When I first research on traveling around Qatar, I already know it’s an Expensive, Modern and small country. So, when I planned to travel there, I intentionally book my flight from Sana’s Yemen to Bahrain and selected an 12 hours layover over there. Why I can do that,? It’s because Qatar airway is a MAJOR airline in Arabia and almost all flight need to be connected there. This way, I can save myself Hotel fee and flight fee. My honest travel report was-YES..YOU CAN SEE EVERYTHING OF THIS COUNTRY IN 12 HOURS:)
When I arrived Qatar Airport, a guy approached me and asked me whether i wanted to take a cheap taxi to the city. I asked him why he would be cheaper, he told me because the traffic during rush hour was very bad. If I took his taxi, he will give me a very good flat rate of US$30. My first reaction is- DO I LOOK LIKE I HAD NEVER TRAVEL BEFORE?? Well, I do….ahahahhah. My look always give me a hard time on avoiding to be a stupid tourist! Anyway, I ignored him and went straight to the taxi stand. Since I had not researched on the “things to do” in Qatar, the first thing I did was ASKED people where should I go if I want to see qatar. It turned out the guy I asked was a manger from South Africa. He was on Business trip there and he told me he was going to the hotel in the city center. Oh Great, “can I share a taxi with you?” I asked. I am smart on saving money sometimes:P. And..he said yes. He told me Qatar is small and do not have a lot of tourist attractions. Well, I know:) But it’s good I started off at the city center because there’s a “shopping center” there and I could walked my way back to the airport since all the tiny tourist attractions are on the way. GREAT- I THOUGHT…..
So, the traffic was really horrible and it took us 20 minutes for a distance of 0.7 km. But the taxi fare turned out to be just US$10! So, remembered everyone, never ever take any taxi outside the taxi stand. It’s always a scam! And ok, Let me take a look at this largest shopping center in Doha. My opinion is, DO NOT WATSE TIME TO GO THERE IF YOU ONLY HAVE A SHORT LAYOVER IN QATAR. It’s the largest in Doha but compare to the mall in Dubai and Hong Kong. It’s nothing special! It’s not particularly big and it’s not particularly luxurious. So, after 10 minutes, I decided to leave. When I tried to walk around the area, I found out that, it’s basically a commercial area with nothing much to see. I can walk to the Corniche-a long seaside promenade that curves around Doha Bay and affords pretty views of Palm Tree Island and the city’s skyscrapers. But it’s 42 Degree Celsius out there so, I decided I should take a taxi to Souk Waqif– a very touristic Arabic market quarter.
It took me only 5 mins by taxi to get there and I was surprised by how charming this place is. Although I find this place to be made solely for tourist, it’s amazing to see all the colorful goods inside the souk.
You can almost find anything with middle eastern accent in this place. Very very entertaining:)
Or if you get tired, you can easily find a fancy restaurants for food, drink or just to have a coffee with Shisha/Sheesha. It’s a very very nice area to spend 2-3 hours there.
If you have a lot of money, there’s a gold souk right next to Souk Waqif. It’s an eye opening place over there since I have never seen so many BIG JEWELRIES before.
One thing I do like about this area is, toilet amenities is excellant. When you encounter a hot day in the summer, going to the toilet will almost save your life. Because there is air-conditioning and free water for drinking inside the WC. I have to admit when I got in to the toilet, I almost didn’t want to get out since it’s really too hot outside, and the toilet is too luxurious.
Anyway, I stayed at souk Waqif for about 4 hours then I decided to head to the islamic cultural center closeby.
Nobody will suggest tourist to go to the Islamic cultural center but I will. It’s a lot of fun to me as I really in need for a place to put down my backpack, have a free drink and being in a place that is air-conditioned:P. When I arrived the cultural center, people greet me with respect and asked me if I am interested in knowing Islamic history. They said they would helped me to put away my backpack, and gave me a guided tour in the mosque.
As curious and crazy like me, this tour was just a lot of fun because I am really into knowing islamic culture and people there was so friendly, they even told me about their life in Qatar. Everyone tried to talk to me so I was pretty happy. I got to know the local people more and know what’s going on in their life in Qatar. It’s just another expensive countries filled with foreign expats and everyday life is very very simple. After another 3 hours there, I was filled up with smile and definitely got to know Islamic culture better. Then I walked to the Museum of Islamic Arts by the Corniche.
Museum of Islamic art-houses artefacts from Muslim dynasties all over Asia, Africa and Europe. Very nice museum with FREE ADMISSION. To be honest, I was fascinated by al the free things you can do in Qatar. If you don’t have to go to a fancy restaurant or stay in a hotel, traveling around qatar actually can be quit cheap. Also, I was happy that this museum did showed a little bit of the islamic fashion back in the old days.
After that, I did strolled around the Corniche and wondered whether I should still checked out more museum or cultural heritage site. But under the hot arabia sun, I really didn’t have the mood to see those boring weapon museum and heritage village. So, after spending 10 hours in Doha, I decided to call it the day and went to the airport early. My 12 hours layover in Qatar was accomplished:) And the most important things was, I only spent US$50 traveling around the most expensive country in the world. Awesome:)