Tour type: Private
Group size: Min: 1 | Max: Any
Accommodation: 3 to 5-star hotels
Transport: AC car/minibus
Highlights: Lively and cosmopolitan Beirut city, ruins at Baalbek and Byblos, beautiful scenery of the Beka'a Valley, crusader Castle of Qalaat Al-Bahr, ancient Souks, port city of Sidon
This interesting journey through Lebanon gives you the opportunity to visit some of the country's beautiful coastal towns and travel through picturesque mountain landscapes as well as visit the historic sites of Baalbek and Byblos.
Your Lebanese journey begins in the historic Mediterranean city of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon. From here you travel through the beautiful Beka'a Valley to Baalbek. The Beka'a Valley is home to Lebanon's famous vineyards and wineries; the tradition of wine production in this region goes back some 6,000 years and today more than a dozen vineyards thrive here. Baalbek, formerly known as Heliopolis, was once one of the largest sanctuaries in the Roman Empire and today it is Lebanon's greatest Roman treasure. The ancient city of Heliopolis was home to some of the most colossal and noble temples ever built by the Romans and some of these remain in excellent condition, notably the Temple of Bacchus.
From Baalbek your adventure continues to the magnificent Beiteddine Palace via the Umayyad ruins of Anjar. The palace of Beiteddine was built in the period between 1788 and 1818 by Emir Bashir Shihab II and continued to be the residence of the Emir's until 1840. Later the building was used as a government residence by the Ottoman authorities. Heading north you continue to the coastal town of Byblos. You will spend 2 nights here and enjoy an extensive tour around the region before returning to Beirut where your journey ends.
Our guide will meet you at Beirut airport and transfer you to your chosen accommodation. The remainder of today is free for you to begin exploring this beautiful coastal city.
Single room supplement (LBTMBB)
Extra day in Beirut - pre-tour
After departing Beirut you drive through the beautiful Beka'a Valley to the ancient town of Baalbek. The historical site of Baalbek is thought to have originally been Phoenician, with the settlement dating back as far as the 3rd millennium BC. In the 1st millennium BC the site was chosen as the site for a temple dedicated to the God Baal, from which the city takes its name. Later, in the year 334 BC Alexander the Great conquered this region and the city was renamed Heliopolis, a name which continued to be used by subsequent Roman rulers - Helios, Greek for sun and Polis, Greek for City - 'City of the Sun'. Today, the town is famous for its exquisitely detailed Roman ruins which attract many tourists to the region every year.
This morning you travel to Beiteddine via Ksara and Anjar. Your first stop for today is at Ksara, which is located within the Beka'a Valley. Ksara is famous for its production of wine and you will be given the opportunity to try some of the local wines whilst here. Later, you continue to the site of Anjar. The city of Anjar was founded by Caliph Walid I at the beginning of the 8th Century. The ruins of the city have revealed a very regular layout, indicative of the palace-cities of ancient times. Excavations have already revealed hundreds of shops, baths and souks. Today's final journey takes you to Beitiddine for sightseeing of the Palace, the little museum and the Mosaic exhibition.
Today you head north to the ancient town of Byblos via the coastal city of Saida or Sidon and the impressive crusader castle of Qalaat Al-Bahr, also known as the Sea Castle, built by the Crusaders in the year 1228 AD. Today the castle consists of two main towers which are connected by a wall. Unfortunately many of embellishments which once decorated the walls are now gone, due to the Mamluks attempting to destroy all of the Sea Castles to prevent the Crusaders from regaining footholds on the coast. You arrive into Byblos later in the afternoon where you will have some free time to begin exploring the souks.
This morning you visit the historical site of Byblos, which claims to be the oldest continuously inhabited town in the world. You'll visit the Old Souks, Citadel, old ramparts, Church of St John and The Roman Amphitheatre.
Today you return to Beirut and begin a city tour with a drive along the promenade where you pass by the picturesque Pigeons Rock, which is a huge natural arch which juts up from the sea. If you have time later, this is a famous and popular place to watch the sunset. You then continue through the Hamra commercial area to the National Museum and Martyrs Square. The National Museum in Beirut is home to an excellent collection of over 100,000 items, however only 1,300 or so are currently being displayed. The Museum is organised in chronological order starting from the Bronze Age and working towards the present day. Your tour concludes with a visit to Martyrs' Square where you can view the bullet ridden bronze statues which stand as a symbol for all that was destroyed during the Lebanese Civil War.
Your time is free today to explore Beirut further until we transfer you to the airport for departure.
Extra day in Beirut - post-tour
Seasonal prices for this tour are given below. We can also customise the itinerary to fit your personal requirements. Please contact us for details and prices.
The hotels and accommodations listed below are the ones we most often on this tour. From time to time we may exchange these for similar properties at the same level. In general, specific hotels cannot be guaranteed on our group tours, but you may select your preferred options if you are booking a tailor-made trip.
Three o Nine Hotel
The 309 Hotel can be found in the centre of Ras-Beirut, giving you easy access to excellent restaurants, the seaside Corniche, the Hamra shopping district and Beirut's popular downtown.
The 309 Hotel has a host of different accommodation options, ranging from single deluxe rooms, double deluxe rooms, junior deluxe suite, single superior rooms, double superior rooms, junior superior rooms and executive superior suites.
All rooms are fitted with air-conditioning, LCD televisions, cable tv, a mini bar, complimentary tea and coffee, blackout draping, heated towel racks, hairdryers and more.
Featuring free WiFi and a restaurant, Palmyra Hotel offers accommodation in Baalbek. The hotel has a sun terrace and views of the garden, and guests can enjoy a meal at the restaurant or a drink at the bar. Free private parking is available on site.
Featuring free WiFi and a restaurant, Palmyra Hotel offers accommodation in Baalbek. The hotel has a sun terrace and views of the garden, and guests can enjoy a meal at the restaurant or a drink at the bar. Free private parking is available on site.
Certain rooms have a seating area to relax in after a busy day. Rooms have a private bathroom.
There is a 24-hour front desk at the property.
This rustic B&B hotel is located in the Zahle city centre, within walking distance from the souks. It has several room types, and offers free WiFi. It features a bar, coffee shop, business centre, and garden.
Auberge Braidy is located in the heart of Zahle, surrounded by pubs and restaurants and near to the Zahle souks. It is a former old political house that has been refurbished into a rustic B&B hotel. It features standard, double, and twin rooms. Free WiFi is available in the rooms and public areas, and there is a business centre on site. Facilities include a coffee shop, bar, terrace, and garden, as well as a health club available for use at a partner property.
Aleph Boutique Hotel
This boutique hotel overlooks the Mediterranean in the historical city of Byblos. It is located close to the famous Byblos ruins, and has 26 rooms and suites. Free WiFi is available, as well as a range of facilities and services.
Aleph Boutique Hotel is found within the historical city of Byblos, overlooking the Mediterranean, just 5 minutes from the world’s oldest ruins. It has 26 rooms and suites with unique decor, each with TVs, minibars, and hairdryers. There are conference facilities, a rooftop restaurant, beach accessibility, a concierge service, and free WiFi in the lobby and rooms.
Our tours are designed to include all that you need to enjoy a really special time in the destination youre visiting. However, we do also offer some extra options to complement the tour and add some additional sightseeing or activities, or some extra time at either end of the tour.
All accommodation based options (e.g. Single supplements, extra nights, cruise upgrades) should be booked and paid for in advance so that we can make the appropriate arrangements. Other options may either be booked and paid for in advance or while you are on the tour, though we recommend booking in advance to ensure there are no issues with availability.
Many options are priced the same throughout the year, but some may incur single or high season supplements - full details are given on the tour reservation form or on request.
The detailed Tour Notes below have been written to give you some more detailed information about how the tour runs, what to expect, and how to prepare for your holiday. We recommend downloading an up to date copy of these shortly before you travel in case of any changes.
We use good quality 4-star hotels on this tour. Accommodation is based on twin, triple or double en-suite rooms with air conditioning. Please visit the accommodation tab of this tour for examples of the hotels normally used on this tour. If you have any specific accommodation requests please let us know and we'll be happy to provide you with a customised quotation.
Our trips feature a mix of different transport options. We want you to feel like you're really experiencing the country you're travelling through, but at the same time we want you to finish journeys refreshed enough to enjoy the next stage of the tour. Our routes in Lebanon and the small distances involved mean that we use private vehicles throughout this tour. Vehicles will be selected to be comfortable for the number of travellers in the group.
Your airport transfers are only included on the first and last day of the set tour itinerary, plus on any additional days if you book your hotel room with us. If you make your own arrangements for additional accommodation at either the beginning or the end of the tour then you will need to arrange your own airport transfers on these days.
We want to give you as much flexibility as possible when it comes to booking your holiday with us. So, to take account of people with varying travel plans, we don't include your international flights in the main tour price. We are however very happy to suggest flights to go with the tour. Please contact us with your preferred dates and departure airport and we'll give you a selection of airlines, times and fares to choose from.
Your airport arrival & departure transfers are included on the first and last days of the tour.
Nearly all our Lebanese tours start and finish in Beirut airport (BEY).
Our small-group tours in Lebanon run with a minimum of 2 and maximum of 12 travellers in the group.
Tailor-made tours are priced based on 2 people travelling with a driver and guide for the sightseeing visits and touring. Discounts and customised quotations will be provided if you are travelling as a family or in a larger party.
In Lebanon we provide fully trained, local English-speaking guides for all of the sightseeing tours. At Encounters Travel we aim to only use local guides and reps. We feel this gives you the best experience of the country and the sites you are seeing.
The tour price includes entrance fees to all the tourist sites mentioned in the itinerary. If you visit any sites not mentioned in the itinerary then you will need to cover the entrance fee costs.
Tipping is common practice in Lebanon, as a sign of appreciation for services provided. You may therefore wish to tip your guide and driver at the end of the tour. You should not feel obliged to tip any particular amount, and should consider your personal budget. We are often asked to provide a guide however, and can suggest that approx. GBP 5 / USD 8 per person per day would be appropriate.
You should ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including emergency evacuation and repatriation.
Recommended vaccinations and other health protection measures vary according to the country you are visiting and where you are travelling from. We recommend you contact your GP/medical practitioner or a travel clinic for current information on vaccinations needed for your destination. You should ensure that you are up to date with vaccines and boosters recommended for your normal life at home, including for example, vaccines required for occupational risk of exposure, lifestyle risks and underlying medical conditions.
In addition, additional courses or boosters normally recommended for the countries in this region are:
Egypt: Tetanus, Typhoid, Hepatitis A
Jordan: Tetanus, Hepatitis A
Israel: Hepatitis A, Poliomyelitis
Lebanon: Dipheria, Hepatitis A
Malaria is not generally present unless it has been contracted abroad; you do not need to take malaria prophylactics.
Note: We are aware of some places in Egypt using 'black henna' instead of pure brown henna. Black henna contains a chemical dye PPD (paraphenylenediamine) which can result in severe allergic reactions and resultant scarring. To be safe we recommend avoiding any henna tattoos while in Egypt unless you are certain they are using pure brown henna.
Passports should be valid for at least six months after your departure from the country. Please do not bring an almost full or almost expired passport. Visa arrangements are the responsibility of the traveller, and requirements are subject to change by the local authorities.
For many nationalities visiting Lebanon a visa on arrival is possible at Beirut International Airport. This applies to most countries of the Commonwealth, European Union, Russia, Japan and the US continent. Even if you are eligible for a visa on arrival, it is prudent to check up to date requirements with your nearest Lebanese consulate.
Other nationalities may require a visa prior to arrival and to obtain this in advance, please contact your local Lebanese embassy or consulate or a visa agency for details.
IMPORTANT: The Government of Lebanon denies entry to Israeli passport holders, Israeli visa holders (valid or expired) and those with any evidence of travel to Israel within their passport.
The time in Egypt, Jordan, Israel and Lebanon is GMT plus 2 hours and in UAE GMT plus 3 hours. Daylight saving adjustments have historically been applied in some years but not others. At present it appears that there will be no daylight saving changes in Egypt 2016 and beyond, though this may change at short notice (with a resulting impact on flight times and schedules). In Jordan and Israel, daylight saving of one hour is generally applied between the end of March and the end of October, making it GMT plus 3 hours. Exact dates vary from year to year and sometimes the changes may be scrapped altogether.
Sockets are two round pronged and 220 volts (Type C). Universal adaptors are available in most airport shops if you don't have one already. Standard European adapters will work fine, though sometimes they may feel a little loose in the sockets. All hotel rooms have electrical sockets where you can re-charge cameras, phones etc. Hair dryers are normally available on request from the hotel reception if not in your room already.
If you have US appliances (110 volts) you will need a voltage converter as well as a plug adapter.
The local currency in Lebanon is the Lebanese Pound (called Lira). You do not need to arrange to bring any Lebanese currency with you as exchange facilities are available in the international airports and in most hotels, banks and bureau de changes in major towns. You should try to obtain and keep hold of small denomination notes or coins on you during the tour as these are useful for toilets, tips and small purchases. ATMs are readily available in major towns and many local shops will accept VISA/Mastercard or Amex, but may charge additional fees - check before you pay. Travellers cheques are not recommended as they can not be changed in many places now, and can incur high fees.
While in Lebanon you will need sufficient funds to cover meals not included in the itinerary, drinks, snacks, souvenirs and personal expenses such as laundry. These should generally all be paid for in local currency, though tips for guides and drivers may be paid in hard currency (GBP, USD, EUR).
It is difficult to recommend a level of personal spending money which will suit everyone as this can differ greatly, but as a guideline, we would suggest allowing USD 25-35 per person per day as a minimum. Allow more if you plan on doing lots of shopping, or buying many alcoholic drinks.
Luggage: Suitcases, rucksacks or fabric holdalls are all fine to bring with you to Lebanon. You should also bring a small daypack/bag to take out during the day. Your main luggage will normally be left in the hotel during your sightseeing trips - you will not need to carry it far, and there are nearly always hotel porters to assist.
Luggage limits: There is no luggage limit for this tour. However, most airlines restrict you to between 20kg and 25kg for your hold luggage and between 5kg and 10kg for hand luggage. Please check with your airline before travelling to the airport.
Clothing: The Lebanese climate varies widely from hot days in the summer to cold and wintry days in the winter. At night, especially in the mountains, the temperatures can drop quite dramatically. So you must pack for cool and potentially wet conditions. Formal dress (eg. suits & ties) is not required. Modesty rates highly in some parts of Lebanon, especially for women, so to respect the local culture and people, we recommend all clothes are loose fitting and not revealing. Shorts (not hot-pants) are OK in tourist sites, as are T-shirts, but these should not show too much bare flesh (we suggest that your shoulders should remain covered). When visiting any mosques, legs and arms should be covered. Bikinis and swimwear are however commonplace on some of the country's beaches.
Other items: We also recommend you bring a sun hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, a basic first aid kit, toiletries, money belt, small torch, camera & charger.
This tour is designed as a sample tailor-made tour itinerary. As such we do not offer set group departure dates that you can join. Rather, the tour is available for you to do privately starting on any date of the year. Guideline seasonal prices are given below, based on 2 people travelling. If you would like to adjust the tour itinerary, or there will be more or less people travelling, please contact us and we will customise a price for you.
If you would like to book a place on this tour, please complete the online reservation form on our website (via the Dates & Prices tab on the tour page). You may make a deposit or full payment online, or just hold a reservation if you prefer (full payments are due 8 weeks before departure). We will then contact you with more details about how to complete your booking. Payments may be made by debit or credit card (subject to a card processing fee), or by making a bank transfer, or posting us a cheque/bank draft. Full details will be provided in your booking confirmation email. Please contact us if you would like any more information or have any questions before making a booking.
Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our tours and needs to cover personal accident & liability, medical expenses and repatriation, travel delay & abandonment. We also strongly recommend that you take out cover against cancellation and lost/stolen baggage. Personal medical insurance does not normally provide sufficient cover and is generally not suitable for travel on our tours. You will not be able to join your tour if you have not provided us with details of your insurance or if you arrive without cover in place (no refunds will be due in this event). More information...
You may arrange your own insurance, or you can take advantage of a comprehensive policy that we can arrange for you through Endsleigh Insurance which has been designed to be suitable for our tours. The policy is available to travellers of all nationalities and you do not need to live in the UK to take out the policy. For full details of cover provided, prices and to apply for one of our policies, please complete travel insurance application form.
Note: Any country that borders the Mediterranean is considered as 'Europe' for the purposes of travel insurance (including Turkey, Israel, Egypt and Morocco). If you are doing a tour that visits one country in 'Europe' and one that is 'Worldwide' (for example, an Egypt and Jordan tour), then you need a 'Worldwide' policy. When completing the form you should enter your travel dates including any extra days involved in overnight flights or connecting travel between your home and the tour. Our policies are not able to cover any extra time or activities other than your tour and options booked with us and your travel to & from home.
Note - to comply with insurance sales regulations, our travel insurance policies are only available to customers booking directly with us. If you have booked through a travel agent you will need to arrange your own insurance.
If you plan to arrange a hot air balloon flight locally, or do some scuba diving during your tour, you should check the small print in your policy to make sure these are covered (these are covered in our policy). Please also check the maximum altitude that you will be reaching and that full cover including emergency evacuation is provided up to this altitude.
If you are taking expensive camera gear or other electronic equipment with you then please check the coverage and the fine print of your policy to ensure that you have sufficient cover.
IMPORTANT: We must have your travel insurance details (policy number and type of insurance) before you depart or you may not be allowed to join the tour. If you haven't told us already, please let us know the details when you can. You should take a paper copy of your insurance policy with you as you may be asked to show this at the start of the tour.
We are a UK registered company and an ABTA Member (Y4447) and you can be confident when booking with us that your money is safe and protected.
Financial failure insurance is also provided through Affirma to protect all customers for the land portion of your tour.
Please see our website or booking conditions for more information.
It is impossible not to have an impact on the local environment, cultures and eco-systems when you travel. However, it is very possible to try and ensure that these impacts are as limited, or positive as possible. We are committed to ensuring that we try to leave our host countries in a better state than we found them and encourage and assist our travellers to help us with this.
The following are a few simple tips that require very little effort on your part but which will help ensure that any effect you have on the locations you visit is positive rather than negative.
All porters are employed and equipped following guidelines set by the International Porter Protection Group (IPPG).
You can stay in touch with us online by following us on Facebook and Twitter. We post updates on relevant travel news in our destination countries, special offers and discounts and other interesting travel related news and information.
www.twitter.com/encounterstravl (yes, without the 'e')
It is important when considering and preparing to travel anywhere in the world that you have a good understanding of the country you are visiting, its laws and customs, and the possible risks and situations that may occur. This includes specific risks related to your itinerary (eg. does it involve water & can you swim, are you fit enough for the activities included), as well as more general risks such as terrorism and natural disasters.
General details and links to more information about health risks, visa requirements, money, and travel insurance are given in these tour notes. We recommend that you re-read all these before your departure as well as the small print of your travel insurance policy so you know exactly what is covered and what is not.
You should take copies of your important travel documents with you and ideally also store them online securely as a backup. Make sure that you have given us your emergency contact details and told that person where and when you are travelling. Ensure you take enough money with you and that you have access to emergency funds.
Finally, you should read through and stay updated with the current official government travel advice for your destination. We are registered partners with the UK Foreign Office's 'Travel Aware' campaign which provides further useful and invaluable information.