After 25 years living in the GCC and more than 2 years of traveling, I finally made a trip to a neighboring country; Bahrain.
Many GCC residents have not been to Bahrain simply because it is presumed to be on the expensive side or not worth visiting.
I’m going to bust those assumptions based on my wonderful experience.
Expensive you say? Check out how you can cut cost while exploring Bahrain.
How to get there:
Do you reside on the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia? Only 120 SAR for a round trip to Manama using SAPTCO bus! That’s a meal for two in an average restaurant.
Other parts of Saudi? Book a ticket from your city to Dammam and hop on SAPTCO bus from Dammam to Manama.
The journey is very comfortable, spacious reclining seats and it is mostly empty. It takes about 3 hours or less to or from Dammam and an hour and a half to Khobar.
398 SAR/106 USD roundtrip JED-DMM-JED with Flynas.
120 SAR /31USD roundtrip DMM-BAH-DMM with SAPTCO Bus. Total: 518 SAR/137 USD
Where to stay:
Desert or the beach? or an island? You pick and pitch your tent! Or simply have a blanket to keep yourself warm.
Why would you stay in a 5 star hotel while you can sleep under thousands of stars for free!
I’ve been told by locals that camping is allowed only during camping season but I camped during off-season and did not face any issue!
I camped by Tree of Life and on Al Dar Island. FOR FREE!
The latter was free only because no one saw me sleep on the empty side of the island while the staff were doing a head count after the last boat had left the island.
It costs 20 BD to spend a night on the island where you will be given a hut that can be split with up to 4 people.
An instagram user @bahraincamping suggested other free beach to camp such as Zallaq beach which I have not tried.
Here is the website of the Southern Governorate of Bahrain who is responsible for camping activities. Unfortunately, the website is only in Arabic.
The below map shows the designated camping areas.
Blue: Public Campsite
Green: Family Campsite
Yellow: Corporate Area
Dark Blue: Entertainment Area
Red: Commercial Area
What to eat:
Here are some local eateries or traditional Bahraini restaurants that are wallet friendly.
I noticed many of the dishes are influenced by other countries. These are due to it’s strategic position in the Persian Gulf where traders from different civilisations passed by.
I saw influences from Africa, India and British. Bahrain is known to be multicultural.
Freej bin Rashdan – The food is inexplicably great with a traditional setting. The service was supersonic fast and the portion is quite large for one person.
I ordered lamb Machboosh and Shrimp Momawash. They were full of flavor! The main dish is about 3 BD / 7.95 USD.
Saffron by Jena – A must go place for breakfast! It is situated in the narrow alleyways of Muharraq Souq.
They offer a set menu of traditional Bahraini breakfast which gives you a chance to taste a variety of dishes at once.
The set costs 7BD/18.5USD and good for two to three people. The quality of the food is great.
The breakfast set menu consists of balaleet. eggs with tomatoes, foul, potatoes, baked beans, chickpeas, zanzibari, kabab rolls and nawashef. It has a combination of a sweet and savoury dish which makes it a perfect combo.
Emmawash – Great ambience, very popular among locals but the meals didn’t cut it for me. I would say it’s mainly because I ordered the wrong dishes. 😀 I saw the orders for other tables and they looked mouthwatering!
The waiter recommended Nawashef and I thought it was fish curry. Turns out it’s a triangle flatbread with fish flavored powder and spices which had a really unique and strong taste. It was too strong for my taste bud.
The balaleet were alright and so was the egg. The only dish I enjoyed was the bread with nutella 😀
Emmawash was the cheapest restaurant I tried with about 1.5 BD/4USD per dish.
I passed by a newly opened local eatery as shown in the photo after leaving Saffron by Jena, it seems really authentic and affordable. Give it a try! I would definitely visit the restaurant whenever I’m in Bahrain.
What do do:
1. Find a Bahraini Traditional House – This is not easy to find as most of them have been demolished and modernized. I visited 3 traditional houses by Bani Jamra village.
2. Explore every inch of Bahrain. It would only take an entire day!
3. Textile Weave: Don’t miss out on the last traditional textile weaving in Bahrain. It is located in Bani Jamra.
4. Island Hopping: Bahrain has several man-made islands that you could visit.
5. Sweet Tasting: Have an endless sweet tasting for free! Grab a spoon, pour yourself some Arabic coffee and Bon Appetite!
6. Climb the highest mountain in Bahrain: Jebel Dukhan is more like a hill with a height of 130m above sea level.
7. Tree of Life: The tree of life is the only lush green thing you will see in the deserted area. It is more than 400 years old and still growing healthily despite the extreme weather and location.
8. Visit the Bahrain Fort: The size of the fort as you drive by might look small but once you enter, it’s actually quite large. I would recommend exploring the area on a cooler weather.
It costs 2 BD/5USD for entry and audio guide. The ticket comes with a nice postcard too!
9. Bahrain National Museum – It costs only 1 BD to enter this beautiful museum where you can find everything related to Bahrain’s history in one spot.
10. Souq – Visit the bustling Manama Souq and Muharraq Souq.
Muharraq Souq is popular for its traditional sweets. The sweet shop I mentioned above is located in Muharraq.
Still think it is not worth a visit or expensive?!
Let me put it this way, 3 Days and 2 Nights in Bahrain is equivalent to a weekend on the beach and 2 meals for 2 people in Jeddah. Why not spend it on a new adventure and experience? 😀
I spent about 800 SAR/213 USD all inclusive!