Syria — Travel Tips
The official language in the country is Arabic which is spoken nation-wide. It is in the best interest of travelers to learn a few basics of the language as a few simple words can often go a long way. Many people speak English, especially those working in the business and tourism industries. French is also spoken in certain areas but is not prolific.
The unit of national currency is the Syrian pound, which is divided into 100 piastres. Currency exchanges can only be made at the state-owned Commercial Bank of Syria which can be found in almost every major town in the country. While exchanging foreign currency is quite easy, it is often difficult to exchange Syrian pounds for US dollars, euro and British pounds. ATMs can be found in all major cities around banking centers and near large hotels. While more and more establishments are accepting credit cards, this is not the norm. Large hotels and restaurants are quite reliable in this regard, but travelers should make sure to keep enough cash on them just in case.
Syria is on Eastern European Time which is GMT +2.
The country uses electricity at 220V/50Hz and uses European plug outlets.
The international dialing code is +963 and the area code for Damascus, the capital city, is +11. International roaming agreements exist with many countries world wide but travelers should double check with their personal service provider if such services exist before entering the country. There are, however, also a few local service providers that are quite reliable and charge good rates. These include MTN Syria and Syriatel. Local SIM cards and handsets are available from most local stores and from airports. There is good internet access in the country with more and more establishments offering wireless services. There are also many internet cafes in the major cities but travelers would do well to confirm the hourly rates before sitting down as these tend do differ quite drastically from café to café.
Duty-free regulations generally depend on the country into which the traveler is next entering. This information can be used as a general guideline but it is imperative that travelers double check the regulations to avoid any problems. Irrespective of age, travelers are permitted to carry: 200 cigarettes or 50 cigarillos or 25 cigars, or 250g of tobacco; 30g perfume for personal use; 570mL of spirits; 500mL of lotion and 500mL of eau de cologne; and gifts worth up to S£250.
Ministry of Tourism, Damascus: +963-11-221-0122 or www.syriatourism.org
Embassies in Syrian Arab Republic
British Embassy, Damascus: +963-11-332-3800
American Embassy, Damascus: +963-13-391-4444
Canadian Embassy, Damascus: +963-11-611-6692
German Embassy, Damascus: +963-11-332-3800
Chinese Embassy, Damascus: +963-11-333-9594
French Embassy, Damascus: +963-11-339-0200
Belgian Embassy, Damascus: +963-11-613-9993