ALPS Beirut

Home » Getting Around Beirut and Lebanon

Category Archives: Getting Around Beirut and Lebanon

Advertisements

Taking Bus 4 in Beirut – to and from ALPS Beirut

For many students coming to classes at ALPS Beirut, taking Bus 4 is the easiest and cheapest way to get to Hamra. Bus Fours are usually 12 person mini vans with a “4” in the window. Like this:
And no matter where you get on or off on the cost is the same 1000 Lebanese Lira ($ .66).
Where does Bus 4 go?
The route for Bus 4 starts in Dahiyye at the Lebanese University and goes right in front of our building in Hamra before it loops back and ends where it began at the Lebanese University. Check out the map with the Bus 4 route and the other busses in Beirut.  Below are a few landmarks Bus 4 passes by and if you are staying walking distance of any of these then Bus 4 could be a good option for you to get to Hamra.
  • Beirut Mall
  • Tayoune Roundabout
  • Barbir
  • Beshara al Khoury – close to Sodeco
  • Near the “Big Blue Mosque” Downtown
When you see a Bus 4  just wave it down and here are a few etiquette tips when on a bus in Beirut:
  • Greet the driver and let him know where you’d like to get off.
  • If possible, sit towards the front if you are getting off soon
  • If the driver invites you to sit next to him feel free to do so and use the chance to practice you Arabic. If you are a man and there is an open seat next to another man greet him and take that seat. You can sit next to someone of the opposite sex if there are no other options.
  • Say “3moul ma3rouf” (meaning something like if you please or do me a favor) when you want to stop and that will let the driver know when to pull over
  • It’s preferred to pay when your get off with a 1000 LL bill or a small bill

Where in Hamra is Alps?

Here’s that answer: https://alpsbeirut.wordpress.com/2011/07/21/how-do-i-get-to-alps/

Advertisements

Uber in Beirut? If and when you might want to take an Uber instead of a service or taxi in Lebanon

Can Uber work in Lebanon?

Before we begin, you should know that this post is based on personal experience and is not endorsed by ALPS or sponsored by Uber. Also Uber in Lebanon may have changed after the date of this post. 

In Beirut, Uber is a bit different. First of all you can pay with cash which is really nice! You have the same Uber experience with using the app to share your location, your destination and a car will come to you. However, there are a few times and situations where we have found a service or taxi to be better than Uber.

Here’s more info on what a service is and how taxis work in Beirut.

A service is best when…

  • you want to go somewhere quick and relatively close. It is hard to beat LL2,000 and if you are in Beirut and not going too far you can find a service ready to take you in less than a minute. In this situation, a service beats Uber in price and in speed.

A taxi is best when…

  • you are going to or from places that are hard to find or more out of the way.  In these places it can be more difficult to find a driver who knows how to get there and he will rely on you or people along the way to help him figure it out. Also, if you are leaving somewhere out of the city it can be hard to find a service quickly. Every neighborhood has a local taxi company and you or the person you are going to visit can call them and arrange a pick up at a certain time. This way the driver should know where you want to go and you will know the price ahead of time. A taxi can beat Uber here because the Uber maps don’t seem to reflect Beirut roads. You can drop a pin, and when you do, the driver will usually use the directions given in his Uber app and follow those. But because drivers in Lebanon use landmarks, and not maps, a pin isn’t the most helpful way for him to figure out where you are or where you want to go. Besides streets also usually have multiple names. The maps in the Uber App for drivers don’t seem to take into account one way streets or be able to consistently know the best route.
  • Depending on how reliable the taxi company is if you want to be picked up at 10:30 or in 15 minutes this can be more accurate than the Uber estimates. This comes back to the Uber app seems to have a hard time giving the best route and accurate time for pick up and arrival. We had multiple times when we saw “10 minutes to pick up” last over 20 minutes and watched the driver move around like he was stuck in a maze.

An Uber is best when…

  • you are visiting Lebanon for a short trip and don’t know Arabic. This is a great and easy way to get around.
  • you want to go somewhere across Beirut or out of Beirut. We found that often times Uber is  cheaper than a taxi.

No matter how long you are in Lebanon we can help you quickly lear  the most practical words and phrases in Spoken Lebanese Arabic to help you get around town and more. If you are only here for a short trip, make sure to check out our Skype options for when you are back home.

Tell us what you are looking for:

 

Is Beirut safe?

Is it safe to study abroad in the Middle East? Chances are if you are studying Arabic this is a question you (or your parents) are asking.  We have helped thousands of students study abroad in Lebanon and their experience with safety has been overwhelmingly positive.

Here’s a few examples about traveling to Beirut that you might find surprising:

It’s comfortable for women

Our female students who have spent time in other Arab countries frequently comment on how life in Beirut as a single woman is a lot more hassle free than in other places they have been – not to name those countries.

In general, Lebanese are used to different styles, seeing more skin and interacting with members of the opposite sex. This means men won’t frequently stop what they are doing to stare at you or say things to you – if you don’t send the wrong signals.

What are the wrong signals? Honestly, the way you dress and how relationships look depends on where you in Lebanon and what you are doing and we will cover that in class. At ALPS Beirut we are passionate about helping you learn Arabic and build relationships here and a big part of that is being able to understand and relate to the people you are spending time with.

It’s a big city

Beirut is a dense urban city and even though the people are more welcoming and talkative than in large cities in Europe or America so you want to use the same, basic precautions you would use in any city. Things like:

  • Always have your cell phone
  • Don’t get in a stager’s car
  • Don’t go out alone at night
  • Have a trusted taxi company’s phone number on your phone before you go out
  • Call ALPS Beirut anytime if you get lost or in a tough situation – we are here to help.
  • Don’t try to break a $100 bill in a taxi – carry small bills

What about bombs?

Unfortunately terrorism is a global threat that can strike anywhere, anytime. We’ve seen this in Beirut, Paris and Boston – just to name a few.

We can’t promise that you will be safe studying abroad in Lebanon, another country or even at your home university. That’s just the reality about life. However, we can confirm that we’ve never closed ALPS for security reasons during the last 9 years, neither in Hamra nor in Mansourieh.

What Parents Say

We have had parents here when a bomb has gone off – and have been surprised by their reaction – cool, calm and not worried. However, those same parents when they saw something on the news 100 miles away got nervous and called. Once parents visit they are surprised by 1) the traffic and 2) how Beirut looks nothing like what they pictured from the news.

How to Decide if it is Right for You

Which brings us to our last point – it’s best to talk with people on the ground who have experience before you make a decision. Talk with students who have studied abroad, email a few places or give us a call.

If you have questions, doubts or concerns we can talk on the phone or Skype before you book your plane ticket. But, in the end, we like to tell students if you don’t feel comfortable, it’s best not to come.

How to take a bus in Beirut, Lebanon with Important Arabic Phrases

Getting around Beirut, or Lebanon, by bus is pretty easy and cheap. Busses in Beirut usually cost 1,000 LL ($ 0.66 US). There are just a few things you need to know. Busses have a fixed route – check out the map for details. However, there are no bus stops. You can get on and off whenever and wherever you want.

Here are the three steps to a successful bus trip

1. Stop the bus

Raise your hand just a bit and it will pull over

2. Confirm this is the right bus

by saying “Does this bus go to ___________? in Arabic, for example,

Does this go to Hamra?
btuSal 3a l7amra?
بتوصل عَ الحمرا؟

Does this go to Achrafieh
btuSal 3a lashrafiyyeh?
بتوصل عَ الأشرفية؟ 

3. Stop the bus when you arrive

Say “Please stop, I’ll get out here”
3mol ma3ruuf baddy inzal hown or just 3mol ma3ruuf will get the bus stopped.
عمول معروف بدي إنزل هون أو بس عمول معروف

Check out the bus map to see what areas are covered. Busses are usually a bit ta3ban and crowded, but are a very easy transportation option with no negotiating needed.

Bus 2 takes you from near Bar Bar in Hamra (5 min walk from ALPS) through Mar Elias, Sodeco, Sassine and Dora

Bus 2 HamraImg Cred: http://www.bus-planet.com/bus/bus-asia/Lebanon/files/midibuses/Frame-01.html

Bus 4 goes right by the ALPS building in Hamra and will go within walking distance of downtown and Gemmayzeh, Sodeco, Tayoune, Beirut Mall and Dahiyyeh. 

Bus 4 Hamra

Img Cred: http://www.bus-planet.com/bus/bus-asia/Lebanon/files/midibuses/Frame-01.html

Best Internet Options in Lebanon

About a year and a half ago we posted about the slow internet in Lebanon. Since then the average download speed has gone up from 2.66 mbps to 3.9 mbps. That’s some progress!  You can learn more about the speed of the Internet in Lebanon here and test out your connection to see if it is slower or faster than the country’s average. You’ll notice that the average is up because there are now better options for mobile connectivity – the average download speed on mobile is much more than the country’s average at 7.3 mbps.

However, since our last post Lebanon has slipped back from 166th slowest nation to 173rd place at the time of this post. What is keeping Lebanon behind? Here’s one article on that.

These results confirm our own experiences in Lebanese after spending hours upon hours trying just about every option for good Internet in Lebanon. Here are the result of our ta3b….

What are your Internet options for in your apartment?

This depends on how long you will be in Lebanon and how much you want to pay….

ishtirak-Each neighborhood has someone who will install shared internet in your apartment. Just ask a neighbor or a local store owner for the person in your area, contact him and he will run a wire from the rooftops to your apartment. This is a small, local operation that is cost effective, but slower since one connection (and one IP) is shared among neighbors. This is a good option if you have a limited budget, don’t need to Skype or stream content, and you won’t be in the country long. It’s also good if you need to download a lot, but you don’t care if it takes all night. You can get it started and be done in a day.

3G/4G– Forget about getting a connection for your apartment and just use 3G/4G on your phone while you are here. With this option you can download or stream videos and Skype with no real problems, however using video and downloading can get costly. You can get 5 GB for $29 a month on your phone and share your connection with your laptop if you need. It’s nice to know you will have a reliable connection wherever you are even in coffee shops that can have slow connections. But, beware if you go over your allotted GBs for the month you will have to pay $.07 a MB and it can easily get costly.

If your phone and the type of SIM card you purchase can use 4G, then you will have access to 4G speeds at the same price. Check out Alfa’s 4G prices. If you want, you can go to the Alfa Headquarters you can purchase a router that will allow you to create a WiFi network in your house using a 4G data SIM card. Make sure you ask for the router – not the dongle. Or you can just make a Personal Hotspot from your phone. This option is quick and easy to get started, but is the most expensive.  Beware if you use up all of your GBs for the month you can’t add any more and you will have to pay about $.05 per MB until the month renews.

DSL – If you are planning on being in Lebanon for a year or more you could get DSL in your home. This is the cheapest option, but involves the most paperwork. It will take 3-6 months to set up and a significant amount of bureaucracy hassle, especially if there isn’t already a phone line in your home. You can easily stream videos with DSL. However, you should know that in certain areas outside of Beirut the wires are bad and the connection can be slower and randomly drop. This can cut downloads and make Skype calls drop.  Sodetel is one DSL provider in Lebanon.

No matter what option you choose make sure to bring your passport with you to get started.

Internet Speed in Lebanon and Best Internet Options

How slow is the Internet in Lebanon?

At the time of this post Lebanon was the 166th slowest nation at 2.66 mbps. How does this compare to your home country? Find out here.

Despite the recent improvements, be advised that the Internet speed is still slower than most of the world. All over the city there are coffee shops and restaurants where you can enjoy free internet when you purchase a coffee. This is usually good enough for checking your e-mail but too slow for most other tasks.

What are your internet options for in your apartment? 

  • ishtirak-Each neighborhood has someone who will install shared internet in your apartment. Just ask a neighbor or a local store owner for the person in your area. This is a small, local operation that is cost effective, but slower since one connection (and IP) is shared among your neighbors. You can get it started easily and be done in a day.
  • 3G/4G – Just use 3G or 4G on your phone while you are here and as long as you don’t download or watch videos this can be a reasonably priced option.  3.9 G is Lebanese for “Sounds faster than 3G, but is actually slower than 3G.” Check out MTC Touch’s 3.9G pricing. If your phone and the type of SIM card you purchase can use 4G, then you will have access to 4G speeds at the same price. Check out Alfa’s 4G prices. If you want, you can also get a dongle to connect to your laptop or just make a Personal Hotspot. This option is quick and easy to get started, but is the most expensive.
  • DSL-If you are planning on being in Lebanon for years, you could get DSL in your home. This will take 3-6 months to set up, especially if there isn’t already a phone line in your home. This is the fastest and cheapest option, but involves the most paperwork and you need to keep a local phone line as well. You can easily stream videos with DSL, but neighborhoods outside of Beirut can drop downloads due to poor wiring. Sodetel is one DSL provider in Lebanon.

How to get to Hamra in Beirut (by Bus, Service or Taxi)

There are a few ways to get to Hamra where ALPS Beirut is located.

LL1000 Take Bus #4
This is a good option if you are coming from near Beirut Mall or Sodeco. It can be crowded (Bus 4 is more of a van than a bus), but the price is right, and it drives right by ALPS Beirut.

LL1000 Take Bus #2 or #8
Bus #2 is bigger than bus #4 and is a good option if you are coming from Sassine. Check out the Beirut Bus map for more information.

LL2000 Service
Depending on the time of day and where you are coming from, just say “Service” followed by AUB (if coming from Downtown Beirut), Hamra Street (If coming from Ashrafieh) or Barbar (If coming from Verdun or Mousaitbe). Read here from more info on taking a service in Beirut.

LL 4000 Servicein
If traffic is bad, you are coming from further away, or getting rejected a lot just say “Sevicein” to a service driver and pay LL4000 for the trip.

LL10000 Taxi
If you say “Taxi” to any driver, that means you are automatically paying 10,000 Lira for a private cab.  If you are planning to taking a taxi you might as well call ahead and they will come to you at the scheduled time.  Try Trust Taxi at 01 61 35 73 and they will tell you the price based on the distance you are traveling.

ALPS is in the Ras Beirut Center Building
Once you are in Hamra ask for directions to Supermarket Idriss.  If you are exiting Idriss, take a right and ALPS is in the Ras Beirut Center Building two blocks from Idriss.  Don’t hesitate to ask for directions-you will find people eager to help! Ask for directions to Supermarket Idriss.  If you are exiting Idriss, take a right and ALPS is in the Ras Beirut Center Building two blocks from Idriss.  Don’t hesitate to ask for directions-you will find people eager to help! You can call us at 01 75 50 25 if you get lost or check out this google map.