Yemen Travel Guide
This information is not meant to encourage anyone to travel to Yemen (with the exception of Socotra Island) due to the current conflict.
Before you go: You must obtain a visa before you travel to Yemen. Apparently, visas are currently denied to individual travellers, so you will need the assistance of a local agency to secure your visa – this will be expensive if you do not use their services. I found ATMs to be a bit sparse, so bring cash with you when travelling through the country – Euros and US Dollars are probably the best. Yemen is a conservative country, so carry clothes that cover your arms and legs – this applies to both men and women. Women should wear a headscarf, which even by Yemeni standards would be considered modern as the overhwelming majority of women wear the face-covering niqab.
Accommodation: Because I only stayed in Sana’a and did not sleep in other places outside of the city, my experience is limited. There appears to be a wide variation on offer in Sana’a. It is far better to stay in Old Sana’a instead of the infinitely less charming new portion of the city. I chose the Dawood Hotel and found it to be excellent, though power was not always regular, but this is standard for the area. There are several other options in the Old City, some (such as the Burj al Salam) are more expensive than others. Check reviews on Tripadvisor for the different options that are currently available. Haggling on room prices is acceptable.
Food: I found the food to be of good quality overall, especially the breakfasts with traditional bread as its base. If away from the modern area of Sana’a, you are unlikely to find Western styled food options. Falafels and various other staple fares from the Arabian Peninsula, including some spicy Yemeni alternatives, are on offer.
Transport and Permits: You will be a bit restricted when travelling due to the need for you to obtain permits when leaving Sana’a. As such permits are required in advance, you will need to allow a day or more to obtain the necessary paperwork. It is likely that any transport you will undertake will be taken with either a privately hired taxi, tour car or by plane. It is also possible to travel on buses, but I have no direct experience of them so cannot comment on their quality.
Safety: Note: Due to the current conflict, I cannot recommend a visit to Yemen at this time, except for Socotra Island which continues to be a safe destination.
The situation is Yemen is volatile and security is patchy – with an irregular line between safe and potentially dangerous provinces. Yemen is considered universally dangerous by foreign governments, but people with local knowledge provide a different perspective.
Sana’a and the Haraz Mountains were safe for a long period of time, but with aerial bombings of Sana’a, even this area is now one with risk. Prior to 2015, there was a recent trend in kidnappings within central Sana’a that resulted in conflicting reports from seasoned travellers and expats living in Yemen whether it is safe to travel there. Even when the aerial bombings cease, these other concerns remain.
Travelling elsewhere in Yemen is problematic due to major highways passing through some dangerous provinces. Travelling outside of Sana’a require a permit to travel, and if an area is deemed too dangerous, then permits are not issued, which largely answers the safety question for you.
According to information from a local tour operator, the provinces of Al Bayad, Al Dala south of Sana’a are not recommended for travel, thus if wishing to visit Aden, one should either fly or take the longer coast road.
Abyan and Ma’rib provinces are also not considered safe for foreigners at the moment, so if one wants to travel towards the area of Wadi Hadramout the advice is to fly. However, recent news indicates that permits are not being given for travel to Hadramout, even when flying.
The regions to the far north of Sana’a, especially Sa’dah, have been subjected to kidnappings and executions for a while, and as such, should definitely not be visited. By comparison, Socotra has been a safe destination for a long time and continues to be so.
If you wish to visit Yemen, it is important to read the following information: