Syria Travel Information
Local time is GMT +2 (GMT +3 from April to October).
Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. The country uses round two-pin attachment plugs.
Arabic is the official, and most widely spoken language. English is widely understood by many educated Syrians in the major cities.
Travellers will find adequate medical care in Damascus and some coastal areas, though not necessarily in remote regions. Anyone visiting Syria should get travel insurance, as serious illnesses and emergencies may require evacuation to a neighbouring country or Western medical facility.
Visitors ordinarily tip waiters, bartenders, hotel staff and taxi drivers in Damascus. Waiters generally receive a tip of between 10 and 20 percent, depending on the quality of the service. Taxi drivers expect a tip of between 10 and 20 percent; hotel staffs usually receive between 2 and 5 USD.
While life in the capital and Aleppo is starting to get back to normal, most western governments advise against all travel to Syria. The situation remains volatile and dangerous, and the Syrian government does not fully control many parts of the country, especially the north west and north east. Terrorism remains a threat.
Syria is predominantly a Muslim country and visitors should respect religious sensitivity, especially when it comes to dress and public conduct. Women, in particular, should wear loose fitting clothes that cover most of the body, though headscarves are unnecessary unless entering mosques. Eating, drinking and smoking in public during the holy month of Ramadan should be avoided, as it is forbidden by the Muslim culture. Homosexuality is illegal; the death penalty is enforced for drug trafficking.
Foreigners should make an effort to arrive on time for meetings, but should remember that Syrians have a looser sense of punctuality and may be late themselves. Business cards are usually exchanged at meetings and it's important to only use the right hand to receive and present them, as the left hand is considered unclean. Meetings can become very animated and can involve many interruptions and tangents to unrelated topics. Foreigners should remain patient and feel free to interrupt to make their points heard. Personal relationships are hugely important in Syrian business culture.
The international dialling code for Syria is +963. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the UK). There is good mobile phone coverage in Damascus; internet access is limited, but is available in the capital.
Travellers are allowed to import 200 cigarettes or 25 cigars or 250g tobacco, 1 pint of spirits, perfume for personal use, and gifts to the value of SYP 250 without paying customs duty. Firearms are prohibited. There is no limit on the amount of tobacco or spirits for export.
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