Kuwait Travel Tips

Kuwait is not on the mainstream tourist radar and often gets lost in the shuffle in the Arabian Peninsula, most notably thanks to all-stars Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar. But the small, affluent state is absolutely worth a more in-depth look.Here are a few tips for first-time travellers to Kuwait and its capital, Kuwait City.

Medical care
In the case of an emergency, medical services in Kuwait are typically provided free or for a small charge and, conveniently, on a walk-in basis. The flagship hospital in Kuwait City, and by extension the country, is Al-Amiri Hospital & Casualty on Arabian Gulf Street.

Money and currency exchange
Visitors to Kuwait can conduct traveller’s cheques business at:
Al-Ghanim Travel (2nd fl, Salhiya Commercial Centre)
Al-Muzaini Exchange (Fahad al-Salem Street)
UAE Exchange (Basement, Burgan Bank Building, Fahad al-Salem Street)Kuwait City is, in some respects, a city of banks. They crop up liberally throughout the capital and taxi drivers and staff at Kuwait resorts generally know where to get the best rates. A few streets that radiate from Safat Square contain ample currency exchange outlets as well. Some offer competitive rates that surpass even the banks.

Think before you ship
Kuwait is a tax haven, with 0% VAT and personal income tax, but Kuwait City can run on the expensive side. A budget of USD 100 per day, minimum and outside of accommodation, is not an uncommon word to the wise from Kuwait expats and locals.
Further to this, many visit Kuwait to shop and take advantage of the state’s free trade/no VAT status. All well and good but bear in mind that transport costs on goods can be prohibitively expensive. Look into it before you go on a spree on bulky items that will definitely not fit in the overhead compartment.

A word on alcohol
Illegal. To serve, manufacture or import.

Petty and violent rime in Kuwait is generally very low. Foreign nationals may want to give conservative areas like Jahra a wide berth (firearms incidents in the past). Jleeb As Shuyoukh has been the site of migrant worker riots. Other demonstrations took place in Kuwait City as recently as 2012. Stay on the beaten track, avoid mass gatherings should they occur and you’ll be fine.

Road safety
To get behind the wheel in Kuwait is, potentially, a dodgy enterprise. Think The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (sort of). Kuwaiti drivers often ignore signals completely and pedestrians come across as targets at worst, nuisances at best. As immaculate as the highways are in Kuwait City, accident statistics are grisly and among the worst in the developed world. Be ever vigilant if you do hire a car. If you do have an accident, alert police and stay on the scene.

In light of all this, taxis may be your best bet. Most foreign embassy websites recommend, however, that female visitors in Kuwait book taxis in advance by telephone and avert solo travel after dark.

Local travel
Travellers who seek to enter Iraq and Saudi Arabia from Kuwait must use official border checkpoints and have all necessary paperwork. Landmines and other hazardous devices, vestiges of the Iraq invasion, are still present in parts of the country. For this reason, and countless others, rule out off-road driving as a recreational pursuit.

Recently travelling through the United Arab Emirates, Ben has picked up a wide range of tips for potential travellers to the region. He hopes to make the future travellers journeys as easy as possible.

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