Looking to travel to Iraq, but don’t know how to navigate the process? This information will help any visitor enjoy all that Iraq has to offer.
To gain entry into Iraq, a visitor must have a visa. If a visitor travels or flies to Iraq without an entry or working visa, he/ she will be deported immediately. A visa can be purchased at most border crossings for $80 US. The Turkey/US border no longer charges for Visa-s, as of 2007. Crossing the border usually takes 1 hour for individual visitors. If a visitor needs to gain a Visa before entering, he/she must be prepared in advance for a long wait, and bring multiple documents to prove identification and reason for entering the country.
Letters on company or government letterhead are most accepted.
Obtaining a Visa
To obtain a Visa, one must be prepared for a long and complicated process. A Visa application may be obtained at the Embassy of Iraq. Applications are reviewed in Baghdad by officials. Even if you obtain a visa, you may be refused entry into Iraq. One must prepare as much ahead of time as possible and make sure to have many forms of identification and reason for entering the country.
Although the elevation and terrain varies, Iraq generally has a hot arid climate. In the summer temperate averages above 104°F – 40°C. Winter temperatures rarely top 70°F – 21°C and occasionally dip below freezing. Rain and snow precipitation is low in the low and highlands. Most areas have less than 10 inches per year of rainfall (mostly during the winter). Rainfall during the summer is rare.
Iraqi accommodations are improving, with more hotels achieving Western standards of excellence. There is still much room for growth in the Iraqi Tourism sector. Many cities in Iraq are still without a Five Star Hotel. Here is a (growing) list of hotels by governorate located in Iraq. (listing is not an endorsement of services)
Iraq is home to humanity, the Cradle of Civilization. There are hundreds of ancient sites and wonders to behold when traveling across the country. Here is a list of famous historical sites located in Iraq that would be of interest to Western and other International travelers alike. Most sites are millennia old.
It is easiest and most controllable to travel Iraq by car. With approximately 45,000 kilometers of roadway, and only 7,000 kilometers of roadway unpaved, taxi services abound and are extremely affordable, even for individual travelers.
The most economical way to travel Iraq is by bus. A tourist can travel 70 miles from Baghdad by bus for only $4 USD. For one person traveling the same distance by car, the cost is roughly $40 USD. There are no rental cars available in Iraq.
There is one railway that has successfully linked Iraq to another country, and that is the Iraq-Turkey railway which runs through Syria to Istanbul. It was built by Germany in the early 1900s to connect Berlin to Baghdad. During Saddam’s reign, and more specifically the Iraq-Iran War (1980s), the railway was closed. It was recently re-opened in 2010, promoting trade between Turkey and Iraq. The railway crosses two international borders: Syria and Turkey. It is 311 miles long.
Currently there are three railways in Iraq under construction: Basra to Iran; Diyala to Iran; and Iraq to Jordan.
The major international airports in Iraq are:
Tourists in Iraq
Iranians, Pakistani, Lebanese, Indians, Afghanis, and Europeans are the main tourists that come to Iraq. Iraqi tourism centers around the holy Islamic cities: Karbala, Najaf, Shikh Abdulqadir, Kadhimiya, Abu Hanifa Al-Nu’man Zubair, Ibn Al-Awwam and Samara. Countless pilgrims travel to Iraq each year to perform holy ceremonies. There is a great amount of interior tourism as well, as native Iraqi-s also travel to the holy ceremonies.
Every year millions of people walk to Karbala. The last ceremony there was about 18 million pilgrims. But when they return, there is not enough transportation. There is pressure on the Iraqi government currently about the lack of return transportation for holy pilgrims.