Aden is where insular Yemen puts on its cosmopolitan dress and calls out to the rest of the world to stop by. Since the year dot, the winter capital has been regarded as one of the world’s finest natural ports, and in the tradition of fine natural ports, it has long had a reputation for being seedy and slutty. However, this reputation is more than a little overblown – bars and prostitutes certainly aren’t two a penny here – but what is true is that Aden is more liberal than anywhere else in Yemen. For the visitor, this is most noticeable in the mix of races on the streets and the visibility of unveiled women.
If you are in Yemen for a while, you shouldn’t miss out on Aden, but come at the end of your trip when you’ve had time to adapt to the rest of the country. If, however, you were to visit nowhere else, then you would leave Yemen with a highly lop-sided view of the country.