Few would disagree that Tunisia is well and truly back on the map when it comes to tourism. Following a few turbulent years, it’s now becoming more prominent than ever in the travel brochures, with tourists desperate to lap up the glorious beaches, fantastic history and of course the hot temperatures.
However, this isn’t like your standard exotic getaway. Tunisia is a little different to the typical vacation, and through the course of today’s guide we will supply you with seven tips and tricks which can help your plight when you visit there. (You can find the French version of this article by following the link below / Vous pouvez trouver la version Française de cet article ici).
Tip #1 – Know your routes
A lot of tourists are targets for locals who are looking to “show them the way”. They will approach you, attempt to show you the “right” way to a place, before concluding the relationship by asking for a tip.
Suffice to say, you can avoid this if you plan accordingly. Then, if they do start to pester you and ask to show you the way, simply smile and carry on walking. As long as you show confidence that you know where you are going, they will leave you alone and attempt to entice someone who perhaps isn’t quite as sure.
Tip #2 – Be wary of the dress code
You might be coming from a country where nobody particularly bats an eyelid about what you are wearing, but let’s not forget that Tunisia is a Muslim country and you are a guest to it. Ultimately, you need to obey their dress codes.
Unfortunately, the rules become a little more stringent for women and the key message you need to keep in mind is to be as conservative as you possibly can. It would be fair to say that you probably won’t have quite as many problems when it comes to the larger cities, but if you start showing off a lot of flesh in smaller areas it might cause offence.
Tip #3 – Stay local
This is something that has changed a lot over the years. Once upon a time Tunisia was quite segregated, in the way that locals and tourists would tend to be located in completely different areas of the country.
Now, this has changed. There are absolutely no problems in venturing off the beaten track, within reason at least, meaning that the older areas of Sousse, Hammamet and Kairouan are all completely open to everyone. Try and find local restaurants and really become ingrained in Tunisian life; it’s a lot different to the “tourism” option.
Tip #4 – Beware of the pickpockets
Every country has them and unfortunately, Tunisia isn’t any different. The main rule to think of in relation to pickpockets is that they tend to stay in the crowded areas. It means that if you are heading to the souks, or anything else that attracts the crowds, just be aware of your surroundings and make sure you tuck everything away.
On the flip side, in the quieter regions of the country, crime tends to be very low and tourists don’t usually encounter any problems.
Tip #5 – You are expected to negotiate
It might not be commonplace in every region of the US, but when it comes to Tunisia you are well and truly expected to negotiate and barter in most stores that you come across. Chances are, the first price that you set eyes on isn’t the “real” one, and the store owner is going to expect you to make a lower offer.
Of course, if you happen to be in particularly premium stores, this might not be the case. In every other case, start with your lowest offer.
Tip #6 – Taxis are the preferred method of transport
Most tourists who have been to Tunisia in the past are more than happy to recommend the use of taxis. The fact that these tend to cost no more than 80 dinars an hour means that they are exceptionally cheap – and you can let the driver of the cab deal with the local driving etiquette which is most probably a little different to what you are used to. Sure, hiring a car can sometimes be tempting, but for the simplicity-factor alone a taxi is by far and away the best choice for you.
On a side note, if you are really against the use of taxis, it’s worth giving a quick mention to the train system. Particularly if you travel through the countryside of Tunisia, you will be greeted with picturesque desert scenes. This option is of course preferred if you are travelling between cities where a taxi probably isn’t practical.
Tip #7 – Don’t change any money in the hotel
It might seem like the most reputable establishment for changing money, and there’s no doubt that it is utterly convenient, but hotels charge a fortune for this service. It’s not been unheard of for some hotels to charge as much as 15% more than a bank – which certainly adds considerable expense onto your getaway.
As such, banks should always be your first port of call. If we were going to recommend a specific one, the Central Bank of Tunisia always tends to offer good rates and is of course reputable.