Bugwriter Iku enjoying Sana’a, north Yemen
Why Yemen travel?
Since a confused civil war broke out in early 2015 Yemen is not a safe vacation destination.
For up-to-date terrorist/war zone information check the Foreign Office (FO) world travel safety site (Yes, Americans too! )
This is how we saw Yemen when we visited about 15 years ago:
This is an amazing, nearly medieval arab society, complete with well-armed men, veiled women, arid landscapes and extraordinary fortified mud houses. Play the game and the people – like most desert folk – are friendly and hospitable, but don’t tread on their toes.
Best time to go there
Best weather: March-May, September, October
Worst: November-January (cold & dusty)
During Ramadan most, if not all Muslims will neither eat nor drink during the daytime and consequently many cafes, restaurants and even shops may open only after sunset; public eating, drinking and smoking by tourists may upset the locals. In one Muslim country the only alcohol served to us during our visit was from a teapot into tea cups in a first class hotel.
Furthermore service personnel may be missing, careless or irritable during the daytime.
Ramadan starts 6 May 2019 and runs to 4 June. 2020 from 24 April to 23 May.
Dates depend on the full moon rising in your location so they may differ by one day depending on where you plan to be.
*** Sana’aalone is worth a trip, a magical trip back in time with staggering sights galore, 400 year old tall mud fortified houses with lovely whitewashed features. Aladdin could be filmed here without changing anything.
*** Medieval fortified villages like Wadi Dhar (incl. Palace), Thulla, Shibam, Huth, At-Tawila. Take a taxi.
Longer trips by 4×4 are rough but rewarding, such as Sa’da and especially Suq al Inan, though recently these areas have seen a spate of tourist kidnappings.
*** Wadi Hadramaut‘Manhattan in the Desert’ (also known as Shibam) in South Yemen is stunning, a photographic dream, if you can afford the time to drive or the plane fare.
Aden in South Yemen is a tatty, hideous, ex-Stalin apartment block mess, don’t bother withit, though there are some good beach apartments.
Ma’rib (Sheba) is barely worth the trip too, a long way to see a couple of pillars sticking out of the sand.
Trekking: There are lots of walk possibilities but none out of town will be properly marked. Also bear in mind that it will be very hot and dusty so you’ll have to carry plenty of water.
Some popular routes are Beni Husheich and Wadi Mahdi.
Drugs: Chewing coca-like qat with the locals will give you an interesting buzz and will encourage rapid, incomprehensible communication.
The local currency is the riyal and it’s best to bring cash to exchange. Dollars or European currencies are equally good.
ATMs are rare and malfunction anyway, so credit cards and cheques can be difficult to use in Yemen.
Tipping is unnecessary, though do carefully negotiate taxi charges beforehand, especially if it’s a long trip. e. g out of Sana’a.