Department of Foreign Relations
Kurdistan Regional Government
SAT, 10 DEC 2016 17:34 Erbil, GMT +3
Sat, 10 Dec 2016 17:34:50

Tourism

Travel to the Kurdistan Region

With two international airports, unparalleled economic growth, and exceptional security and stability, it has never been more convenient, and there has never been a better time to travel to the Kurdistan Region.

Whether you are planning for an official delegation, a private business venture, or just for a holiday in a unique and ancient land, we hope that the following links and information will provide you with all that you need to know about traveling to the Kurdistan Region.

ASSISTANCE FOR JOURNALISTS AND BUSINESS TRAVELLERS

Journalists, delegations and travelers visiting for official or business purposes can contact the KRG for advice on arranging meetings and hiring drivers, fixers, interpreters and security. Please contact:

The KRG Department of Foreign Relations, Erbil: dfr@gov.krd
KRG Representation to the UK, London: uk@gov.krd
KRG Representation to the US, Washington DC: us@gov.krd

Overland travel and transportation:

TRAVEL & DISTANCE BETWEEN CITIES

Erbil to Suleimaniah - 170 km, approx. two hours drive
Erbil to Dohuk - 245 km, approx. three hours drive
Dohuk to Suleimaniah - 340 km, approx. five hours drive

OVERLAND ROUTE TO THE KURDISTAN REGION

Overland entry into the Kurdistan Region is possible through Turkey. The suggested route is to fly to Istanbul Ataturk Airport and then take a two-hour domestic flight to Diyarbakir. (Turkish visas can be obtained on arrival at Istanbul Airport. Baggage may have to be retrieved from the International Terminal and checked in at the Domestic Terminal.)

At Diyarbakir Airport taxis can be hired to drive to the Ibrahim Khalil/Habur border crossing point, Turkey’s border with the Kurdistan Region in Iraq. Many drivers do this journey frequently and are familiar with the route. It is advisable to settle the price beforehand, a guide price is USD 150, and to check that the driver has the necessary paper work to take passengers over the border. Because of the journey time it is advisable to start the overland journey in the early morning, staying overnight in Diyarbakir if necessary.

After crossing the border at Ibrahim Khalil, another taxi can take you to your destination in the Kurdistan Region. The approximate journey time from Diyarbakir to the border is 4 hours; then from the border to Dohuk is 1.5 hours; to Erbil 4 hours; and to Suleimaniah 6 hours. There are alternative routes via Iran and Syria but these are less frequently travelled.

TRANSPORTATION

Travel by car in the Kurdistan Region is very simple and generally safe.  Private cars and drivers are available, but they can often be quite expensive.   Taxis are a far more economical option, and they are readily available on most major roads in all the cities.  A ride to or from almost anywhere in the cities normally costs somewhere between 3-5,000 ID, and you can catch a seat in a shared taxi between any of the major cities for 10-25,000 ID depending on the distance—just ask a city taxi driver “garajee + the name of city/town where you want to go”.*

There are generally two types of taxis in the cities.  Some are painted orange and white, while others are painted a light tan colour.  The light tan taxis are driven by government vetted drivers, and they are considered to be safest—these cars are usually newer and cleaner also.

*For example: if you are in Suleimaniah and you want to go to Erbil (Hawler), say “Garajee Hawler.”  For the reverse trip you would say, “Garajee Suleimaniah.”

General information

TIME DIFFERENCE

The Kurdistan Region and the rest of Iraq are +3 hours ahead of Greenwich Meantime (GMT).

CURRENCY

The local currency is the Iraqi Dinar. US Dollars are also widely used. Exchange rates as of 3 May 2011:
1 US Dollar = 1,290 Iraqi Dinars

Please be aware that there are currently very few ATM machines or credit card facilities. Cash is the only method of payment in the vast majority of shops, hotels and restaurants. Ensure you take enough with you in US dollars or Iraqi dinars for all your expenses including the hotel bill. Exchange facilities are available at the airport, international hotels and exchange shops in the bazaars.

INTERNET CONNECTIONS

Internet connections are available in many hotels and some private internet cafes, though not all connections are broadband speed.

ELECTRICAL APPLIANCES

Note: Voltage is 220v. Both UK three-pronged and European two-pronged plugs are in use. Visitors are advised to take a universal adapter with them.  However, adapters can be purchased in small electrical shops in the bazaars of towns and cities.

MOBILE PHONES

Asiacell, Korek, the Kurdistan Region’s largest mobile phone service operators, have roaming agreements with several foreign operators, including European, US and UK companies. If you wish to use your mobile locally please check with your mobile phone service operator whether it has a roaming agreement with Asiacell or Korek.

Rather than using your home mobile SIM card, it may be cheaper to buy a local SIM card which can be purchased in some hotels and shops—especially in the bazaars. Top-up payment cards for local SIMs are widely available in hotels and shops.

POSTAL AND FREIGHT SERVICES

Letters and packages can be sent by normal post from the Kurdistan Region abroad, but at present they cannot be sent from abroad to the Kurdistan Region. Fedex and DHL offer air freight services to and from Kurdistan, please contact them for details.
The post office in Erbil is near the Citadel, close to the old court building. Please ask for directions. The Arabic word for post, which is also used in Kurdish, is ‘bareed’.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Satellite television with CNN and BBC World is available in most hotels. The main regional English-language newspapers are the Kurdish Globe and Rudaw.

TRANSPORTATION

Travel by car in the Kurdistan Region is very simple and generally safe.  Private cars and drivers are available, but they can often be quite expensive.   Taxis are a far more economical option, and they are readily available on most major roads in all the cities.  A ride to or from almost anywhere in the cities normally costs somewhere between 3-5,000 ID, and you can catch a seat in a shared taxi between any of the major cities for 10-25,000 ID depending on the distance—just ask a city taxi driver “garajee + the name of city/town where you want to go”.*

There are generally two types of taxis in the cities.  Some are painted orange and white, while others are painted a light tan colour.  The light tan taxis are driven by government vetted drivers, and they are considered to be safest—these cars are usually newer and cleaner also.

FOOD AND DRINK

Kurdish cuisine is based on lamb, chicken, rice and bread, and the use of many fresh herbs and vegetables. Fish served in restaurants is often barbecued over an open fire to make a traditional Iraqi dish called mazgouf. Fresh fruit or paklava, a Middle Eastern flaky pastry and nut dessert, is usually served after the main course. While many types of fruit and vegetables are available throughout the year, seasonal and local products, such as wild asparagus, native rhubarb, green almonds and buffalo yoghurt, are highly prized and enjoyed. Black tea with sugar is the most popular beverage both inside and outside the home. Drinking alcohol in moderation is acceptable in some restaurants and hotels. Drunken and loud behaviour is frowned upon.

NATIONAL HOLIDAYS

A list of national holidays and important dates is available here:

KURDISH PHRASES

There are two dialects of Kurdish spoken in the Kurdistan Region in Iraq: Kurmanji, spoken mainly in Dohuk, and Sorani, spoken in Erbil and Suleimaniah.
English Kurdish
How are you? Choni?
Good morning Bayani Bash
Good afternoon Ewara Bash
Good night Shaw Bash
Good day Roj Bash
Welcome Bakher Beyt
How much is this? Ama ba chanda?
Yes Bale
No Na
Please Bey-zahmet/T’kaya
You’re welcome Shayani niya
Mr Ahmed Kak Ahmed (honorific term for men)
Miss/Mrs Sayran Sayran Khan (honorific term for women)
With pleasure Sar chaw
Excuse me Ba yarmateet
Do you speak English Inglizi ezani?
I don’t speak Kurdish Kurdi nazanm
Tea without sugar! Chai bey shakr


*For example: if you are in Suleimaniah and you want to go to Erbil (Hawler), say “Garajee Hawler.”  For the reverse trip you would say, “Garajee Suleimaniah.”


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