Replies: 16 - Last Post: May 14, 2013 3:18 PM Last Post By: Duspa
Jul 18, 2012 6:09 PM
Iraqi KurdistanMy plan is to arrive in Iraqi Kurdistan in 10 days, but I have some concerns and maybe some people who were there can help me:
1. I am holder of Bosnian passport (Bosnia & Herzegovina) so do I need visa to enter the country? Holders of Serbian and Croatia (neighboring countries) do not need visa but they are not in EU (still). I sent few msgs to embassies/representatives of Iraqi Kurdistan but I did not get an answer. If someone knows I will be really thankful :)
2. Is it possible to find a hostel or hotel in range of 10 - 15$ per night. It is two of us travelling and we do not spend that much time in hostel/hotel (and we are students). The most important is that they have an electricity ( for charging phones, camera etc).
3. The idea is to hitchhike to Dohuk and then take shared taxi from there to Erbil (Hawler). Did anyone tried that before? Is it ahard to hitchhike and how did you manage to pass border (because it is not possible to do it on your foot)? Idea is to hitchhike from Diyarbarkir to Iraqi Kurdistan border and then to hitchhike to Dohuk?
4. If we take a shared taxi or bus then it means they are passing near Mosul, but are we entering the arab part of Iraq (because we do not have visa for that part) or the taxi/bus is still driving in Kurdish part?
5. How much Iraqi SIM card costs and do people speak English (not all of them of course)? I was thinking to learn some basics in Kurdish (but not sure which dialect - Sorani or Kurmanji?
6. In Zakho there is really beautiful river and I saw some people jumping from the bridge, but is it OK to swim there (because I suppose it is gonna be really hot)?
If is there anything important to know I will be happy if you could let me know. :) Thanks a lot in advance.
Jul 18, 2012 11:44 PM
11. Don't know
2. The biggest power issues will be in Erbil. It is quite common to lose electricity. Nicer hotels will have a generator, but if you're looking to stay at cheap places, they might not. If they do, it will be an emergency generator, good enough to run lights, but that's about. If you try to recharge batteries, it could damage the device. This isn't even mentioning it's the middle of summer and no A/C will _SUCK_!!
It is extremely difficult to find a hotel for $10. $15 is possible, but will involve a lot of searching. If you are able to spend $10 or $15 each, then there are many more options.
3. Hitchhiking has been discussed a lot on this site. In Iraq, it is not a common practice. Anyone standing on the side of the ride looking for a ride is expected to pay for the ride. Being a "student" from Europe does not mean you're poor. After all, you're on holiday in a foreign country. To arrive in a war torn impoverished nation and expect locals to provide you with a charity ride is socially irresponsible. You should pay.
4. The road that passes by Mosul is Kurdish controlled. You do not need an Arab Iraqi visa to take it.
5. SIM cards have different prices depending on how 'desirable' the number is. Urban legend says that some guy paid $1,000,000 for a phone number. But if you're not that fussed, you can get one for $5. They're for sale everywhere.
If you plan on learning basic Kurdish, it won't really matter which dialect it is.
6. I have never seen anyone jumping from the Delal Bridge They jump off a similar looking bridge in Amedi if there's enough water.
Jul 19, 2012 12:48 AM
2You can take buss from Istanbul to Erbil or from dyarbakr( amad) to erbil so it is cheap and direct but sure u will miss some places on your road to see .
Around the citadel there is many hotels, try some of them to get a reasonable price.
SIM cards are available, in erbil korek is the most common among people so buy it with $ 4 or $ 5
Jul 19, 2012 6:56 AM
Thank you for answers :)
2. Maybe I did not express myself the best, but I was thinking to find a hotel/hostel in range of 10 - 15$ per person (not for both of us).
3. I asked you is it possible or not, not starting moralize here. I dont know where are you coming from, but I am from Bosnia (war stopped 17 years ago) and current unemployment is 40%. Also, one of the poorest country in Europe, so being a "student" from Bosnia is not same as being student from Norway, Switzerland etc. Also, I did not say I would hitchhike all the time, just the part around the border. At the end hitchhiking is not about money, it is more meeting peple and making your trip more interesting. It is wrong to think if you are from Europe that you are immidiatelly rich. Anyway, my social/financial status or anybody else is not a question here. I do not wanna discuss this question anymore. Thanks
5. It is ok :) I read somewhere that you need to pay 1000$, so 5$ is OK price :)
6. I think that is Delal bridge, but I`m not 100% sure. You can check if you write on youtube:
Unbelievable: swimming in waterfall by Kurdish kids in Iraqi Kurdistan. Very scary.
Thank you a lot :)
Jul 19, 2012 8:38 AM
Jul 19, 2012 12:27 PM
- $15 (20 000iqd) rooms you need to search hard for, might require some bargaining but is possible. Expect total s$%tholes. 25k ($19-20 is more realistic. Couchsurfing exists in all the cities. Erbil is very hard right now for cheap accommodation thanks to arab holidays, i looked at 15 hotels and 30 000iqd was the cheapest i got, with bargaining!! And it sucked.
- The sim card costs 4000iqd and you need your passport and like an hour of your time to complete the paperwork, Korek is the main operator I believe. Note that if you are using an unlocked phone, trying to use the original simcard in that phone will block it. As i discovered coming back to Turkey, my Turkish simcard now no longer works.
- I agree with Fluffy, if you hitchhike people will expect payment for long distances. Moral arguments aside, if you do try it, at least say where you want to go and what payment they expect. I hitchhiked a few times, once with a truck over the bridge at the border, and another time just a few kms into Helabja town from the museum. These times they didn't ask for money. But hitching 10km from the Iraqi border to Zakho, when I asked about money the guy just shrugged, and later asked for 25 lyra in town, indicating he went out his way for me. Taking shared taxis its easy to meet people, and most trips there'd be someone who spoke some level of english.
- Sorani is more widely spoken so learning this will help you. Numbers and a lot of vocab is the similar to persian (farsi), Getting by in english i found was easier than in Turkey, and it seems an english speaker is never too far away. Arabic is a good 2nd resort.
Dont know about the visa thing for Bosnians. Good luck!
Jul 19, 2012 8:35 PM
I didn`t understand the part with room and price. In Bosnia, Croatia etc when they say price they mean per person (so for example if they say 10€ room, it means 20€ for 2 person inside). So maybe in Iraqi Kurdistan is different and they say price of room (for example 30 000iqd which means if they are 2 person x 15000iqd). I hope I explained well, because I was thinking to find in range 10-15$ per person (not for both of us). I would be very thankful if you could explain me this part and reccomend some places in Dohuk and Erbil :D
Hmm. That part when my phone blocks does not sound awesome, because I will need to go back to Turkey. What is abour roaming or are there any places from where you can call someone? I was thinking to use CS to meet some people, but in Dohuk and Zakho I did not find anyone :(
I was thinking to hitchhike just shortly. Between bigger cities I will use shared taxies (i think 12,50$ between Dohuk and Erbil). Also, I read that after Iraqi border there is caffeteria where you can exchange money and ask about bus which goes to Dohuk (cheaper version than taxi but nobody wrote/said anything about that).
Still, thanks for help.
It looks really cool on video, but I did not read anyone of travellers writing anything about that. Probably I will need to skip that adventure. But still, thanks :)
Jul 20, 2012 12:06 AM
7Turkey has a special rule. In order to stop illegal import of foreign mobile phones, you have to register your phone in Turkey. If you do not do this within a certain period (i think it's 2 weeks) your phone gets blocked. It has nothing to do with inserting an Iraqi SIM card.
A shared taxi from the Zakho to Dohuk is 6,000/seat (if i remember correctly), although i'm sure the border guys will charge more.
Jul 20, 2012 12:27 PM
8Fluffy, I did register my sim card as soon as i bought it (the the tune of 25tl!), the guys at Turkcell said once a foreign sim card has been used within that phone, Turkcell blocks that sim card and phone from being used together again. As they demonstrated when my sim card worked in their phones.
Duspa, I did mean the price is per room, sorry. But like i said, you will need to search for these prices. For all places and especially Erbil, i suggest one of you sits with baggage in a cafe while the other goes looking, don't carry luggage in the intense heat looking at 15 different hotels as i did. Fluffy's blog has a good listing of hotels. My blog posted before this, has the places i stayed, but are not really recommendations. At least in Erbil, start with Qandeel, Zheen and Ali hotels, but they are all within a few blocks of each other. Dohuk I stayed at Shaeem palace hotel, which i got down to 20k. There are many, many places in the cities to check out.
Yeah, people will happily give you lifts for short distances, actually the two short lifts i got were offered to me. Stick to share taxis for longer runs. See my post for border crossing stuff, saves me from having to write it again :)
Jul 20, 2012 7:00 PM
9@ almondy 23
I read it now. Thanks. It seems there is a lot of bureaucracy involved when you are passing border. I will try to find something in range of 25-30k per room, but we will see :) The option when you take bus from Diyarbarkir to Erbil sounds doable (if there is one) but I am not sure about price.
Also, do you think/know is it possible to buy a postcard in Dohuk and to send it from there :)) I have this crazy thing that I am sending postcards to my home and collecting all places that I visited. It is really good memory later, but I am not sure if there is postal service in Dohuk. :)
I was researching and i found out that: Zakho - Dohuk (6000 - 7000 iqd) and Dohuk - Erbil ( 20k) and what is overall costs from Silopi to Zakho (and what part is actually hitchhikable).
Jul 20, 2012 10:55 PM
10There are at least 3 daily buses from Diyarbakir to Erbil (3 different companies) Since competition has gone up, prices have gone down. I believe it's as low as $30 now. You can get off at Dohuk, although they drop you off outside town.
Jul 21, 2012 7:10 AM
Please read the blog again, I put in a big section about crossing the border from Silopi to Zakho, all the info you could want is there. Th bus costs 70turkish lyra from Diyarakir to Erbil, but everytime i tried to book it got cancelled. See the blog..
Dont know about postcards, i saw some in Erbil but not Dohuk i think.
Jul 21, 2012 11:19 AM
Jul 21, 2012 6:47 PM
If they wont be canceled as @almondy23 says, that would be probably my way to Erbil. In way back I will use shared taxies and hitchhiking (to make whole trip more interesting). :)
It looks there are not postcards in Dohuk, but is there any postal service?
Thank you (all) for all this info. :)
Jul 21, 2012 9:17 PM
14I lived in Erbil and only visited Dohuk a few times. I've never actually mailed anything from Dohuk, but to my memory everything i sent from Erbil, and everything my NGO sent made it. That includes postcards. You can find them in and around the citadel. There are a number of post offices around town.
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