Safety for Women in Tunisia

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  • edited 10:55AM
    Hey!
    My friend and I are both twenty heading on our first holiday to Tunisia. I've just been reading up on what is and isn't respectable for visitors to wear. How is this etiquette reflected in beach wear? Swimwear etc. I'm currently buying my holiday wardrobe and would like to buy accordingly, though I imagine the heat will hit me hard with shorts out as an option. :)

    Also, what's the nightlife and shopping like in Port el Kantaoui?

    Thanks for any advise that can be offered!
  • edited 10:55AM
    Confused - if you stay within the resort then you can wear normal swim wear. Let me clear up something.....................my suggestions on clothing are only that suggestions. After living and travelling in North Africa and the Middle East for many years I find that if I am respectful to the local cultures and customs then my experience is richer and I am able to interact with the locals rather than just being a tourist. This has given me the opportunity for a deeper understanding rather than a surface skim. I am fortunate to have made many friends in this part of the world. I am not suggesting that you will have a deep experience in a week at a resort and what you all wear is totally up to you but I have had many complaints over the years that 'you' have been hassled, stared at, had passing remarks made. Well if you go around with things hanging out and lashings of flesh expect this but don't complain or get angry. Also you need to understand the perception of western females is that we have loose morals (majority true??), sleep around and one night stands are the norm. Remember that this is the perception and reality may be far from this. If the heat is a problem then come later in the year when it is far more pleasant - look at most of us in the street and you will see that we wear cotton/natural fibres, loose and flowing so that air circulates around our body and keeps us cooler. Look at the dessert dwellers and you will see that they are totally covered to keep out the sun and heat - makes sense doesn't it? I don't mean to lecture but I am an educator.

    Enjoy all that Tunisia has to offer even if you have to cover your bits for a few days - your experience will be all the richer for it.
  • edited 10:55AM
    Thanks for the advise. As you say, the 'dress code' as such is more a matter of respect to the local culture than a point of law or necessity. We wish to be respectful as such and not draw any undue attention or cause offense to our hosts and this is the only reason for such questions. Apologies if my earlier post suggested otherwise in any way. Dont worry "covering our bits for a few days" will most certainly not be any problem.

    Looking forward to finally getting there!
  • edited 10:55AM
    Hi Lesley - I've really appreciated all the advice you've given to the posts above as they answer most of my questions about Tunisia. My Husband and I are planning to come to Skanes Next Year with our 2 girls,(6+3), and yes we like to spend time at the pool, however we still like getting out and about too. What would you recommend as activities suitable for our family group?
    I acknowledge and appreciate the recommendations around appropriate dress code when out and about from the hotels, however I wondered about Children - It's difficult to buy loose long clothes for my two. Do the same guidelines apply?
    Many Thanks in advance,
    L-A
  • edited 10:55AM
    Hy
    I was traveling a lot 2 Tunisia too. My husband is tunisian, but (sadly) we living in my country now. Someday maybe we could go living there.... Inchallah! But our way of living is more tunisian even here (we coocked tunisian food, use tunisian spices, smoke chicha....)

    Many time I flew in tunisia aloan and I have to say, I didn't have any bad experiences. People are realy very friendly and so easy...relaxed....so my advice to You all - VISTI MY BEAUTIFULL COUNTRY, RELAX THERE AND GO WITH THE FLOW....MARHABA

    I'm sorry because my english is a little rusted (I'm from Slovenia)

    Teya
  • edited 10:55AM
    Dear Confused and everone else - our internet connection has been down (normal) and I just read my last post - ooohhh - sorry I don't mean to lecture and I do try to assist as I want everyone to have the best time possible in this beautiful country.

    Leigh-Anne - children have the advantage of dressing as they wish!! They can run naked if they want.........it's just us (especially as women) who must cover up. And these last few days the heat has been intense and very uncomfortable apart from being in our house and the shower!! there is a lot to do with children in and around the Skanes area. I will send a separate post but also you may like to go to www.tunisia.com where they have a lot of good information and I can also recommend the Lonely Planet.

    Swakira Teya - I too love the tunisian food and my mother-in-law just gave me some of her home made harissa which is great - it's hot, hot, hot and I love it. I am glad that you keep some of the Tunisian way of life even in Slovenia.
  • edited 10:55AM
    Hi there.
    I am only in Tunisia for four days - I love having a walk around, drinking at cafes and seeing a few sights...I like towns or cities to walk around in but that are low key and I don't want to spend all my time in a car (landing in the main airport in Tunis). The beach is not needed unless there is an amazing one that should not be passed up. I live on the beach in Italy so I get enough sun and fun at home. I am not so interested in ruins or that type of thing, but love interesting culture, arcitecture and museums. I am willing to spend about 50 USD a night on a nice guesthouse or hotel...help?? I need suggestions as this was an unexpected trip and I leave next week to see about a job in Tunis.
    Oh and what food or resturants do you like the most? Food is important to Italians! Like spicy food the most, but something different too!
    thanks in advance.
  • edited 10:55AM
    Hi there Scoop - there really is no such thing as 'low key' in Tunisia. As you are only here for 4 days why not spend them discovering the capital Tunis. Whilst you say you are not keen on ruins this is the home to the most famous Roman ruins of Carthage that are spread out around the city. The Bardo museum is also a wondrous place with the story of Tunisia from the Phonecians right through to modern times. The mosaics are fantastic! You can spend a day here. The old city of Tunis is great, the souk is under cover and operates as it has done for centuries. Ask directions to the stall where the traditional red hats are made and you can watch as the old men make these as they have forever. In this area there are some great restaurants. To be honest, it is always difficult to recommend a restaurant as the quality changes often depending on clientele and prices in the markets.As you like spicy food then this is the place to be - try harissa, a fiery red chilli paste that is guaranteed to make you sweat. Tunisians love hot (as in spice) food but be aware that if you order what you think is entree and main such as soup and main course, everything will be presented on the table together. This is normal. Our national dishes are cous cous with fish, meat or chicken, spaghetti but not as you know it - made with tomato paste and harissa and served with meat, or fish etc. then you could try Tunisian Tagine but not as in Morocco. This is an egg based dish with vegetables rather like a quiche but much more delicious. And please, please, try the salad mechwia made from tomato and chillis - ok, now I'm hungry!! Also try the green tea with pignon (pine nuts). the coffee is also excellent, ask for either a kawa express (espresso) or kawa arabia/turque (turkish). they are served very sweet so if you don't want so much sugar ask for bidoon sukar. Guesthouses are not the norm here and the star rating for hotels does not match that in Europe. It is always a bit hit and miss. the hotels in Tunis are not cheap but I am sure you could find a 3 star that would represent good value. I have heard good things about the Africa Jade hotel but a search on Trip Advisor on the web will yield you with some good reviews of other hotels in the area.

    I do hope you enjoy Tunisia - I live here and I love it!!
  • edited 10:55AM
    All great suggestions, so thanks so much. We were thinking Tunis, but then someone mentioned Sousse and Djebar as other options...maybe we can do two days in Tunis and two days in another. Maybe since the job is in Tunis I should check it out more and see if I like it. Thanks again!
  • edited 10:55AM
    Sousse is within striking distance of Tunis but it takes a while to get there and is dependant on the traffic and the day. Djerba is probably too far - it takes us at least 4 - 5 hours to drive there from Tunis. It is beautiful though!! It is the island off the east coast known as the Land of the Lotus Eaters and once you have been there it keeps drawing you back until you don't want to leave.

    But enjoy Tunis it's a good city.
  • edited 10:55AM
    Hi Lesley,
    Going to Sousse next sunday.Your comments are most helpful.Do blond haired teenage boys get stared at? Do you have to dress appropiately for meals in hotels or does it depend on the hotel ?
  • edited 10:55AM
    Hi Orks - anyone with blonde hair is the object of the stare! Depending on the hotel you are staying at in regard to meals. My advice is not to go to meals in bathing suit or short shorts otherwise you will have the staff falling over themselves to assist you :) I am sure you will have fun and just so you know it is very, very hot here!! Sunscreen is a must

    Enjoy
  • edited July 2009
    Hi
    Myself and my two sons are going to Port el Kantoui in 2 weeks.
    I am wondering what clothes we should bring for going down the town in the eve? Do I need to cover my shoulders etc etc? Also both my sons are fair with 1 being really blonde will they encounter problems? I am a single mother
  • edited 10:55AM
    Debs,

    Covering the shoulders is a good idea especially as you are on your own so to speak. Your sons will not have any problems they will be adored!! tunisians love and cherish children and will pounce on your two sons (if they are young) and shower them with affection.

    Lesley
  • edited 10:55AM
    Thanks Lesley
    Was a bit worried but you've put my mind at ease. We're really looking forward to our hols

    Debs
  • edited 10:55AM
    Hi Lesley

    I am going to Tunisia for 9 days (i.e. a tour) and would like to know if there is any local tour that offer a "stars trip" (i.e. probably half day or one night) in desert as I really want to see millions stars in the sky.....

    Many thanks,
  • edited 10:55AM
    Hi Jenny - I am not sure if there is a local operator who does just 1 day. It will depend on when you are coming and when you want to go to the desert. I ask as the desert is a long, long way from the cities. If you give me your rough itinerary I can find out for you.

    Cheers,
    Lesley
  • edited 10:55AM
    Hello My husband and I are going to hammmet on the 19th. First time in tunisia going to the chich kahn hotel. I'm confused about what to wear, I'm hearing horror stories of food poisoning and being told not to leave the hotel? can anyone ease my mind about what to wear if we do leave the hotel as I normally wear shorts? Is it ok to wear a bikini by the pool?
    thanks
  • edited 10:55AM
    and I forgot to mention the money....whats the best option? Do i take sterling and change it in the hotel or as in other hotels will the exchange rate be ridiculous? thanks
  • edited 10:55AM
    Hi Lesley

    Here is my itinerary:

    Day 1: Tunis - Sidi Bou Said - Carthage Ruins
    Day 2: Tunis - bardo Museum - Medina - Monastir
    Day 3: Monastir - EI Jem - Matmata - Douz
    Day 4: Douz - camel ride - Chott Ej Jerid - Tozeur - By Jeep (Chebika - Tamerza - Mides)
    Day 5: Tozeur - Sbeitla - Sousse
    Day 6: Sousse - Kairouan - Port EI Kantaoui - Hammamet
    Day 7: Hammamet - Cap Bom (Kelibia. Kerkouane. Haouaria) - Nabeul
    Day 8: Hammamet - Tunis

    Many thanks,

    Jenny
  • edited 10:55AM
    I am traveling in Italy with my 12 year old daughter this fall (we are Americans) and have decided to include a 10 day trip to Tunisia. I was thinking of taking a boat from Sicily. We are looking for more of an adventure and beach resort experience. I would appreciate any guidance on an economical itinerary for our journey. Thanks.
  • edited 10:55AM
    too busy - I don't know who is giving you this information but it is all wrong!! You can wear a bikini within the hotel but be aware that mostly the staff are all male and they will look. I've never had food poisoning here but it is something you can pick up anywhere. Most tummy troubles come from meat and fish so make sure that it is fresh. You will find that mostly it is grilled on a flame which should be fine. But don't let this put you off the food. It's yummy especially cous cous and definitely try the harissa - it will kill any bug that you may have!! If you don't leave the hotel then there is really no point in going to another country for a vacation is there? Of course it is safe to leave your hotel, take a walk, go to the market, visit the shops, take a coffee but be aware that if you wear shorts you will be stared at. You will never see a local woman or man for that matter showing their legs so take your lead from them, but of course if you wear shorts please don't complain about being stared at. You can bring sterling but change it at the bank rather than the hotel. The banks usually have competitive currency exchange, the hotels of course will take their bit and you will get less. Don't be afraid of Tunisia - it is beautiful and the people are hospitable and wonderful. Embrace the culture and you will go home richer for the experience,

    Lesley
  • edited 10:55AM
    Hi Alison,

    I don't know about the ferry from Sicily but can do some research for you. It would take sometime though! I'm not sure what you mean by economical but keep in mind that your US$ will buy a lot here. For foreigners this country is very cheap! Adventure and beach resort do not go hand in hand! I suggest that perhaps as you have only 10 days that you look at some of the tours that are offered and consider doing that, you will get to see quite a lot, you will have others around you and it will be cheaper than doing it on your own.
  • edited 10:55AM
    Hi Jenny = In a lot of the cities you visit you will be very near to the desert. Are you able to break from the group for a couple of days and then rejoin or is that not possible?
  • edited 10:55AM
    Hey Lesley - just returned from my holiday in hammamet, and wanted to say thanks for the advice. As you say there is nothing to worry about, we (my sister and i - both in 20s) had an amazing week. The clothes situation - same as any holiday wore bikinis in resort and dressed up nicely in evenings when out for food - but wouldnt this be the case in any country - I dont know many who would wear swimwear to dinner!! The staff in hotel both male and female were absolutly lovely - animation were great - even taking us out to sample the tunisian night life! Food was mostly great - harissa def a fave! Would just say to watch out for water mellon (cultivated with chlorinated water) - we were warned early on thankfully however others werent as lucky and got a few tummy bugs!! Yeah there were times when men stared, i got more email address' and phone numbers in a week than i have done in my life, but just take it as a compliment and with a pinch of salt and there is no problems at all. Tunisia really is a beautiful part of the world and i would reccommend it to anyone - dont be put off by the bad reviews which toallty scared the life out of us after we booked our hol!! For everyone going to tunisia - have a great time, I cant wait to return!
    C
  • edited 10:55AM
    C - I am so, so, so pleased that you love my adopted country and I am so happy that you had a great time. You see - I told you so!!! I hope you plan to come back soon. I know about those phone numbers............but you are so right, take the compliment and smile inside.

    Lesley
  • edited 10:55AM
    Hi Lesley

    I am afraid I can't break from the group for a couple of days, therefore, I would like to find a "short trip" (i.e. few hours or 1 night) to the dessert and rejoin the group in the morning. Is it difficult?

    Thanks.

    Jenny
  • edited 10:55AM
    Hi Lesley,

    I saw an earlier post where someone had asked about wearing shorts in the city centres and was wondering if that's the same everywhere? My girlfriend and I are travelling to Skanes next week, but will be travelling through to Sousse (which i hear is very popular with tourists) and was wondering if they would be so strict on it there.

    Many thanks, Keiren.
  • edited 10:55AM
    Jenny - you may be able to find a company in Tozeur who can offer you an overnight. Let me do some research and get back to you.

    Hi Keiren - yes Sousse is a popular tourist spot. Keep in mind that others apart from tourists live and work there. No-one is strict here, we certainly do not set rules for foreigners or tourists. My advice is always for your comfort and safety. You will NEVER see girls/women wearing shorts and rarely a male. If you want to avoid feeling discomfort then pay respect to the culture and the country. Believe me, you will have a happier time and a great holiday.
  • edited 10:55AM
    Terryanply - Turkey is not like here!! It is a multicultural and mixed religious country. Tunisia is Islamic - nothing else. Yes, you can go out but you need to be careful where you go and of course it will depend on where you are visiting. Be aware that coffee houses are mainly populated by men so if you see lots of men sitting outside, pass by (preferably on the other side of the street). In restaurants you will be ushered to the 'family' area. This is for your comfort. In some of the tourist areas there are discos but these are also populated by the locals looking for a 'good' time. Under no circumstances should you go to what you think is the local bar. Muslims should not drink but those that do tend to overload! Alcohol is available in the hotels and that's where I suggest you get a 'beer' at the end of the day.
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