Sana'a is the constitutional capital of Yemen and one of the largest cities in the country. The sprawling city is flanked by a ring of mountains and hides several stunning gems that attract the adventurous traveler despite the risks. Although affected by security concerns, life in Sana'a is replete with the laughter of the locals and tinged with a medieval flavor.
Education is key when preparing for a trip to Sana'a. Use this guide as an introduction of things to see and do, ways to stay safe, and information to help you protect your budget with travel medical insurance or travel insurance.
Things to Do for Travelers in Sana'a
Bab Al Yemen
Constructed in the 17th century, Bab Al Yemen is the gateway to the old city. The sprawling quarters of the old city itself is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Wander through the bustling street markets where you will find almost anything, from hand-woven carpets to electronic devices.
It is one of the oldest mosques in the world, founded in 705 AD. Legends even trace it back to the era of the Prophet Mohammad himself. The mosque is also renowned as the site where the earliest version of the Quran was recovered in 1972. The painted ceilings inside the mosque contrast beautifully with its somber exterior that opens to an inner courtyard with tall minarets and galleries.
Located in Wadi Dhar about 15 kilometers from Sana'a, this spectacular stone palace served as the former residence of the Yemen monarch Yahya Muhammad Hamiddin. Sitting atop a gigantic pillar of rock, Dar al-Hajar is a veritable fortress, and unlike any palace you have set your eyes on. Built in the 1920s, the palace is now converted into a museum. The unique architecture of the palace lends itself to change shape from various angles. Wander around its labyrinthine maze of rooms, stairs, hammams, kitchens, and courtyards.
Inaugurated in 2008, Al-Saleh is the largest mosque in the country and named after the Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. It is also Yemen's most extravagant mosque with a 146,350-square-foot central hall that can hold up to 40,000 devotees. It lies in the southern outskirts of the city and has a beautiful interior and exterior with sprawling gardens.
Souq al-Milh is the oldest market in Sana'a and sits near Bab Al Yemen. Although the name translates to "Salt Market", you will find a wide range of merchandise here like spices, clothes, pieces of jewelry, and antiquities. Go souvenir hunting or enjoy local Yemeni cuisine during your time here.
Travel Risks for International Travelers in Sana'a
A state of emergency was declared in Yemen in 2011 due to conflict between the Yemeni military and Houthi rebels. As of 2021, this state of emergency remains in effect. Demonstrations can occur regularly, and can be unpredictable. Stay away from these demonstrations to avoid any conflict.
Due to the conflicts in the region, there are still areas of landmines and unexploded ordinance. Though these areas are generally demarcated and located outside the city, it's essential to be careful. Do not explore the countryside without a knowledgeable guide.
Laws and safety
The laws in Yemen may be different than what you're used to, and may not afford the same rights to all people and lifestyles. To avoid any potential issues, be sure to read up on local laws and customs before your visit to avoid being put in an undesirable position.
Sana'a Travel Medical Insurance for International Travelers - FAQs
When traveling to Sana'a, it's impossible to completely rule out the possibility of you encountering conflict or civil unrest. Because of this and the associated risks, it's essential that you get travel medical insurance that can provide coverage during your time in Yemen. It can help prevent you from paying a potentially large amount of out-of-pocket costs for necessary medical care.
Do I need travel medical insurance for Sana'a?
Although travel medical insurance is not mandatory for Sana'a, it is imprudent to visit the city without it. It's recommended to select a travel medical insurance that provides coverage including hospitalization, emergency medical evacuation, and repatriation of remains.
Why buy travel medical insurance for Sana'a?
The political and military situation in Sana'a can at times affect the services that can be offered by its medical facilities. If this occurs during your visit and you need medical care, there's a possibility that emergency medical evacuation could be required. This can prove to be extremely expensive, and not something you would want to pay for out of your own pocket. Even for less extreme medical issues, the right insurance can help save you a lot of money during your trip.
Sana'a Trip Cancellation Insurance for International Travelers - FAQs
If you are planning a trip to Sana'a, you have to be prepared for the possibility of it being canceled. The situation in the city could change rapidly, requiring you to forgo your travel plans and stay home. Part of your preparation should be to get trip cancellation insurance that can help you get compensated for your prepaid travel expenses if your trip is canceled unexpectedly.
Why buy trip cancellation insurance for Sana'a?
Although Sana'a can be a fantastic destination, there's no getting around the fact that as of 2021, it is an internationally recognized warzone. The political and military situation in the city can be unpredictable, and the possibility of the city becoming too unsafe to visit always exists.
Still, traveling to Sana'a will require you to purchase airline tickets, hotel reservations, and guide services ahead of time. If your trip does have to be canceled, these purchases may not be refundable. To avoid being required to pay for a trip that you cannot take, be sure to have trip cancellation insurance. It can provide you with a way to be reimbursed for your prepaid, nonrefundable travel expenses when your trip has to be canceled for a covered reason.
What can be covered under trip cancellation insurance for Sana'a?
For a city like Sana'a, you will need to seek travel insurance that can cover high-risk areas. Some of the benefits you may consider can include:
Read the policy documents of the travel insurance plans available to you carefully. They may offer different levels and types of coverage, so it's important to understand them before making a purchase.
Before You Travel to Sana'a - Do This
- Consider the risks. Many travelers visit Sana'a without incident and have a wonderful time. However, it's important to have a thorough understanding of the situation and risks involved before traveling there.
- Be alert at all times. Keep informed of local media reports and be prepared to leave the country if necessary, as you may not be able to find consular service. Carry a photocopy of your passport at all times, and leave the original in a safe place.
- Observe local laws and customs. If visiting during Ramadan, abstain from eating, drinking, or smoking in public during fasting hours.
- Buy insurance. Do your research, and purchase travel medical insurance or travel insurance that can provide appropriate coverage for your trip to Sana'a.