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Iraq (Kurdistan) for cheap

2010 décembre 18

hotel Kurdistan Irak

On my scale: quite expensive country, if you are traveling alone.

1.500 Dinar= 1€

Visa (French citizen): Free. As for everybody. You can ask your visa at the border, they won’t bother you with a full interrogatory. I have read that you don’t need to extend your 10 days visa, it is true inside Kurdistan, but I was unable to have an exit stamp at the Iranian border, they sent me bacin Erbil! There is buses from Silopi (Turkey; 15$ / 20 TL / 10€) that let you just after the border, you will need a taxi after this to get to Zakho. You can enter from Iran also. You can not go in Iran if you don’t already have a visa (you can get one very easily in Trabzon, Turkey). The visa is available for the Autonomous Region of Kurdistan only, you can not go in Arabic Irak with it. You can cross some part of the Arabic Irak by bus sometimes, this is not a problem, even if there is a lot of checkpoints where they will ask your passport.

cigarettes: 1.000 Dinar / 0.65€. It drop at 750 Dinar in Sulaymaniyah.

sandwich: 500 Dinar / 0.35€ for falafel, 1.000 dinar / 0.65€ for meat (again, 750 Dinar in Sulaymaniyah).

beer: 1.000 Dinar / 0.65€. There is liquor stores in every city. Beer in a local bar is 2.000, in a foreigner bar, 5.000.


- Zakho (alternatively named Zaxo):

Shash Hotel: 20.000 Dinar / 13.30€. Triple room (but I was alone), clean private bathroom, breakfast include, AC.

Zakho Palace Hotel: 15.000 Dinar /10 €. Double room (but I was alone), clean private bathroom with western toilets, AC.

The very good blog Backpackiraq provides older information about hotels, here.

Shash Hotel (up) is situated in Reka Barzan/Baderkhan street, next to the most well known hotel of the city, the Hotel Bazaaz. For the same level of comfort, but without breakfast, you will find in this street the Jihan Hotel, the Roger Hotel (20.000 Dinar) and the Hotel Zozek (20$, 24.000 Dinar). The Emin Hotel (15.000, privatized dormitory room with shared bathroom), looks scary, but you may have a good price if you are not traveling alone.

At the West end of the street, walk a few meters on your left  (Kurdistan Street) to find half a dozen of liquor stores.

At it East end is the roman bridge, only sights of Zahko (Golan intersection, turn on your right).

North to the Roger Hotel starts the Shorash street, where you will find the Zakho Palace Hotel. Surrounding this street are the Firat Hotel (30$), and the Zana Hotel, Zeitun Hotel, and Melvan Hotel, with closed door or sleeping personnel at the time of my visit.

There is at leas four or five other hotels in Zakho.

I found five or six Internet Cafe, but there you can not use your laptop. Check three of them next to the Roger Hotel (1.000 dinar per hour).

Shops will provide you a fair change.

Shared taxi to Dohuk are 6.000 Dinar. The Garaj is at maximum 2 km of the city center. At the north end oh Shorash street, turn left, after 100m you will see it on your left.

- Dohuk:

Slevan Hotel : 15.000 Dinar/10 € Double room (but I was alone), clean private bathroom with western toilets, tiny balcony, AC, fan.

The very good blog Backpackiraq provides a map of the city center, check this link. He also get information about hotels, here.

The most well known and expensive hotel of Dohuk is the Hotel Birjin, hotels are east to it in the Kawa street and the Ayloul Street. Face to the Birjin, the Darya (or sometimes “Daria”) Hotel seems to be a good value for 15$ (single room, private bathroom). Next in the Kawa Street, the Biryaety Hotel and the Sader Hotel seems crummy and have each a double room with shared bathroom at 15.000. Finally, the Parlaman Hotel have a welcoming English-friendly staff, a double room with private bathroom, fridge, AC for only 20.000 Dinar.

In the Ayloul Street, you will find first the Ashawa Touristic Hotel, which can be a good value if you bargain (it was full when I checked it), and face to it the Slevan Hotel (up). Go east to find the Kordo Hotel, 20.000 for a nice double room with bathroom and western toilets. Then you got more expensive hotels as the Aven Hotel (25$, nice double room, private bathroom and western toilets), the Duhok Palace Hotel (25.000 Dinar), the Harem Hotel (30$) and the Abin Hotel (full).

There is also a lot of big hotels and motels outside the city center.

Dozen of liquor shopsand at leas two bars are in Nohadra Street, which is the first road between Kawa street and Ayloul street after crossing the bridge, west of the bazaar.

There is numerous Internet Cafe but most of them won’t allow the use of your own laptop, except in Tarin Net, on the west end of Ayloul street.

Shared taxis to Amadya are on Kawa road, for 8.000 Dinar.

Taxis to Lalish are 40$, way back include. You can not go by bus, and won’t find a share taxi except on Muslim holy Friday, or Yazidis holy Wednesday and Saturday, if you are lucky. You can call Dakhil, a friendly Yazidi taxi driver, who speaks a good Kurdish, Arabic and Deutsch, but also a few English and Turkish, 0750-746-0037.

- Amadya (or Amedi):

Sulav Tourist Hotel: 20.000 Dinar / 13.30€. Double room (but I was alone), shared bathroom, no heat, friendly staff.

There is no hotel in pretty Amadya. There is some in nearby Sulav, but only one is open in winter. There is a motel in Kanya Mala, a village between Sulav and Amadya, 20.000 Dinar the room.

Liquor stores are in the only street of Sulav. You wont find any Internet access.

Going to Erbil is easier from Dohuk… I took a car to Chel’Aze for 5.000 Dinar. Here a taxi for Rezan (after Barzan) at 25.000, I almost cried. An other taxi to Spilek, on the Hamilton road, 10.000, with an other passenger. Spilek to a “garaj” next to Erbil, 4.000, with more or less two others passenger. And then 3.000 to Erbil itself. 47.000 for the all trip. At this price, you will see wonderful panoramas…

- Erbil (or Irbil, and in Kurdish “Hawler”):

Ali Hotel: 20.000 Dinar / 13.30€ (Single room), 25.000 Dinar / 16.60€ (Double room), shared bathroom, AC, Izidi friendly staff with little English.

Rayan Hotel: 20.000 Dinar / 13.30€ Double room, shared bathroom with western WC, AC, staff speaks little English.

Nassim Hotel 20.000 Dinar / 13.30€ Double room, shared bathroom with western WC, AC, staff speaks little English.

The very good blog Backpackiraq provides a map of the city center, check this link, and a larger one here. He also get information about hotels, here.

Sleeping in Erbil is expensive. Front to the citadel is the Qayzari Bazaar, you will imediatly see the Kandeelh Hotel (or “Kandil”, 30.000 the single room) and the Rahand Hotel (35.000). Still on the main place is Sarsang Hotel. Take the Sheky Choly street (or 10 meter street) on your right to check the Nish’Liman Hotel and Sulaiman Hotel (30.000 both), the luxuous Kotri Salam Hotel (50$, private bathroom, breakfast and Internet include), the Kasr Sheril Hotel (80.000 the four beds room, private bathroom), the Ya Halla Hotel (30.000 the double, you can share for 15.000), the Nassim Hotel (up), Motel Karoz, Fanar Motel and Rayan Hotel (up). Take on your right to go back to the citadel: here are “group hotels” who wont accept the lonely traveler, as the Zagros Hotel, Hazhar Hotel, Zheen Hotel, Shakhan Hotel and Samira Miss Hotel (’hope they’ll find her). The Dana Hotel is 35.000 and here is also the Ali Hotel (up). Shahan Hotel on the Qalaat’ street is 30.000. East to the main place in a little street are the other Sulaiman Hotel (30.000) and the Dar es Salam Hotel. Other backpackers I have met here have been victims of a stealing staff, in Dana Hotel.

You will find one of the only ATM of the Kurdistan Autonomous Region at the Erbil International Hotel (formerly “the Sheraton”), 200m south to the main place, on your right. Visa only. Most of people thinks it don’t work, here is the tip: there is a software mistake. When you introduce your card, the first screen may ask you “choose your language”, instead of what you will directly see the screen in Arabic asking your PIN code. You can try any number on the keyboard, it will not react. In fact it is waiting for you to answer “English” (button on the left side of the screen, on the top), or Arabic (right side, top). Press English to come back to the normal procedure. Legendary, it is limited to 120.000 Dinar, I asked for 500.000, it worked.

The same tip may work with the two others ATM of the Bank of Irak, first one in the New City Mall, close to the Sheraton. The other one is in Majji Di Mall, next to the Uzgari Intersection (&  hospital). By feet, it is a one hour walk from the Sheraton. Go south to the 60 Meter Street, then left until the circle intersection, then right to Sulaymaniyah, it is on your right, outside the city, after the 100m Street.

There is also a Mastercard friendly ATM in Majji Di Mall ! (was not working when I have been…).

The liquor shop is north to the citadel. Catch the 10m Street until you see a giant-bust-statue. It’s north to it, less than 100m. There is an other one on the 60 meter Street, south east of the Sheraton, and a couple of stores face to the American Compound entrance.

There is an occidental bar face to the American Compound entrance, the T Bar. There is a nightclub / bar / swimming-pool inside the American Compound, Thursday night is THE night. You must be previously registered to get inside the American Compound, ask to the friendly guards during the day how you can get there. The American Compound is bunker-village north-west of the city center.

There is an Internet Cafe on the main square (2.500/h), two other ones on the 10m Street, the first is west to the citadel, the second  is north.

Buses to Sulaymaniyah left from the Bagdad Garaj, four kilometers south west of the city center, costs 8.000 Dinar.

There is buses to Iran at the Best Van Tur, a 20 minutes walk from the citadel. Catch the 10m Street until you see a giant-bust-statue north to the citadel. It’s north to it again, 2km, on the right side of the street.

Sulaymaniyah :

Hotel Pasha : 20.000 Dinar / 13.30€ (Single room), private bathroom, AC, Internet, friendly staff speaks English.

??!? (Arabic name) Hotel: 20.000 Dinar / 13.30€ (Double room), shared bathroom, AC, friendly staff, no English.

Bahra Hotel: 10.000 Dinar / 6.70€, at this price you sleep with the staff, shared bathroom, AC, friendly staff speaks English and German. Double room is 20.000.

The very good blog Backpackiraq provides a map of the city center, check this link. He also get information about hotels, here.

In the middle of the Bazar, there is a central intersection, from where you will see the giant Hotel Pasha (up) sign on north. Here you will find Kawa street, going south west, and at the beginning of it, Zanko (20.000, double room) and Bakar Hotel (up). Follow it till a place to see the Shieratoz Hotel, behind it in a tiny street is the Babosi Hotel, which may be the cheaper of the city (but it was always full when I went there). Take Kawa street again to find the Naz Hotel, with an other hotel face to it (name in Arabic). I don’t have the name of the next hotel for the same reasons (see up). At the circle, if you go right, is the Paris Hotel (25.000, double room), and the Chwarbakh Hotel (30.000, double room), face to the clinic. In the middle of Malawi street, on the bridge, you will see an other hotel (with an Arabic written name, 20.000).

Liquor stores almost everywhere. The one on the main bazaar intersection close early, there is an other one at the western gate of the bazaar. It is close on Sunday evening. Other ones are in Salim street, Mamostayan street, Handi street, and south east of the bazar. There is a bar in Mamostayan street and a Chinese bar in Salim street, east to the Archeological Museum.

There is an Internet Cafe in the entrance of Kawa street (2.000/h)

From Bagdad Garaj, you can go to Halabja by autobus (3.000). You have some “luxury minibus” to Erbil for 10.000. Bus may be 8.000 but I was told they leave at 8am.

Others :

The security level is good in Kurdish Irak, and risks are minimum when you quickly cross some Arabic area by bus. There is more and more tourists here. There is a short Lonely Planet chapter in the last Middle East guide book, and you can buy this chapter separately in pdf on their website.

Be aware that it will be expensive for alone travelers to travel here, it is better if you share taxis and hotel rooms. Transport is expensive.

You may be invited for the night or to eat something almost everywhere, go on.

Patrimonial and historic sites are still rare here, so enjoy people. The few things to see are free, as the Erbil citadel (jump barriers and go inside ruins to enjoy the experience), the Archeological Museum and the Red Security Headquarter in Sulaymaniyah.

Hitchhiking is not recommended, and if you do so, expect to pay for it, everybody is a taxi here…

You can stay in the Autonomous Region of Kurdistan, Irak, for less than 25€ per day, alone. Less than 15€ per person in group.

This is just a feedback from my experience. If you got some useful prices information, share it in the Comments !

4 Responses leave one →
  1. septembre 16, 2011

    Je checke ca dans deux jours ! Thanks pours les tıps l’amı !!!

    ps : clavıer turc en prıme haha !

    • septembre 19, 2011

      Bon bah tu dois être à Zahko à l’heure qu’il est :). C’est un peu galère, mais essaie de passer à Lalish, chez les izidis, c’est assez trip comme expérience !
      (sinon je regardais ton site, y en a un qui a dû avoir froid aux fesses pour ta série Primates ??!? :) )

  2. Isabelle permalink
    décembre 11, 2011

    Bonjour Doudou,

    Merci pour ces précieux renseignements car je vais rendre visite à un ami au kurdistan à Shaqlawa en janvier prochain et je suis à la recherche d’infos. Outre le fait que je ne connaisse pas du tout cette région ni les coutumes, je me rends compte que cela ne ressemble pas à ce que je pensais. Je vais devoir me loger là bas et il semble que cela soit très cher et qu’en plus pas toujours propre. De plus, pour ma part, il est juste pas possible que je n’ai pas une salle de bain correcte avec des wc  » normaux » . Donc , aurais tu des conseils à me donner pour pouvoir être logée correctement sans devoir payer ma chambre 60 euros par nuit ?
    Toute idée et toute information sera bonne à prendre.

    • décembre 27, 2011

      Salut Isabelle et désolé pour les délais de réponse…
      Clairement, un logement décent n’est pas forcément évident à trouver, et l’hébergement est plutôt cher pour ce qu’il est dans ce coin du monde. Difficultés supplémentaires à prévoir pour les femmes, comme par hasard… (d’ailleurs prend un jeu d’alliances en partant, si d’aventure tu souhaites pouvoir partager une double de temps à autre avec des voyageurs rencontrés sur place, tu en auras besoin) Il faut savoir qu’assez souvent les minettes seules se heurtent à de plus ou moins polis « on est complet ce soir », question de culture. Les femmes occidentales jouissent qui plus est parfois d’une image assez désagréable de sex toy… Pas pour tout le monde, mais tout de même beaucoup trop couramment. Nombre d’autochtones n’ont en effet de l’européenne qu’une seule image : celle véhiculée par Youporn (gros succès là bas, ce genre de pages apparaissent souvent quand tu succèdes à quelqu’un dans un Internet café ; ou alors les locaux se perchent par dessus ton épaule, désignent ton laptop et disent « Porn ? Porn ? »…). Bref, ce n’est pas insurmontable, ce n’est pas dangereux du tout si tu t’entoures des précautions d’usage, mais ça peut être emmerdant de façon redondante.
      Prend un cadenas aussi (non pas que ça craigne, mais de toute façon faut toujours avoir un cadenas).
      Y a quand même des lieux fréquentables, bien sûr :
      A Zaxo, les deux hôtels que j’ai fait l’an dernier sont pas mal, ainsi que le Bazaaz hôtel sans doute (plus cher je pense).
      A Dohuk, à mon avis, n’hésites pas un instant et fonce au Parlaman Hotel, en plus tu y croiseras des backpackers. L’an dernier, ce devait être le seul hôtel de routards actif en Irak.
      A Erbil… Les hôtels où j’avais dormi n’étaient pas les mieux famés du voyage. Vu la taille de la ville, tu trouveras cependant chaussure à ton pied. En cas de galère, ou juste pour croiser des gens, tu peux appeler / passer voir le consulat. Encore plus trip : passes à l’université, département de Français, les gens pourront vraiment t’aider et ils seront heureux de te faire discuter avec les étudiants, ça les fait travailler :) ! Ces personnes peuvent te filer un coup de main point de vue hébergement… mais évite de te faire inviter à l’internat des filles, une vraie prison d’après une compatriote.
      A Sulaymaniyah, aucun doute, fonce à l’Hotel Pasha. Niveau d’anglais agréable, ils ont même du wifi, ce qu’on peut qualifier comme un niveau de luxe impressionnant. Enfin j’exagère, il en est d’autres des hôtels d’un tel luxe, mais ça grimpe vite dans les 50 dollars en ce cas.
      Désolé de ne t’avoir répondu qu’aussi tard, j’étais un peu sous l’eau ;)
      Profites bien de ce beau pays et de ces chouettes gens,
      et bisou,

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