Safety for Women in Tunisia

edited May 2009 in - North Africa
I am thinking about going to Tunisia on holiday this year and was wondering how safe it is to go as a couple of young women particularly if one of you is blonde? We've had hassle in other countries like Egypt and Gran Canaria (and Italy) and are hoping Tunisia isn't as bad?
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  • edited 6:27AM
    Tunisia is a wonderful country to visit and it is extremely safe. I am a blonde now living in tunisia. I do get stared at - by both the men and the women. Some comments are passed but generally I use humour to get by or just ignore. It is not like Egypt!!! But you should pay respect to the culture of this country. If you run around in shorts and singlet tops expect some to be treated in a different manner. My advice is to dress conservatively - loose pants and tops, long skirts etc. cover your legs and shoulders and you should be fine. You will see Tunisian women wearing varying degrees of western dress and some very tight jeans on the young, but remember they are Tunisians and you are not! Above all Tunisians are wonderful, friendly and hospitable people and you should enjoy your time here. If you need anything further I can certainly give some assistance.
  • edited 6:27AM
    Hi Lesley, thanks so much for your comments. A lot of the hotels have got bad reviews on trip advisor etc. do you have any tips. I'm used to going on Greek Island Holidays and staying in basic accomodation with a half decent shower so I certainly don't need something luxurious.

    There is a group of us travelling (not sure how many yet) and we're more likely to want to do stuff than hang around the hotel although a few days sun-bathing will be a must.

    I went to your website but it didn't seem to have anything on Tunisia unless I'm missing something?
  • edited 6:27AM
    Hi Suzy - we haven't loaded the Tunisia pages as yet but hopefully that will happen this month. Hotels in Tunisia can be a bit hit and miss to be perfectly honest. Let me know which areas you are travelling to and I can give you some recommendations. In the beach areas there are mostly tourist resorts and I would recommend these to you. Sousse, Monastir and Hammamet and some in between are beautiful. How long do you have in Tunisia? It takes time to get around as the roads are quite bad and I don't advocate driving unless you like to live dangerously. If you want I can recommend an itinerary for you.

    Cheers,
    Lesley
  • edited 6:27AM
    Hi Lesley

    That would be amazing - thank you. We've never been to Tunisia before so as far as areas go we aren't that fussy. I did like the look of Sousse. We will hopefully be 2 weeks but if there are 4 of us then 2 of us will only stay for 1 week. We really want to do some of the historical stuff and I love architechture but as I said there will definitely be some sun-bathing required and the beaches at Hammanet did look stunning.

    Suzy
  • edited 6:27AM
    Hiya,
    I'm travelling to Port el Kantoui in 3 weeks time and am going to get my traveller's cheques today.
    The travel agent has suggested i buy euros because they're commission free, whereas pounds are 1-2% commission.
    However, I don't want to lose out on money when I come to change them back if I don't spend them all.
    Would anyone suggest euros or pounds are better?
    I've only posted this here, because Lesley, you sound like you know a lot!
    Thanks!!
  • edited 6:27AM
    I've heard alot of great things about Tunisia. It seems that from the what I've read and researched from different websites, one of the top concerns of women from America are for the blonde and blue eyed. (of course I know that concerns are for all women) But does that mean that dark-skinned women are less likely to be harassed? Or does it just depend. I am a black woman with long hair.

    I'm learning as much as I possibly can about things before I just hop on a plane and go. And I working on learning French and a little bit of Arabic.

    I hope this makes sense and that I don't sound silly. =)
    Thanks
  • edited 6:27AM
    Hi Suzy - let me have an email to: lesley@destinationsbydesign.com.au and I'll send you a detailed itinerary with recommendations for hotels. Also let me know when you intend to come to Tunisia. The hotel rates go up in summer (of course)!!

    Emiwee - it is better to bring cash if you can, but the bigger banks will exchange travellers cheques in USD, Euro or GBP - but even so the bank will charge you when you change them. You should always change your TD before you leave Tunisia as the rate outside the country is always bad!

    Hey Nikki - are you travelling by yourself or with a companion? The level of harassment here is much lower than in other countries. Tunisians are very used to seeing dark-skinned women. In our larger cities we have people from Sudan, Mali, Niger etc. but you will be stared at, not because you have dark skin but because you are a foreigner. Well done for learning some of the language, this is appreciated very much. We have a dialect here that is slightly different to the formal Arabic. If you go to www.tunisia.com there is a language forum with some excellent words and phrases you can use. And no you do not sound silly!! As I always counsel women - take it all with humour and when it all gets too much ignore it totally.

    Enjoy Tunisia - it is wonderful - it is my home and I love it.
  • edited 6:27AM
    Thanks Lesley. I will take all the counsel I can get. =)

    It will be a little while before I go because I have to save up so I'm not sure if I will be by myself or with friends. I did invite one of my friends so far and she is up for coming with me as long as she has the money. So we will see.
    Also, I did meet a Tunisian man (22) online through my college network. I have been talking to him just for short time now, and he is constantly showering me compliments, always wanting to talk to me, and tells me he misses me alot. And since this is not something I am use to, I have been questioning myself and trying to challenge his motive. He appears to be a guy who just wants someone to talk to but I don't know and I guess time will tell. And I did check out tunisia.com. And last night I had the guy pronounce some of the words in Tunisian Arabic for me and it was fun and it sounded funny coming out of my mouth because I'm not use to it yet- lol.

    Thanks
  • edited 6:27AM
    So let me know if you have any advice about my recent post above.
    Thanks
    Nikki
  • edited 6:27AM
    Nikki - please be extremely cautious!! He may be genuine but the chances are slim. I have heard these stories so many times. Do not send him any money no matter what. Tunisia is a wonderful country, but for the local population it is very hard. Jobs are scarce, the cost of living is expensive here (for locals) and the monthly wage is very low. (I am married to a Tunisian) You are more than welcome to email me at: lesley@destinationsbydesign and I can give you more detailed information

    L
  • edited 6:27AM
    Hello. I am thinking of travelling to Tunisia for a family holiday in October. My grils will be 8 and 4 and need a safe, clean sandy beach outwith the hotel. Somewhere with a relatively short transfer time from the airport would be good too. We are looking to go all-inclusive, as it suits us to pre-pay for food and drinks and don't know which area to go for as we haven't been before. Hotels that have looked nice were in Monastir, Hammamet Yasmine and Skanes. Any advice from people a bit more travelled than us? Any helpful suggestions would be very welcome.

    thanks,
    Joyce
  • edited 6:27AM
    Joyce - most of the areas that you nominate are a good one hour from the airport. The travel time is always dependant on the time of day, the amount of traffic and the condition of the road!! Most of the resort hotels in any of the areas you mention will be fine. Monastir is lovely as is Sousse. I am not sure if you can pre-pay for your food and definitely not your drinks! October is still warm but the nights can be quite cool. But I hope you don't intend to just stay in the hotel for your time. There are some wonderful sites and great shopping in the medinas and souks that you and your daughters would love and you will get a taste of my wonderful Tunisia.

    Lesley
  • edited 6:27AM
    Going to Tunisia, Monastir in the next few weeks. My wife is pregnant and we are a little nervous. What are the medical facilities like in Monastir ? Are there private hospitals nearby. We have full medical insurance but the medical setup is confusing
  • edited 6:27AM
    Hi, i am travelling to tunisia tomorrow with my boyfriend, i have recently read in the paper that couples that check in at some hotels that are not married under 25 years of age may face a fine or prosecution is this the case?

    Hope i dont sound silly

    Sarah
  • edited 6:27AM
    Sarah - I may have already missed you - Tunisia is an Islamic country and a man and woman in the same hotel room who are not married is considered 'illegal'. However, depending on where you are visiting, resort and tourist hotels do not usually give foreign couples any problems. If you are asked, then my advice is to tell them you are married but did not realise that you had to have your marriage certificate with you. Act appropriately and you will encounter very few problems.

    Enjoy my Tunisia
  • edited 6:27AM
    I would like to ask Lesley a question: my husband and I are travelling to Port el Kantaoui in September. He is disabled and more often than not has a sleep in the afternoons. During this time I usually go for a wander round the shops etc. I am aged 62 and wondered just how safe it would be for me to walk around this area on my own. I have very blond hair (well white acually)
  • edited 6:27AM
    Hello, we are going to Tunisia in November, for 7 days. We are staying in the Sahara Beach Hotel, in Skanes. Do you know of this area? If so what is it like? Will it still be hot enough to get a tan? Hehe.

    Thanks
  • edited 6:27AM
    Also, what is the currency in Tunisia?

    Thanks
  • edited 6:27AM
    Marie, take a look at the Word Travels guide to Tunisia, including details on currency and exchange rates.
  • edited 6:27AM
    Hello,
    my friend and I will be travelling in Novemeber to Port El Kantaoui and staying in Hotel Marhaba Palace. Has anybody heard of this hotel?
    We are only 23 so we were hoping there would be plenty of things to do - like tours etc.
    Are tours to the sahara out of the question being quite far away?
    Any advice from people a bit more travelled than us? Any helpful suggestions would be very welcome.

    thanks,
    Abbie
  • edited 6:27AM
    Hi,
    I am looking to book a week's holiday in Tunisia in September for my honeymoon. Can you advise the best reort / s to stay in, based on the following criteria: On a beach; not too far from decent nightlife; within reasonable distance of the airport (1 hour approx) and also have good areas for shopping, places of interest, and areas where we can experience some of the culture. From what you have stated before now Tunisia sounds a wondeful place to visit these days and my parents are also looking to visit for two weeks (when we get back) and they like to get off the beaten track and explore a little and experience the real place and it's people and culture
    Many thanks
    Steven Bird, age 24 years
  • edited 6:27AM
    Hello,

    I am a singer traveling soon to Tunis for a concert. I usually wear a shaggy blonde wig
  • edited 6:27AM
    Hi all - sorry but I have been away for a couple of weeks and now back in my beloved Tunisia. So first let me answer your questions in sequence:

    Bev - You are staying in a very touristique area and all the shopkeepers, locals are well acquainted with foreigners and tourists. You will be very safe!! Don't worry, even though the men will look (in tunisia this is a national past time for both men and women), you will not be hassled but more often you will be complimented. Enjoy it and your time here!!

    Marie - you will still be able to tan and it will still be nice and warm. Skanes is a tourist area so expect to see other foreigners like you trying to get that golden glow. Currency in Tunisia is the Dinar with denominations in notes up to TD30 with 1000 millims to the dinar.

    Steven - I will answer you in an email

    Sistasinga - Tunisians will know Tina Turner, they enjoy music and will be happy to see you on stage. No it will not turn anyone off - what sort of headress????
  • edited 6:27AM
    Hi---going to Tunisia next week. Can you tell me if its acceptable for women/men to wear shorts? Would really appreciate any comments as this is our first trip.
  • edited 6:27AM
    Hi Sherri,

    Hate to tell you this but it really is not acceptable for either sex to show legs so if you want to show respect to the locals, shorts are out. However, if you are staying within a resort with pools etc, then it will be fine.

    Enjoy Tunisia - it is a wonderful part of the world,

    Lesley
  • edited 6:27AM
    Hi Lesley, I will travel to Tunisia at the end of august. I was hoping you could help me with a couple of things? First one being... We are staying in Sousse, would it be best to book transfers to the hotel before i leave or to get a taxi outside the airport? Also, I see you say its not respectful to wear shorts if out and about. Is this for all shorts? As i cant see my partner being too happy about having to wear long trousers in that heat! Maybe ok to wear cropped trousers or not? Thanks for your help. B
  • edited 6:27AM
    B - just so you are aware, Ramadan begins on 22 August and ends 21 September (approx). this is a very lively time but Muslims must behave quite correctly during this time. Depending on which airport you arrive at, you should have no problems getting a taxi, however, if you feel better knowing that you are being met then by all means book before you leave. It is some distance from Tunis Carthage airport and will be quite pricey.

    If you stay within your resort then shorts and other beachwear is fine, but respecting the local customs and culture will always give you better interaction with the locals. Yes it will be hot and cropped pants for men is acceptable, but unless ladies want to have undue attention paid to them - wear loose cotton skirts, pants and tops.

    L
  • edited 6:27AM
    Thanks for your advice Lesley :-)

    B
  • edited 6:27AM
    Hey Lesley, my sister and I have just booked a weeks holiday to Hammamet, Tunisia for end of July. Im the typical irish girl, pale skin and red hair - will this cause any offence?
    Would you be able to tell me anything about this area, maybe local places to eat and traditional dishes that we should try.
    would it be OK to wear maxi dress' and the likes around this area or would that be a no?
    Also is ther any traditonal experiences which we should try when we are there?
    Finally is there alot of 'wildlife' in the form of bugs and insects around hammamet?
    Thanks in advance
    C
  • edited 6:27AM
    Hi C,

    Hammamet is a very popular tourist area and has a great beach. Your pale skin and red hair will not cause any offence - why would you think that?? I absolutely recommend that you try harissa which is a paste made with fiery red chilli and eaten with olive oil as a 'starter'. You should also definitely try cous cous and absolutely fish. Tunisians know and cook fish better than anyone else!

    Yes, maxi dresses are fine. I'm not sure about the bugs, but there will be mosquitos, flies but not a lot of creepy crawlies if that's what you are worried about. There are many cultural events around in the summer and you can find out about these by searching the internet or by asking at the hotel. Music festivals are the best and you can see and listen to traditional music or the next big thing. A good site is: www.tunisia.com for events.
    I hope you enjoy your stay!!
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