On the spend in Syria

SyriaThe postman brought a guidebook to Syria yesterday, the first to reach me.  The first question I had was “What currency should I take with me?”  Because, of course, if I need to obtain some Venezualan bolivars or Swiss Francs or whatever, some warning would be helpful!

The answer seems to be a mixture of US dollars and Euros and British pounds is preferred.  Travellers’ cheques are useless apparently.  Credit cards may be used in high-end hotels (which I certainly hope to be staying in — my sense of adventure evapourates at 5pm).

Only a few weeks to go now.  I’m just starting to feel the first incipient twinges of the “I wish I hadn’t given myself all this trouble” feeling that I get before I go anywhere!   Of course that feeling has to be overcome, or I would never go anywhere.  These days I expect it, and don’t get worried about it.  Still wish I didn’t get that, tho.


9 thoughts on “On the spend in Syria

  1. When I was in Jerusalem, Israel, the shop-keepers always kept three currencies on hand, Jordanian Dinars, Israeli Shekels and US Dollars and traded in which ever one was worth more. What is the Syrian currency called?

  2. I just imagine one of your next blog entries as “Mr. Bean in Syria”. 🙂

    Still the best guidebook to Syria is the one by Theodoret,
    “Haereticarum fabularum compendium.”

    Btw. if you come across a copy of the Diatessaron, photograph it, please! Theodoret writes that it is still in use there all over in the churches to this day.

  3. Hello Roger, you can change virtually any currency you like here. And if you have a visa debit card, the country’s cash points are your oyster. Just avoid Commercial Bank of Syria, they are subject to US sanctions, and most banks won’t let you withdraw.

    Syria is a great place, though frustrating in many many ways. I’m sure you’ll have a great trip.

  4. The Syrian currency is the Syrian pound and it was in 2002 50 to a dollar. In the tourist areas you can get away with foreign currency but just in case do change something like $20-50 when you arrive. You can not buy some snack from some bakery using foreign cirrecny. BTW on the duty free at the airport they do NOT accept Syrian pounds, only local currency. Credit cards are (again) accepted only in major tourist areas and in stores that expect you to pay a lot like jewelry stores. When I was in Syria there wasn’t a single super market where I visited (Lattakia, Palmyra) …

  5. Roger, you won’t need Euros or pounds: everyone will take dollars in any tourist area. If you are travelling on your own, you’ll need to exchange a good deal more than $ 20-50; if in a group, ikokki is right. Have a great trip.

  6. Roger, I live in Syria. Dollars will probably be accepted by a lot of hotels and tourist shops, though they’re often a bit reluctant to take them. You can change British Pounds easily at the bank. There is a change counter at the airport where you can change money (though they’ll charge you 100 SYPs (£1.40) for the privelege. They will change British Pounds there without difficulty, as they will in any bank. There is also a cash point at the airport.

    As Judith says, have a great trip. If you can get to Rasafa or Dura Europos you won’t regret it.

  7. Sorry, I don’t know why I assumed you had $$$. Pounds will be fine in Damascus but I always prefer dollars when travelling in the Middle East: everyone will take them (including those not allowed to do so :-).

  8. I’m certainly hoping to go to Resafa. Thanks everyone for the feedback. It sounds as if dollars will be more widely accepted than anything else.

    Wieland, that work by Theodoret is on heresies. Are you sure it’s a guide to Syria? (I don’t think it exists in English either).

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