Traveling to Kuwait for the First Time

Kuwait is an Arab country located in the Persian Gulf. Kuwait neighbors Saudi Arabia and Iran, and it is understandable if it may not make it on your list of top holiday destinations. But you should know the country has a lot to offer when it comes to tourism. Rich culture, museums, stunning architecture and beautiful beaches, a trip to Kuwait will be worthwhile.

If you’re thinking about traveling to Kuwait or planning your trip right now, this article will help you find the best places to visit, the best foods to try, how to dress in Kuwait and more.

Key Facts about Kuwait

  • This Middle East country is one of the smallest in the world — it covers only 17,818 km² meaning it is slightly smaller than New Jersey!

  • Kuwait has a population of 4.2 million people and 70% of these are expatriates.

  • Most Kuwaitis are Muslim and the country's capital is Kuwait City.

  • The currency of Kuwait is the Kuwaiti dinar.

  • With an oil-based economy, Kuwait is ranked as the fourth wealthiest nation in the world by the World Bank.

Do You Need a Visa to Enter Kuwait?

Entry requirements for Kuwait include a valid passport and a Kuwait visa.  Despite what you might see in the news about the Middle East Kuwait is a safe destination. After its war with Iraq that ended in 1991, the country has remained peaceful so you have nothing to worry about.

Best Places to Visit While in Kuwait

A trip to Kuwait would not be complete without a visit to the following locations.

Kuwait Towers

When you’re on top of this towers you may be able to see the whole of Kuwait on a clear day. Built in the late 70’s the Kuwait towers are a major tourist attraction.  Magnificently built the attraction has two large towers and a small one. Within the towers are cafes and restaurant serving Arabian cuisine which you can enjoy as you have a 360-degree view of Kuwait. The Kuwait Towers are located in Kuwait city and should be your first stop when you start sightseeing.

The Grand Mosque

This is the largest mosque in Kuwait with a capacity of 10,000 people. Ranked among the top 5 places to visit in Kuwait by TripAdvisor the Grand Mosque has daily tours for visitors. While at the mosque you will marvel at its architecture and learn more about Muslim teachings.

If you plan to visit the mosque in Kuwait City you need to be dressed conservatively preferably in loose clothing.

Failaka Island

The Failaka Island was once inhabited but it was deserted after the Iraqi invasion into Kuwait in the ’90s. The island attracts lots of tourists who are eager to see what was left after a war that caused major destruction of homes, schools, hospitals, and offices. Failaka Island also has some archaeological sites that date back to the Bronze Age.

To get the island which is 20 kilometers east of Kuwait City you can use a private boat or ferry.  If you travel by private boat you’ll pay 15 Kuwaiti dinars and arrive at the destination in 40 minutes. By ferry, it will take longer, about 90 minutes and you will be charged 5 Kuwaiti dinars.

Visit the desert

Kuwait is in a desert area and one of the adventures to try out while in the country is camping in the Kuwait desert. A local guide can organize this for you. Camping will involve you being taken deep into the sandy desert where there is no sign of civilization to spend a night, which should be interesting.

Camel racing sport

When you’re back from the desert you can head over to the Kuwait Camel Club in Kabd to see camels race. Unlike horse racing where a jockey rides the horse, the camels are guided by a robot. The robot is mounted on the back of the camel and a trainer barks instructions through the robot jockeys. Camels can compete at speeds up to 60km/h and you can place a bet to try your luck.

House of Mirror

This house shows creativity at its best. Owned by Italian artist Lidia al-Qattan the House of Mirror is decorated with thousands of mirrors covering the entire building. When you visit the house you will be dazzled by what you can do with mirrors. Tours of the House of Mirrors must be booked in advance.

Beaches

Kuwait has a magnificent coastline where you can relax after a day of touring the country. While at the beach you can sunbathe, take a walk while enjoying the cool sea breeze, engage in water sports etc.

They are many beaches in Kuwait but if you want to interact with the people Al Kout is the place to be, the beach is a favorite for locals. Other beaches you can visit include the Hilton Kuwait Resort, Al Corniche Club, Messila beach, Aqua Park, and the Regency hotel.

There are a lot more places to visit while in Kuwait.  A talk of with the locals or with your guide will give you an idea of the best places to visit in Kuwait.

Important Information to Keep in Mind when Traveling to Kuwait

Kuwait is a Muslim country so while there you have to follow their Islamic customs and laws.

In particular, if you are a woman you should be careful how you dress so that you don’t offend the locals. Wearing, shorts, tight or revealing clothes, bikinis may cause you to bring unwelcome attention to yourself. Unlike other Arab countries however you will not be required to cover your hair.

Alcohol, narcotics, pork products, pornography are not allowed in Kuwait. If you’re found to be in possession of any of these things you could be jailed for 5-10 years or sentenced to death.

If you travel during the holy month of Ramadan it is illegal to eat, drink, smoke, or chew gum in public. If found doing so you can be fined or imprisoned.

You should avoid intimate acts while in public as this is frowned upon and could land you in trouble. Homosexuality is punishable by law and men and women who aren’t married are not allowed to cohabit with each other.

The best time to travel to Kuwait is during spring which is between March and May, autumn which starts in September through to October and during winter.  During these times the temperatures are mild and there is some rain. Traveling during summer will not be ideal as temperatures are so high and humid that you’ll end up spending most of the time indoors.

Final Thoughts

Given its size, you can see Kuwait in two to three days. If you have the necessary travel documents and respect their culture you should have no problems. Accommodation should cost you anything from US$100 to US$450.

For food, you can try out their cuisine which is an infusion of Arabian, Persian, Indian, and Mediterranean cuisines from about US$20.A popular Kuwaiti meal is machboos, a rice-based specialty prepared with basmati rice seasoned with spices, and chicken or mutton. Desserts mostly include dates as the primary ingredient, like date rolls, dates with sesame seeds etc. Make sure you try these meals.

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