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Getting Around Yemen
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Getting Around in Yemen


Yemen is not an easy country to get around, due predominantly to the effects of civil war. For trips outside the capital, and most within it, a car (preferably 4WD) is necessary as roads are frequently unpaved and very steep. Maps are also not as reliable as they are in other countries, so engaging the services of a local driver may be a useful expense.

Additionally, most travel outside the capital will require a travel permit (tasriih), which must be applied for a number of days in advance and will be examined at checkpoints along the way. This may seem inconvenient, however it is designed to prevent travellers unwittingly venturing into areas of tribal unrest - and vice versa. Some areas of the country are off-limits to travel without military escorts, and still other areas are totally off-limits to travel. While the concept of staying informed about local conditions in your intended destinations is an overused one, in Yemen it is essential, as failure to do so may result in kidnappings or worse. The usual Middle Eastern shared taxi system exists in Yemen.

By Air

Yemen Airways (IY) operates services between Sana’a, Ta’izz and Hodeidah. There are also flights from Aden. It is advisable to double-check flight reservations and times before departure.

Departure tax: None.

By Sea

Local ferries connect local ports. For details, contact port authorities. Mariners should be aware that there is the possibility of attacks against ships and, in particular, yachts off the Yemen coast, especially in the Gulf of Aden. Travellers are advised against yachting in this area.

By Road

There are approximately 5000km (3125 miles) of asphalt roads and 20,000km (12,500 miles) of feeder roads. Road conditions and driving standards are quite poor and many roads are in a state of disrepair, with mountain roads particularly hazardous. The Ministry of Housing, Construction and Urban Planning is now supervising a redevelopment and reconstruction plan for Yemen’s road network. Within Sana’a and from Ta’izz to Mokha, the roads are reliable. From Aden to Ta’iz is three to five hours’ driving time. A road links Aden and Sana’a, otherwise the road network is mainly limited to desert tracks. Use of 4-wheel-drive vehicles and a guide is recommended. There is a road from Aden to Mukalla of 500km (310 miles). Traffic drives on the right but sometimes drivers travel on the left.

Public transport in the northern cities is well-served by the dhabar, black-striped mini-buses, which have designated routes but somewhat erratic timetables and pick up passengers as they go along the streets. Public and private companies provide first-class daily coach services between major cites.

Service taxis also have designated routes, but no timetable; the driver waits until the vehicle is full before leaving. These taxis are painted white with horizontal stripes and a large circle painted on the front door, often giving the route in Arabic. In the larger cities, private taxis are also available; the price should be negotiated before you begin your trip.

There are many travel and tourist agencies operating under license from the local authorities. They organise tours around the country they also provide tour guides speaking different languages, and rent out cars for those interested.

If you wish to rent a car, it is usual to hire the driver as well. However, if you wish to drive, an International Driving Permit is required. A temporary licence valid for three months is available from local authorities on presentation of a valid national licence.





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