Tunisia

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ShermansTravel experts rely on years of collective travel experience to bring you the best money-saving tips for your vacation. We take a discerning look at all the attraction passes, public transportation options, and other local bargains to make sure you get the most bang for your buck while traveling.

Tunisia Money-Saving Tips

Visas on Arrival

Holders of American and Canadian passports are issued three- or four-month tourist visas  free of charge upon arrival at the airport. Having Israeli passport stamps is no problem - in fact, Israelis can visit Tunisia if they get a visa in advance.

French phrasebook

Arabic is the national language but many Tunisians speak at least some French, and a few - especially in touristy establishments – also speak a bit of English. A French phrasebook can be remarkably useful when ordering meals or asking for directions.

Sun Protection

The Tunisian sun can be surprisingly strong, especially in summer and particularly if you spend a lot of time on the beach or hiking around Roman-era ruins, so bring a hat, sunscreen, and plenty of water.

Public transportation

You can go practically anywhere in Tunisia by both bus and louage (a minibus that departs when full). Each town has its own louage station, but the system is not centrally managed, so you’ll have to ask around to find it. It’s a great way to meet the locals.

Modest Attire

Even though Tunisia is one of the most Westernized Arab countries, people tend to dress conservatively by Western standards. Except on the beach, women should keep their shoulders, upper arms and legs covered.

Smoking

Consider yourself forewarned: many Tunisians smoke and the few smoking prohibitions that exist are largely un-enforced.

Opening hours

The Tunisian work week runs from Monday to Friday, though some banks are also open on Saturday morning. Shops generally close for a siesta between 12:30-2:30pm from October to June, and between 1-5pm from July to September. During Ramadan afternoon closings are widespread.

Ramadan

Be aware that during the holy month of Ramadan it is illegal to drink, eat, or smoke in public in Tunisia and many businesses close early. Since the holiday follows the Muslim lunar calendar as opposed to the western Gregorian calendar, exact dates vary from year to year – in 2008 the holiday occurs throughout the month of September; in 2009 it takes place from August 21st to September 19th.

Highland Snow

The old French hill station of Ain Draham, in the Kroumirie Mountains, offers highland relief from the lowland heat and even gets a bit of snow in December and January.

Hot Harissa

Tunisia's national hot sauce (actually, more of a paste) is made from red chilies crushed with a mortar and pestle. It adds fire to everything from couscous to merguez (spicy sausages).

National Briq

A true Tunisian specialty, briq is a semi-circular pocket of deep-fried, super-thin dough filled with an egg - the yolk still runny – capers, tuna and potato.

Pirate Legacy

In the very early 1800s, pirate attacks on American ships from the Barbary states were so common that the U.S. Navy undertook some of its first overseas operations off the Tunisian coast to combat the problem.

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