Tunisia, Africa - Stein Travel



    • 16+ years

    • 12-15 years

    • 2-11 years

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Welcome to Tunisia

Old and new, exotic and traditional, the captivating North African country of Tunisia sits at the heart of the Mediterranean, caught in a cleft between Algeria and Libya, offering the world's travellers some sumptuous modern seaside resorts set side by side with a treasure trove of ancient Roman, Arab, Berber and Phoenician sites.

Just a few miles north of the capital, Tunis, lie the remains of the legendary ancient city of Carthage, founded in the 8th century BC. By contrast Tunis is a hustling, bustling modern metropolis where steel, glass and palm trees form the backdrop to streets filled with fast-moving yellow taxis. In the heart of this surprisingly pristine city, however, the centuries slip away in the medieval Medina, a haven for souvenir hunters with hundreds of narrow streets crammed with vendors of antiques, jewellery, pottery, carpets, perfumes, dried fruit, books, spices and many other delights. Also, no tourist to the city should miss a visit to the Bardo Museum, for the joy of viewing one of the world's greatest collections of Roman mosaics.

Tunisia has a thousand miles of coastline to the north, where luxurious resorts like Hammamet and Nabeul nestle amid citrus orchards. Vacationers relish the sandy beaches and crystalline waters along the waterfront, where the only alternative to lazy bronzing is to indulge in a round of golf or take the plunge with some watersports.

Those intrepid enough to venture into the south, on the threshold of the Sahara desert, will be rewarded with some interesting geographical features like the 'forest in the desert' at Ramada, the dry salt lake at Chott el Jerid, or the remote 'end of the road' oasis at Ksar Ghilane.

The cherry on the top for visitors to this affordable and exotic holiday destination is the warmth and genuine friendliness of the Tunisian people. This is evident in even the smallest of villages, where if you happen to pass through during one of the numerous summer festivals you will be welcomed, urged to join in and find yourself dancing and sharing a cup of tea.

In essence, Tunisia is about sun, sand, archaeological treasures, lazy days and starry nights.


Attraction Overview

A popular holiday resort destination for tourists, Tunisia has more to see and do than just beautiful beaches scattered along its Mediterranean coastline, and luxurious resorts like Hammamet and Nabeul; there are countless attractions to meet just about every sightseer's needs.

Start off in the capital of Tunis, a fast-paced modern metropolis of a city juxtaposed by a medieval Medina. Spend a few hours here taking in the history and hunting for bargains and souvenirs in the countless tiny streets lined with vendors touting antiques, pottery, jewellery and other delights. Head to the Bardo Museum to marvel at some of the world's greatest Roman mosaics, while just a few miles north of Tunis lie the remains of the legendary ancient city of Carthage, which dates back to the 8th century BC.

Heading south towards the Sahara affords visitors plenty of fascinating geographical features like the 'forest in the desert' at Ramada, as well as the dry salt lake at Chott el Jerid and the remote 'end of the road' oasis at Ksar Ghilane.

Tunisia has a well-developed transport network buses run on a daily basis to just about every town in the country, domestic flights are cheap enough but don't operate too frequently. Hiring a car and self-driving can be pleasant enough in the north, but watch out for mopeds.

Business

Tunisians like to get to know the person with whom they will be doing business and negotiations tend to be prolonged and very sociable occasions. As with other Arab countries, one is expected to dress conservatively and formally in Tunisia. French is the common language of business and interpreters will be necessary otherwise. A firm handshake is the accepted form of greeting and the Arabic 'Salaam Aleikum' works better than a simple 'Hello.' Business hours are generally 8am to 12pm and 3pm to 6pm Monday to Friday.

Climate

Tunisia is a land of constant sunshine and warm water. The height of summer is a little too hot for most tastes, so July and August are regarded as 'off-season'. Between October and May is a more comfortable time to visit, with temperatures ranging between 54°F and 82°F (12°C and 28°C). Springtime (March to May) brings displays of wild flowers throughout the countryside.

Communications

The international dialling code for Tunisia is +216. The outgoing international code is 00, followed by the relevant country code (for example 0027 for South Africa). City/area codes are in use, e.g. (0)1 for Tunis. The country is covered by two GSM 900 mobile networks. There is widespread Internet coverage with Internet cafes in the main cities and towns.

Customs

Tunisia is a Muslim country and visitors should respect the local sensibilities, especially during the month of Ramadan. Visitors, and women in particular, should dress modestly outside of the beach resorts. Women should note that coffee houses are mainly populated by men and women are often ushered into the 'family section' in restaurants as this is for the comfort. Homosexuality is illegal and although it is common to see Arab men greet each other with a kiss on the cheek and even hold hands in public, this is unacceptable for tourists. Only married couples are allowed to share rooms, but the norm is more relaxed in the tourist resorts and hotels. Being a Muslim country, alcohol is not as widely available as in other countries and those looking for a drink at the end of the day should visit hotel bars and restaurants.

Duty Free

Travellers to Tunisia do not have to pay duty on the following items: 200 cigarettes, or 50 cigars, or 400g tobacco; 1 bottle of alcohol; a reasonable amount of perfume; and gifts to the value of 10 Tunisian dinars.

Electricity
Electrical current in Tunisia is 230 volts, 50Hz. Round European-style, two-pin plugs are used.
Health

No vaccinations are recommended for Tunisia and no serious health risks exist, but all travellers are required to show a yellow fever certificate if coming from an infected area. Travellers' diarrhoea and other parasitic infections may be contracted, but is unlikely in the modern seaside resorts. Visitors travelling outside these resorts should ensure they drink only boiled, purified water and eat well-cooked food. All medical expenses must be paid for immediately after treatment in Tunisia, and costs can be quite high. The availability of medication is limited. Visitors should bring adequate supplies of their own medication. Health insurance is a necessity.

Language
The overwhelming majority of people in Tunisia speak Arabic and French. English is taught in all schools and is increasingly spoken especially by younger people. Some German and Italian is also spoken.
Money

The unit of currency is the Tunisian dinar (TND), divided into 1,000 millimes. Travellers cheques are widely accepted. Banks and some hotels provide foreign exchange. ATMs are found in most towns and at all the tourist resorts; almost all will accept Visa cards and many will also accept Maestro (Switch) cards. Visa, Diners Club, American Express and MasterCard are accepted for payment in souvenir shops, upmarket hotels and restaurants, although Visa encounters the least problems. All Tunisian currency must be exchanged before departure.

Passport Visa

All visitors must hold documents and tickets for return or onward travel. Visas for Australians and South Africans can be obtained on arrival, incurring a fee of 3 dinars. Passports should be valid for at least 6 months before travelling to Tunisia. However, it is highly recommended that passports have at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

Safety

*As of January 2011, travel to Tunisia is not advised to to political turmoil. There is ongoing unrest and violence as protesters demand the resignation of officials associated with the old regime. Most carriers are not flying to Tunisia at present, and tour companies have cancelled scheduled excursions. Tourists have been evactuated from the country. Visitors should be vigilant and keep a check on official travel advice.

There is little violent crime, but petty theft and pick pocketing does occur. An increase in bag snatching has been noted in tourist areas and visitors are advised to keep bags close at all times. Travellers are advised to avoid the border areas with Algeria, and be extra cautious if travelling alone in the southern desert areas.

Time
Local time in Tunisia is GMT +1 (GMT +2 from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October).
Tipping

Tipping is not a requirement in Tunisia but appreciated for good service in local establishments. Most people performing a useful service will wait to be tipped. Waiters in resort and hotel restaurants expect a tip of around 10%.


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