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Middle East Topics specific to the Middle East countries, from Syria south to Yemen
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  #1  
Old 26 Apr 2008
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Middle East: Warning $$$$$!!

Hi guys,

Thought i would offer up some afvice on the middle east after coming to the end of my month and a half ride about. The main thing i think is important to note, is adjust your budgets because the mid east is getting PRICEY!

I budget around $30 a day when i am riding, including rough camping 60% of the time, campsites 10% and prehaps 30% in hostels in the cheapest available accomadation. I would suggest on a month and a half run around to budget around $60-70 per day, mainly due to a love of paperwork in these parts. The biggest killer is borders, which due to the size of the countries come up every week or so.

Lets take my example (JD calculations very rough):

$56 Syrian Visa (x3 nobody will sell a transit visa apart from Turkish border, which is useless for most overlanders, meaning a single entry visa three times to do the Jordan/Lebanon/Syria triangle) = $168ish
$9 Syrian Road tax (x3) = $27
$26 Syrian Road Insurance
10JD ($15?) Jordanian Visa
10JD ($15?) Jordanian Leaving Taxes and Costs
26JD ($37?) Jordanain Insurance
15JD ($21?) TIP (Even with Carnet de Passage!!!) in Jordan
$25 Lebanese Visa (Despite the fact LP says they are free, alot of travellers i met travelling overland were charged for their visas)
$50 Lebanese Road Insurance (For a year no less!)


TOTAL $384 for a month and a week of arsing around in the middle east on nothing but paperwork.
Add that to $1 a litre for gas, which is now the standard price everywhere (give or take $0.10) compared to 2 years ago, you are paying a fortune. Thats with a CDP, and not getting robbed anywhere, or having the wool pulled over my eyes in real terms.

Considering most bikes will churn 10 litres per day (maybe more on a long day...but lets say you ride 160/170km) $10

The Jordanians are excellent in ripping people off. Consider an entry to Petra at around $35. Entry to a national park with your vehicle $10.

LP has hotels in syria for $2-4 dollars a night including roof matresees and other baisc accomadation. All the places in Syria for example since the 2006 edition have at least doubled their prices. If you want a room on your own, look to pay ATLEAST 400 syrian pounds, which is around $10. For a roof mattress expect to pay 200-250 Syrian pounds or $5 at a genorous exchange rate.

Food is cheap, with the shwarma diet costing around $6 per day, but its gets pretty dull. A meal in a jordanian resturant is around 4JD ($6), in Syria after creative maths and various taxes expect to pay 200 SYP in a low/mid range resturant ($5/6)

Yes i could have crossed less borders, saved a couple of dollars by getting a syrian multiple entry visa from home, eaten only bread, rough camped all the time and not sent any postcards but as a breakdown, in real terms (and i AM a budget traveller, i really do try my best, i never stay in expensife hotels, eat in fancy places)


Daily budget (on a very lucky day)...Gas....$10
Paperwork...$11
Food....$6
(Hotel...$5)

Thats a MINIMUM MINIMUM realistic spend day of $27 ($32)
Unless you sit camped, with your engine off in the desert all day (hoping its not a national park in jordan) i find it hard to believe you can budget much less. I BELIVE THIS IS A PHENOMONA OF THE LAST YEAR/SIX MONTHS. All the lonely liar prices are usually atleast DOUBLE.

Lets take an mid range day...

Gas...$10
Paperwork...$11
Food... $6
National Park fee....$10
Couple of Postcards....$2
Souvenir Kaffir....$2
Hotel...$10
Bottle of Oil....$4

$55 OUCH OUCH OUCH!

Lets take a pricey day in the seat...

gas...$15
Paperwork....$11
Visit Petra...$35
Souvenir T-Shirt....$10
Food (Visit resturant in evening)...$8
Hotel...$12 (Big city, nowhere to camp, nowhere cheaper)

More than $80

Yes i could have driven slower, yes i could have crossed less borders. But unless you have weeks and weeks of time to kill, for no particular reason to flatten out your average expenses...all i can say is...don't go to the middle east with a motorbike, its a ****ing killer. Esepcailly with people like the Jordanians attitude to tourism.

I have enjoyed myself alot, but i must say it has KILLED by budget. I really hope i can make it up in iran/pakistan/india.
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Old 27 Apr 2008
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Thanks for all the detailed pricing, Joe.

I agree with you regarding the cost of crossing borders. Unless you spend longer periods of time in each country to justify the expense, it will kill your budget. I spent six months in the region and crossed into Syria three times! That said, riding in these countries is fantastic.

And, you're right about the prices in the Lonely Planet. The problem is, as soon as a hotel gets listed in the LP, they see an increase in traffic and up their fee. However, the LP is still useful to direct you to the part of town with all the budget accommodations. Then just walk around to find the real hidden bargains. I'm thinking specifically of Damascus. You can save a pile of money if you look around. (That said, when you're traveling alone, sometimes it's nice to go where all the backpackers go. You meet some weird people!)

As far as saving money in Iran, there's good news and bad news. The bad news - Iran is not cheap (by Middle Eastern standards and with the exception of gas). The good news is, it is HUGE! This means no border crossings for a while!
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Old 18 May 2010
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And that is coming from two years ago, I'm almost affraid of what things will look like now. I am coming in from Europe, so it can't really be more expensive, but it is unfortunate that things have gotten so expensive. I think I will consider cutting Lebanon out depending on how I feel at the time. You mentioned a lot of wild camping, can you give us any more information on spots, legality, preperation, saftey for wild camping? Thanks for the budget info!
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Old 2 Jun 2010
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well Thomas, i was recently in the middle east area, travelling through by bike, wonderful. stu dowell | lost presumed fed | Travel Blog Its not the cheapest, but its not unaffordable either .
Israel is another thing altogether, very expensive, not altogether welcoming !! but unmissable, even just to educate oneself on how the west has ruined a great area/nation.
enjoy and travel with an open mind and closed wallet.
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Old 4 Jun 2010
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A lot of things in those countries are imported from Europe (vehicles, etc), Asia (vehicles, all sorts of mf'd items), Aust./NZ (food) and USA (food).
People do have to make ends meet, no matter where they live, and compared to many of them you are well-off.
As far as border crossing expenses - well, I anticipate spending at least $2000, or more, on entry "formalities" into Australia (a totally non-corrupt country, as far as border officials) this September, for my camper.

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