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Iraq

All my tips for Zakho, Dohuk, Alqosh, Lalish, Amedi, Akre, Erbil, Slemani and Halabja

Updated April 9, 2017
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  1. Free! "General Tips & Advice" in Iraq
    Kurdish is the official language of Iraqi Kurdistan, so it is well worth trying to learn a few phrases before you go. A lot of fuss is made of the various dialects (Kurmanji, Badinani, Sorani etc..) which are not mutually intelligible, and two dialec…
  2. Free! "General Tips & Advice" in Iraq
    **Note that this info might have changed since the events of 2014. The border was even closed to foreigners for a while** The main point of entry for tourists will probably be the Ibrahim Khalil crossing between Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan. Crossin…
  3. Free! "General Tips & Advice" in Iraq
    After the ease of entering from Turkey, I naively thought it would be the same in the opposite direction. In 2010, I got a taxi from Zaxo to the border, and was dropped off at the same taxi rank I first arrived at, where Turkish drivers touted for bu…
  4. Cheap "General Tips & Advice" in Iraq
    The best way to travel around Iraqi Kurdistan is by shared taxi. These wait at bus stations (known as Karaaj in Kurdish) for enough passengers, and once they are full, they set off. Unlike shared taxis in other parts of the Middle East where four pas…
  5. Cheap "Hotels & Accommodations" in Zakho, Iraq
    A good deal on Zakho's main street, just a few blocks from the big roundabout with a massive Kurdish flag in the middle, the Hotel Sham is a clean and friendly place to stay. My room was on the second floor, strangely decorated in black and white wit…
  6. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Zakho, Iraq
    Zakho's main attraction (some would say only attraction) is the stone bridge over the Habur River called Pira Delal. Nobody seems to know who built it or when, but it seems quite old, and not in too bad a condition. The river is pretty here, having c…
  7. Cheap "Hotels & Accommodations" in Dohuk, Iraq
    Continuing Dohuk/Dahuk/Duhok's spelling confusion is the Hotel Parlaman/Parleman/Perleman/Barlman. Located on a pedestrian street just off the main Kawa Street, the Hotel Parleman is the backpacker favourite here, thanks to Lonely Planet only includi…
  8. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Dohuk, Iraq
    I wish I was good at taking photos of people in markets, but I'm not, so all I can present here are some photos I snapped with my mobile. It's a real shame, because Dohuk's market is great...a central covered section around an old mosque, spreading o…
  9. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Dohuk, Iraq
    The Corniche could be so much better, and perhaps in summer it is. A corniche usually refers to a promenade along a seafront or a riverbank, but in Dohuk's case, it is a concrete walkway which snakes through the city centre all the way up to Dohuk Da…
  10. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Dohuk, Iraq
    From the waterfall, you can't fail to notice the huge dam at the top of the valley. Just in case you were about to miss it, the authorities have painted a massive Kurdistani flag on it. A couple of parks with restaurants lie below the dam, while the …
  11. Very cheap "Sights & Attractions" in Dohuk, Iraq
    The Corniche ends at a road that leads up to the Dohuk Dam and a popular park and waterfall. But just before you reach the waterfall, a ticket office offers the chance to pay 500 dinars and climb a set of stairs cut into the rock. A sign claims this …
  12. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Dohuk, Iraq
    Touristic signposts all over town point you towards the Azadi Panorama, but nobody seemed to know what on earth it was. I tried following the signs, but they didn't really lead me anywhere, so I gave up....until my taxi driver coming back from Amedi …
  13. Cheap "General Tips & Advice" in Dohuk, Iraq
    Shared taxis are the best way to travel around Iraqi Kurdistan, as they are more flexible than buses, leaving when they have enough passengers. In other countries, shared taxis aren't very comfortable, with passengers crammed in, often four in the ba…
  14. Cheap "Hotels & Accommodations" in Akre, Iraq
    Named after a local waterfall, the Sepal is a strange beast. They obviously aren't used to guests at all, and the teenage owner acts as if he doesn't want any anyway, but with no other functioning hotels in Akre, you don't really have much choice. …
  15. Very cheap "Hotels & Accommodations" in Erbil, Iraq
    Err...where to start? Far from being the "clean and friendly cheapie" offering "the best deal for the dinar" as stated in Lonely Planet, I had such a bad night's sleep here I checked out the following morning. My room was filthy and dark, no natural …
  16. Cheap "Hotels & Accommodations" in Erbil, Iraq
    2010: Leaving the nearby Hotel Qandil tired and in a bit of a bad mood, I assumed I'd find another hotel fairly quickly, as the bazaar area is flooded with cheap hotels. What I didn't expect was for them all to be full, as there happened to be a big …
  17. Cheap "Hotels & Accommodations" in Erbil, Iraq
    2010: Determined not to have to stay in either the Qandil or the Shahan on my return to Erbil, I gave a huge sigh of relief when the owner of the Bekhal Hotel told me he had a room available. Cleaning was in progress as I arrived, and these guys t…
  18. Very cheap "Hotels & Accommodations" in Erbil, Iraq
    2014: The Arabic name of this hotel made sense, Semiramis, named after the wife of King Nimrod of Assyria, but poor transliteration resulted in the English name being slightly odd, the Samira Miss. Despite the name, this turned out to be a good find …
  19. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Erbil, Iraq
    First stop on a sightseeing tour of Erbil should be the new fountain square in the heart of the bazaar, underneath the citadel. I don't know its official name, or even if it has one, but it seems to be the focal point of the city. Fountains play a hu…
  20. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Erbil, Iraq
    Wherever you are in Erbil, you can see the citadel...or so they say, as it is becoming quite tricky nowadays with all the high rise buildings springing up, but it is still partly true. Similar to Aleppo in Syria, Erbil's citadel stands on a raised mo…
  21. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Erbil, Iraq
    Just inside the main gate of the citadel, you'll first see a souvenir shop in a restored house. After perusing the dusty shelves of books and maps and coins, turn right and you'll see another restored mansion, this one housing the Kurdish Textile Mus…
  22. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Erbil, Iraq
    It seems only fitting that one of the oldest monuments in the world should be almost surrounded by one of the oldest markets in the world. The Qaysari Bazaar has been here for centuries, millennia perhaps, nobody really knows for sure...although it r…
  23. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Erbil, Iraq
    The Sheikh Chooli Minaret is marooned in modern Erbil, a lonely minaret at a tilt, the Erbilian equivalent to the leaning tower of Pisa. There used to be an old mosque here, but nobody can remember it any more, just that it is very old and rather pho…
  24. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Erbil, Iraq
    Another new park, this one seemed to draw all the crowds on Fridays, and there was barely room to swing a cat once inside the main gate. I've no idea what this is more popular than the others, as there isn't really anything overly special about it...…
  25. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Erbil, Iraq
    Just in case you're not all parked out, head further out into the suburbs towards the airport and eventually you'll hit the gigantic Martyr Sami Abdurrahman Park. It was a Friday when I visited, so crowds were beginning to gather, but it really didn'…
  26. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Erbil, Iraq
    Erbil and Iraqi Kurdistan has managed to escape the violence and chaos that has killed thousands in Arab-controlled Iraq, just a few dozen kilometres away, but that's not to say things have been peaceful all the time. In 2004, as people gathered to c…
  27. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Erbil, Iraq
    If you stand at the north gate of the citadel, you'll notice a huge mosque in the suburbs, a light brown/grey dome blending in with many of the other modern concrete blocks surrounding it. It doesn't look much from here, but up close, the Jalil Khaya…
  28. Very cheap "Sights & Attractions" in Erbil, Iraq
    In 2014, I heard about a new attraction in Erbil, in the Christian suburb to the north called Ainkawa. A taxi driver, shocked and delighted to have a foreign passenger in his cab, drove round and round the suburb asking for directions at every corner…
  29. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Erbil, Iraq
    After visiting the Syriac Heritage Museum, I decided to take a walk in the surrounding suburb of Ainkawa (sometimes transliterated as Ankawa or Enkawa), a predominantly Christian neighbourhood home to many churches and a large Assyrian community. Sin…
  30. Cheap "Hotels & Accommodations" in As Sulaymaniyah, Iraq
    Right in the centre of things, on a small square in the heart of the bazaar area, the Hotel Mawlawi can't really be beaten in terms of location. It's quite an old hotel, a bit faded and musty, but characterful and friendly. The owners were particular…
  31. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in As Sulaymaniyah, Iraq
    The "highlight" of any trip to Slemani ought to be this museum, housed in one of Saddam's old torture facilities known as Amna Suraka (Red Security). Since the Peshmerga (the Kurdish army) liberated the prison in the 1990s, not much has changed...the…
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