Its name is a byword for conflict but Lebanon, the original land of milk and honey, is a friendly, welcoming and culturally rich country with one slipper in the Arab world and one Jimmy Choo planted firmly in the West. It’s home to a bubbling-hot nightlife in Beirut, a notorious Hezbollah (Party of God) headquarters in backwater Baalbek, a fistful of flash ski resorts, and a dozen cramped and poverty-stricken Palestinian refugee camps.
Hike the Qadisha Valley and it’s hard to imagine that a conflict has ever existed here; wander past the pockmarked shell of Beirut’s Holiday Inn and you’ll wonder if there will ever be lasting peace. Lebanon is chaotic and fascinating – scarred by decades of civil war, invasions and terrorist attacks, yet blessed with serene mountain vistas, majestic ancient ruins and a people who are resilient, indomitable and renowned for their hospitality. Heed travel warnings but don’t miss the compelling and confusing wonders of Lebanon.