Beirut Warnings and Dangers
As the capital of and largest city in Lebanon, Beirut is a culturally diverse Mediterranean metropolis, and with friendly people, a thriving nightlife, and historical landmarks reminiscent of a less peaceful time, there is a lot to take in and enjoy. To have a safe and pleasant trip, there are warnings and dangers to consider when visiting Beirut.
Security, Navigating the Streets
It is hard to escape the overwhelming feeling of nervousness about security that pervades Beirut. Gun-toting security guards patrolling the streets is a familiar sight, especially downtown. Be careful to pay attention to the street blocks that are forbidden to cars or to parking.
Also, finding particular places in Beirut can be challenging. Streets are not clearly marked here, and those that are often times will just note the sector and street number and not necessarily the precise street name. If you’re heading out to a certain location, allow yourself a little extra “wandering-around” time to get to your destination.
Taking Pictures in Beirut
Although the people are warm and friendly, be careful when snapping your photos in Beirut. Taking pictures of military personnel and facilities is prohibited, and in Dahiyeh, a Shia Muslim suburb south of Beirut, Hezbollah can detain you for questioning if you’re seen with a camera. To be safe, keep your camera concealed in a purse, or better yet, just leave it behind at your hotel.
Appropriate Dress and Behavior
When going out, don’t dress down or you will feel out of place. Unless you are visiting the more traditional villages, there is no need to cover up any more than you would in Europe. It’s also important to be respectful of the culture, so men should refrain from talking to women when visiting the Shiite parts of the city.
Driving Around Beirut, Taxis
Really, the most dangerous part about Beirut by far is the traffic. Beirutis abide by their own rules when they take to the roads so this is definitely the place to implement your defensive driving skills. It’s not unusual for scooters to go the wrong way down a street, weaving in and out of the path of oncoming cars. At intersections, drivers push their way into oncoming traffic forcing their way through, and they don’t stop at stop signs. They simply flash their lights or honk and just keep moving.
Traffic lights don’t make the situation any less chaotic, because green and red seem to be mere suggestions. Before you go, be sure that your road is actually clear, and that there isn’t a policeman standing in front of you calling out to the traffic in the other lane to go through.
Taking a taxi is a very convenient way to navigate Beirut, but ask how much your trip will cost before you hop in because there are no meters.
Beggars Selling on the Street
Many children are recruited and controlled by bigger beggar mafia-type heads and put on the streets to beg. If you do want to help, offer a warm meal instead. And avoid buying anything off the streets. You can’t be sure what’s in the product or why they’re selling it in the first place.
Look Out For Landmines
There are still active landmines in Southern Lebanon, so use extreme caution if venturing beyond the UN buffer zone for a glimpse of the Beaufort Castle or Khiam prison.
Editor’s note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about warnings and dangers in Beirut.