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Officially known as the Syrian Arab Republic, Syria is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered by Lebanon to the west, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest. Syria is a diverse country since there are many Arabs, Armenians, Kurds, Turks, Greeks, Assyrians, and Circassians living here. The name of the country was derived from the Luwian term “Sura/i” and ancient Greek word “Syroi”. Most historians claim these words were further taken from Assyria, a kingdom in northern Mesopotamia. To date, travel to this country is strongly discouraged due to the ongoing Civil War. Visas, which are available for six months, three months, and 15 days, are required for individual travellers.

What to see & do

Those who want to see ruins of a former Roman city should visit Apamea. The area was destroyed during the 12th century due to a strong earthquake, but most of the columns still stand at the site. Another old Roman city to behold is Bosra, which is situated in southern Syria. It is famous for its well-preserved theatre.

The Dead Cities, meanwhile, is a series of abandoned towns that were part of Antioch. Tourists can take pictures in this place, particularly at the Al Bara, which contains tombs shaped like a pyramid. Apart from Al Bara, Serjilla is a popular Dead City.

In Salamieh or Salamiyah, people can see different cultures since it is home to the Shmemis Castle, Temple of Zeus, and Roman canals.

Meanwhile, tourists should not miss the main tourist destination in Syria, which is Palmyra. Although it presents ruins of another Roman city, Palmyra is located in the middle of a desert.

How to get around within Syria

For future plans, tourists who would want to explore the country should learn basic Arabic since most people do not speak English, especially taxi drivers. All taxis in Syria are metered and travellers are advised to watch for the price. Most taxis offer rides that are a bit expensive during night.

For those who want to go around Syria can also ride buses. These buses offer long hauls around the country such as a trip from Damascus to Palmyra. Buses are cheap and fast like the trains.

The Syrian railways are very punctual unlike some of the buses. The main train line links Damascus, Aleppo, Deir ez-Zur, Hassake, and Qamishle. The best time to use trains are during summer since a little steam train is being deployed from the Hejaz Railway Station, located in Damascus. This train has a good restaurant and climbs into mountains.

For small groups, consider taking microbuses. These are small little vans with a capacity of around 10 passengers. Drivers can stop anywhere, but these vehicles do no go for long travels. Drivers only usually roam Damascus, Aleppo, Homs, Tadmor, and Krak des Chevaliers. These are cheaper than buses, but are usually crowded.

Travellers can also rent cars from Cham Tours, which is located next to the hotel.

How to get there

Damascus International Airport is the busiest airport in Syria located in the capital, which is Damascus. It was opened in the 1970s. The airport is a major hub for Cham Wings Airlines, Syrian Air, Kinda Airlines, Fly Damas, and Syrian Peal Airlines. The airport, which can handle an annual passenger count of five million, has two runways both made of asphalt. More than five airlines operate in this airport including Syrian Air, Iran Air, and Caspian Airlines. International destinations that connect to the airport are Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Jeddah, Cairo, Riyadh, and many others. Since the Syrian Civil War, all airlines have ceased operations in this airport due to the intense battle in 2012.

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