Most routes around Lebanese towns and cities are covered by service, or shared, taxis, which are usually elderly Mercedes with red licence plates and a taxi sign on the roof. You can hail them at any point on their route and also get out wherever you wish by saying ‘anzil huun’ (drop me off here). Be sure to ask ‘servees?’ before getting in (if it’s an empty car), to ensure the driver doesn’t try to charge you a private taxi fare. Going rates are generally LBP1500 to LBP2000 for trips within a town, and LBP3000 to LBP10,000 for trips to outlying areas. Note that at the time of research, the embassies of foreign nations were advising their citizens not to use service taxis due to the threat of kidnapping and robbery.
If you want to engage a private taxi, make sure the driver understands exactly where you want to go and negotiate the fare clearly before you get in.
Reputable Beirut-based taxi companies that have English-speaking drivers and well-maintained cars include Comfort Taxi and Hamra-based Lebanon Taxi. Both charge around US$100 for a half-day hire and US$150 for a full-day hire.
Some towns, including Beirut, have privately owned buses that operate a hail-and-ride system. Fares are generally LBP1000 for intra-city destinations and LBP1500 for inter-town destinations.
Minibuses travel between Beirut and all of Lebanon’s major towns; the only route that has large, Pullman-style buses is Beirut–Tripoli. The best of the buses on that route are operated by Connexion and will drop passengers off at any point along the Beirut–Tripoli highway on request. There are three main bus pick-up and drop-off points in Beirut:
Charles Helou Bus Station
Cola Transport Hub
Dawra Transport Hub
Charles Helou is the only formal station and is divided into three signposted zones:
Zone A For buses to Syria.
Zone B For buses servicing Beirut (where the route starts or finishes at Charles Helou bus station).
Zone C For express buses to Jounieh, Byblos and Tripoli.
Zones A and C have ticket offices where you can buy tickets for your journey. In the other stations (Cola and Dawra transport hubs), ask any driver for your bus (if someone doesn’t find you first). Buses usually have a route number and the destination displayed in the front window, but this is usually in Arabic only. Government-run buses have red number plates and there are a number of independently owned microbuses that cover the same routes; note that the embassies of foreign countries recommend using the government-run buses only. You pay for your ticket on board, either at the start or end of the journey.