Bahrain has a public bus system linking most of the major towns and residential areas, but it’s designed primarily for the expatriate workforce and is of limited use to tourists. Visit Manama bus station for the latest information.
Car & Motorcycle
Driving around Bahrain is straightforward and roads are well signposted with regard to the main sites of tourist interest.
Speed limits, the wearing of seat belts and drink-driving laws are rigorously enforced. Speed limits are 60km/h in towns, 80km/h in the outer limits of suburbs and 100km/h on highways. Petrol stations are well signposted, especially along highways.
Car-hire companies have offices in Manama and at the airport, charging from BD20/70 per day/week for the smallest four-door sedan.
Rates exclude petrol but include unlimited mileage and insurance. To avoid the excess of BD100 to BD200 in case of an accident, it’s wise to pay the extra BD2 Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) per day. Companies normally only accept drivers over 21 years old (over 25 for more expensive car models), and foreigners must (theoretically at least) have an International Driving Permit, although a driving licence is often sufficient. There is nowhere to rent a motorcycle.
Most visitors get around Bahrain by taxi, although persistence is needed to persuade drivers to use their meters. If you’re visiting more than one tourist attraction outside Manama and Muharraq, it’s cheaper to hire a car.
Money and Costs
Bahraini dinar (BD)
Bahrain is an expensive destination, not least because budget accommodation is not recommended for Western visitors. Expect to pay at least US$100 for a comfortable room. Cheaper eating options are easier to find (starting from US$5), and with free access to many of the main sites of interest, a minimum daily cost with transport comes to around US$140. This rises to US$200 if you’re staying in midrange hotels; for a top-end hotel with car hire, a starting point of US$350 is nearer the mark.
Bargaining in the souqs and in most shops, together with asking for a discount, is expected.
ATMs widespread; credit cards widely accepted.
ATMs & Credit Cards
Major credit cards are widely accepted throughout Bahrain. Most banks have ATMs that accept Visa, Cirrus and MasterCard cards, while the Bank of Bahrain and Kuwait (BBK) has ATMs that take Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus, Maestro and Amex cards.
Bahrain’s currency is the Bahraini dinar (BD). One dinar is divided into 1000 fils. There are 500-fil and one-, five-, 10- and 20-dinar notes. Coins come in denominations of five, 10, 25, 50, 100 and 500 fils. The Bahraini dinar is a convertible currency and there are no restrictions on its import or export.
The dinar is pegged to the US dollar and rarely fluctuates. For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.
Money (both cash and travellers cheques) can be changed at any bank or moneychanging office. There is little to choose between banks and moneychangers in terms of exchange rates and it’s rare for either to charge a commission. Currencies for other Gulf states are easy to buy and sell.
A service charge is added to most bills in restaurants and hotels in Bahrain, so tipping is at your discretion. An appropriate tip for good service would be around 10%. Airport porters expect 200 fils per bag despite their services being covered by the airport tax. Taxi drivers do not expect a tip for short journeys. For longer journeys (over 5km), 10% would be appropriate.
Thanks to Lonely Planet for information about Bahrain