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#26 November 20 2019

Johnaudi
Member

Re: Vacation outside Lebanon on a budget

NuclearVision wrote:

Is the ryanair cheap fares deal actually legit??? Did anyone try it? A friend told me that it couldnt be true, since beirut airport takes a fee for your ticket, and it just cant be.
So anyone actually bought a ticket and took ryanair flight?

Hello, I've been a personal user of two RyanAir experiences (Athens-Rome and Rome-Germany).
We were surprised by how cheap it was, upon purchase, they try many tricks to make you pay extra.
If you select a seat, you will pay extra, I suggest choosing random allocation.
They will require you to select a package, obviously go with the cheapest option. You can add a 10kg onboard luggage and upgrade to priority for 14$ (Onboard in luggage alone is 12.5$). Adding a 20kg checked in luggage costs 25$. No need to go for their 50$+ packages... You can get a 7-10kg bag/backpack with you at any purchase free of charge. In case you do not select any options, you can actually get the ticket for its listed price. (Which is the cheapest, e.g. 10 euros)

They require you to "check in" online 24 hours before the flight. In case you haven't checked in and get to the counter, each ticket will pay a 50 euros late fee. I managed to do that in the last 5 minutes of the allocated time given. (Which just takes the names and passport numbers of each traveler)

The plane was very silent and relaxing, in fact, the most silent and relaxing flight I've ever been on. Of course you wouldn't expect a meal nor entertainment, but do note that they do offer paid meals on board.

According to a recent law, the airport takes the fee only if your flight is above 1000km away. (needs to be checked)

Last edited by Johnaudi (November 20 2019)

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#27 November 20 2019

NuclearVision
Member

Re: Vacation outside Lebanon on a budget

Thanks for the input, i don't know why but im still skeptical about it (beirut flights), guess ill have to try it.

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#28 November 20 2019

rolf
Member

Re: Vacation outside Lebanon on a budget

Yes airport take taxes but I guess they have an agreement with Ryanair / Easyjet (both fly to Lebanon) and BEY airport taxes are low anyway.
Yeah the prices are legit - hello bro, welcome to modern world. It's not called "low-cost" for nothing.
However usually to get such good prices you have to book 2 - 3 months in advance.
If all flights are so cheap, it means that airplanes are empty. I suspect that if airplanes stay empty, Ryanair and Easyjet will stop the flights at some point. So do not wait too long before trying.
You get nothing on the airplane for free, get your own food, water (from the duty free) or you will have to buy then onboard which is expensive.
For Lebanese, the biggest obstacle will be the visa.

Last edited by rolf (November 20 2019)

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#29 November 21 2019

backpackin.trails
Member

Re: Vacation outside Lebanon on a budget

Hey everyone, long time lurker on this site but never registered or posted before (huge thanks to all members for all the great advises and info on this forum, been very useful over the years).

This topic is interesting since the only way to keep going in this country is keep having yearly vacations to balance out our lives. This kind of topic is a goldmine in forums and helps big time.
For around 8 years now I take around 2 or 3 yearly vacations (one long trip and 2 short trips) but always plan and execute them on lowest budget I can so that I travel more and more locations, so I would like to give my 2 cents here. My style of travel is backpacking and getting the most out the area I am visiting, I tend to also stay off the tourist trails to fully immerse in a culture.

Regarding Europe, all info provided above are excellent and anyone planning on a euro trip should use the guidelines provided by Johnaudi and rolf to budget and implement their itinerary, it is the way to go for us Lebanese and thanks guys for the info.

For me it’s been mostly Asia for the past 6 years am visiting (got the Asia love bug) and I have already finished all South-east Asia region and some parts of Central and far east. I am posting this since I truly advice anyone who wants to have an extraordinary vacation to check out the SE Asia region (but keep in mind that its preferable to make a trip of 20-30 days to that region so that it’s worth it and you live it to the max). This region lets the dollars you spend to be spent on longer days and enjoy a longer vacation, in each SE Asian country there are the high-end expensive areas and very reasonable priced and low cost areas which are a max 5-15mn distance apart.

Beauty about traveling this area is you can really budget for it and lower all costs so that in 1 trip you can visit upto 3-5 countries and most of them grant Lebanese passports either Visa-On-Arrival or are already Visa-Free so having an open itinerary is easy with on-the-go decisions and bookings (but planning ahead is a must) Main Issue is the flight ticket cost from/to Beirut - 2 years ago to go to that region (flying in to Jakarta or Kuala Lumpur) cost around $650 but now it’s stuck between $800-$1000 these days regardless of high/low season. So this will be the main and huge cost for all the trip that one wants to budget for vacationing in this area.

I mainly fly from Beirut to Kuala Lumpur, since Malaysia has a huge hub for flights to all over Asia and is a beautiful country in itself (becoming a member on AirAsia’s Loyalty program gets you in one year travel with them to be able to book free upgrades+flights+destination packages – they have so many offers) . So anywhere from there ranges between $10-$60 max for Asian international flights (I even purchased flights one time for $7 from one island to another – and flew using 3 planes from an island in Indonesia to an island in Vietnam to the capital Hanoi for free) Keep in mind am a backpacker so my only luggage is a 70L backpack no more than 6Kg so I save on luggage costs a lot (laundry is max $2 hehe). Jakarta is a nice Asian Hub too and you have Singapore but it’s the most expensive.
So for example I will give a breakdown of the latest Asia trip I’ve done in August 2019: 26 days travel (Malaysia-Cambodia-Laos-Indonesia) and this was my 6th time visiting these countries and still all new places and all new things and all new itinerary was done.

Flight tickets:

Beirut-Kuala Lumpur // Jakarta - Beirut: $730 (booked 3 months in advance)
Asia Flights (Malaysia to Cambodia to Laos to Indonesia) total cost was ($25 + $25 + $50) = $100 (booked 1 month in advance)
Internal flights in a country (Cambodia -siem reap to sihanoukville and Indonesia- bali to jakarta) total cost was $80


Accommodation:

Here is where the you can save - I tend to always have  between 3-5 days hike/camping in my vacations so for these days I join a group (hike volcano or mountain or camping trip in ancient forests...) and these activities you can find low cost for them and you would save big time on accommodation fees,  food and transport this way, also you can do 2 or more such activities in diff regions. In my last trip I did 5 day excursion of hiking 4 volcanoes and total cost for 5 days including everything was $110 (cheap because it was a group of 50 people, very easy to arrange this online or even on whatsapp once you are there) and another activity I did was a 4 day hiking/camping/wandering  in a 130million year old rainforest for a total of $130 for everything (camping gear, food, essentials, entrances – tips are upto your gratitude).

Other thing to note is that in this region there are a lot of poverty and community help - so very easy to find online any activity which you can sign up for. In Cambodia I signed up to teach in a school at a floating river village - I went for 2 days there and taught basic English and some Armenian words to lovely enthusiastic kids. In return the school gives you a room (very basic of course, *shared bathroom) and free meals to enjoy with the kids. The experience alone is to die for and doing something like this lowers your costs and gives you a great time and you spend your money on a local community instead for corporations. My friend didn’t want to teach so instead she brought with her some old clothes she had and donated them to the school and in return he also got a bed and free meals. Also, it’s very easy to find online or even arrange for this once there.

Doing this where I saved up on accommodation and food for around 11 days, helped me to book in Indonesia a high-end Villa with private pool and enjoy a high luxurious 2 nights while my whole trip is a cheapo backpackin style. For example, in Indonesia the famous islands of Bali, Lombok, Nusa Lembongan... You  can find villas with pools to rent that start from $60 (airbnb has alot and there are dedicated villa-rental websites for those islands)

So main advice is extensive search beforehand to plan a complete itinerary with the locations you want to visit and see. This way you can find really good places at cheap prices since there are literally a ton of places for rent. And my advice is forget agencies and just do it all yourselves (this will save you around $200-$400 from extra fees/commissions) and always sign up for loyalty programs.

I spent in my last trip for 26 days on accommodation fees around $400 (11 days of them no fees since lodging was included in an activity total cost, and even one night I spent sleeping on a 7 hr bus ride so this also saves us on a night’s fee)


Food:

Here it’s more related to the traveler’s eating style, some people can’t try new stuff or street food and tend to just go for the famous junk food places and international meals they know. This type of food is expensive, so going for local breakfasts and lunches/dinners at cheap streetfood places can help you save up so in turn maybe 2-3 times you can go for a fancy restaurant and still not empty out your pocket. In each Asian country and island there are sooo many food streets which sell delicious cheap meals so it can help to save a lot, my daily food average cost in any Asian country is $8-$10 (breakfast/lunch/dinner). You have to be diligent, hygiene-aware and notice the frequency of buyers regarding streetfood. And personally, some of the best meals I’ve had in my life came from an 80-year-old guy with a tiny carry-on food stall on the street where the meal is handed out in a regular plastic grocery bag and you use your hands to eat.

I spent in my last trip for food for 26 days $220


Transportation:

I always rent bikes, everywhere they range between $3-$7 per day depending on bike and fuel is everywhere and cheap. Or I just walk ?
In Renting bikes, my advice is thoroughly check it before taking it to make sure it will not break down in the middle of nowhere. On youtube a lot of videos on what to check on bikes if you’re renting during your travel.

Insurance is important, get a full plan that covers everything for traveling and doing activities. Many insurance companies or travel agents in Lebanon offer comprehensive ones for $20. I myself couple of years ago had an accident and once back in Lebanon I got around 90% of all costs refunded.

All in all I spend between $1900-$2200 for an average of 28 days travel in South-east Asia, (including bringing gifts that your friends and family will cherish and doing so many stuff and activities with visiting dream like places). Traveling lesser days bring down costs for sure but the extra few days gives you a new country in the region to visit for just an extra couple of hundred bucks.

This region has 2 seasons – wet and dry, all year around its hot and each season has its charm and wonder. A type of travel like this is not just visiting the main touristic spots and doing what everyone does and visiting famous places. You have to beforehand learn some of the language’s main words and have your own notes and googlemap prepartions etc. Knowing how to haggle and using local words from their language like "expensive" or "lower" is key and you can save up by shopping for all your gifts from one place and getting a price for bulk of goods instead of one here and there (making a friend with a local is nice and helpful too since they can take to you to the cheaper wholesale shop areas)

A travel like this needs some dedication for research and itinerary decisions, you have to know exactly what you want to do and what is your budget limit in order to plan out where to visit and how to commute. Like why did I come back to Lebanon from Jakarta. At the end of my trip I was on an island that is 40mn public boat ride to Bali and Bali has international airport which I can fly to Beirut back. But it was cheaper to go to Bali and straight fly to Jakarta the capital and spend 2 nights partying there and flying back from there.

It really is all about doing it once and then everything becomes easier in future travels to the region, especially if you do a solo-trip and I advise everyone to do one at least once in their lives. The amount of people you meet and contemplation you make will be a treasure.

Our country is finally trying to fix itself and try to recover from the past so maybe this topic isn't at the exact right time but I believe no matter what we all can make use of it in the future.

If someone is interested to know more how to plan for this region or has questions, I would be happy to help and sorry everyone for the long post but this topic needs details and has a lot to share.

Cheers

Last edited by backpackin.trails (November 21 2019)

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#30 November 21 2019

Johnaudi
Member

Re: Vacation outside Lebanon on a budget

Thank you @backpackin.trails, beautifully put together, and will be some help for me (and Lebgeeks) in the future! I've always wondered how hard it could be to go on SE Asia trips without having many technological advances in mind. (such as purchasing local tickets online, an abundance of technology-related services, etc.)
And not to forget the safety of the traveler, and the lack of information given in specific places.

Although the tickets may seem quite more substantial in terms of cost, the living there seems outstandingly cheap! Looking forward to starting heaving there once I have finished key locations in Europe. Thanks again!

Note: I've linked your post on the main thread so it can be used for future reference.

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#31 November 21 2019

nas93
Member

Re: Vacation outside Lebanon on a budget

I have a reservation for a Visa at the Austrian embassy and I was wondering if they need my passport photo signed by the 'mokhtar' has anyone applied there before?

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#32 November 21 2019

Johnaudi
Member

Re: Vacation outside Lebanon on a budget

nas93 wrote:

I have a reservation for a Visa at the Austrian embassy and I was wondering if they need my passport photo signed by the 'mokhtar' has anyone applied there before?

Hello, no this isn't necessary. (as far as I recall)

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#33 November 22 2019

rolf
Member

Re: Vacation outside Lebanon on a budget

Thank you backpackin.trails for the recommendations.
General advice: If you have the choice I recommend you pick MEA and do the reservation through their website even if it costs a few dollars more. There are many advantages to this.

Last edited by rolf (November 22 2019)

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#34 November 22 2019

samer
Admin

Re: Vacation outside Lebanon on a budget

This topic is turning out great. It has now been stickied. Thanks again Johnaudi for starting it and everyone else for your contributions.

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#35 December 12 2019

nas93
Member

Re: Vacation outside Lebanon on a budget

Small update: Applied for an Austrian schengen and was rejected due to 'tough economic situations forcing Lebanese citizens not to withdraw more than 250 eu/week from their debit/credit cards'.
Can't say I was surprised. I hope you guys have better luck.

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#36 December 12 2019

Johnaudi
Member

Re: Vacation outside Lebanon on a budget

nas93 wrote:

Small update: Applied for an Austrian schengen and was rejected due to 'tough economic situations forcing Lebanese citizens not to withdraw more than 250 eu/week from their debit/credit cards'.
Can't say I was surprised. I hope you guys have better luck.

That's quite interesting. I am applying to the Netherlands today...
It's odd though as you can withdraw almost as much LBP as you want in cash and convert them to EUR.

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#37 December 12 2019

rolf
Member

Re: Vacation outside Lebanon on a budget

nas93 wrote:

forcing Lebanese citizens not to withdraw more than 250 eu/week from their debit/credit cards'.

I am not sure about this. It was possible withdraw 800 euros in one day, last week, from a lebanese card, in France.
Besides 250/week should be enough for expenses.
Did they really give you this reason, in writing?

Last edited by rolf (December 12 2019)

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#38 December 12 2019

nas93
Member

Re: Vacation outside Lebanon on a budget

I'm just translating what they sent in the email from German, and they then reconfirmed that 90% of applications were rejected this month when I went to pickup my papers at the embassy.

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#39 December 14 2019

Johnaudi
Member

Re: Vacation outside Lebanon on a budget

Germany has one of the highest rates of rejection in Lebanese visas. (Up to 30%)
Note that several embassies do not state the direct reason of rejection. Several people get rejected for reasons unstated for. (Unhealthy looks, religion, financially on the line, suspicious activities, etc.)
They usually find the smallest thing to reject an application. Also do note that you've stated that 90% got rejected (apart from their normal 30%), making it a 60% increase in rejection in an economical crisis. I'm not surprised by such a number, yet do notice the 10% got accepted.
These 10% are able to withdraw more than 250/week all of the sudden? (Unless they have accounts in an external bank, of which seems odd)

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#40 December 14 2019

nuclearcat
Member

Re: Vacation outside Lebanon on a budget

Johnaudi wrote:

Germany has one of the highest rates of rejection in Lebanese visas. (Up to 30%)
Note that several embassies do not state the direct reason of rejection. Several people get rejected for reasons unstated for. (Unhealthy looks, religion, financially on the line, suspicious activities, etc.)
They usually find the smallest thing to reject an application. Also do note that you've stated that 90% got rejected (apart from their normal 30%), making it a 60% increase in rejection in an economical crisis. I'm not surprised by such a number, yet do notice the 10% got accepted.
These 10% are able to withdraw more than 250/week all of the sudden? (Unless they have accounts in an external bank, of which seems odd)

Most likely they have external accounts or sponsors.

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#41 December 17 2019

nas93
Member

Re: Vacation outside Lebanon on a budget

I didn't apply to Germany, I applied to Austria.

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#42 December 17 2019

rolf
Member

Re: Vacation outside Lebanon on a budget

Johnaudi wrote:

Germany has one of the highest rates of rejection in Lebanese visas. (Up to 30%)

Visas for Lebanese nationals or visas applications at the embassy in Lebanon? The distinction is important because Syrians also apply at the embassy in Lebanon, in which case I would expect such high rates of rejection (sadly).

Johnaudi wrote:

These 10% are able to withdraw more than 250/week all of the sudden? (Unless they have accounts in an external bank, of which seems odd)

Note that for German visa (probably applies to the Austrian one as well) it is my understanding that you can replace "proof of money" with a letter from a German resident who pledges to support you financially during your stay.

nas93 wrote:

I didn't apply to Germany, I applied to Austria.

I think that in both cases you are applying to a Shengen visa.

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#43 December 17 2019

Johnaudi
Member

Re: Vacation outside Lebanon on a budget

I think you’ll find this link quite interesting by selecting Lebanon: https://statistics.schengenvisainfo.com/

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#44 December 18 2019

nas93
Member

Re: Vacation outside Lebanon on a budget

rolf wrote:
Johnaudi wrote:

Germany has one of the highest rates of rejection in Lebanese visas. (Up to 30%)

Visas for Lebanese nationals or visas applications at the embassy in Lebanon? The distinction is important because Syrians also apply at the embassy in Lebanon, in which case I would expect such high rates of rejection (sadly).

Johnaudi wrote:

These 10% are able to withdraw more than 250/week all of the sudden? (Unless they have accounts in an external bank, of which seems odd)

Note that for German visa (probably applies to the Austrian one as well) it is my understanding that you can replace "proof of money" with a letter from a German resident who pledges to support you financially during your stay.

nas93 wrote:

I didn't apply to Germany, I applied to Austria.

I think that in both cases you are applying to a Shengen visa.

Obviously, I was answering John because he thought I applied to Germany.

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#45 December 27 2019

Johnaudi
Member

Re: Vacation outside Lebanon on a budget

Hello, me and my friend just received our visas from VFS for the Netherlands. It was granted for one month but as single entry. Not surprised due to what’s happening with the country.

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#46 December 27 2019

xerxes
Member

Re: Vacation outside Lebanon on a budget

Johnaudi wrote:

Hello, me and my friend just received our visas from VFS for the Netherlands. It was granted for one month but as single entry. Not surprised due to what’s happening with the country.

I just applied for one.

Ever been to the Netherlands?

I took it last year for 6 months

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#47 December 27 2019

Johnaudi
Member

Re: Vacation outside Lebanon on a budget

Never applied to the Netherlands but I was there last summer.
I’ve had a 3 months business visa to Germany as well as a one year tourist visa to Germany.
Slightly sad for just one month but oh well. Beggars can’t be pickers :)

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