If you should ever decide to travel to Bahrain you will need to use the Bahraini dinar, since this is the country’s official currency. There are many other dinar currencies used around this part of the world, but this version is unique to Bahrain. The name harks back to denarius, which was a coin well-known in Roman times. The dinar is not divided into 100 subunits, as is the case with many other currencies. Instead it is divided into 1,000 subunits and these are known as fils.
There are several coins for this currency. There is just one dinar coin, which is valued at ½ a dinar (or 500 fils if you prefer). Aside from this the rest of the coins are valued in fils. They are the 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100 fils coins.
As you might expect there are no banknotes for the fils but five exist for the dinar itself. These are denominated as BD ½ (the dinar is shown with the letters BD before it quite often), BD 1, BD 5, BD 10 and BD 20.
Before 1965 when the dinar was first used in Bahrain, the country used the Gulf rupee. This particular rupee was used in a wide range of countries across both the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf (hence the name). The reason the dinar was brought in as the new official currency was that Bahrain became fully independent in 1965 and thus wanted its own currency brought into being.
The best way to get hold of your dinars is to wait until you touch down in Bahrain itself. There are lots of money changing services at the airport so you will have no trouble changing your own currency into Bahraini dinars. Indeed the same story is pretty much true throughout Bahrain. You’ll need to be a bit more prepared if you go to areas that are not as busy as the country’s capital, Manama, but most built-up areas will have bureaux de change available.
You can also use cards to withdraw money in the local currency at cash machines. Watch for the fees charged for withdrawing cash to credit cards: make sure you are aware of these fees before you go so you at least know what to expect. You can also of course use these cards to make payment for all kinds of things.
Dinars are best exchanged back into your own currency before you leave Bahrain en route for home. You will normally get a much better currency exchange rate here than you would at home. Very often people struggle to exchange them at all in their own country so it makes sense to get the best deal you can before you leave. Make sure you leave time to do this at the airport.
It’s usually quite easy to find out the current exchange rate when you need to know it. You may already have a currency converter you like to use; if not find one now and make sure it gives you up-to-date information. Some only update daily and you need it updated more often than that to get the latest information.
Just enter your home currency first followed by the Bahrain dinar. This will ensure your currency is converted into the dinar. If you want a specific amount to convert enter that in the box provided and go from there. That’s all there is to it. Just remember when you come to exchange your currency for the dinar you won’t get the exchange rate you look up online. Bureaux de change will have their own rates to use.
In order to get more information about Bahrain before you pay a visit, it might help to go to the official embassy website. This is the Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain and it can be located online at http://www.mofa.gov.bh/london/Home.aspx.
It is best to check the latest travel advice issued by the government in the UK prior to planning any travel to Bahrain. There is a tendency for demonstrations and potentially the chance for terrorist attacks in the area of the Gulf, so make sure you only travel if it is safe to do so.
It is heartening to know most visits to Bahrain pass without incident but it is wise to be careful while you are there. If you need to travel anywhere and you want to catch a taxi, be sure it is part of a reputable service. It is also wise to steer clear of any unsavoury areas at night and not to travel alone, particularly if you are a woman.
The usual rules about safety with your cash are wise. Simply keep it in separate places on your person and don’t carry around more than you really need to, just in case.
Bahrain is actually an island country connected to Saudi Arabia on its western side by the King Fahd Causeway. This goes through a small island appropriately called Middle Island, where the Bahraini Passport Control is located. There are also two mosques on this small island, one on the Saudi side and one on the Bahrain side. There is actually more than just the one island here, making it strictly an archipelago. Bahrain is the largest of all the islands.
It is wise to be aware of Bahrain and its customs before you choose to go there. While it makes sense to honour the beliefs and customs of any country, it is particularly good to do so here because the people are predominantly Muslim. This means that while drinking is allowed in public places those in charge take a very dim view of anyone who does drink or is found or suspected to be drunk. Put simply, if you like a drink, perhaps Bahrain is not for you.
With that out of the way let’s see what you can expect to see and/or do in the country. As we mentioned before Manama is the biggest city in the country and it is also its capital. It is quite a sight too, with modern skyscrapers and buildings almost everywhere you look. The capital is situated to the north of the main island. You can also see other notable buildings here such as the Al-Fateh Grand Mosque. You can visit this mosque on every day except Fridays or if it is a noted holiday in the country. Another good option is to see the National Museum of Bahrain. This is a fairly modern complex and provides an excellent way of finding out more about the thousands of years of history the island has behind it. You can see everything from 6th century Assyrian coffins to donations from others such as a 1932 Buick. As such the museum is rather unusual and definitely well worth a look.
The Amwaj Islands are also worth visiting if you are near the capital, since they aren’t that far away. They are man-made and there are several of them that are interconnected. These include Najma Island and Tala Island. There is also a segment called – rather appropriately – Floating City. This is the capital of this small area.
You can also visit Durrat Al Bahrain at the other end of the main island. This too is comprised of a series of artificial islands, the outer ones all shaped like horseshoes and the inner ones shaped like fish. You may even decide to stay here once completed as there will be several hotels and plenty of beaches, not to mention other things to see and do.
Another great destination to head for is located towards the west of the main island and is known as the Lost Paradise of Dilmun Water Park. If you want to have some splashing good fun this is definitely the place to go. There are various areas to visit inside the water park, including Dilmun Beach, Tylosplash and Qasar Enki. The latter area boasts a Lazy River and even a spa pool. Other areas have raft rides, tube slides and much more to enjoy, so it is best to plan an entire day here to make the most of it all.
As you can see, Bahrain may be something of a surprise if you weren’t sure what to expect. For a relatively small island it certainly has a lot to offer. Of course since they are extending out into the sea in more than one place, it has more to offer than that too!
Just plan your holiday in advance and check the latest travel information prior to going. In all probability you will have a great time once you get to Bahrain and see what the country has to offer.