By: bound2explore August 31, 2017
What is the best way to spend your layover in a foreign country that you have never visited it before? Of course to extend your layover and grab a free perk while you are at it if you ask me. So, on my trip to Asia, I decided to extend my stay and enjoyed three days in Doha. Keep in mind that Qatar requires a visitor from most countries to have a visa to enter the country. So if you want to venture out outside airport, make sure that you were approved for a visitor visa. If you fly with Qatar airways, you are in luck because Qatar airways will sponsor your visa and you will get it for free. If not, then you just have to cough off some money to pay for your visa.
Since Doha is a very safe city even for a woman who travel solo like me, this is a perfect city for your first solo adventure. I felt so safe that I dared to take an illegal taxi when I was there. Nothing should worry you. The service at the airport is superb. When I arrived at Hamad International Airport in Doha, I was immediately greeted by an airport attendant at arrival hall and directed me to airport taxi.
While bus is everywhere and cheaper then taxi to get around, taking a taxi is a better way to do sightseeing in Doha. It is affordable and convenient especially if you are travelling during hot summer month when temperatures is around 47 degrees Celsius. Another way to get around is by hiring a driver who will wait for you while you enjoy a night life without worrying on how to get back to your hotel. This is by far the most convenient way to explore Doha. If you visit Doha during Ramadan (fasting month) while most tours are closed, this is your best bet to cover everything you want to see and to do in Doha. Now, that we get the transportation covered, what should you do during your three days in Doha? If you need some ideas, here are my itinerary during my three days in Doha.
One my first day, since I arrived late in Doha, I just took a lovely evening stroll along the Corniche. Doha Corniche is a seven kilometer long waterfront around Doha Bay. Since my hotel was right by the Corniche, I just walked from the hotel to the Corniche. In the summer month, night time or early morning are the best time to take a walk and explore the Corniche area. You will melt if you walk during the mid-day. The heat is unbearable
As I finished walking around enjoying the view of Doha Bay and hoping for a taxi to appear, a man approached me and offered a taxi ride in his personal car. Since Karwa taxi which is Doha official taxi was hard to find, this was the time I took a risk and hopped into illegal taxi. This is a risky move, so if you want to do it, proceed with caution. For me it turned out well that I ended up hiring the same driver the next day to drive me around Doha. Just like that I was off to Katara Village. Katara Village is a cultural center where you can learn about the culture. During the month of Ramadan, Katara village offers Ramadan’s program for family and children and it opens until late.
One my second the day, I woke up early to watch the sunrise over the Islamic Museum. The view of the Islamic museum surrounding by the bay is absolutely stunning. The driver that I hired was waiting and ready to take me around. My first stop was Islamic museum. This museum is a must see when you are in Doha. The architecture and the display inside the museum definitely worth your time. To my surprise, anyone can also access this museum from the bay if they happen to take a dhow cruise. From there I walked to the Pearl Monument of Qatar. This monument was erected to celebrate the pearl fishing heritage of Qatar.
One more time, I wanted to stroll along the Corniche. Big mistake because the heat was killing me and it is only 11 AM. So I hopped back into the taxi and stopped at Al Dafna Park. Here, you can see a beautiful Doha Bay and Aladdin lamp statue. Next, I just had a driver drove me around the city of Doha and dropped me back at the hotel. Due to the heat, Souk waqif had to wait until evening.
As the heat subsided around 4:30 PM, I was back in action. First stop was Qatar Grand Mosque (Imam Abdul Wahhab Mosque). This is a national mosque of Qatar. The mosque is really big and beautiful at the same time. As I stood on the yard in front of the mosque, I could hear the Adhan (Islamic call to prayer). That sound just made my visit to the mosque felt so spiritual.
From there I moved on to Souk Waqif. Souk Waqif is a traditional Arabian market. Similar to the Bazaar in Istanbul. If you want to experience the real Arabian culture, this is a place you do not want to miss. From a small cobble stone alley to outdoor restaurant, falcon market and hookah Cafe, Souk Waqif will take you the all the way back to the past. I ate dinner at one of its outdoor restaurant and shopped for souvenir. Price is cheap if you know how to haggle and the atmosphere is very relaxing.
Before the driver dropped me back at the hotel, I stopped at the harbor for a dhow cruise. This is one thing that anyone who visiting Doha should not miss. To watch as a city goes by in slow motion as you enjoy a dhow (traditional long boat) ride from Doha bay with a sky scrapper backdrop is an experience you will always cherish. A romantic way to remember a night in Doha as I had to leave the next day.
On my last day in Doha, I stopped at Katara Beach on the way to the airport. If you love water activities, this is a place for you. This place offer different water activities. But if you are in hurry like I was, you can always chill or stroll along the beach. For me, this is a way to say goodbye and end my three days in Doha, before I hopped on the plane and off to my next destination.