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THE BACKPACKSTERS

Transiting through Bahrain, the island kingdom of the Middle East

It was only after we booked ourselves on a Cairo-Bangalore flight that had a 14+ hour transit in Bahrain, did we actually think about visiting the Island Kingdom! And here's what you can explore in the country:

 

 

The Al Fateh Grand Mosque

 

 

 

Al Fateh Grand Mosque:

The largest mosque in the country (accommodating 7,000 worshippers) is also considered one of the largest in the world! 

The mosque was built in recent times and is an icon of the kingdom for the sheer beauty it displays. They have regular tours inside the mosque, conducted by guides and it is free. Expect to spend an hour inside learning about the religion and its evolution in Bahrain.

 

 

Inside the Grand Mosque

 

 

Amwaj Islands:

These islands were built by reclaiming land from the sea - wow! Today, besides having man-made beaches with turquoise water, these islands have also turned into real estate havens, with many uber-luxurious properties being built. Of course, most of these beaches turn into party zones in the evenings and on weekends (but keep in mind, that the country is still Arab, but not as conservative as its neighbors) and entry comes at a fee.

 

 

That water is crystal clear!

 

 

More places to see:

1. Qal'at Al Bahrain: A Portuguese forst built in the 1500s stands strong today as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is only a few kilometres away from Manama, the capital city of the Kingdom. Expect to spend one hour there (entry fees apply)

2. Bahrain National Museum: The region has been inhabited for many millennia and this museum is the best place to learn about the cultures and traditions of the Arab people! 

3. Arad Fort: One of the most famous Islamic Forts that withstood the test of time. If you have never visited an Islamic Crusader's Castle, this is one to start with. It's only 4 kms away from the airport and can be visited in an hour!

4. The Tree of Life: A solitary life form that has survived for over four hundred years in an otherwise scorching uncultivable desert-land! It is revered as a miracle even today and the mystery around how it extracts water from its surroundings is still unknown!

 

 

Bahrain has a sizeable Asian community - you'll interact with them everywhere!

 

 

How to get around Bahrain:

  • Uber and Careem (taxi apps) are your best options - use it to get the price advantage since short distances can cost between BHD 1 to 4 (INR 190 to INR 750)
  • A more expensive option is to hire a car from the hotel to sight-see (or ask the Bellhop to find a driver for cheaper); expect to pay BHD 30 (INR 5,600) for a half day tour of the city
  • Public transport is almost non-existent but there are a few routes covered by the city bus and shared/coach tours are available - so if you have time, use this option - check at the airport information counter/hotel reception!

 

 

Driving around the city presents sights from beautiful Beaches to towering Skyscrapers

 

 

Where to stay in Bahrain:

  • Stay in Manama - thats where the hotels are mostly located.
  • We used a stope-over package by Gulf-Air while transiting through the Kingdom on an Egypt-India flight:
    • These stopover packages are generally free if you're flying premium economy or above
    • In case you have opted for a basic/discounted economy ticket, expect to pay about USD 55 per passenger for a less-than-24-hours itinerary (these prices are revised regularly - see the useful links section below)
    • The package includes 3 or 4 star hotel accommodation (we stayed at The Golden Tulip), transfers from/to the airport as per your flight itinerary, meals for the duration that you're staying (at the same hotel) and the visa-stamping (on arrival, if layover is within 24 hours)
    • Bear in mind, that the Airline's staff are quite inefficient to interact with, at the airport - so ensure that your Stopover package is confirmed before hand on email (you get the correspondence once you opt for it on the website/call the Airline's international helpline)

 

 

Hazy afternoons at the Amwaj encircle

 

 

More about traveling through Bahrain:

  • Bahrain is very expensive to travel through (unless someone is hosting you) and can easily burn a hole in your pockets
  • Its best to take advantage of these Stopover packages to visit Bahrain - also, there isn't much to really explore in the kingdom over multiple days
    Its ideal for an under 48-hour turnaround, unless you are visiting the Kingdom for the F1 Grand Prix (which is actually one of the very few reasons why Bahrain issues a tourist visa.
  • Many European cruise ships dock at the Bahraini port for a day-stop
  • For travellers from South Asia, you won't be surprised at how many Indians, Bangladeshis, Sri Lankans, Afghans, Nepalis work here.
    Hindi and Urdu are abundantly spoken!
  • At the time of writing this, the Bahraini Dinar (BHD) is worth about INR 190 or USD 2.65. 
  • If you want to shop for snacks, dine out at the smaller cafes, expect to spend between BHD 3 to 5 per person.

 

 

Useful links:

 

 

 

If you have any questions, you know what to do - we're always here to help!

 

 

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