Now about transport, you might get a culture shock here depending from which country you’re from. Lebanon doesn’t have a very developed local public transport system, it’s mainly taxis and buses.
Everyone in Lebanon uses their personal car to move across the country. So unless you’re visiting local friends that can drive you or lend you a car, you need to know how to get around the place!
Taxis in Lebanon:
Taxis are the most common means used, and generally people share them. There are taxis that operate in between the different cities with commonly set routes, but do be aware that negotiation will be part of the game, the prices themselves are not set.
Nevertheless, within a city the taxi rates are fixed and you can simply hail them from the roadside. You’ll recognize them thanks to their red number plates. The standard price is of LL2000 per person and can board up to 4 passengers along the way. If your destination is relatively far, the driver might ask for ‘servicen’, which means double-service, for LL4000.
You may find that the taxi driver will stop for gas and there may be some detours, but that’s quite normal for Lebanon.
Buses in Lebanon:
Don’t expect any timetables, there are none! But buses generally run from around 5.30am to 7pm daily at intervals of approximately 15 minutes.
There are no actual bus stops either… you can stop the bus along the road by making it quite clear you’d like to get on, as you would for a taxi. You can ask locals for any incites on which road you need to wait, depending on your desired destination.
You’ll soon find out that Lebanese buses are not modern and they have many flaws, but they do the job.
Main bus companies: Lebanese Commuting Company (LCC) and OCFTC (Lebanese government authority which operates public transportation).
Don’t expect any identifiable feature for the buses, they run all sorts, from big coaches to minibuses. Prices usually range between LL1,000 for a short trip to LL1500 (1$) for a longer one, but it can go up to LL7000 for intercity routes, all depending on which one you chose.
To understand more on Lebanon’s currency, check out my article on the topic.
Again do check your information beforehand, you’ll get your ticket on board, but could get ripped off if you haven’t done your research properly.
Awareness: Like any place in the world some areas could be tricky, and incidents can happen. So do always be aware of where you are going, the time at which you are going, and always try to be accompanied, especially women. Remember that unknown ground should be approached carefully.
Yalla bus, a life changing app?
Founded by some students from the American University of Beirut (AUB), the intention is to put some order into the public transport system. The app is not available just yet, but you can stay updated here.
The aim of the application is to give users, the buses’ specific schedules, stops, and routes. You enter your destination as well as your actual location, the application tells you which buses are available at what times and where to wait for them. What’s good is that people who do not have 3G can also have access to the information on the buses.
Can I rent a car in Lebanon?
Like elsewhere around the globe, you can also rent a car in the cedar country. Although the way people drive in Lebanon is another world… It’s like trying to compare a neat garden to a jungle. Any solution? People who rent cars, usually rent a local driver also.
Keep in mind this is the most expensive option in the country, but you’ll find well-known companies such as Avis, Hertz, Budget, and Europcar, if this is what you wish to go for.
Tips to keep in mind:
So now you know those are the few means available to travel and visit areas, next thing you need to know is that the traffic is quite dense as most people do use their private vehicles. The congestion on the roads can get quite hectic, which means getting stuck in your cab or bus is also likely at peak times.
No point in getting frustrated, although you will surely hear a symphony of honks at least once during your trip. Just embrace it, you’ll laugh about it when you get back home so simply go with the flow.
The various wars have, unfortunately, not helped in developing a good transport infrastructure, of course priorities are elsewhere after such events. Now you’ve understood that train, tube/underground and tram networks are not part of Lebanon’s current situation.
There is the bike option, and some hotels actually offer bicycle rentals. But really, it isn’t a very bike-friendly place. If you choose this ecological way, do be extremely careful and understand that you’re definitely “in for a ride”.
Thankfully, I’ll be visiting different friends across the country so I’ll be using their cars for most of my trip, but I’ll make sure to give the taxis and buses a try whilst I’m there so I can update you on that!
Please leave a comment if you have any questions or if you’d like to share your public transport experience. 🙂