Budgeting for a week in Erbil
Replies: 15 - Last Post: Jul 25, 2012 5:45 AM Last Post By: thegaryc
Feb 18, 2012 4:04 AM
Budgeting for a week in ErbilHey guys I'm looking into taking a week trip to Erbil. I have been reading that hotels are very expensive there but this is something that could make or break the trip for me. Does anyone know of any livable hotels there in the $50 range that I can reserve a room for? What are the transportation costs like? are cabs expensive, are there alternatives? Does anyone know what the Visa process is like for a US citizen going to Erbil?
Also, honestly I'm pretty new to Erbil, can someone give me a better idea of what the attractions are, I really like seeing history, religious sites, NATURE, and the like.
Thanks for the help!
Feb 18, 2012 4:16 AM
1Only top end hotels are on the internet. Anything budget won't be. There are plenty of hotels in the $50 range.
Taxis are a maximum of 5,000 IQD anywhere ($5). There are buses, but they are very difficult to figure out, even if you speak Kurdish.
Americans get a 10-day tourist visa at all land borders and airports free of charge. They are extendable at the immigration office, although it's a tough process to figure out on your own.
There are several parks (the closest you'll get to nature). The citadel is the main attraction. The museums are quite substandard.
Feb 19, 2012 7:05 AM
I was in Erbil on a few days ago updating the Iraq chapter of the upcoming new Middle East book (and yes, before people ask Iraqi Kurdistan coverage will be slightly more extensive!) . My flight arrived at 2am so I needed a pre-booked hotel and really struggled to find anything below US$200. Basically I emailed dozens of places and only one replied to me (and that was only after several days). This was the Helin Plaza (www.helinplazahotel.com) which was a vastly overpriced US$125 for a single but it was the only choice I had. We stayed there one night and then moved to a cheaper place in the bazaar area (Hotel Peace Pigeon which at negotiable US$60 a single or $75 a double was pretty reasonable - clean rooms, hot water, Wifi, breakfast and a friendly owneer). There were cheaper ones available for around ID20,000 (Samira Miss Hotel was the best value) nearby.
Much of the Citadel is actually sealed off for renovations at the moment. As fluffy bunny says the museums won't keep you interested for long. The parks though are great fun (go on a friday afternoon) as are the big shopping malls (yeah, not normally my kind of thing!) and probably the highlight of a visit to Erbil (maybe even all of Kurdish iraq?!).
Travel costs in general are fairly reasonable (it's better value than Turkey) though taxi fares etc can add up pretty quick. Hotels in Erbil are notably more expensive than other parts of the region.
I'm not the first one to say it, and am sure I won't be the last, but Fluffy bunny's (the previous poster) blog is fantastic and full of great ideas for things to see and do in Iraqi Kurdistan (and elsewhere) so make sure you take a look at that.
The people are fantastic and yes, it's safe...
Feb 19, 2012 9:26 AM
glad to come to know from your words that there's also cheap accomodation in Erbil.
Just in case, did you happen to see if those hotels dispose also of garages / fenced areas?
I'm planning an overland motorcyle trip from Italy to Erbil for June 2012, and as you can imagine the safety of my bike is too important to me...
You said they're in the bazaar area: are those hotels reachable astride a (large) motorcycle or is it a pedestrian-only area?
Thanks for your opinion on these two questions.
Feb 19, 2012 1:10 PM
Wow, what great trip that will be! Yes the hotels around the bazaar can be reached by bike but no, none of them have any sort of parking. Some of the more expensive ones out in the newer parts of town will do though. I doubt anyone would try and make off with your bike wherever you left it but I can imagine that if it's a big, expensive bike the kids might find it quite interesting to fiddle with so I can understand why you wouldn't want to leave it out in the street. I guess you'll face the same situation in may other places and countries as well and not ever having gone more than five minutes down the road on a bike I can't offer any advice on this. I do know though that many bigger, posher hotels with parking would normally be happy to let a tourist leave a car in their car park (you might have to pay) as I have done this before.
Feb 19, 2012 10:40 PM
May 10, 2012 11:25 PM
May 15, 2012 2:53 AM
A basic room with attached bathroom can always be found for ID20,000 ( or even less and a cheap meal consisting of various salads, kebabs, bread and tea can be had for ID7000-9000. The one thing that isn’t that cheap is transport, but as distances in Iraqi Kurdistan are short even this isn’t going to break the bank. A seat in a share taxi between Erbil to Sulayamaniya is ID15,000. Getting around the Hamilton road area and to Laliash and the Christian sites near there you'll either have to hire a private car and driver which is expensive (reckon on around US$120 a day after barginaing) or hitch which is pretty easy.
The current best cheap hotels in Erbil are the Saira Miss Hotel and the nearby bekhal Hotel. Both these are in the bazaar area. Slightly more expensive, but much better, is the Peace pigeon Hotel. In Suly the best cheapies are the pesha Hotel and the Mazy Plaza both of which are around Beekhas Street on the edge of the bazaar. In Dohuk the Hotel Parleman is the cheapest but frankly I didn't think much of it and prefered to spend a little more on the Hotel Bircin. All these places are between ID15-40,000. So in answer to your question, yes if you're careful you can get around on US$50 a day.
May 15, 2012 3:07 AM
8You'd have to be really frugal to spend less than $50 a day. As an example, a taxi from Erbil-Suly is 15,000 ($13) or 10,000 on a bus. The cheapest hotel will be around 20,000 ($17) and eating only 2 felafel 3 times a day will be 5,000 ($4.50). So the most basic trip will cost $35-$40 a day.
Luckily, none of the museums or monuments (except the Charsten Sculptures in Dohuk) charge admission. But as mentioned, to go anywhere off the beaten track gets INCREDIBLY more expensive figuring in car/driver hire. And a jump to more than basic, you could easily spend $50 a day on hotels alone. With meals being 10,000 ($9) each.
Jun 4, 2012 7:51 AM
9Thanks for the responses guys. In Dohuk now. I should add that I'm staying with a friend in Erbil and we're also going together to Sulaymaniyah. I saw in another thread that renting a car is feasible for foreigners in Erbil so I might explore that option for getting to the Hamilton Road and various other places.
Jul 2, 2012 5:33 PM
10Stuartbutler, I am trying to understand some of your postings, maybe you can help me out. You list a few hotels in Erbil, you have two different spellings for the Samira miss hotel and you also say it cost around $20. You mentioned you stayed at the peace pigeon which was slightly more expensive. The samira is $20 and you paid $65 at the pigeon, thats not really slightly more expensive, did you make a mistake by any chance?
Jul 2, 2012 5:34 PM
Jul 2, 2012 9:59 PM
12The airport taxi system is a total scam. A company, Hello Taxi, has the exclusive rights to actually drive up to the airport terminal itself (Barzani family owner). They have flat rates to different parts of the city and i believe to the market is $35-$40.
Alternatively, you can take the free shuttle bus to the main security gate. There are a number of taxis there. A fair rate for the distance (airport to bazar) is 5,000 IQD ($4.50) But there's no way you'll ever bargain them down to this. You'd be lucky to get 7,000 or 8,000, but it's cheaper than Hello Taxi.
If you hard core wanted to save a few dollars, you could walk the KM or so to the main road and wave down a taxi. Then the fare would definitely be 5,000 (maybe 4,000 if you bargain) There are no buses from the airport to downtown.
Jul 3, 2012 12:01 AM
13thanks fluffy, what would we do without your great info. Where does this shuttle bus go? What or who is this shuttle bus shuttling? Another question. Does the Diyarbakir bus go to turkey daily? do you know the schedule?
Jul 4, 2012 1:26 AM
It's spelt the Saira Miss Hotel and it's ID20,000 per person. The Peace Pigeon is US$60 for a single and $75 for a double (they were a little flexible on these prices - this is what they had as their advertised rate but I bargained them down by a few dollars), which now you mention it is double the price roughly if you're travelling in a couple. It was a marked step up in quality though.
Hope that helps!
(4 star Hotel)
From US$174.76 per night
(4 star Hotel)
From US$289.29 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$93.33 per night