Traveling in north Iraq is akin to seeing a shark swimming in an aquarium. The semi-autonomous Kurdish region, which comprises primarily the cities of Duhok, Arbil, and Sulaymaniyah, is protected from the volatile south by a precarious border.
Iraq is certainly not a country that is, or should be, on most travelers list of places to visit. Having spent the past 5 days in the region with Wandering Earl, I’d like to give you a glimpse into the world within a war zone.
Confusion Of Visas
The northern Kurdish region is nearly completely autonomous; so much so that it issues its own visitor visas upon arrival at the Turkish border and Erbil International Airport. Good for 10 days, the stamps are completely separate from the business visas issued by the central Iraqi government. (Business visas are, for most nationals, the only way to enter the rest of Iraq.)
A Lack Of Basic Infrastructure Tourists Are Accustomed To
One of the first things most travelers would notice when making travel arrangements to the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq are the missing large hotels online. The prevalence of small and independent lodging options makes it nearly impossible to book online ahead of your stay. Most of the hotels in Arbil and Sulaymaniyah are of the one or two star variety and require some footwork in order to find one with a vacant room.
Also, much like everything else in northern Iraq, hotels are cash only. In fact, any trip into the Kurdish region will force you to carry enough cash to get you through your entire stay – there isn’t a single ATM within the borders of the Kurdish-run north.
Digital nomads should also be prepared to find wireless Internet very difficult to come by. Bumming a wi-fi signal is pretty tough when there aren’t many connections to be found in the first place.
“I Love George Bush”
The Kurdistan region as a whole has benefited greatly from the removal of Saddam Hussein and “I love George Bush” is a phrase almost always following the word “America” in northern Iraq. Northern Iraqis, in general, love America and are vocal about it.
- Strangely enough, despite there being very, very few foreign travelers in Iraq, nobody takes notice of people who are obviously from way out of town.
- Blending in within Iraq’s borders for any appreciable amount of time isn’t easy and the universal language English is hard to come by in northern Iraq. Kurdish and Arabic are most common with many people also knowing a fair amount of basic Turkish.
The sound of a foreign language or sighting a tourist, while exceptionally odd in this part of the world, is barely noticed by locals. Despite the attention one might expect to draw, no foreigners (including large Fijian UN workers) seem to draw any additional notice.
One might expect there to be armored vehicles, tanks, and military to be abundant within the cities of northern Iraq. The structure of security in the region, much like an eggshell (hard outside soft inside) suggests that the primary threats to Arbil, Sulaymaniyah, and Duhok are external. Safety is maintained by police forces in each city and evidence of instability is nowhere to be found – except when entering or leaving the Kurdish north.
- The airport is surrounded by a large buffer zone of about 2 kilometers where unofficial vehicles may not enter. Once within the secured perimeter however, the experience is not too much different than many other airports around the world.
Checkpoints between the cities of northern Iraq are frequent however and passports are routinely checked. As was in my case, Kurdish police and military seemed concerned with Arabs using foreign passports to move within Iraq. Cars, taxis, and other vehicles are routinely checked and tourists are questioned nearly at each stop.
The Important Northern Distinction
While there is a thrill of traveling to Iraq, it’s important to note how quickly and dramatically the security situation changes just beyond the southern Kurdistan regional border, right outside of Kirkuk. Although the north is no real safe haven (there are still attacks within the Kurdish borders), everyone Wandering Earl and I came across strongly told us it was extremely dangerous to head further south.
The Kurdish north, for all intents and purposes operates as a separate entity from the rest of Iraq. Situated in a volatile country and having strained relationships with both bordering Turkey and Iran, northern Iraq is strangely normal – even if all else suggests otherwise.
Wow! I’d love to visit northern Iraq for a quick look around, but I don’t think Laura would ever forgive me for putting her through the stress. I don’t think it’ll happen any time soon!
It’s great to read about your experiences, and I love following you and Earl. Cheers guys!
We were thinking about it while we were there and figure it’s another 10 years before it really opens up (assuming all goes as it has). Don’t want to get you in trouble though so hopefully our Iraq posts will help give you a good taste of the place and experience!
Wow, this is an unusual place to visit. It sounds much calmer and peaceful than I’d have believed from my vague readings of the press on the region.
Things seemed very normal in a very odd way; especially that nobody noticed us. The checkpoints, though, tell a different story as do the news reports from both Arbil and Sulaymaniyah.
I have not read of any other accounts of people traveling to Iraq. Thank you for helping us look inside a little bit. I hope you will write more about it. Cheers!
I came up with so many things to write about while there, certainly many more Iraq posts to come!
I’d love to see Iraq at some stage but I’m fairly sure my mother would disown me first considering when I told her I was going to see Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania she asked if I was going to get shot.
haha, yeah, there were lots of people with automatic weapons, especially in Halabja and Sulaymaniyah. Chance of getting shot probably was higher than normal 😛
So beyond awesome that you and Earl did this trip together. You guys rock!!!
I’m glad our plans came together like they did 🙂
You guys must be having a blast out there! Love the video Anil, it def gives it a diff perspective
It was a wonderful travel experience to say the least. Lots of fun actually, I hope to go back and see more soon.
Wow, great report, Anil. If you’re still there, would you please give us a bit of insight into the Iraqi food and what y’all are eating because I honestly have no idea what Iraqis eat. I can’t wait to read the rest of this series because I am sure that it will be a long time before we go there!
There isn’t much in the way of restaurants or places to eat out at all in northern Iraq. Lots and lots of doner and falafel sandwich shops, it’s really incredible how many there are – especially in Arbil. Also, there is quite a bit of heavily flavored pudding floating around:
Sulaymaniyah is much more cosmopolitan and many more places to eat – lots of chicken with a variety of different salads seemed to be very common, here’s an idea on what something typical might look like:
Hope that gives you an idea 🙂 Food was probably one of Iraq’s weaker points for me.
I think this is the first personal account I’ve ever read of someone who visited Iraq (as a tourist, anyway). I’m looking forward to reading more about it. I really enjoyed the video too – looks pretty normal there, huh?
Yes, inside each city life seemed extraordinarily normal; particularly in Arbil. Outside of that city however there was a different feel, and both the news and security between cities suggest things aren’t quite as stable as they appear.
So what’s the food like?
Not the best; but there wasn’t much to be found at all aside from sandwich shops. Perhaps the home-cooking is much better. Here’s a bit more in my comment to Akila:
I would like to read more about your trip. Sounds like an interesting place. I am not sure about how safe it is, though.
The threats in the north are quite different than the south; overall though, according to the statistics, it’s a relatively dangerous place (but it didn’t seem like it!)
Wow I cannot believe you guys went there. Hope you continue to write a bit more as I won’t be heading there any time soon.
I definitely will, there are so many intriguing contrasts we came across. Nothing like either Earl or I were expecting.
When I saw you guys tweeting about being in Iraq the other day, I was shocked. I’m glad you were in the northern part which, from your account, seems to be relatively safer than the Iraq we always hear about. I was shocked at the cars in the video, definitely not what I was expecting them to be driving. I’m really looking forward to reading more about this trip!
Yes, the violence in the north tends to be targeted at government and Kurdish interests and much more random (for a traveler) by nature. The threats in the south, particularly around Baghdad and the ‘Sunni triangle’ tend to target foreigners specifically, making it much more dangerous.
That said, I would definitely like to go an see central Iraq myself and it may happen sooner than later.
Anil, I’m really enjoying the dispatches from you and Earl about your travels in northern Iraq. We had a friend visit northern Iraq/Kurdistan in 2007 before we met him in Central Asia. At that point, I think his movements were really, really limited and he could only stay a couple of days. It seems like you had a bit more flexibility to explore some areas in the north and could do so independently. I sincerely hope that the situation gets more stable. Thanks for sharing!
Thank you Audrey. Unfortunately the maximum tourist visa is 10 days and only applies to the north; I’m not sure how valid the Kurdish stamp would be crossing into any of the cities further south than Kirkuk. Movement was slow between cities with the checkpoints, but aside from the inconvenience it wasn’t too difficult to get around.
The only brief obstacle we had was with a Kurdish military officer who was very concerned that I may be an Arab with a foreign passport. It’s a bit ironic actually because I thought that being a Turk in the Kurdish north would have posed more problems.
I too hope things get better throughout the country – if anything is evident is that people just want a normal life and the instability is caused by a few extremists.
You and Earl deserve the award for getting as far off the beaten track as possible. My uncle by marriage lives in Batman and he sometimes crosses the border to North Iraq. Says the nuts are better than any you get in Turkey. He offered to take me next time but I am glad I declined as I like nice three star hotels at least. LOL. Look forward to some more posts about your experiences there.
I hope he’s not talking about hazelnuts! haha, our (Turkish) national pride 🙂
Wow this is a awesome post. I love the video, I get a glimpse of your trip in Iraq.
Funny thing is I took both at the very end of the trip. I need to force myself to do more video, now that I remember to take enough pictures!
Still can’t believe you both went!! Looking forward to reading all about it from the comfort of the sofa. 🙂
It has to be one of the most unique places I’ve ever been. Strange thing is I’m actually looking forward to going back! Will share some stories over an Efes or three hopefully soon.
Well, this post certainly makes me want to turn around and head back there for another round of 10 days! And this time we’d know to stay away from that yellow pudding stuff in the photo above 🙂
haha, yeah, it really does look much better than it tastes!
A wonderful blog on your experiences, thank you for sharing. I was there to conduct a workshop for human rights defenders about a year ago and your description brought me right back to the streets of Erbil (http://www.paulmcadams.com/2009/12/this-is-iraq.html).
I tried and tried and couldn’t get to your site. I hope to be able to access it soon though; I’d be interested to read about your experiences and impressions as well.
That’s really cool. What an experience it must have been. I’m surprised people didn’t notice you guys more… So, what was the highlight of the visit?
Ooh, that’s a tough one. I’ve got to say one moment that keeps standing out is this one Earl wrote about:
Hi I just stopped by and had to comment becuase I find that this blog could not be more wrong, first of all calling the Kurdistan region ‘norther Iraq’ gives the impression that the kurds control ALL of the north (Erbil,Duhok,Suleymanya,Mosul,Kirkuk,Salahadin) which obviously they don’t they only control (Erbil,Duhok,Suleymanya) so to save confusion one would say Kurdistan..
‘A Lack Of Basic Infrastructure Tourists Are Accustomed To’ your trip was a waste and not properly prepared for them, was it not? and only 1-2 star hotels? really? the last time I checked there were 5 4-5 star hotels in erbil and 20 under construction:-
I can link more but you get the deal… after traveling to erbil 5 times I find it unbelievable that you give the impression that erbil only serves sandwiches, again unless your trip was a waste I know for a fact that there are: Iranian,Italian,Chinese and other restaurants, but reading your blog I can see that you have missed a lot of information. and about the ATM’s I know for a fact that there are ATM’s in majidi mall and in other places.
You said ‘there are still attacks in the kurdish borders’ and you linked an article with a date: May 10, 2007 so that’s 3+ years ago, right? does that mean ‘there are’ or ‘there were’? it’s like me saying there are attacks in London based on the last attack that occurred.
And your choice of photography could not be worse, you have not mentioned any of the construction that is clearly visible through out Kurdistan.
On passers please check these links for better pictures of Kurdistan:-
Be less biased, peace out.
I don’t think I gave the impression that the Kurdish region is the entire northern part of Iraq:
“The semi-autonomous Kurdish region, which comprises primarily the cities of Duhok, Arbil, and Sulaymaniyah, is protected from the volatile south by a precarious border.”
…regardless, it *IS* in northern Iraq; even if Mosul is in northern Iraq but not a part of the Kurdistan region. I disagree that simply saying ‘Kurdistan’ would reduce anyone’s confusion about the area – to be frank most people are probably not aware of the autonomous region or exactly how it operates. I myself was not and felt it important to explain, if not briefly, about the political situation in the north most important to travelers.
As for the hotels, picking out the few more luxurious hotels is irrelevant and again, I never said they didn’t exist:
“*Most* of the hotels in Arbil and Sulaymaniyah are of the one or two star variety…”
That doesn’t mean it’s a bad place to stay, I nearly always stay in hostels or budget hotels. As for the food – I did find other food; yes there are Iranian, Chinese, German, etc. restaurants – but I never said there weren’t (but then would that be considered ‘Iraqi food’?)
I don’t know of the Majidi ATM, but there certainly aren’t any others to be found; it’s a cash only place for all practical purposes. There isn’t even an ATM in Erbil International Airport.
Also, when comparing the security situation of London vs. Arbil you must take into account the recent history of both. There have been numerous attacks in northern Iraqi cities; London simply doesn’t have the same recent history. Things have calmed down but the threat isn’t out of the question.
I’m sorry you don’t like my pictures and I can’t mention every possible aspect of northern Iraq in a single post. There will be more where I’ll discuss other aspects of it.
Finally, I’d appreciate it if you’d stop trolling around on my YouTube page – if you think I’m biased because I am Turkish, you don’t have to read anything I write. I’ve tried my best to be objective about what it’s like to travel in northern Iraq.
Your whole post gives a wrong impression, you can defend yourself all you want you worded your report incorrectly. I’m sure any non-kurd Iraqi from the north will be very offended by this post..
‘Northern Iraqis, in general, love America and are vocal about it.’ NO, the north has a lot of Sunni Arabs that hate bush, again like I said be specific becuase you don’t know anything and your just offending/confusing people. as for the security, there has been 4 attacks since 2003, so how can you decide somewhere is a war zone? who the hell are you to decide what is a war zone based on a 2007 article? I live in London and quite often enough my tune get canceled due to an un identified bag, does that make London unsafe?
I find that your writing is pretty useless and inaccurate, and missing a lot of information, please do us all a favor and don’t visit us again.
I’d be happy to hear their opinions on this post as well and sorry you feel this post gives a completely inaccurate impression. I did travel with a friend whom I doubt would disagree with my account.
Also, no need to get rude, but I could also ask ‘who the hell are you’ to decide it’s not a war zone. Commenting anonymously on a blog doesn’t make you an authority on anything. Again, like I said, if you don’t like what I wrote don’t read.
Once more, comparing London to any city in Iraq is illogical; you cannot infer the security situation of one from the other.
And I will visit where I please (aren’t you in London?) I was welcomed by everyone I came across and enjoyed my time there.
Maybe you don’t read the news and judging by this article I can safely assume so, but everyone knows that Kurdistan is safe,
Christians say they feel safe only in Kurdistan (http://www.aknews.com/en/aknews/9/196205/) and I can go on all day with articles and videos proving my point. A war zone is a place with constant attacks and deaths actually I’ll define it for you ‘a combat zone where military operations are coordinated (especially a designated area in international waters where the rights of neutrals are not respected by nations at war)’ is that how Kurdistan was? as I said I’m kurdish myself and have visited Kurdistan 5 times in 3 years and I’m very aware of the situation, there are no soldiers in the cities, but checkpoints outside to keep terrorists out. In central London there are heavily armed police. If the people in erbil knew what you’ve written trust me you won’t be welcome..and It’s not about me not liking your blog I’m simply corrected your errors. And don’t flatter yourself no one expect the turkmen (200k) in Kurdistan speak Turkish.
To say ‘everyone’ knows that north Iraq is safe or that only Turkmen speak Turkish in Iraq simply isn’t true. The world isn’t black or white as you know – but either way feel free to write about your enlightened views elsewhere to add to the voice about any aspect of traveling in Iraq you’d like.
This post is what it’s like to travel in northern Iraq and my impressions; I’m not the only person who has been there and my opinion is not absolute – just like yours isn’t either. I don’t really see what the argument is about.
Feel free to disagree all you want – I think you’ve gotten your message across.
I was pretty surprised at how normal everything looked in your video. What a great experience to see it all in person. I bet it’s a little surreal.
It definitely was and not like Earl or I were expecting; a truly enlightening trip.
It may be “strangely normal” but I still think you’re a brave soul to venture into any part of Iraq at this point. But loved reading about it!
Hopefully, it will be safer and easier to travel sooner than later. At least in the north, I would say it’s well on it’s way.
Anil, wow, I really enjoyed reading your impressions, the video, and all the comments. I look forward to learning more about this region through your blog….Thank you for truly staying adventurous in my eyes.
Also, I can’t believe no one mentioned how they love GW Bush in the comments….We all do have fans in this world.
stay adventurous, Craig
Thank you Craig for the high compliment! I’ve got a lot of Iraq-related posts lined up and hope to write more about one very diverse place.
The funny thing about the Bush comments were that most people seemed to realize and note that most people don’t have a good opinion of him. I guess that’s what makes history and wars unpredictable – the north has really flourished post-Saddam – and Bush is seen as the guy behind it all.
Honestly lol, no one other than turkmen speak Turkish I know that for a fact, kurds are not very fond of turks, so why would they learn the language, if you said people speak farsi that I’d agree.
Many Kurds I came across knew basic Turkish; both on the streets, hotels, and restaurants. My guess is that for many it’s simply useful to know, there are over 50,000 Turks living in the north.
Mate there are a lot of turkmen in erbil… and yeah 50,000 turks living in Kurdistan, that does not mean the locals speak Turkish, they don’t find Turkish useful if anything people would learn English/arabic/farsi.
Not the experience I had – I’m not making it up. Lots of people knew basic Turkish; even if just enough words so we could communicate. I said many people knew a fair amount, not that the population was fluent.
I just don’t see it happening, in 2007 I saw Turkish flags being burned in erbil.. maybe the kurds that tried unsuccessfully to flee to turkey in 91 picked up some words.
I too, was surprised; but consider all of the Turkish restaurants, companies, etc. all over Erbil for one. I wasn’t expecting there to be any – but if anything there is very strong connection between both places. Just economically, about 8 billion dollars worth.
Well, Turkey certainly turned 180 degrees since 2007 when we were at the brink of war. Turkey would be mad not to, Kurdistan has oil and gas, Turkish companies would be mad not to cash in on that.
I think the success of both places lies in cooperation between the two. Things are certainly improving, no doubt.
Well, the trade is expected to grow to $20 billion in two years, also Kurdistan can act as a gate way to the rest of Iraq. Not to mention the nabucco pipeline to passing through turkey to Europe, plans are for Kurdistan to supply gas, turkey itself is a big importer of gas which you buy from Russia, buying from Kurdistan can make you rely less on Russia.
A mutually beneficial partnership, likely (and hopefully) the beginning of many.
Granted; as do I.
That we can agree on, I still stand with what I said about the article though.
Well, sorry if I came across as a dick, I’m not.. really.. anyways good luck with your traveling. Peace out.
An interesting post Anil, I have also considered visiting Iraq but frankly I am not sure how I can make that happen (married). A good inspiration for the trip was Diego Bunuel from “Don’t tell my mother”. He traveled accross the country, however did have a safety car at all times.
Keep sharing these adventures!
I’d start out in the north if you ever go for it; it’s much safer than the other parts of Iraq. Based on what I saw though, I can imagine it becoming much more traveled (especially the Kurdish controlled areas) within the next 10 years.
I’m very curious about Iraq, so thank you for an insight to a part of the world rarely seen by travelers. I would love one day to see where Babylon stood and the rebuilt ruins. I hear the National Museum of Iraq is quite interesting also but being in the south keeps me from visiting. Did you happen to see if northern Iraq had any artifacts of ancient Mesopotamia?
Unfortunately I didn’t come across any – I do know the Mosul Museum is well known in the region, but like many other northern Iraqi sites, looted after the war. I didn’t make it there to see it in person however.
Interesting experience you two had there – thanks for sharing!
I would love, however, to learn more about the attractions and places of interest in Iraq that you would recommended to tourists visiting this country.
Many may be skeptical in terms of visiting Iraq (considering the security issues that they think they might have), but if there are beautiful places worth visiting (and I would not be surprised if there were more than few) I think we should learn more about them.
In Erbil, the Citadel is certainly one thing not to be missed, nor is a stroll and some food in the Ankawa district. The churches in that historically Assyrian suburb are also well worth visiting.
There is also the Halabja memorial, a half-day trip from Sulaymaniyah. Many people also recommended the waterfalls to the north (i.e. Gali Ali Bag) which is close to Arbil; though we never made it there.
Looks like a great experience. It’s interesting when you compare this part of the country with Bagdhad…
A completely different world apparently. I do hope to visit sometime before May though, now I’ve got the idea set in my head and can’t get it out…
Good for you two boys for venturing into a place very few people would even think about. I’ve loved reading Earl’s accounts and now enjoy reading yours. It is always great to hear the opinion of those who have gone in under the conditions you have- as an observer who has no other motive then to explore and report fairly on what you see.
It was a very enlightening experience for Earl and I; our expectations were all over the place before arriving and we were both fairly surprised on just about every account. It was wonderful to see firsthand.
Oh wow! What an adventure! It’s like traveling back in time where there are no modern buildings and only 1 – 2 star hotels! Plus you get to book yourself when you get there. Talk about spontaneity.
I have always wondered how dangerous Iraq is. Am glad there’s a part of it that according to you is strangely normal. Contrary to my imagination, locals do not sleep in fear I assume from your wonderful story.
I wonder how was the cuisine experience… do tell more!!!
The one thing that really took me back was the lack of access to ATMs or cash – it’s a bit surreal, especially for someone like myself who is often a poor-planner with such things.
I’ve got a post that goes more deeply into the security situation there tomorrow but yes – it’s not a life of terror or constant fear.
As for the cuisine, it was the one thing very lacking in my experience. There isn’t much to eat out but an overwhelming abundance of sandwich and falafel shops.
Fascinating, thanks for this – I look forward to the rest of your Iraq posts. I held off on reading this one until today as I didn’t want to ‘skim’ it. 🙂
Thanks Matt – it’s such a place that it makes even organizing my thoughts about it difficult! So many contrasts all over the place…
Outrageously wonderful post Anil! 🙂 I’ve missed reading so much (as usual).
Thanks Priyank and good to hear from you whenever you get the chance to pop by 🙂
I adore articles like this. I was aware northern Iraq was quite unlike the south, but it never dawned on me that it would make a suitable travel destination. This article has changed my mind.
Thanks Peter – certainly the perception in the media and on the ground of this part of Iraq is quite different. Surprisingly enough it was much more ‘normal’ that so many other places I’ve been.
Another great post I found in your newsletter. Ashamed to say I subscribe to tons of travel bloggers newsletters and never even open most of them. I always look forward to reading yours Anil. Keep up the great work and keep on traveling!
Thank you very much Mike, I’m honored and touched. I appreciate the feedback and thank you again for the kind compliment.
What an amazing trip you guys did! Have just read all of Earl’s posts (so far) on Iraq, so catching up on yours now.
Earl’s writing does exceptional justice our time in Iraq – it’s almost like reliving it when I read it as well 🙂
Great piece. I’ve always thought that a trip to Iraq would be fascinating. But for me, it’s probably a little early. Hope that time will make Iraq a much easier travel choice. Nicely done video!
Thank you and I too hope that tourism in the area continues to expand and improve. A trip there might be possible much sooner than you think 🙂
Thanks so much for posting this! It’s a fascinating look into a part of the world that most people wouldn’t ever dream of visiting! I’m sure it was incredibly fascinating, as is every place in the world!
Sorry to hear that the food wasn’t so great though! That’s always one of the highlights of travel for me…
Hi Aaron, it was fascinating especially as coming upon research and anecdotes was difficult, making it quite an unknown place for Earl and I.
The food wasn’t great but I’m guessing it’s because the restaurant/eating out culture hasn’t taken off yet. I’d really like to go into someone’s home to see what’s cooking on the stove! Perhaps next time I’m there which hopefully isn’t too far off 😉
A dear friend of mine’s husband is from Sulaymaniyah and hasn’t been back since he left in the late 90s. I’ll send him a link to this so he can get your perspective. Glad you and Wandering Earl didn’t raise too many eyebrows. Glad to catch up with what’s going on with you, as well.
Hi Eileen, good to hear from you – I wonder what he would say if he saw it today, compared with when he left. I must admit Earl and I were pretty surprised at how invisible we were there though!
I’m thoroughly intrigued, Anil. Such a unique place to visit, and I like that you went there and were able to see that even the weirdest sounding places are full of normal people just living life. So cool.
Even in a place that’s seen so much violence – the overwhelming majority of people just want peace and stability – seeing it so vividly in Iraq was very eyeopening. I wish more people would realize that about many other places and peoples in the world as well. A good reason to travel I suppose!
Very interesting stuff. Sad to say I didn’t realize the northern part of the country was a lot safer and more friendly toward America. Though that must be strange being nowhere near an ATM, and to have trouble accessing any WiFi. And it would make me a little nervous not being able to book accommodations before arriving. Very different from being in the US! But it sounds like a great cultural experience.
The no ATM thing really threw me for a loop – I don’t like carry cash in general. It made me realize how reliant I am on automation!
There’s a complicated history and political situation in the north – I don’t think you’re alone at all in not knowing the entire picture there. I hope to go back to south and central Iraq sometime this year; I sincerely wonder how people view the West and US specifically in those areas. The Kurdish population in the north has significantly benefited in the aftermath of the war and everyone I encountered had nothing but good things to say about the US (and George Bush in particular).
Great article, I hope to travel back to Iraq someday and it’s good to know that at least some parts of it are opening up to travel.
I don’t like the grammar police, but when you publish something you should at least check for the obvious errors…
I long had forgotten about that rule, so wasn’t obvious to me but thanks for pointing it out. I’ll fix it now and while I do my best to edit each post, the hardest errors to catch are always your own.
have read this a couple of times and still couldnt believe that you and earl traveled to iraq… great insights man…
my passport has a stampled on it “not valid for travel to iraq” so this post already helped me get a glimpse of what iraq (or some parts of it) looks like
Thanks Flip – surprised to hear that Iraq is singled out in your passport. Is that the only country like that in the Filipino passport?
yeah, i’m not gonna lie, i’d actually like to visit iraq some day. it doesnt seem as bad as most americans think, especially the kurdistan region. i was even surprised when i was looking at pictures. i said, “oh, it’s not so ugly! this place is worth visiting!” if tourism returned to vietnam, south korea and kuwait, then in maybe 10 more years, iraq will be stable and safe enough to travel again.
I think the north will be even sooner; though I’m still not sure about Baghdad. It seems to have a much less certain future.
hi all ,thx for your kurdistan posts..! -) kurdistan is safe ,kurdistan is not like southiraq or afghanistan . -) kurds are indoeuropean people ,too. -)
It’s safer than those other two places and has some good foundations for tourism. Certainly one of the most interesting places I’ve visited and I think there will be more behind me in the coming years.
hi anil thanks for this whole explantion its always better to hear it from a tourist thats not from , there ur report gave me gose bums , iam a proud kurd live in canada and kurdistan has come along way being tourturing us by saadam , hussen.but its a great place to be i can tell u that hope to see u there iam going to visit soon,
Thank you Ahmed, I appreciate that. It was an enlightening trip and certainly one of my most memorable – safe travels and take care.
It’s amazing how distorted the world’s perception of a country may be, especially based on the biased opinions of news channels and how they want to portray their versions of a story… the more disturbing, or controversial, the better it sells… even if things are relatively ‘normal’ if you were to go there for yourself. Thanks for this inside look! I’d love to get there one day 🙂
It really changed my perception of everywhere else as well or at least made me question them.
How is the security situation these days? I really want to go!
Visiting the north is still possible and out of the ordinary but not for off-the-beaten path travel.