Last updated: 3 Sep 2018

Bahrain

About

With a name meaning ‘Two Seas’ it is little wonder that Bahrain, an archipelago of 33 islands in the Gulf, defines itself in relation to the water that surrounds its shallow shores.

The twin 50-storey towers of Bahrain's World Trade Centre and the horseshoe of man-made islands at the southern tip of the country are sights to behold. Enter into the past at the excellent Bahrain National Museum before venturing beyond Manama to find traces of Dilmun, Bahrain's ancient civilization.

Amble through the souks around Bab al Bahrain and enjoy the aromas of cardamom coffee, apricot sheesha, sizzling kebabs and heady incense-laced perfumes.

Take a 40-minute boat ride to the Hawar Islands and look out for the dolphins that play in the calm Gulf seas while flamingos stalk through the shallow waters.
Official Name: Kingdom of Bahrain
Local Name: Mamlakat al Bahrayn
Capital:  Manama (BAH)
Currency:  Bahraini Dinar (BHD)
Language:  Arabic. English, Farsi, and Urdu are also widely spoken.
Dialling code from SA:  + 973
Time Zones: GMT / UTC +3 (1 hour ahead of South Africa)
Public Holidays 2018: 

Jan 1; May 1; Jun 15-17; Aug 22-26; Sep 12, 20, 21; Nov 21; Dec 16, 17

Side of the Road: Right
Best time to go:  November - March
Best For: Archaeological Sites, UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Plugs:  220-240 volts AC, 50Hz (Awali, 110 volts AC, 60Hz). British-style three-pin plugs are used.
Drinking Water: Mains water in hotels and towns is safe to drink. Bottled water is available and may be preferred by travellers. Outside of the main towns, water may be contaminated. 
Health: There are adequate and well-equipped medical facilities, however visitors are required to pay for these services. Comprehensive health insurance is recommended.
Customs: Although Bahrain is a liberal Islamic state, dress should be relatively conservative and revealing clothing should be avoided.  It is best for women to keep shoulders, arms and legs covered, although generally there are no restrictions for Western women. Respect to religious customs should be shown during the month of Ramadan, when eating, drinking and smoking in public should be avoided during daylight hours. The right hand should be used for eating, greeting and exchanging items. 
Local Offences / Laws: Homosexuality is illegal. 
Travel Tips / Warnings: There is a low risk of terrorist attacks. It is important to take sun protection measures. 
Duty Free: The following goods may be imported into Bahrain by travellers over 18 years of age without incurring customs duty:
• 400 cigarettes, 50 cigars and 250g of tobacco in opened packets
• 1L of alcoholic beverages and six cans of beer (non-Muslim passengers only)
• 240ml of perfume
• Gifts up to the value of BHD250 (approximately US$660)
Prohibited Imports: Prohibited imports include narcotics, cultured pearls, advertisements for cigarettes, radio-controlled model aircraft, children's toy guns, goods of Israeli origin, publications that contradict Islamic teachings, asbestos and ivory. Restricted imports requiring authorisation include animals, animal products, plants, fruit and vegetables, firearms and ammunition, films and publications, and telecommunications equipment.
Prohibited Exports: Prohibited exports include fuel, flour, red meat and fresh chicken bearing the trademark 'Delmon'. Restricted exports requiring authorisation include palm tree seedlings and antiquities

Visa Requirements

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SA Representative

SA Consular Office:
Hannover Retakaful B.S.C
Al Zamil Tower, 17th Floor
Government Avenue
Manama
Tel: +973 17 576 664
Fax: +973 17 214 667

Travel Health

Compulsory:  Yellow Fever (Dependant on Country of Origin/Stopover)
Recommended Travel Vaccines:  Hepatitis A & B, Tetanus, Polio