Kuwait Travel Guide – Everything You Need to Know

Kuwait, a small yet culturally rich country nestled in the heart of the Arabian Gulf, offers a unique blend of modernity and tradition. From towering skyscrapers to historic souks and pristine beaches, Kuwait’s tourism scene is steadily growing. Travelers can explore its rich history, vibrant arts, and savor the flavors of its cuisine, making it an intriguing destination.

What’s the Best Time to Visit? 📅

The best time to visit Kuwait as a tourist is during the winter months, which typically run from November to March. During this period, the weather is milder and more comfortable, with daytime temperatures averaging between 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F). The cooler weather makes it ideal for exploring outdoor attractions, such as historic sites, markets, and the beautiful coastline.

Summer in Kuwait, from June to August, is scorching with temperatures soaring well above 40°C (104°F) and high humidity. It’s not recommended for outdoor activities during this time. Spring and autumn, from April to May and September to October, can also be pleasant for travel, but keep in mind that temperatures can still be quite warm during the day.

To avoid extreme heat and make the most of your visit, plan your trip to Kuwait during the winter months for a more comfortable and enjoyable experience.

What’s the Best Way to Get Around? 🚌

Getting around Kuwait as a tourist is relatively straightforward, and there are several transportation options available:

  1. Taxis: Taxis are a convenient and popular mode of transportation in Kuwait. They are widely available, and the fare is typically reasonable. Be sure to use officially marked taxis with meters, or you can negotiate fares in advance.
  2. Rental Cars: Renting a car is a common choice for tourists who prefer more independence in exploring Kuwait. The road infrastructure is excellent, and driving is on the right side of the road. International driver’s licenses are generally accepted.
  3. Public Buses: Kuwait has an extensive public bus system that connects various parts of the country. The Kuwait Public Transport Company operates these buses. While buses are a budget-friendly option, the schedules and routes can be challenging to navigate for tourists.
  4. Kuwait Metro (Under Development): The Kuwait Metro is currently under development and is expected to become a significant mode of transportation when completed. Keep an eye on updates regarding its progress and launch.
  5. Ride-Sharing Apps: Ride-sharing services like Uber and local app-based services are becoming increasingly popular in Kuwait and provide a convenient way to get around the city.
  6. Walking: In some areas, such as Souk Al-Mubarakiya in Kuwait City, walking is a great way to explore the local markets and cultural attractions. Just be mindful of the weather, especially during the hot summer months.
  7. Water Taxis: Kuwait’s coastline offers the opportunity to use water taxis for specific routes and attractions, such as from Kuwait City to Failaka Island.
  8. Cycling: Some urban areas in Kuwait are becoming more cyclist-friendly with dedicated lanes and bike-sharing services. Cycling can be a pleasant way to explore specific neighborhoods.

When planning your transportation in Kuwait, consider the weather, the distance to your destinations, and your personal preferences. Taxis and rental cars are often the most convenient options, especially for travelers who want flexibility in their itinerary.

What’s the Official Language?

The official language of Kuwait is Arabic. While Arabic is the primary language spoken by the majority of the population, English is also widely understood and used in business, tourism, and as a second language. Here are some basic Arabic phrases that can be helpful for tourists in Kuwait:

  1. Hello – مرحبًا (Marhaban)
  2. Good morning – صباح الخير (Sabah al-khair)
  3. Good evening – مساء الخير (Masa’ al-khair)
  4. Thank you – شكرًا (Shukran)
  5. Please – من فضلك (Min fadlik)
  6. Yes – نعم (Naam)
  7. No – لا (La)
  8. Excuse me / I’m sorry – آسف (Asif)
  9. How much does this cost? – بكم هذا؟ (Bikam hatha?)
  10. Where is…? – أين…؟ (Ayna…?)
  11. Restroom / Toilet – دورة المياه (Dawrat al-miyah)
  12. Water – ماء (Ma’a)
  13. Food – طعام (Ta’am)
  14. I don’t understand – لا أفهم (La afham)
  15. Help – مساعدة (Musa’adah)

While many people in Kuwait’s urban areas, especially those in the service industry, speak English, making an effort to use basic Arabic phrases is appreciated and can enhance your travel experience. It’s also a great way to connect with locals and immerse yourself in the culture.

Where to Stay? 🏨

Kuwait offers a range of accommodation options to suit different preferences and budgets. Here are some areas and types of places to consider when deciding where to stay as a tourist in Kuwait:

  1. Kuwait City: As the capital and largest city, Kuwait City has a variety of hotels, from luxury to mid-range and budget options. This is a convenient location for exploring many of the city’s attractions.
  2. Salmiya: This area along the Gulf Road is a popular choice for tourists. It offers a mix of hotels, serviced apartments, and restaurants, along with easy access to the beach and the lively Salmiya Promenade.
  3. Hawally: Just a short drive from Kuwait City, Hawally has a range of accommodation options and is known for its shopping districts and restaurants.
  4. Fahaheel: Located in the southern part of Kuwait, Fahaheel offers a more relaxed atmosphere. It’s a good choice for those looking for a beachfront experience.
  5. Jabriya: This residential area has a growing number of boutique hotels and furnished apartments. It’s a quieter option while still providing easy access to Kuwait City.
  6. Airport Hotels: If you have a short layover or need to be close to the airport, consider the hotels near Kuwait International Airport for convenience.
  7. Luxury Resorts: If you’re seeking a luxurious beachfront experience, consider the high-end resorts along the coast, like the Hilton Kuwait Resort or The Regency Kuwait.
  8. Serviced Apartments: Kuwait has a variety of serviced apartments that offer more space and the convenience of a kitchen. This is an excellent option for extended stays.
  9. Budget Accommodation: Kuwait has a limited number of budget hotels and hostels. While options are limited, you can find some affordable places in various areas of the city.

When choosing your accommodation, consider factors like location, budget, and the kind of experience you want during your stay. It’s advisable to book in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons, to secure the best deals and availability.

What to Eat? 🍽️

Kuwait offers a diverse and delicious range of dishes that reflect the region’s rich culinary heritage. As a tourist, here are some must-try foods in Kuwait:

  1. Machboos: This is Kuwait’s national dish, a flavorful and aromatic rice dish usually made with basmati rice, saffron, and a choice of meat (often chicken, lamb, or fish). It’s seasoned with a unique blend of spices and served with a side of yogurt.
  2. Ghuzi: A festive and aromatic dish made with slow-cooked lamb or chicken served with fragrant rice, roasted nuts, and a flavorful tomato sauce.
  3. Margoog: A traditional Kuwaiti stew made with vegetables, meat (usually chicken or lamb), and a special blend of spices. It’s often served with flatbread.
  4. Harees: A hearty porridge-like dish made from wheat and chicken, slow-cooked to perfection and seasoned with spices.
  5. Kebabs: Kuwait offers a variety of kebabs, including the popular shawarma, kebab hala, and tikka. These grilled meat dishes are typically served with flatbread and an array of flavorful sauces.
  6. Mutabbaq: A savory pastry filled with a mixture of minced meat, onions, and spices. It’s a popular street food in Kuwait.
  7. Machboos Deyay: A version of machboos made with chicken, saffron, and a blend of spices, often served with a side of pickles and yogurt.
  8. Fried Fish: Kuwait’s coastal location ensures an abundance of fresh seafood. Try fried or grilled fish, often served with rice and tahini sauce.
  9. Fatteh: A unique dish made from layers of toasted bread, yogurt, and a flavorful sauce, often garnished with roasted nuts and fresh herbs.
  10. Dates and Arabic Coffee: Kuwait is known for its high-quality dates. Pair them with Arabic coffee (gahwa) for a traditional treat. Arabic coffee is a cardamom-infused, lightly sweetened coffee served in small cups.
  11. Lugaimat: Sweet, deep-fried dumplings coated in date syrup or honey, a popular dessert in Kuwait.
  12. Kuwaiti Tea: Enjoy a cup of traditional Kuwaiti tea, often flavored with cardamom, saffron, or rosewater.

Exploring the local cuisine is an integral part of the Kuwaiti experience. You can find these dishes in restaurants, street stalls, and local markets throughout Kuwait. Don’t miss the opportunity to savor the flavors of this diverse and delicious cuisine during your visit.

What to See? 🔍

Kuwait offers a mix of modern and cultural attractions for tourists. Here are some must-see places when visiting Kuwait:

  1. Kuwait Towers: Iconic and symbolizing Kuwait’s modernization, the Kuwait Towers offer panoramic views of the city from the Observation Deck. The towers are beautifully lit at night.
  2. Grand Mosque: The Grand Mosque is one of the largest mosques in Kuwait, known for its stunning architecture and intricate details. It’s open to non-Muslim visitors outside prayer times.
  3. Kuwait National Museum: Explore Kuwait’s history, culture, and art at this museum. It includes exhibits on archaeology, traditional crafts, and contemporary art.
  4. Failaka Island: Take a ferry to this island to visit archaeological sites, ancient Greek ruins, and enjoy the serene beaches. It’s a step back in time to explore the island’s rich history.
  5. Al-Mubarakiya Souq: This traditional market is the perfect place to experience Kuwaiti culture. You can shop for handicrafts, spices, clothing, and enjoy local street food.
  6. Sadu House: Learn about traditional Bedouin culture and crafts at the Sadu House. It’s a great place to buy handmade Bedouin weavings and textiles.
  7. Scientific Center: Ideal for families, the Scientific Center features an impressive aquarium, an IMAX theater, and interactive exhibits on marine life.
  8. Mirror House: An eccentric and artistic house filled with mirrors and mosaics. It’s a unique and visually stunning experience.
  9. Salmiya Promenade: A beautiful seaside area where you can enjoy a leisurely stroll along the Corniche, watch the sunset, and visit cafes and restaurants.
  10. Green Island: An artificial island with beautiful greenery and water features, perfect for picnics and relaxation.
  11. House of Mirrors: Another artistic gem, this house is covered in millions of tiny mirrors and mosaics, making it a visually striking attraction.
  12. Al Kout Mall: A modern shopping mall with a mix of international and local brands, as well as dining and entertainment options.

Kuwait’s attractions offer a blend of the contemporary and the traditional, providing travelers with a glimpse into the country’s rich history and its vibrant present. Be sure to explore these sites to get a well-rounded experience of Kuwait.

What to Do? 📸

Kuwait offers a variety of experiences for tourists, from exploring its modern cityscape to diving into its rich cultural heritage. Here are some must-do things for tourists in Kuwait:

  1. Visit Kuwait Towers: Start your journey by visiting the iconic Kuwait Towers, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the city and the Arabian Gulf.
  2. Explore the Souks: Wander through the bustling souks, like Souk Al-Mubarakiya, to experience Kuwaiti culture, shop for local handicrafts, and savor traditional cuisine.
  3. Enjoy the Beaches: Kuwait has beautiful sandy beaches along its coastline. Spend a day at the beach, swim, sunbathe, or indulge in water sports.
  4. Experience the Cuisine: Kuwaiti cuisine is a treat for the taste buds. Try local dishes like machboos, ghuzi, and falafel at traditional restaurants and street vendors.
  5. Visit the Grand Mosque: Admire the stunning architecture of the Grand Mosque, and explore its intricate design.
  6. Attend Cultural Events: Check the local event calendar for cultural events, exhibitions, and festivals showcasing Kuwaiti and Middle Eastern culture.
  7. Go Island Hopping: Take a ferry to the nearby islands like Failaka to explore ancient ruins and enjoy the serene beaches.
  8. Learn About History: Visit the Kuwait National Museum to gain insights into Kuwait’s history, from archaeology to contemporary art.
  9. Shop for Gold: Kuwait is known for its gold markets. Explore the gold souks and discover exquisite jewelry pieces.
  10. Experience the Nightlife: Kuwait has a vibrant nightlife scene, with plenty of cafes, restaurants, and entertainment venues.
  11. Learn About Bedouin Culture: Visit the Sadu House to learn about traditional Bedouin culture and see exquisite woven textiles.
  12. Explore the Art Scene: Discover Kuwait’s contemporary art scene at galleries like CAP and Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah.
  13. Attend a Majlis: If you have the opportunity, attend a traditional Kuwaiti majlis (gathering), where you can engage with locals and learn about their customs.
  14. Enjoy Kuwaiti Coffee: Sip Kuwaiti coffee, known for its unique flavors, at local cafes.
  15. Stroll Along the Corniche: Take a leisurely walk along the Salmiya Promenade, where you can enjoy the scenic views and relax by the waterfront.

Kuwait offers a blend of history, culture, and modernity, making it a unique destination for travelers. These activities will allow you to immerse yourself in the local culture and create memorable experiences during your visit.

Culture and Safety 🦺

When traveling to Kuwait as a tourist, it’s essential to be aware of the local culture and ensure your safety. Here are some cultural and safety tips to keep in mind:

Culture:

  1. Respect Local Customs: Kuwait is a conservative country with strong Islamic traditions. Dress modestly, particularly in public places and religious sites. Women should cover their shoulders, and both men and women should avoid wearing revealing clothing.
  2. Ramadan: During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. It’s important to show respect by not eating, drinking, or smoking in public during daylight hours.
  3. Greetings: It’s customary to offer a friendly greeting and a handshake when meeting someone. Address people with titles such as Mr. (Sayed) and Mrs. (Sayeda), followed by their first name.
  4. Public Behavior: Public displays of affection should be limited to a minimum, as they are considered inappropriate in public.
  5. Photography: Always ask for permission before taking photos, especially of people. Be respectful of local customs, and avoid taking photos of government or military buildings.
  6. Friday Prayer: On Fridays, businesses often close during the midday prayer time. Plan your activities accordingly.

Safety:

  1. General Safety: Kuwait is generally a safe destination for tourists. It has a low crime rate, and public spaces are generally secure. However, it’s essential to take standard precautions like safeguarding your belongings and being aware of your surroundings.
  2. Respect Local Laws: Kuwait has strict laws, and violations can lead to serious consequences. Familiarize yourself with local laws and customs to ensure you stay within the legal boundaries.
  3. Political Discussions: Avoid engaging in political discussions, as Kuwait has strict laws governing this topic, and it’s best to steer clear of sensitive subjects.
  4. Healthcare: Ensure you have travel insurance that covers medical emergencies. Healthcare facilities in Kuwait are generally of high quality, but it’s important to be prepared.
  5. Travel Documentation: Ensure your passport, visa (if required), and other travel documents are in order before your trip.
  6. Currency: The currency used in Kuwait is the Kuwaiti Dinar (KWD). Be cautious when handling money and exchanging currency.
  7. Road Safety: Kuwait has a high standard of road infrastructure, but traffic can be aggressive. Follow local traffic rules and be vigilant when driving.
  8. Emergency Contacts: Familiarize yourself with emergency contact numbers, including the local police (112), medical services (112), and the fire department (112).

Kuwait offers a unique cultural experience, but it’s important to respect local customs and adhere to local laws to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit. Staying informed and being culturally sensitive will enhance your overall travel experience.

Conclusion

For tourists visiting Kuwait, expect a warm welcome and a chance to explore a nation with a proud heritage and a vision for the future. From the stunning Kuwait Towers to the peaceful Salmiya Promenade and the bustling Souk Al-Mubarakiya, Kuwait has much to offer. With its blend of history, culture, and modernity, Kuwait promises an unforgettable and enriching travel experience.