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Getting Around

There are many ways to get around in Lebanon using public transportation. The most common ways to get around are by taxi, Uber, Careem (the local system similar to Uber), and service (pronounced servees). Taking a service is akin to carpooling. Instead of a regular taxi fare, you pay 2,000 Lebanese Pounds. There are some limitations and guidelines to this. The first is that you only take a service to the general area that you’d like to go. You want to state the area you’re going to before you get into the cab. If the driver nods you to enter the cab, then you’ve agreed that it is a service, and therefore others can be picked up along the way. If his response to you is “taxi”, then you have the choice to refuse the ride or approach and inquire about the price. If you agree on the price, the driver may not pick up others along the way. Sometimes, if the distance is far or if there's a lot of traffic, the driver may respond "serviseyn", which means “two services” and amounts to 4,000 Lebanese Pounds. When you’d like to get out, you can communicate to the driver that you’d like to get out, and the cab will stop. The concept is similar to Uber Pool, but you don't order it on an app. If you are looking for something that is like Uber Pool that you can order on an app, try Careem. Uber does not yet offer Uber Pool in Lebanon, but Careem offers a pooling system for 3,000 Lebanese pounds ($2.00) per passenger. On a final note, please use caution when considering a service or a Careem Pool after dark. Just as in many large cities, a pooling system may be unsafe for solo female passengers to use at night, and therefore we advise against it.
Taxis are not the only way to get around cities in Lebanon! Cities in Lebanon are also great for exploring on foot. In fact, there are a number of great walking tours and bike tours that you can participate in at your leisure. Some of the more popular tours can be found at www.alternative-beirut.com and www.bebeirut.org. While walking or biking around Beirut, it is imperative to use caution as most drivers do not fully abide by traffic laws, and pedestrians do not have the right way. You can also check out the newly installed Hop-On-Hop-Off bus in Beirut, which includes 14 stops and has a tour information available in six languages. You can book online via http://city-sightseeing.com or find the bus at any one of its stops.

In case you’re looking to take a trip to another city, there are buses or rental cars available. In terms of buses, the main station is located in Beirut and is called Charles Helou Bus Station. Once there, you can find the ticket booths next to the buses and pay the appropriate one-way fare. The buses make stops along the way, so it will be important to check in with the driver to find out where you need to get off the bus. The trickier part is coming back by bus because they don't always stop on the side of the road for passengers to come on, so you may have to wait for a few buses to pass before one stops for passengers. From there, you can pay the fair directly to the bus driver, and head back to Charles Helou Bus Station in Beirut. An alternative is to take one of the mini buses (called a van) back to Beirut. This is more for the adventurous spirit. The mini bus will drop you off in an area called Cola, and from there you can either take another mini bus to Beirut, or you can grab a service. More information about bus lines and fares can be found at www.edarabia.com/bus-routes-beirut-guide/.

As for rental cars, there are several companies that can issue a rental, such as Avis Rent a Car and New Phoenix Rent a Car, and the process is fairly straight-forward. The only thing to be aware of is that driving in Lebanon for the first time can be challenging due to the liberties that most drivers take in terms of speed and changing lanes. Other than that, make sure to always have your passport and foreign driver's license with you while driving, as you may be asked for them at checkpoints when leaving and coming into different governorates (though it is not common). If you'd like to bypass three difficulites and prefer a more organized route to exploring Lebanon, you can also check out www.lebanontours.info for such tours.
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