Travel Advice about Syria: Damascus-Palmyra-Aleppo
Replies: 22 - Last Post: Jun 6, 2012 6:58 PM Last Post By: indus
May 28, 2012 5:52 AM
I will be in Syria for 6 days on June 28 with a group of pilgrims, visiting Syria first and then Iraq and Iran. Our itinerary does not include Palmyra and Aleppo so I wanted to find out some information.
How long time does the train take from Damascus to Aleppo ? Are there any trains which go via Palmyra ? Whether the trains run around the clock? what would be the recent price of economy class? Whether travelling on that route would be cheaper and faster if I go by bus ? And whether buses run 24 hours or do they stop running any-time in the nights ?? Is it possible to go to Aleppo and get back to Damascus the same day after visiting the historic sites and photographs around there ??
And is it possible to visit Bosra and Palmyra and get back to Damascus the same day ?? What are the fastest and cheapest mode of transport for these areas ?
And any other advice on doing anything quickly and getting back to Damascus?
I thank you in advance for reading my inquiry and answering me.
Edited by: indus
May 28, 2012 6:54 AM
1First I'll state the obvious. Syria is currently engaged in a civil war and any travel in the country is risky at best and just plain dumb at worst. There is an on going OP regarding conditions on the ground just above yours. It might be wise to check it out.
That said I'll address a couple of your questions.
Traveling to Aleppo and back from Damascus as a day trip is not practical. It's too far. Additionally, in order to get between the two you must pass near Homs and Hama and, at best, that could significantly delay your trip. There is normally daily train service between Aleppo and Damascus, but it does not go via Palmyra. I don't know how it is currently affected. The bus is probably the better option as it is very inexpensive and more frequent.
There are many day tours that operate out of Damascus for Palmyra. It's easy to do on your own though. There is no train service (at least not to my knowledge) but there is regular bus service. I don't know the schedule, but given the internal situation it's likely the bus service between Damascus and Palmyra changes frequently anyway.
May 28, 2012 7:09 AM
May 28, 2012 7:36 AM
3Of course, it's purely subjective, but I would visit Palmrya. First, while there have been reports of disturbances in and around Palmrya, there haven't been any where near the problems there that they have experienced in Homs, Hama and even Aleppo.
I found Palmyra to be a fascinating place to visit. Aleppo has a lot of appeal, but you'll be in Damascus anyway and Palmyra is completely different while Aleppo is a city like Damascus.
Yes, you can see Palmyra as a day trip from Damascus. Joining up with a tour will be easier, but more expensive. You can do it on your own for less money, but it will be more difficult since you'll have to figure out the bus situation.
May 28, 2012 3:18 PM
May 28, 2012 11:40 PM
May 29, 2012 2:35 AM
6#5 Second, I have seen some pictures on flickr, of a very large wheel of Roman time ??
That will be the infamous city of Hama that boasts those water wheels, there are 17 Norias in Hama on the Orontes river.You could easily visit the Norias on Hamas manicured landscaped river side gardens, where previously the homes of the people who experienced the atrocities occurred. It is 200 km from Hama to Damascus.
Bosra is well worth the visit for the Roman theatre, and is 115 km from Damascus and an easy day trip by public bus.
May 29, 2012 5:42 AM
May 29, 2012 5:45 AM
May 29, 2012 5:58 AM
May 29, 2012 7:22 AM
May 29, 2012 12:14 PM
May 29, 2012 12:39 PM
12@ akguidy: The civil war in Syria has not deterred, as of May '12, throngs of pilgrims (Iranians, Pakistanis, Lebanese) visiting the Shia pilgrimage site in Zainabia, located in the outskirts of Damascus. The capital is also relatively fine to be in. But those pilgrims are definitely not interested in Water wheels of Hama and Christian monasteries of Aleppo. However, even if foreigners are allowed to travel to those places by road from Damascus, I agree with you that they shouldn't be doing this in current circumstances. I also find questions about buying alcohol and visiting nightclubs on a Muslim pilgrimage trip rather odd. But to each his own, as they say.
Edited by: marbles83
May 29, 2012 9:02 PM
13Thanks again. I do regard those sites with high respect, we are being taken to in Damascus and around, Iraq and in the end Iran. I am not Shia myself, neither I would rate myself a good Muslim as of norm.
I only LOVE to travel and see the places.
I am only going with pilgrims as it is coming out very cheap, they are taking care of complete transports all the way back till Pakistan, accommodation at all the places, all visas, one way air ticket from Karachi to Damascus, and all the transport till Quetta. This all inclusive for 29 days trip for Rs. 80000. I believe if I would have been doing this on my own, the Syria alone would have been more that amount.
Edited by: indus
Edited by: indus
Edited by: indus
May 30, 2012 6:48 AM
If you are taking this tour for purposes other than religious tourism, and I mean strictly religious tourism, then you are taking the wrong tour. The itinerary would be restricted to places of Shia religious importance. In Syria you will be restricted to Zainabia. They won't even visit Damascus proper. Aleppo was on the trail in peaceful times. The Damascus-Aleppo-Damascus leg of the journey, which is taken by bus, is currently unavailable.
In Iraq, again, the itinerary is limited to the cities of Karbala, Najaf, Kufa, Kazmain (in the outskirts of Baghdad). In Iran it is even less fascinating. You will only be taken to Mashad, probably to Neshapur which is not so far from Mashad, and the Shia Vatican, that is, Qum, which is approximately 100 KM from Tehran. Tourist cities like Tehran proper, Isfahan, Shiraz, Yazd and Caspian sea towns like Rasht are totally excluded.
The quality of accommodation for the price you quoted will be disappointing to say the least. You will be put into Musafir Khaneh accommodation in Iran, which is a close equivalent to the hostel and B&B accommodation in Europe, but very poorly maintained. Some groups provide you with all three daily meals. Check if that's included in the price.
If you venture off the itinerary and visit places off schedule, you will incur more costs in terms of food and drink and definitely more if you decide to stay a night in a different hotel than the group has booked for you. In the end, it won't work out as cheap as it appears on the paper.
In brief, it won't be of much use to you if you are not much interested in places of Shia pilgrimage.