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.
Prior to the war, malaria was not a health risk in the urban areas of Syria. But, travellers to El Hassaka in northern Syria were encouraged to take chloroquine between May and October. A yellow fever certificate was required by travellers arriving from certain countries in Africa or the Americas. Medical treatment was inexpensive, though standards varied. Doctors were generally well qualified, and most medical personnel spoke English or French.
As things stand, the quality of health care in the country has deteriorated significantly. The conflict has seen many hospitals stop operating, as well as shortages of the most basic medicines and medical supplies. Also, the destruction of infrastructure has meant there are frequent outbreaks of infectious diseases across the country.
Tipping is a common way of showing appreciation, but the amount is left to the discretion of the giver. Ten percent is standard in bigger restaurants.
Syria is an active conflict zone. As such, no place is free from the threat terrorism and violence. Foreign visitors have been targeted.
Syria is predominantly a Muslim country and visitors should respect religious sensitivity, particularly in the matter of dress and public conduct. Women, in particular, should wear loose fitting clothes that cover most of the body. 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.
Dress should be formal, and meetings should be arranged in advance. Business cards are usually exchanged at meetings. English and French are widely spoken in business, but translators can be arranged. Business hours are Saturday to Thursday from about 8.30am to 2.30pm, but Christian businesses open on Fridays and close on Sundays.
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). City codes are in use, e.g. (0)11 for Damascus. There is good mobile phone coverage in urban areas, and many networks have international roaming agreements. Internet access is limited, but is available in Damascus.
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 S₤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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