Kuwait might not be your typical backpacker destination, but you would be wrong to write it off completely. Compared to the rest of the Middle East, Kuwait is relatively quiet and safe for international travelers. The tiny country is notably wealthy and has a focus on economic development and maintaining a high quality of life. This national mentality means the crime rate is virtually zero.
But, Kuwait is not your run of the mill tourist destination. If you’re thinking about planning a trip to Kuwait then there are a few things you should know before you go.
1. You Need a Tourist Visa
The first thing to do before traveling to any destination is to check the visa requirements. Luckily, the Kuwait tourist visa application is straightforward. You fill out a form online, pay the $10 fee, and wait for an email saying your application has been successful. For tourists who show up unprepared, you can get a tourist visa on arrival. However, this may mean queuing up for a while at the airport, so if you can get it beforehand, all the better.
2. You Should Dress Conservatively
You probably already knew that but it is worth reiterating. Visiting a Muslim country means adjusting your behavior and dress sense to adhere to local laws and customs. Women tend to dress modestly, so if you don’t want to draw attention to yourself, it is better to cover up. The same goes for men – sleeveless tops and shorts above the knees will earn you some funny looks. If you travel in August, temperatures can soar to over 120°F and you will still have to dress modestly, so bear that in mind.
3. Renting a Car Is a Bad Idea
You might think you have excellent driving skills, but even the most confident driver will struggle on the lawless roads of Kuwait. Speeding, aggressive driving, tailgating, lane weaving, and relentless texting while driving are all common occurrences on Kuwaiti roads. If you are going to be traveling around the country, hire a driver or use taxis. If you really feel like you need to hire a car, make sure you have a solid insurance policy.
4. Kuwait is Not LGBT-Friendly
In Kuwait, homosexuality is still illegal but only for men. Nonetheless, homosexual women should be wary of being open with their sexuality. The penalty for being a homosexual man is a fine or prison sentence. If you are gay and plan on traveling to Kuwait, avoid public displays of affection or openly talking about your sexual orientation. A prison stint would really put a dampener on your vacation.
5. Alcohol Is Completely Prohibited
Depending on how much you enjoy a glass of wine or beer in the evening, this may be a deal breaker. While many Gulf states serve alcohol in tourist hotels or to expats who work abroad there, in Kuwait it is absolutely forbidden. For some, this could make Kuwait a nice detox destination, for others, it will be hell. On the bright side, drink driving is kept to a minimum and alcohol-fuelled violence is virtually non-existent.