Updated April 2020.
It’s true, I set out solo to Doha, Qatar! It’s also true that I stayed with family friends who are from there. But after visiting, I can definitely recommend Qatar as a destination for solo female travelers. This post is your guide to taking on the most open Middle Eastern country—citizens of 80 countries can visit on a totally free visa!
I chose to visit Qatar for two reasons. 1) I wanted more Middle Eastern material for the blog. 2) My mom works with a Qatari woman in Tennessee. Her name is Sharifa, and she goes back to Qatar every year to visit her family, so I sort of knew people there! But after visiting, I couldn’t wait to plan my next trip to Qatar. The architecture is gorgeous, the museums are phenomenal (and free!), and the people are incredibly kind and friendly.
But maybe you just love the heat. Maybe you want to test the waters (or, well, the sand) in the Middle East because it’s so intriguing. Or perhaps you want to go to the FIFA World Cup when it’s held in Doha in 2022. Whatever your reason for visiting Qatar, it’s a good enough reason! For everything to know before you go, check out What to Know Before You Visit Qatar!
Have the most memorable trip yet: Arabian Nights in Qatar
Is It Safe?
The short answer is: YES!
The long answer is: Qatar is consistently ranked one of the safest countries in the world. Different sources claim it’s the 16th, 7th, or 2nd safest country. No matter which source you believe, all of those are excellent rankings. I was mostly with friends in my time there (only two of whom I’d met before landing in Doha for the trip), but even in the times I was on my own, I never felt unsafe, threatened, or afraid that I was a target for anyone with bad intentions.
More here: How to Travel Safely
How Can I Get There?
Ideally, you should take Qatar Airways Business Class non-stop to DOH (Hammad International Airport in Doha, Qatar), but their economy class is awesome, too! Qatar Airways is part of the OneWorld Alliance, so if you need to connect coming from the United States, it will probably be on American Airlines. Flying is your best option, as the only land border Qatar has is shared with Saudi Arabia, and all other sides are surrounded by the Arabian Gulf!
Read on: Qatar Airways Business Class
Where to Stay?
I was fortunate enough to stay with my friends, but out of curiosity I looked at hotel options in Doha. Since I was expecting prices comparable those in Europe, I was surprised at how inexpensive they were! Several 3- and 4-star, name-brand hotels were less than $100 USD per night, and in great locations as well. I suggest staying in the Doha Port area, Souk Waqif area, or Katara Cultural Center area so you can walk to several popular attractions. You will need to have an international driving permit if you want to rent a car in Qatar, but both Uber and Careem ride sharing services are very popular ways to get around Doha!
Keep reading: Your Ultimate Guide to Accommodations
How to Stay Occupied?
You will not run out of things to do in Qatar! You could spend a whole day at the Katara Cultural Center. I spent a good two hours at the Museum of Islamic Art, and the Qatar National Library with its fascinating museum was quite possibly the best surprise of the trip! Take a day excursion to the desert to ride a camel, explore the dunes, and even go for a swim! Try all the amazing Middle Eastern food at the incredible retaurants around. And get an authentic Qatari shopping experience at the Souq Waqif!
Another fun way to get the real Middle Eastern experience is to get henna tattooed! Henna is a safe, natural dye that washes off within about two weeks. Beware of black henna, which lasts longer but can be harmful. Ask for brown henna at any salon, do a quick Internet search for “Arabic Henna” or ask about designs at the salon, and get excited!
More here: 10 Things to Do in Qatar
How to Save Money?
Haggle! Get a good price on those sourvenirs and gifts for friends and family back home. Just remember that the gold is actually real, so it will be justifiably pricey!
Also, I’m about to blow your mind: all the museums in Doha are free! So spend the hot days enjoying the air conditioning, artifacts, and history in the beautiful, world-class museums.
Need to know: What to Know Before You Visit Qatar
What to Wear?
I chose to wear conservative clothes (for everything I packed, check out What to Wear in Qatar!), but I saw women wearing everything from sleeveless sundresses to full-coverage abaya, shayla, and burqa. I suggest that you dress conservatively, but don’t worry yourself about it at all. Qatar is the most open country in the Middle East, with 80 countries allowed to visit on a completely free visa that you receive upon arrival. That openness means they understand others would not be comfortable being so covered in the heat!
Must read: What to Pack for Qatar
Are you ready to take on Qatar solo? Tell me in the comments below, and don’t forget to check out my Qatar Page!
Want more tips about solo travel, especially for women? Check out my Solo Travel Page!
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