Bahrain Travel Guides

Currency

The currency in Bahrain is the Bahraini dinar (BHD). Coins are available in 5, 10, 25, 50, 100 and 500 fils, while banknotes come in ½, 1, 5, 10 and 20 dinars. There are no restrictions on the import and export of Bahrain dinar and other foreign currencies.

Currency Exchange

On arrival in Bahrain, visitors can exchange currency at the airport, where a number of banks and bureaux de change can be found. Alternatively, all major towns in Bahrain as well as the capital, Manama, have bank branches with currency exchange services. The main banks include the National Bank of Bahrain; Bank of Bahrain and Kuwait; Al-Ahli Bank and Gulf International Bank. ATMs are widespread across Bahrain and accept most major credit cards. They can be found in most shopping centres and the financial districts. Credit cards are accepted in many of the large department stores, but if you are thinking of shopping at the souks, only cash is an accepted form of payment.

Banking Hours

Banks are open from 07:30 to 14:00 from Sunday to Wednesday, although some branches are also open in the evenings. In addition, banks are open from 07:30 to 13:00 on Thursdays, but all are closed on Fridays and Saturdays. They are also closed on public holidays.

Customs

Visitors can import up to 400 cigarettes, 50 cigars and a ¼ kilo of tobacco; eight ounces of perfume; one litre of alcoholic liquor; six cans of beer and gifts up to the value of BHD 250. A special import permit is required for the following items: arms and ammunition, mentholated spirits, intoxicating drugs and jewellery.

Electricity

220V/50Hz UK plug

Health

Visitors travelling to Bahrain from an area infected with yellow fever will have to show proof of being vaccinated in order to gain entry; this does not apply to transit passengers or children under one year. Visitors are recommended to be vaccinated against cholera before travelling to Bahrain; vaccination certificates may be requested on arrival should you arrive from an infected area.

Health care in Bahrain is excellent, with citizens receiving free health services. Should you require medical attention during your stay, there are a number of hospitals and clinics located in the capital. Doctors are spread around the island and usually have excellent English language skills. Visitors should make sure they have comprehensive medical insurance prior to leaving home as medical bills will have to be paid up front if you are without medical cover.

International Hospital of Bahrain emergency response line: 1759 0575

Language

Arabic is the official language of Bahrain. English is used in business and taught in schools as a compulsory second language. Urdu, Farsi are also spoken by the foreign working population of Bahrain. The conventional spoken language is Modern Standard Arabic, a progressive form of classical Arabic. It is used in schools, for official functions and for written communication within the Arabic speaking community.

Safety

Crime rates are low in Bahrain, although petty crimes such as pick-pocketing and bag snatchings are not unheard of. One particular problem visitors are likely to encounter is the unscrupulous taxi drivers, who go to great lengths to overcharge passengers. Some even try to hide the meter behind a Kleenex box. Road conditions are generally good, but pedestrians should take care when crossing roads as some vehicles will not stop.

With Bahrain being primarily a Muslim country, drinking alcohol can also be a contentious issue. Public drunkenness is strictly prohibited and those found to be intoxicated while in public are likely to be thrown in jail and heavily fined. Likewise, drinking and driving is strictly forbidden.

Another important thing you should modify during your stay is your dress. Women in particular should cover their arms and legs and should not expose any cleavage, which will be guaranteed to attract unwanted attention and foster disrespect from the Bahrainis you interact with. In fact, if you dress provocatively, you are likely to receive sexual propositions and possibly be groped.

Police: 999

Social Conventions

Bahraini citizens are on the whole very religious, with worship and religion playing a large part in most people’s lives. The Muslim population can be found praying at their nearest mosque five times a day. The multicultural mix that is present in Bahrain has helped to liberalise the country and you will find that many other religions are present and accepted, despite Islam being the official religion.

Foreigners visiting will not be expected to speak Arabic, and English is widely understood. Do not attempt to take photographs of locals without their permission; Muslim women in particular may object to being photographed without their husband’s permission.

In order to show respect and consideration for the Bahraini people, women should cover up their legs and arms when out and about; those who do not will be frowned upon and will receive unwanted attention from the Bahraini men. Likewise, avoid tight clothing and low-cut tops.

If you are offered a drink of tea or coffee in Bahrain, it is very impolite to refuse. The left hand has ‘unclean’ connotations so it is therefore only acceptable to pass or receive things with your right hand.

Tax and Tipping

Most restaurants add a service charge of between 10 and 15 per cent, eliminating the need for diners to leave a tip unless they feel the service was particularly good. It is common to tip porters at hotels, while taxi drivers usually overcharge foreigners, making tipping unnecessary. 

Tax-free shopping is available at Bahrain International Airport.

Telephone

The country code for Bahrain is 973.

Time

GMT +3

Visa and Passports

Visit visa are open to citizens of most European countries including the UK. This type of visa can be issued on arrival at Bahrain International Airport for a small fee. While some visas are valid for a two-week period, it is possible to get a visa that is valid for three months and you can enquire with immigration officials at the airport for more information. They are usually very helpful and honest.

Visit visas prohibit employment during your stay and applicants may be asked to demonstrate that they are able to support themselves financially for the duration of their trip. Passports must be valid for the length of your stay and six months prior to your arrival in Bahrain. Most visas only permit a single entry.