia next week and am very excited, it seems like a wonderful place, i am staying at port el kantaou for two weeks. When taking trips our to cities and attractions etc i am planning on being very respectful of the religion and culture and covering up, but i was wondering as Port El Kantou this is such a touristy area, would i attract unwanted attention if i were to wear short skirts around here. many thanks Jo
  • Hi Looie - I'm not sure if you are a girl or a boy, if you are a boy then it's not a problem 2 boys in one room and 2 girls in the other. Either way, I don't think you will have any problems - read my previous posts in regard to this matter. As to the matter of bikinis you are in a very touristique area with mostly foreigners so you can wear this, but be aware that most of the staff at the hotels are men and they will look! Most men do anyway no matter where you are yes?? Please keep in mind that Tunisie is for all intents and purposes an Islamic country - what you wear is up to you but when you leave the hotel I strongly suggest that you wear more modest attire as this way you will feel comfortable and enjoy yourself more.
  • Jo - thank you for your understanding of this culture - it is really appreciated. You are right PEK is touristique but as all my comments - if you want to feel comfortable and not have too much of the 'stare' focussed on you then short skirts is not the way to do it. Try 3/4 pants perhaps and you will be welcomed in a better way.
  • Sarah,

    Depending on where you are going to visit it will be cool, cold, colder!! It is surprising how cold it can get here in winter. The cemetery is approximately 60 km from the capitol of Tunis and would cost quite a lot. Where will you be when you visit the cemetery? If you can let me know this then I can give you an indicative cost. Also, renting a car maybe a cheaper option for you.
  • Message for Jenny who wants the desert in Tunisia - I have done quite a lot of research but can't find anyone who will offer this for a night. However, I would be happy to offer you a tour from Tozeur (the gateway to the Sahara). We would pick you up in Tozeur, take a 4x4 on a tour and spend the night at a Berber camp. We could then return you to your tour group the next day. If you are interested, please email me your dates and I can put an itinerary together for you: lesley@destinationsbydesign.com.au

    Regards,
    Lesley
  • Hello Lesley,
    I was just wondering if you could offer any advice, my friend and I will be travelling in Novemeber to Port El Kantaoui and staying in Hotel Marhaba Palace.
    We are only 23 so we were hoping there would be plenty of things to do - like tours etc. I have been to Tunisia before a couple of times with my parents and understand the need to cover up and respect the culture.
    We were wondering if you know of any tours to the sahara? We werent sure if they were out of the question being quite far away?

    thank you in advance for your time
    Abbie
  • Hi Leslei.
    I am going to PEK next week and am planing to go on a tour to the desert for 2 days. Can you tell me the average temperature there now? Also, can you suggest me other tours?
    I am going to stay at El Mouradi Palm Marina. Have you ever heard about it?
    Many thanks
  • Hi Lesley

    Thank you so much for your kind help and offer. I will let you have the details once the tour is confirmed by the travel agent).

    Jenny
  • Hi there Abbie - well you are an honorary Tunisian having been here a few times already. Many of the hotels can offer day tours to various sites but I absolutely recommend Matmata, Tataouine, Sbeitla, Douga and the list just goes on. You are a long way from the desert but it is possible to visit if you don't mind being in a car for some hours - it is definitely worth it. You can stay overnight with Berber encampment and then return after breakfast. I have had many requests for such a tour and if you are interested then I can send you some details. you can email me at lesley@destinationsbydesign.com.au and I can let you have pricing and itinerary

    In any case I hope you enjoy this visit to beautiful Tunisie
  • Hi Portugal - right now it is very hot, hotter, hotter in Tunisia. Of course the desert is the hottest place to be now. During the day the temperatures can reach extremes but during the night it is very cold. Depending on your interests I can certainly suggest that you spend at least 1 day in the capitol of Tunis - the old city and medina and souq are fab! Also a tour to Matmata and Tataouine are musts to see the old Berber caves - this is where Star Wars has been filmed many times. Sbeitla is a fantastic Roman site and of course the ruins of Carthage which are scattered in and around the capitol

    I hope you enjoy your visit and if you are interested in independant touring then you can email me for details at lesley@destinationsbydesign.com.au
  • TUNISIA ISNT AN EXTREME ISLAMIC COUNTRY INFACT ITS THE OPPOSIE .the president has implemented such strong laws here its hard to be muslim here mosques close stright after prayer,clubs open in ramadhan ,women get problems for wearin scarf in school same as france u cant wear facecoverin here men cant have long beards without gettin major hassle;tunisia is much safer than turkey espceially beause of the police force here .the clubs are great ;the best ones are living and bananas;only high class pople go to these as locals cant afford these.the ones zho do go are tourists from the jnorth of tunisia or algeria and europeans.dress how you want but not over the top.i recommend nothing low cut or above knee.nightclub is diff .some of my friends would wear dresse over leggings and tke off leggings in bathroom of club coz it gets warm there.u can even go topless on beach here no prob as locals arent allozed on thesse beaches.locals will have respect as long as u dont talk to too many men as they have the memory of an elephant;khezama and slim center in hammam sousse best places for shopping.port el kantaoui best area to stay and sol el mouradi or sol club kantaoui best hotels for all needs.next to golf residence is atm ,nightlcub ,aqua palace ,german pub;internet cqfe.in khezama there is a shop where u can get any dvd u cqn imaginbe for 1 dnr 300 millimes.best places to visit is kairouan but take headscarf and long clothes there if u want to see inside the mosque,cqrthqge and sidi bou said combined zith tunis is excellent trip also visit la marsa.for further info contact me on celticmami@hotmail.com .
  • Hi there,

    we are going to be staying in Sousse early September, could you let me know what the trains are like as we are thinking of going to Tunis, and can you recommend any other must see areas either on the trains or via car hire (if this is advisable)? Thx
  • hi
    i am going to port el kantaoui october 18th for 1 week, will the weather be hot enough to sunbathe
    thanx
  • Hi! I'm a single mum and taking my 2 daughters to Skanes towards the end of October - one is almost 13 and brunette, the other is 6 and very blonde and very outgoing. (I'm mousy and not especially minded to think I will attract much attention.) I would like some advice about whether we will be okay to use public transport and/or for me to possibly hire a car? I don't want to spend the week in the hotel complex and having done some reading online I'm concerned that Skanes may not offer us a huge amount of cultural experience. I'm a very confident, chatty and outgoing person but wonder whether this might be a problem in itself? As a woman travelling alone with 2 young daughters, would I be better not to try to keep a lower profile? (When I have travelled previously - never before to a Muslim country though - I have always ended up making local friends and being privileged enough to be invited to people's homes to share a meal and so on. I would love to have this kind of experience of Tunisia but perhaps this would be unsafe?)
    Slightly off-topic (in terms of women and safety) my eldest daughter is allergic to nuts. Are we likely to have any/much difficulty in respect of food and how/where might I be able to get advice on arming myself with a few key phrases in respect of this? I speak some French, but maybe just Frenc isn't enough?

    Alison
  • Hi Lesley,
    Me and my boyfriend are travelling to Tunisia at the end of September and are staying in the Sahara Beach Hotel in Skanes. After looking at your website there were just a couple of things I wondered if you could clarify for us. Im 19 and hes 23 and we've heard that it may not be acceptable for us to share a hotel room is this correct? Also i have very blonde hair, is it true I may get hassled by the locals? What sort of weather do you experience at the end of September early October, hot enough to get a tan? One other thing i have read is it is not acceptable to wear shorts or skirts is this true? Are there any places you would recommend to visit or any thing you would recommend us doing as a young couple whilst we are there?
    Other than this we are really looking forward to our holiday.

    Thanks :)
  • Hi Lesley
    Since my previous message I have switched our destination to Port el Kantaoui. I've also emailed you to see if you would be able to offer us an exciting trip during our stay - and am hoping you might be able to help!
    My eldest will be 13 the week after our holiday - are young teenagers expected/advised to cover up in the same way fully-adult women are?
    Alison
  • Chez - you will probably still get that golden glow in October - enjoy!
  • Alicat - I will reply to you in an email
  • Penelope,

    Firstly - I hope you will have seen my comments on singles sharing rooms - if you are questioned (and tourists are very rarely asked), say that you are married but you did not realise you had to produce your marriage certificate. This will suffice. My husband and I have never been asked to produce our marriage certificate - he's Tunisian and I am not.

    You will not be 'hassled'!! You will be given the stare by both men and women - but that is a national past time. When you are accompanied by your boyfriend you will not be approached or spoken to. And yes it is still warm enough for you to get a tan. If you want to avoid longer stares then take my advice and wear more modest clothing when you are away from the resort. Shorts and short skirts attract much attention.

    There is so much to see in Tunisia - definitely try to find a day to visit the capitol Tunis and the old city where you will find interesting stalls in the souq, great cafes and restaurants and of course have a look at the Roman ruins of Carthage. Depending on how long you have a trip to Matmata and/or Tataouine to have a look at the troglodyte caves is a great experience
  • I am thinking about going to Tunisia in January, what is it like over there. Is it a safe place to go. Is there anything I should worry about if I am going by myself or should I take someone with me.
  • Hi Lesley,
    I'm a european christian marriing a tunisian man. We know each other since years and we live in europe but i wonder if any time we would move to tunisia would i have problems because i'm not muslim?
    Thanks for your help,
    Kata
  • To Lesley what is the weather like now please? Will be travelling to Sousse on 13/09/09. Also worried about what to wear but having read your replies, have a better insight now. Thankyou.
  • Lesley,

    Seems like you are the the angel I have been looking for haha

    Me and my girlfriend (both 19) are travelling to Skanse (Sahara Beach hotel) on the 1/11/09 for a week. I know that Skanes is a bit far out but it was a last minute thing for my birthday.

    I am a little bit worried about how the hotel will react to us not being a married couple:S any advice on how to approach this appropriately will be greatly appreciated.
    Also I am planning on making an itinery to set out our week, We both enjoy getting out and about and I love trips and areas that are enriched with culture and history, my girlfriend also enjoys shopping so I was wondering if you could give me a bit of advice on where to go and when, also how to get there.

    Thank you so much in advance, Nathan
  • Hi
    A friend and I are going to Mahdia next week. I have been to Tunisia many times in the past but not for quite a few years and just remember Mahdia as very quiet little place with not much going for it apart from fish! anybody been there recently that can advise on few places to visit? only going for week so don't want anything too far away. thanks
  • Hi to everybody. I'm Tunisian living in the US. Lesley I would like to thank you for the precious advices you are giving and the informations you are offering: of course there is no doubt in them.
    For Kata, being non Muslim in Tunisia is common, mainly if you are not Tunisian. Our culture is much more influenced by the European one. And you might meet many French people in the region of Sidi Bousaid, La Marsa, Gammarth (the north side of the capital).
    Good luck
  • Hi Jan,

    Tunisia in January is cool depending on where you will travel. where I live in the north of the country it gets really cold but further south near the desert it is really, really cold! so make sure that you have plenty of warm clothes with you when you come. tunisia is a very safe country, the people are friendly and hospitable. However, be careful travelling by yourself. If you have the opportunity to have someone with you then I would do it. In the smaller villages and cities the language can be a problem unless you have French and/or Arabic. In the larger cities you will find the touristique areas have some English speakers. As a word of caution - Tunisian men are charming!!

    Don't be afraid, come to my wonderful Tunisia and enjoy it!
    Lesley
  • Hi Kata,

    Mabrouk - you will have no problems. I am married to a Tunisian (muslim) and I am not a Muslim and I have no worries here at all.

    I hope you have a great wedding and a wonderful life together.

    Lesley
  • Hi Nathan,

    I think you and your girlfriend should not have too many problems. Always my advice is if questioned say that you are married but did not realise you had to bring your marriage certificate, but to be honest, in the tourist hotels in the tourist areas, foreigners are very rarely hassled about this. I'll give some thought to your other questions and get back to you asap.
  • Hi to the Guest tunisian living in US. I'm an Australian married to a Tunisian and now living in Tunisia - Bizerte. Love it here although some days the 'stare' can get a bit much and I'm sure you know what I'm talking about! did you have a good Ramadan - it was pretty low key here as it was hot, hot hot but the Eid was great. Now we look forward to the next.

    Regards,
    Lesley
  • Eldest son aged 8 has 'mental and behaviour problems' he takes a class B drug for this, i have a covering letter from the GP, do you think this will be ok? don't think a licence is required as we are only going for a week.

    Going to Skanes, Sahara Beach next week - don't know to take Euros or Sterling travellers cheques. which will have cheapest commissionn and what can I expect as an exchange rate?
  • Ozzy - as long as you have the letter from the GP it will be fine. I have never been questioned about any medication I have brought in. Travellers cheques can be problematic here - better to bring cash if you can - cash is king in this country. Commission wise I don't know but the Post office will charge probably more than the bank and the ex rate is not as good. Look at x-rates.com for up to date ex rates and you will see what foreign currency will buy TD
  • Lesley - I just want to thank you for the incredibly valuable and interesting responses you provide. I have never thought of a visit to Tunisia before but am rapidly starting to plan! Thanks again, Dave
  • David - thank you! We would be happy to see you in Tunisia. Really it is a beautiful country.

    Happy travels
    Lesley
  • Hi Lesley! I´m going to Skanes nexy monday.. How´s the weather there? I would like so much to get a tan.. do you know if the hotel (el louradi skanes) is far from Monastir, from something to visit? Thanks. Kiss from Portugal
  • Hi Silvia and welcome to Tunisia! The weather has started to become cooler but it is still warm enough to get a golden glow.........but right now it has been extremely windy and quite wet but that is in the North where I am, I'm not sure about Skanes. I'll have a look at the weather. I don't know the hotel you are staying at but you it takes only about 30 minutes to get to Monastir from Skanes. You can use the train or the louages which are very cheap.

    Bouza from Tunis
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