Unmarried couple sharing a hotel room in Tunisia?

edited August 2009 in - North Africa
Hi Lesley,

My girlfriend and I are coming to Tunisia later this month. We are both under 25, she has blonde hair. I have read 2 or three pages of discussion on Tunisia on this website and many more websites reviews. It looks like a wonderful country and i have even started to try to learn a few handy phrases (please, excuse me and thank you's etc.) i hope we find it to be just that. My question regards having read earlier that couples who are under 25 and are not married should not share a hotel room as it is "illegal", clearly this caused some concern to both of us. We have an all inclusive deal to a large hotel (port el kantaoui) which i presume will be filled with tourists(hopefully not!), do you think this will still be a problem? As we dont want to cause offense before having even arrived at our room and were unaware of this when we booked. I'm also aware that it is ramadan at that time of year so thought this might play a factor? Sorry for taking so long to explain!

Kind regards, Joe.
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Comments

  • edited 2:36PM
    Hi Joe,

    Tunisie is a wonderful country and I am sure you are going to enjoy it very much. In regard to the sharing of a room with your girlfriend - you are staying in a very touristique area and I doubt very much that as foreigners you will be asked if you are married. In the slightest chance that you are questioned my advice is always to say 'yes' and if questioned further tell them that you did not realise that you had to bring your marriage licence with you! That will be the end of the question......they may even think that you are on your honeymoon and bonus upgrade etc etc may ensure (incha'llah!!) So don't be concerned that it is Ramadan - but please be patient with the staff and the locals. Keep in mind that we do not eat, drink, smoke etc etc from sunrise to sunset and in the heat everyone gets tired and tempers are a little frayed, apart from this the nights during Ramadan are one big party - so enjoy it while you are here.

    Regards,
    Lesley
  • edited 2:36PM
    Lesley - would you ever be asked why if you are married your passports are in different names? From what you say, is room sharing likely to be a problem in less urban parts of Tunisia?
  • edited 2:36PM
    David - I don't like to make sweeping statements, but foreigners are not likely to be asked if they are married and less likely to produce a marriage certificate. My husband and I have never been asked for our marriage certificate (I'm Australian and he's Tunisian) in a hotel. Outside of the urban areas I can't imagine that they would ever question foreigners.
    There is not a problem with passports in differing names as my husband and I have different surnames in our passports but they get that sometimes foreign women do not take the name of their husbands. Also in Tunisia women keep their family names so it is quite normal to have different surnames
  • edited 2:36PM
    Lesley,

    I have a question for you.

    I am an Australian citizen living in Australia. I would like to visit Tunis on a holiday. Now , I know that I need a Tourist visa which I believe I can organise via the embassy in Japan.(we dont have a tunisian embassy here in Oz). But, how about the transit. Do I need any VISAS for the countries i fly via .

    If someone can shed some light , that would be highly appreciated. and also i heard that Tourists are normally taken for a ride and ripped of their money and belongings. Is that true? I dont know know arabic would that be a big concern?

    Cheers,
  • edited 2:36PM
    Hi Jono - sorry I haven't been able to reply - we have just finished Ramadan and have travelled around to visit family etc. As an Australian passport holder you can get your passport when you arrive into Tunis. It is simple (sort of). You will need to have TD (Tunisian Dinar)35 for each visa which will be issued for 1 month. If you don't have the currency, they will hold your passport at the visa window and send you through customs and security to the exchange/bank counters. Then you come back in and pay and voila, you have your visa. If you are coming via Dubai it is only a transit there and you don't need any visa, however if you want to break your journey then depending on which country more than likely you will need a visa.

    Tunisia is a safe country, but like anywhere, there are opportunists and you should always be aware of your surroundings and belongings. Yes, you can be ripped off but the exchange rate, the Aussie dollar and the cheap prices here won't feel hard on your hip pocket. We have an Arabic dialect here but try to learn a few words. It is very much appreciated. Our other language is French so if you have a few words that is helpful. If you go to the site: www.tunisia.com there is a forum and you will see one of the forums dedicated to Arabic phrases. It is really helpful.

    I encourage you to come to tunisia - it is my home and I love it. (I'm an aussie too)
  • edited 2:36PM
    Hey i have a question, Can an unmarried couple that consists of a tunisian man and a european women share a hotel room without problems?

    please help
    confused couple!
  • edited 2:36PM
    Hi there k4m - well I'm Australian and my husband is Tunisian and we have never had a problem sharing a hotel room together. We always take our marriage certificate with us but we have never been asked to show it!

    I shouldn't think you will have any problems
  • edited 2:36PM
    Hi Lesley,

    Firstly thanks very much for your previous postings, we are thinking of going to Sousse in early December and have found your comments very useful.

    We are not "beach holiday" fans and like to get out and about and immerse ourselves in the local life. In recent years we have been to Marrakech, Morocco when we had an overnight stay at Essourira on the coast and Banjul, The Gambia when we had a similar stay at Georgetown (Jan Jan Bureh).

    If we do go to Sousse where could you recommend for a similar trip? I have scoured the Rough Guide to Tunisia and see that we could go on a "safari" that would take us into the desert for a day or two and I also see that a day trip to Sfax is possible. Do you have any experience / knowledge of these things or could you recommend something else please? Also, we know that the weather is not going to be in the "suntan" category but what exactly can we expect.

    Any help that you can give us will be very gratefuly received.

    Many thanks.
  • edited 2:36PM
    Hi there Tim - you do know that Sousse is on the coast on the beach? I love Essouria - one of my favourite places in North Africa! If you want to go to the sahara it's a long weary trip from Sousse but it can be done. You could consider going to Kairouan which is a wonderful very ancient Islamic city and also where you can see the beautiful rugs of Tunisia being made. Tozeur is also a wonderful city and is where you can organise to take a trip to the desert. You could also go north along the cost to Hammamet and to Nabeul which is lovely or why not consider a day in Tunis? The ruins of Carthage are all around the capital, the old medina is lovely and the Bardo museum is a must see. It does get quite cold in Tunisia which surpises many people. I live in the North right on the mediterranean and right now it is still warmish (low 20s) but the wind and the rain is here at the moment. In the desert it will be cold at night but this is a mediterannean climate so don't expect a European winter here.

    Hope this all helps - if you want more just email me and I hope you really enjoy your vacation here and I'm glad that my posts have helped,

    Lesley
  • edited 2:36PM
    Hi again Lesley and many thanks for your post.
    You really are a star doing all this hard work for complete strangers.

    Yes, I am aware that Sousse is on the coast; for the last two weeks I have, as usual, been reading the Rough Guide to (in this case) Tunisia from cover to cover. I like to go on holiday as well "clued up" as I can be.

    You say that the sahara is "a long weary trip from Sousse". Are we looking at, say, a day to get there, a quick look around on the back of a camel, and a day to get back?

    Any advice you can offer would be appreciated as are the suggestions you have already made. Once I have posted this I will head off to research them.

    Many thanks again for your kind and invaluable help.
  • edited 2:36PM
    Tim - thank you so much - I actually enjoy doing this, call me majnoonie (crazy). It can take up to 7 hours each way so you would want to stay overnight at least to have a proper experience. Travel time can vary because of weather, day of the week, traffic etc. etc!! Also even though we have a 110km speed limit it is very rare to actually travel any distance (apart from the freeway) at that speed!! Can I suggest that you travel to Tozeur which is a wonderful city in the South and spend at least a few hours there having a look around and then go to a Berbere camp from there for the night and then travel back to Sousse. That would be a good couple of days and you will see some of Tunisia on your way.
  • edited 2:36PM
    Hi, Im Polish guy living in Tunisia. regarding the romm in hotels it is officially forbidden to share a room with a Tunisian person if you are not married. I can share with a French girl, Russian etc. but not with Tunisian. In reality it depends on the hotel some even do not check you documents and some are resistant and in this case two rooms must be taken.
  • edited 2:36PM
    Hi Lesley,

    I have been reading all your comments and very thank full that you have given alot of information. My self, husband, daughter aged 7 and friend are travelling to Sousse in 2 days for 7 nights. We are Turkish and aware of how to dress etc in a Islamic country. Just read that it can take upto 7 hours to the Sahara, how long do you recommend for us to stay there.
    In December, i can see the weather tempertaure being around 20-21, which should be nice. Will it be hot enough to go in the sea? Also what else would you recommend for us to go and see. Also me and my friend love markets, and would like to know if any markets will be near us?
  • edited 2:36PM
    Hi Mel, I've been away so apologise if this is not reaching you in time for your holiday. If you want to go to the desert I recommend at least 1 night for the experience alone. your daughter will love it, camel rides etc. etc. It is getting quite cold now and the south (desert) is very cold at night so make sure you have some warm clothes with you. I think the water temperature is dropping but you may like to put your toes in, not sure that you would or could swim now though. Bit too cool. Sousse has a lovely Medina with some local crafts etc. I'm sure you will enjoy it.
  • edited 2:36PM
    Hi Lesley. We got back from Sousse on Sunday thoroughly exhausted from our travels through your wonderful country.
    We did the three day, two night tour through Galaxy Tours (no one else was doing it due to lack of demand in December) and went to El Jem, Matmata, Douz, the Chott El Jerid, Tozeur, Chebika, tamerza, Mides and Gafsa. We also went to Sfax (a wonderful and very untouristy city) by train one day and finally to Kairouan by louage (shared minibus for the uninitiated) on another.
    All in all it was a bit hectic sometimes but we had a fantastic time and have brought home a thousand memories as well as hundreds of photographs and the odd souvenir. I have put a couple of reviews up on Tripadvisor if anyone is interested.
    Thank you so much for your kind help and advice, you were a great help and we really do appreciate it.
  • edited 2:36PM
    Hey Tim - I am so, so pleased that you enjoyed this teeny little country! It really is amazing isn't it? the different regions are all so interesting and well.....different. Matmata is one of my favourite places, the people are so genuine and lovely. The other is Tozeur, just a beautiful area. Did you go to Chakwok park? It's a laugh isn't it? But I am glad that you had a wonderful vacation and I really hope that you will return again and again - after all you didn't go to Djerba (or did you), the land of the Lotus Eaters.
  • edited 2:36PM
    hi, i'm going to tunisia in two days time and want to do some shore fishing from the beach. Hammamet
    what should i bring?
    what type of fish can i catch?

    terry
  • edited 2:36PM
    Can anybody tell me what the weather will be like in march ?? and i am travelling with my partners who is black ( i am white and blonde ) i have been told this isnt wise by quite a few people also could someone please explain why it would be an issue as i cant think what the problem would be !!!

    Thank you!!!!
  • edited 2:36PM
    Terryboy - wish I could help you. I live here but i don't know about the fishing. I can't even give you the names of the sorts of fish here in English. Perhaps someone else on this forum will be able to answer these questions for you
  • edited 2:36PM
    Viva - who are these few people who have told you this?? Absolute nonsense. We have loads of people here from Sudan, Niger etc etc..........all accepted here. Tunisians have dark skin also. I am white, I am blonde, I am married to a Tunisian, I live in tunisia - never been an issue!

    As for the weather - while we are a small country we have many differing weather regions. March in some areas is still quite cold and in others milder. Where will you be going and I can give you a better idea.

    Enjoy your time here
  • edited 2:36PM
    Hi Lesley, your feedback to everyone's questions is amazing and very helpful. I have a dream job in Tunis that I am hoping to apply for however I wondered if you have come across foriegn unmarried couples living together as locals? I am British and my boyfriend is South African - as the position is for 3 years, if I did get the job then we would live together (of course after we sorted his visa), but I wondered if applying for the job was even worth a try as we are not married. I would not even try doing that in Dubai - how much more strict in Tunisia? Your thoughts would be helpful. Thanks
  • edited 2:36PM
    Hi Tasha - dream job huh? That's fantastic. Yes, unmarried foreign couples are able to live together. It is a Tunisian and a foreigner that is not allowed or two Tunisians. Tunisia is not a super conservative country but you do need to be aware of the religious norms and the culture here. I think you and your partner would be fine. To be honest, I don't know any unmarried foreign couples living together but it does happen and I wouldn't let this worry you. Go for it!!
  • edited 2:36PM
    Hi,

    Thanks everyone for sharing experiences.

    I am 28 Spanish male and I am traveling to Morocco with 2 female friends, both French (one of them with Algerian roots).
    We are planning to visit Agadir, Ourazazate, Merzouga, Mekness, Casablanca and Marrakech.
    Do you know if we are going to have any problems to share room the 3 of us in the hotels of the mentioned cities?
    If so, is it better for the girls to share a room and get myself one on my own?

    Many thanks,

    Luis
  • edited 2:36PM
    Superlbc - you may have problems. It is highly unusual for a man to share with 2 females in this part of the world. You are better to have a room of your own and the girls to share one between them
  • edited 2:36PM
    I would like to know Lesley, how much dos a Standard Tunisian passport cost for a tunesian a how much is a normal salery pr. month.
  • edited 2:36PM
    Carl - you know I can't remember how much the passport is. It's not heaps of money though, I'll ask my husband. Now there is no such thing as a normal salary - it depends on the sort of work you do. I can tell you though that a labourer may get around TD10.000 per day - not very much! But professionals get more than that.
  • edited 2:36PM
    HI VIVA

    so how is or was tunisia ? i'm planning to be there around august, and i was having some concern abt the race issue too , since i'm black n my partner is white ... so how did it go ? n where did u guys go ? what cities n stuff ? still don't know what to visit exactly when i'm there.
    thanx
  • edited 2:36PM
    Hi Lesley!

    I am Tunisian and my bf is aussie. We're in love and we've been together since 1 year and a half... its been so hard with the distance but we managed to visit each other.. I recently went to australia for his holidays.. I really would love to ask you more about your own experience and how did you organize your life together.. and how you're living the tunisian experience.. he's still afraid from being here even tho we had a lot of fun during his stay.. I guess being non muslim in a muslim country freaked him.. I am trying to make him visit me again this summer and he's quiet ok with it.. we are both around 28.. and we really want to be together.. but australian laws are soo complicated and tunisian traditions aren't easy to handle.. u know what I mean..

    Thnx
  • edited 2:36PM
    lagaf - there are no race issues in Tunisia..........Tunisians have dark skin and we have many, many people here from Sudan, Niger etc etc. This should not be a problem for you at all. August is very, very hot here and we also have Ramadan. If you let me know what your interests are and how long you will be here then I can try to tell you where you should go.
  • edited 2:36PM
    salem hb - yours is a very different situation non? It is usually the man who is with a foreigner. I think your case is complicated because your b/f is not Muslim. Will he convert? My story is a little different to most as I met my husband in Libya and really stayed with him since that time. It was the most practical thing for us to live in Tunisia and you are right, the laws for immigration to Australia are difficult but with some patience and assistance it can be done. So, to give you all my story would be impossible on this forum but if you send me your email then I am happy to give you all my experience. Just let me say that I consider Tunisia to be my country now. So, write me and I will give you much information back.
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