Our flight back to NYC from Lahore required a daylong layover in the Kingdom of Bahrain, of which we fully took advantage.
It’s a country most recently famous for being the nearby (and relatively more liberal) weekend destination for vactioning Saudis who need a conveniently located outlet for shopping, drinking, and partying.
Arriving around 9am in Bahrain’s International Airport, we got a 2 week tourist visa on arrival for 6 dinars (around $16 USD) each. You can pay in Dinars or in USD.
Unfortunately for us it was raining in Bahrain, so it wasn’t at its prettiest. The city is also designed to be not very walkable; the only way to get around is by car.
The airport is located in Al Muharraq, a 10 minute drive from the capital city of Manama. We got a car pickup and first headed to the old souq to drop off our bags at a cheap inn.
There are no hostels in Bahrain, and the “cheap” lodging goes around $300 USD/night at hotels designed for Saudis on their weekends off. The cheapest you can do is a business hotel for $60 USD/night.
Other than the Bahraini forts located near the airport, the only “sight” in Manama is the Grand Al-Fateh Mosque, one of the largest in the world:
You have to register at the front desk for an official guided tour to see the interior of the mosque. Since we were running low on time and wanted to relax a bit, we opted to get back in our car and drive around to a few malls for shopping and brunch (our favorite was Aroma Café in Seef Mall).
Because it can get blisteringly hot in the summer and people prefer to stay indoors most of the time for their social gatherings — Bahrain has a huge mall culture. There’s even a water park (both indoor and outdoor) on top of the biggest mall of the city, the City Center Mall:
We then visited one of Mariam’s cousins living in Bahrain, Mohib, whom we had last saw at the wedding functions a week ago in Lahore.
After catching up over dinner at City Center Mall, we then headed back to the airport to catch our homebound flights back to Paris and then NYC.
Thanks for a pleasant day, Bahrain!
– At time of posting in Bahrain International Airport , it was 59 °F – Humidity: 77% | Wind Speed: 25km/hr | Cloud Cover: few clouds