When you see people flooding social media with travel pictures, most of them are from already well-known places, such as Paris, Rome or Barcelona. Unless they are into traveling the whole world and discovering new stunning places, they’re unlikely to stumble upon a place such as Lebanon.
Given it’s located in the middle east, the location is either unknown as a tourist spot, either considered dangerous. However, if you’re purposely avoiding it because you wonder “Is Lebanon safe to visit?”, you’re missing out. The stunning mountains, seascapes, mouthwatering food and rich history should be enough to convince you that Lebanon could make an unforgettable vacation.
If safety is a concern, maybe you need some Lebanon safety travel tips to encounter no issues. So, here is a Lebanon safety guide, and who knows, maybe at the end of it you will decide to start packing.
Highest Risks You Expose Yourself to When Visiting Lebanon
Overall Risks in Lebanon: MEDIUM
Although the situation is not as bad as it is in neighbor countries, there are definitely some risks you should take into account.
In Lebanon, terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks, and there is even a threat of terrorism against navigation. Due to that, there have been additional security measures in place for flights that depart from Lebanon to other countries.
There’s a concern regarding security, as it can deteriorate quickly in parts of Lebanon, and people may end up being victims.
Violence against tourists is possible and it is pretty moderate in Lebanon. People may be stripped of their belongings through either pickpocketing, theft, vehicle crime and bag snatching. Armed robberies against taxi passengers have been happening in the past too, and the driver as well as the passengers have been attacked.
Clashes have been happening between Tripoli and the Lebanese security forces, as well as in areas in the North. This ended in soldiers, civilians and militants being injured or dying as a consequence.
Landmines are an imminent danger and they are not always clearly marked, which is why nobody should use tracks where the travel level is not too high. In addition, roads can be blocked in case of civil unrest.
There’s a high rate of traffic accidents because of the poor driving standards, and during the night, it’s even worse. Traffic lights are sometimes poorly lit, making it hard to be observed.
Regarding the political situation, things can escalate quickly, given there is celebratory gunfire into the air as a response to messages/speeches by political leaders. Demonstrations can turn violent, and tourists can get caught in these if they don’t stay away.
Earth tremors can’t be ruled out, because the country is an active earthquake zone. Still, the tremors are not so frequent either, so it doesn’t mean that the possibility of one occurring is of 100%.
Pickpocketing and Theft Risks in Lebanon: MEDIUM
Theft and muggings are situations that are possible all over the world, at any given time. Therefore, if you ask yourself “How safe is Lebanon for tourists regarding theft?” the answer is pretty much obvious.
The situation in Lebanon when it comes to theft depends on many things, such as where you are at the moment and at what time you are out in town. Violent muggings are happening moderately, and tourists could become victims easily. Considering you’re not a local there and you are expected to not have any idea about security and similar things, thieves find you an easy target.
Moreover, because you’re a tourist, some may take advantage of that and assume you are this rich being off whom they can make money.
Although crime can happen on the street and your bag can be snatched easily if you’re letting your guard down, such incidents can happen in vehicles as well. Physical attacks and armed robberies against passengers in shared taxis have happened in the past, so they can’t be ruled out. These are usually common in service taxis. Also, it’s not only the taxi driver who can be attacked, but you as a passenger as well.
Moreover, Uber is said to not be safe in Lebanon.
- How to avoid pickpocketing and theft in Lebanon?
The answer is pretty much obvious at this point, but you should avoid walking alone in quiet areas, especially after dark, and be careful everywhere you go. If possible, try not to bring the whole money bucket with you, because you won’t need all the amount. Besides, if by any chance you end up being a victim, you will have money left at a safe place.
Maybe you like wandering the streets at any given time, especially since you’re in a new place that you don’t have the chance to experience daily. As much as you like it, you shouldn’t do so at night, especially if you’re alone, because it will be harder to reach out for help during that time.
If you like keeping a bag/handbag and carry it around, keep it tightly in front of you and don’t let your guard down. The last thing you want to see during a trip is someone running away with your money, passport and possibly even mobile phone.
If you want to use a taxi, don’t hail one on the street. Only use the ones from reputable and recognized companies, and if you don’t know any, ask the hotel staff for help. Furthermore, as a communication from the Lebanese Interior Minister stated in 2017, do not use Uber because it is not considered safe, and use taxis.
Scam Risk in Lebanon: MEDIUM
While most governmental websites do not warn travelers of the scams that are going on within Lebanon, there are more than a few such cases you have to worry about - namely, scams related to the use of airport taxis, honey or olive oil, and valet parking.
More than one tourist has reported the fact that scamming, robbing, violence, and harassment do usually occur in Lebanon's airport taxis - naturally, the driver will initially try to get a higher fee out of you and, if that's not successful, he/ she might move on to something more dangerous.
The second type of scam involves honey or olive oil, in which locals try to sell pure virgin oil/ bees extract when it's not actually pure - they just add either vegetable oil and ground sugar to the aforementioned and label it as pure. You can easily check how pure is the oil you are going to buy by turning the jar upside down and check for a smooth flow run or by having a match dipped in honey and then lighting it up - if the bees extract is pure, the flame will stop burning.
When it comes to valet parking, well, you really should not hand your car to anyone that has a sign stating that they can park your car - if you do so, you risk the chances of your car being bumped, stolen, or even have items in it stolen. Just avoid valets and park your own car in a safe spot.
- How to avoid getting scammed in Lebanon?
While there may be a number of other scams being practiced in Lebanon, you can easily avoid falling into their trap - when it comes to taxis, it is recommended that you get inside an official/ registered one and that you decide over the fee before the car starts.
In the case of honey/ olive oil, we've already mentioned the two ways through which you can check each of the substances' purity. Lastly, we strongly recommend you to avoid services such as valet parking and such, as they can result in something you will clearly regret.
Other than that, if you keep an eye out on anything that seems suspicious, you should be just fine while exploring Lebanon.
Kidnapping Risk in Lebanon: MEDIUM
“How safe is Lebanon for tourists concerning kidnapping?” you may ask yourself. Many people may assume the worst because of the geographical location, and there’s a shed of truth in it too. Kidnappings can’t be ruled out in Lebanon, because there have been situations occurring in places such as the Bekaa Valley. Some happened in Beirut or the Syrian border regions too.
Tourists can be targeted as well, thus make sure you stay away from border regions, and you’re always keeping your guard up in towns/cities. Moreover, Daesh and other possible groups also use kidnappings, and view people engaged in journalism or humanitarian aid work as targets.
- How to avoid getting kidnapped in Lebanon?
As mentioned before, you have to keep your guard up - moreover, you should be traveling in a group as well, especially if you plan on driving/ traveling away from towns or main cities. If you keep an eye on the people you are with, it is quite unlikely that you'll get kidnapped.
In short, you must have a sharp mind and keep up with the other. Furthermore, avoid remote areas or any shady alleys - stick to the areas meant for tourists, keep a close eye on your group, and don't get left behind.
Terrorism Risk in Lebanon: MEDIUM
Given Lebanon is neighbor to a country where war is no stranger, you can’t help but wonder whether you risk being a victim of a terrorist attack if you visit the place. Well, terrorist attacks are possible, and the extremist groups will target civilians, security services and the Lebanese state. Tourists are not an exception to the rule, so don’t think that you are not at risk of being caught in the middle.
- How to avoid terrorism in Lebanon?
Attacks could happen even in areas where foreigners usually go, such as bars, restaurants, religious and tourist sites, and even markets and hotels. If you want to go in any of these places, you should take some safety precautions before you do so, such as informing yourself about the situation in the country.
Avoid going near the border with Syria, as you don’t want anything bad to happen to you during the vacation.
Risks for Women Traveling Alone in Lebanon: LOW to MEDIUM
“Is Lebanon safe for solo women travelers?” you may find yourself wondering, because your safety comes first. Also, considering there’s not so much information about Lebanon compared to other countries, it’s not wrong to ask yourself that question.
As a woman, bad people may target you because they find you as more vulnerable, especially if you’re alone. That doesn’t mean that you will necessarily end up being a victim, but you shouldn’t rule it out either, because you never know.
- How to avoid crime as a solo woman traveler in Lebanon?
The first thing you may want to know as a solo female traveler is the dress code, because certain countries don’t allow any clothing style. You don’t want to reveal too much skin unless you know it’s allowed and not viewed as a bad thing.
Lebanon is a mix of religions and cultures, so it doesn’t mean you have to hold yourself to the traditional Middle Eastern clothing. There are women wearing simple clothes such as jeans, sleeveless or short-sleeved tops and even skirts in some occasions. The latter isn’t so common, though, but it isn’t considered a crime either.
Furthermore, unless in a more liberal area or at events, there are women displaying a little bit of cleavage, so you could wear a shirt designed like that – but don’t go overboard.
Although you don’t have to cover every inch of skin, you must still have some decency in the way you dress, so you could wear the casual jeans combined with shirts. Dressing inappropriately may draw some unwanted attention to yourself, and you’re most likely not feeding on it.
If anything, when it comes to safety, you should be careful while walking alone in certain areas, because your bag may get snatched, or you may be robbed. If possible, find some other tourists and spend some time with them, and if not, take some safety precautions. This includes not going alone to bars, leaving your drink alone or wandering the streets at night. Lebanon may not be the big bad wolf when it comes to safety for women, but it doesn’t mean you should let your guard down either.
Rape Risk in Lebanon: LOW to MEDIUM
If we are to look at the statistics concerning this matter, we notice that, over an eight year course, the rape rate of Lebanon has been both increasing and decreasing - in 2008, there were around 2.5 cases per 100,000 population; in 2012, there were around 3.7 cases and then, in 2014, the rate dropped to 3.0, only to increase to 3.3 in 2015.
As for today, we can only assume that the rate is either the same or that it has increased - still, there are little to no reports of rape incidents and such. However, keep in mind that we talked about taxi drivers that are known to harass and abuse their passengers.
In this respect, you should always keep an eye out for anything that might seem out of place.
- How to avoid getting raped in Lebanon?
As this type of cases usually occurs in remote or enclosed areas, we really recommend you to travel within a group - even when getting in a cab, you should have someone else in it with you. For example, you could have your tour guide to escort you, so to say, to your accommodation.
In short, you should not be alone in the presence of the locals, especially if you plan to travel to remote areas or take the public transport.
Risks for People Traveling with Children in Lebanon: LOW to MEDIUM
When it comes to having children with you while traveling through Lebanon, you don't have to worry about that much. Naturally, you will care for your children and monitor their movements so that they don't go too far away from you or sorts.
Obviously, this will be much harder if you are traveling alone - which is why we recommend you to have at least one another person accompanying you. Keep in mind that Lebanon might be crowded with tourists and that the little ones can get lost within a crowd quite easily.
- How to avoid unwanted scenarios?
As mentioned before, you should keep them under surveillance if you don't want something to go wrong - the last thing you want to do in Lebanon is looking for your children in a mixture of locals and tourists.
In this respect, you should keep an eye on them at all times and never let them go too far away from you - don't worry, you can still explore and discover Lebanon while traveling with your children, you just have to be a little bit more careful, as you have more than your life, so to say, in your hands.
Natural Disasters Risks in Lebanon: LOW to MEDIUM
Lebanon is an active earthquake zone, thus you can expect earth tremors to happen at one point. Even though it doesn’t mean you’ll most likely shake with the ground, you need to inform yourself about what to do if such an incident unfolds, and you’re caught in it.
There is no recent major event that involves earthquakes, but you should still inform yourself about past events and find out how to stay safe in the worst case scenario.
Transportation Risks in Lebanon: MEDIUM
Asking yourself “Is Lebanon safe to visit regarding road travel?” is not wrong considering traffic accidents are something you hear about on a daily basis. Whereas you are pretty much aware of the situation in your country, it’s hard to grasp the situation in a country you’re not spending time in every day.
If you want to drive, you need an International Driving Permit certified by the Lebanese authorities when you arrive. You could also use a Temporary Local License to drive in Lebanon. However, these are more expensive and time consuming compared to an International Driving Permit.
So, if you end up driving, be careful, because the driving standards are not the best ones. You must first remember to wear a seat belt, of course, as a safety precaution. Stay alert in traffic and while respecting the driving rules, make sure you also keep an eye on the other drivers, in case something bad is about to happen.
Sometimes, you will have to stop at check points to show your papers, so be ready to show your ID. Always ensure that you have it at all times.
Driving after dark can increase the risk of accidents due to the traffic lights which are poorly lit. If you must do it, be careful and stay vigilant.
Night-Clubs, Pubs, and Bar Risks in Lebanon: LOW
At the moment, there are no reports telling of incidents occurring in night-clubs, pubs, and bars - the use of spiked drinks has not yet been reported and, thus, the only thing you have to worry about is the casual drunkard that might cause a ruckus or the locals harassing you for being an outsider, which is not that likely to happen.
Obviously, you still have to look out for your drink - even though not reported, spiked drinks might be used to make it easier for villains to rob or even assault tourists. As always, you should not accept drinks from strangers and keep an eye on your drink at all times.
Other than that, we recommend you to leave the area if the situation turns violent - even if it's a small brawl between locals, you should not stick around as the situation might escalate. In short, act like you would in any other night-club, pub, or bar - just a bit of common sense and the basic precautionary measures.
Health Risks in Lebanon
In terms of medical treatment, the medical facilities of Lebanon are usually well equipped - however, certain treatments might be quite expensive. Still, reports show that the doctors residing in Lebanon are well qualified, the only issue being the nursing standards, which may vary, depending on the location you are being treated in.
Naturally, it is recommended that you come equipped with proper travel health insurance and with enough funds to cover any medicine/ treatment that you might need while traveling through Lebanon.
Other than that, there are no dangerous diseases that you could contract - thus, only the basic vaccines are recommended, as you will see in the list below. The emergency medical assistance number for Lebanon is 112.
List of Vaccines You May Need in Lebanon
As a rule of thumb, you should visit your doctor before you step on the soil in Lebanon, because you may find out some vaccines are required to keep you safe from viruses. Depending on the situation, the vaccines could include:
- Routine vaccines
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
Most Dangerous Areas in Lebanon
- Ain al-Hilweh
- Al Kabir River
- Syria Street
Concluding Remarks: Is Lebanon Safe to Visit?
Lebanon could be a perfect vacation spot if you consider it. There are gorgeous landscapes and it has delicious food. If you’re concerned about safety, this Lebanon safety guide has shown you what the situation could be in the country. Terrorist attacks are a possibility as well as kidnappings and earthquakes. For women, the situation is relatively safe, and crimes could take place, including robberies and car muggings.
Still, that doesn’t mean the country will most likely be the worst thing to happen. With these Lebanon safety travel tips, you should know whether visiting is a good idea or not.