Tunisia

by Ucman Scher
2 comments

Solo Gay Trip Guide to Tunisia

Tunisia is one of the 5 North African countries and has its own unique culture and history. For an outsider, it is quite easy to see the small size of the country especially concerning its giant neighbours and discount it but it is far from that. The biggest advantage it has is the stability, both its neighbours; Libya and Algeria are somewhat troubled but Tunisia is stable and relatively safe. Here is the account of my solo trip to Tunisia.

I just returned from my solo trip to Tunisia. I am writing this after a week because I needed some time to sort out my feelings and unfortunately I have to come out and say it; Tunisia is one of my least favourite destinations I have visited so far. Phew, there I said it.

Tunisia was my mid-November get away from cold, grey London and I got the idea from my previous visit to Morocco a few years back at the same time, it didn’t go as planned most of the time…

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How To Plan Your Trip To Tunisia?

I spent 5 days in Tunisia starting my trip from Paris to Djerba Island, spending a day there, I moved to Tunis with a day trip through Sfax and El Jem. The next 3 days were spent in Tunis along with Sidi Bou Said, the coastal extension of Tunis. The logistics made things a bit tougher than expected but it was the perfect amount of time to spend here for me. You can also check out their official tourism website.

You can get online visa details on this website.

Is Tunisia Expensive?

Tunisia is quite cheap in terms of general prices and value for money is high. There is a caveat though and that is tourist pricing; a lot of the time people tried to charge me more seeing me as a foreigner and a lot of the time they were quite aggressive about it as well. It pays to be with locals or know at least some French.

You can learn how to manage your budget during travelling.

What Is Public Transport Like In Tunisia?

Public transport in the country is difficult to use. There are no official time tables and you have to use shared minivans from the bus stations. These are called ‘Louage’ and they work based on the passengers rather than timings; when the van is full the bus will move and you could be stood there waiting for it to fill. This makes it hard in the evenings especially.

In the cities public transport is non-existent almost other than Tunis but taxis are easily available and quite reasonably priced. All the taxis are metered and I must praise the very professional taxi drivers and no one tried to overcharge me or played any tricks. This is a positive surprise for me; highly appreciated!!

Check out all the different modes of transportation you can use in a new city.

Is Tunisia Safe?

Tunisia is a safe country comparatively but it still demands vigilance. There was an attack on the beach a few years ago which caused a huge shockwave but looking around I didn’t feel threatened in any way. The only way I felt uncomfortable was because of hordes of guys on street corners in the nights but again it was my paranoia because they didn’t approach me.

Read more about staying safe during solo travelling.

How Is Food In Tunisia?

Perhaps the biggest disappointment I have had was food in Tunisia. It was hard to find restaurants in the first place which were mostly subpar. This includes central areas of the cities. I am not sure if it is because of a lack of taste, my bad luck or general standard for food being low. Throughout my 5 days stay I only found 2 places with good food, the rest of the times it was borderline below average to disastrous. I do want to point out I did try some high-end places as well as small eateries full of locals. Sigh!

Should I Carry Cash Or Cards In Tunisia?

Tunisia uses Dinars as its currency and they use three decimal places or Millimes. I was surprised at a demand of 1700 after a short ride but it turned out to be 1 dinar and 700 Millimes. For all practical purposes, you can use the two decimals system as there is no way to subdivide the currency to the third decimal place.  Cards are accepted in bigger cities mostly and you need cash generally. Contactless is still unavailable and even in Tunis, you cannot use cards much. ATM’s are generally available to withdraw cash and some of them will charge you to withdraw money, do look around for free ones like Amen bank.

Is It Safe To Drink Tap Water In Tunisia?

Tap water is not drinkable and you need to buy bottled water.

Read more about eco-friendly travelling.

How To Get Past ID Checks in Tunisia?

There are no checks generally and I only kept my passport in the accommodation on my solo trip to Tunisia.

Where To Arrive In Tunisia?

Tunisia has quite a few airports with multiple flights a day. I took a flight to Djerba from Paris which has great links to many Tunisian destinations; London is connected only to Tunis mainly.

The taxi to and from the airport is quite cheap and taxis are metered. I didn’t see any public transport but I guess because it was quite late in the evening. The airports are quite close to the cities and taxis were the best mode of transport. Processing through the airport was also easy. The airlines provide a landing card for you to fill in during the flight and you need it to clear immigration.

Check the guide to find the best flight deals wherever you go.

Which Sim Card To Buy in Tunisia? Is Internet Good In Tunisia?

I got a local sim card for this trip from Orange at the airport. Internet and phone connection is generally good and WIFI is also easily accessible. Internet and phone coverage was pretty good throughout the country.

Are People Of Tunisia Friendly?

The second biggest disappointment after food was the people in Tunisia. I found people to be quite aggressive and dismissive. It was bizarre for me because people in the Middle East and around the equator are generally very friendly and warm. Throughout my trip, I met only 1 local who was friendly and sweet and she was the tour guide in Tunis, it was thoroughly disappointing.

Another really annoying thing is smoking. Everyone smokes and a lot of it is indoors, in the restaurants, public transport and in your face.

Which Languages Are Spoken In Tunisia?

The official language is Arabic but most of the population speaks French as well. In most restaurants, you will find menus in Arabic and French. English still hasn’t reached the level of acceptability here and it soon became a big problem. I definitely survived with the help of google translate and my rudimentary French on my solo trip to Tunisia. This is true for Tunis as well as the small places I visited.

Learn more about all the ways you can use to explore a new city.

Is Tunisia Racist?

I didn’t get the feel Tunisians were racist on my soul trip to Tunisia. I saw quite a diverse populations with Africans as part of society as well as fair-skinned Afro Europeans on my solo trip to Tunisia. If you’re a tourist you are looked at as someone with money, I don’t think the locals cared much about my race.

Is Tunisia Safe For LGBT Travellers?

It is illegal to be LGBT in Tunisia and that plays a huge role in the life of LGBT people. I felt quite uncomfortable on my solo trip to Tunisia walking around with people staring and making me conscious, I am quite sure it was because of me being gay (I have dealt with this in the past). This is from the outside experience. From the gay community, I got multiple warnings as soon as I landed to be careful. There were stories of how foreigners are robbed or blackmailed with sex from internet dates. Most of the guys do not have pictures on their profiles and are quite aggressive. It was a very uncomfortable situation and after trying a couple of times, I gave up trying to meet anyone. I also heard about an undercover gay club in Tunis but dared not try.

Read more tips and tools you can use during travelling.

 

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2 comments

Iris May 4, 2020 - 4:10 am

I’m sorry you felt this way during your visit, unfortunately I find what you said to be not accurate, the food is very divers in Tunisia and you can easily find international restaurants, some people even find the country as a culinary destination.
I agree people in Tunisia smoke a lot, but never in restaurants unless it’s a really cheap one, and never in public transport it’s against the law I’m sorry but i don’t buy that. I understand that you felt people aren’t friendly enough, this was never the case with me. I never found the Tunisian people to be racist, and it has nothing to do with being a tourist, no matter where you are as long as you are a foreign they will see as someone with money and try to overcharge you, also I find that your facial treats looks very Arab/Mediterranean so racism is out of the box when you’re in the middle east. Also, how were you sure that people stared at you because you were gay, were walking and saying I’m guy or did you wear a t-shirt that says you’re gay? I think it was coming from your own anxiety or maybe a past trauma.
It is true that being gay is a crime, but it never stopped the queer community, in fact, that it is very easy to meet someone here, bad luck for you I guess. If you’re not from Tunisia and heard about an undercover club, then it’s not very undercover, on the contrary most clubs are lgbt friendly, but two, not one are called gay clubs because their clients are more from the queer community.
I hope you revisit again and live a better experience.

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Ucman Scher May 4, 2020 - 7:03 am

Hi Iris
I’m glad someone had a rebuttal for me and it’s always great to see people with a better experience. Tunisia has recently recognised same sex marriages which I’m very happy about.
You’re also correct about my past trauma and I agree it must have played a part in this. Unfortunately, this is my experience and I described it the way I went through with it. I have been to a lot of other Middle Eastern countries including Morocco and didn’t feel this way (plus I showed it a couple of Tunisian gay friends and they agreed).
As for food, I tried a diverse range and again I’m not on a mission to spread untruths but that’s what I had and it was disappointing.
I never said Tunisians were racist.
I will take your advice though and would love to visit again at some point because I still loved the architecture and beauty of this diverse country. 😊

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