Friday, March 16, 2007

Sulaymaniyah

Sulaymaniyah (see map) is a beautiful city, encircled by mountain ridges. Locals will tell you that it's the most modern city in Iraqi Kurdistan, the place where new fashions and trends are adopted first... that sort of thing. It has a population close to one million, and like every city in the region, growing quickly. Taxis around town are between 2,000 and 5,000 dinar, depending on the distance. There are also minibuses that ply various routes.

Hotels- I don't have much info on Suly's hotels, as I didn't stay in any, but thanks to Usva Auer I have the following info:

Hotel Chrakhan- On Salim Street, next to Ashti Hotel. Normal price for a double around 25 USD. (Special price: Double 20 000 / 15 USD, this price was fixed by a friend of the owner: I was lucky to share a taxi with him).

Probably the cheapest hotel in this, the better/newer side of the city. A little bit worn out but still OK. Private bathrooms (unlike the budget rooms in the city). The front rooms come with a balcony (and some street noise) while the rooms at the back are quieter but no balcony. Electricity in the morning and in the evening till the midnight. The owner, if in Iraq, speaks some Swedish. There's a very nice salad bar downstairs the hotel.

Mewan Hotel- Pyramed Street, Bazaar. Triple 10 000 dinars (7 USD).

This is the cheapest hotel I found in Kurdistan. The hotel is a bit gloomy and rooms are very basic but considering the price better than one can expect. There's a fridge on the corridor, don't recall if there was an A/C or TV in the room. Bathroom shared between two rooms. Electricity only in the evening. The young staff was very welcoming and knew some English! A cheap lunch restaurant around the corner.

Bukan Motel- Pyramed Street, Bazaar. Suite for two 26 000 dinar (20 USD). Cheaper rooms were not introduced to me. The old fashioned suite shares the bathroom with another room. What makes this hotel special is the kitchen guests can use. Staff was very enthousiatic selling the room.

Hotel Tara- Pyramed Street, Bazaar. Single 20 000 dinar (15 USD), double for one 25 000 dinar. Nothing fancy but OK. Doubles are better value than singles. The batroom is shared between three rooms. Matresses are not the best quality. Singles facing the street can be noicy.


Hiwa Hotel- 15,000 dinar ($12). On Kawa Street. Friendly. Will find a roommate for you, to reduce the price to 13,000 dinar.

Mawlawi Hotel- also on Kawa St, right at the main intersection. I'm told it's quite cheap.

There are quite a few hotels on Kawa Street, near the bazaar.

More expensive hotels are the Sulaymaniyah Palace Hotel (the tallest one on Salim Street) and the Ashti Hotel, also on Salim St.

Museums- not sure exactly where these are. There is the Sulaymaniyah National Museum (closed Fri, Sat, Sun), and a separate torture museum, often called the 'red house prison', detailing the horrors of Saddam's regime (ask for 'Amna Saraca'). Walking distance from the bazaar.

Bazaar- very large, in the centre of town, with some US army surplus available.

eating- Have an awesome Suly-style kebab on Mawlawi Street- it involves bread, kebab, tomato and onion all separate, and you put it together yourself into bite-sized rolls. Delicious! Also eat at a regular workmen's restaurant (ie. #12 on the map), having some quality rice, chicken, soup, fasulye (baked beans) and probably a fun conversation.

drinking- For chay, there is a great men's chay khane (teahouse) at number 6 on the map, where people will be eager to talk about your country's possibilities of investing in Kurdistan and such ambitious topics. There are numerous tea stalls at various intersections on main roads, and it's always worth having one.

I only know of one bar, whose entrance is on the side street to the left of the Ashti Hotel. The bar is on the first floor, and I saw no women inside. Imported Turkish beer and spirits available. Inevitably you'll end up enjoying some local hospitality.

Post office- This is just off Mawlawi Street. It's 1,250 dinar (US$1) for a letter to Australia, so I doubt anywhere else would cost more.

Airline offices are on Salim Street, near the Ashti Hotel. Suleymaniyah airport is to the west of the city, not too far away.

Azmar mountain- If you look up in Suly you'll see the ubiquitous PUK-TV tower on Azmar mountain. You can take a taxi up here, but it's not cheap. Something like 15,000 dinar. Great views of the city, and also over the ridges towards more mountains, and Iran to the east.

Halabja-

Getting to Halabja is easy for a day. You go out of Hotel Hiwa and go left, take the first right by all the fruit and veg sellers and there is a garage down there on the right. Take the Shahedun bus to the Halapja garage (250) and from there take a bus to Halabja (2500), they leave when full or evey 30 mins it seemed. Make sure you go to Old Halabja (Shaheed Halabja), not the new city (Taza Halabja), its only 80kms and takes about 2 hours.

There is the damaged monument to see there (damaged in protests last year), if you go, go to the visitor's centre next to the monument, the guys in there are surviors of the chemical attack and speak good English and will show you around. You also get a free information book on Halabja, a pin badge and a CD-ROM. Go to the visitors office before you start taking pictures etc as there is a police station opposite who map pick you up. I spent about 40 mins in the police station and in another down the road, they were really nice and no problem but best avoided (they even gave me an armed gaurd for the day to follow me about the city, just a bit OTT!).

The last bus back to Suli leaves about 3.30ish.

(thanks to George a.k.a. scubamonkey69, and Usva Auer)

14 comments:

Bryan Summers said...

Thank you so much for this blog. I'm thinking of coming to Kurdistan in June or July.

Chris said...

Thank you so much for this information. I might be moving there soon.

London Hotel said...

Very nice post. I'm traveling around the world already 10 years, I have a great deal with easyclicktravel on hotels and flights. I never was in Kurdistan, but I would like to go there after USA Army will leave there.

vule said...

i found your blog googling around :) do you know if there is a any hotel in Darbandikhan

Anonymous said...

yes hotel in darbandikhan next to hydro power station

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Robb said...

Thanks so much for all of this... I am heading there on Dec 27th for a week and have been looking for some decent information. This is excellent.

lolo said...

im in sulaymaniayah now with hubby n 3 kids visiting fam, were from Uk, so its so diff here, we have had an amazing time and a gr8 journey to get here, lhr-istanbul, then 2 hr to diyabakre then a ten hr drive thru the borders dwn to suli, the border was a good welcome, i love u suliyamaniayah, any info ill try let u knw travellers goodluck!

Rob P said...

Sulaymaniayah sounds like the place to visit. just wondering, what's the mountain route from diyabakre? it would be more interesting, and safer than zakho - nr. mosul - irbil - kirkuk, etc. Thanks!

Sangar said...

Kurdistan generaly is safe the best place is Sulaymaniyah, Im currently in Kurdistan, you can get a flight from London to Sulaymaniyah for abouy 195 pound one way, and if any one have any questions or want some more info email me sangarkamal79@gmail.com I would be happy to provide.

YOUSIF SALLAIY said...

Thank you for All,
I am yousif and I live in Sulaymaniyah, Kurdistan region so Kurdistan welcomed you to visit here, Sulaymaniyah is the most Beautiful city in the Iraq so visit kurdistan without any doubt.
it's my mail if you want to more info.
yusif_salaiy@hotmail.com

Kayla said...

Wow - i was googlin´around and find your blog - Thanks for all the good information - i was 2 times in sulaymaniyah cause the family of my husband lives there. So i know all the places you discribe :)

Know in a few days i will fly again . I love the Country and the Mentality of th very friendly people. The city is growing so fast and beautiful - so if anyone looking for a wonderful time - come to sulaymaniyah <3