Hi guys,
Just thought it would be a good idea to share my tips and info on my trip to Somaliland in December, 2012. Hopefully it’ll help anyone else going there.

So firstly I was in Ethiopia and I got the visa in 20 minutes at the Somaliland Liason office in Addis. It was 40 bucks and really simple. Just a quick form and a photo and that was it.

I flew with Ethiopian airways to Berbera (Hargeisa is still under construction). At the airport immigration is quick and simple and everyone is willing to help you out. There’s a 34 dollar entry fee too which everyone has to pay. I went straight to Hargeisa and all the airlines provide transport there. They’re just small buses direct from Berbera airport to the airline offices in Hargeisa. No escort is required too so no need to worry about organising one for the trip to Hargeisa if you take their transport.

I stayed at the Oriental Hotel in Hargeisa which is right in the centre of town. It’s 15 for a single, 30 for a twin/double. The hotel has free wifi and satellite tv. It’s also very clean and the only place I saw other travellers. Furthermore, they can organise tours etc. I organised a Las Geel/Berbera tour (one way though…the usual tour is back to Hargeisa) for 140 dollars.

Hargeisa is a great vibrant city. The camel market is a must, although it’s a while out of town. Not really walking distance. I was the only foreigner there so I was more popular than the camels. Lots of men, women, and children came up to me, chatting and asking me questions and following me around. It’s a bit full on but they all mean well. Some speak crap English while others are actually quite good. The money changers and gold sellers are quite cool too. There is just LOADS of cash floating around – it’s insane. Somali food is scarce though unfortunately. All up I spent two nights in Hargeisa.

The tour to Las Geel was really interesting too. Definite must.

Berbera is the other city I went too. I spent two nights there at the Maan Soor hotel. It’s 50 dollars a night which is bit of a rip off compared to the Oriental Hotel in Hargeisa. It’s aesthetically ugly but the rooms have aircon, 200 channel satellite tv, showers, double beds etc. The beach out the front is meant to be the best in Berbera but the foreshore is pretty polluted which is disappointing. If you walk a kilometre up though it gets much cleaner. The water is crystal clear though. I spent half a day on the beach and half a day in the town taking photos of all the beautiful crumbling colonial buildings. I was also invited to some ‘qat’ and lunch with some businessmen from Hargeisa. Great fun. The Somalis LOVE talking politics and they certainly told me a lot of interesting stuff about Somaliland and the rest of Somalia. A trip from Berbera town to Maan Soor is 7ish bucks by taxi. I walked to town though from the hotel through the rubbish tip which is ‘interesting’ in its own way. There’s a cool restaurant there called Xayaat or something like that. It’s in the Lonely Planet and you can get some good photos of all the derelict ships there.

Ok, so what else can I say? Telecommunications there is way better than most places in Africa. I used my Somali simcard to call Australia several times and it only cost $2! The internet is surprisingly fast too. Taking photos is a tad tricky because it’s super Islamic so most women are in hijabs, abeya and niqabs and some take offence to photos. I had a few incidents when people told me not to take photos but 99% of the time people were happy to let me take photos of them. it’s easier having a friendly local with you. Speaking of women, the few female travellers I met were all wearing abeyas or similar outfits and covering their hair so it’s wise for any females planning to go to do the same.

There’s also ‘qat’ which you’ll see everyone chewing. It’s meant to give you a high but I didn’t feel it. You’ll notice when someone is on it though because their mouth will be green and their pupils super dilated. It’s worth giving it a go…. Although make sure you brush your teeth afterwards! One thing you’ll notice is Somalis don’t brush their teeth so their teeth a rotten and just non-existent.

With the money situation, it’s best to bring as much USD in SMALL denominations, especially $1 and $5 bills. Of course it’s possible to change to Somali shillings but you’ll end up getting one kilo of cash to carry around which isn’t fun. The exchange rate on the 28th of Dec, 2012 when I was there was 1US=6700 shillings.

Somaliland is super safe though. Even petty crime is almost non-existent. It’s perfectly safe to walk around even at night with no problems. Everyone will look out for you. You may get ripped of every once in a while by a taxi driver but no different from anywhere else in the developing world.

There’s also a 34 dollar exit fee too by the way plus a $10 security luggage fee that, again, everyone has to pay.

Overall, the four day trip was a lot of fun. The people are super friendly and willing to help anyone out. There are a lot of people returning from the diasporas in Canada, UK, America, Australia etc so a lot of people on the streets can speak English. It’s also amazing being a ‘freak’ in the country…I’ve never been stared at so much, but in a fun, intriguing way. They’re very curious people. The only downside to Somaliland is that there is ZERO alcohol (obviously) so for an Aussie like me, four days without beer was tough.

Anyway, hope some of this info helps. If you’ve got any questions feel free to send me a private message or post on this forum.

Source: Lonely Planet travel forum


  1. Don't you have a name Mr. Lonely Planet? I did not like what you said about Somalilanders do not clearn their teeth or mouth. That is very bad, and you should not have said. We are the only people who regularly clear their teeth with local fresh stick called Aday or Caday in Somali language. Secondly, every Khat chewing, it's a must that you brush your teeth. I don't realy know what exactly you mean they don't clean their rotten teeth.

    Instead of talking the trivial things that every visitor sees everywhere in your Lonely Planet, you should speak more of the positive area in my country, like the peace that you will not see in Australia and the West in general. The Best Kept Secret in Africa, as my country is called, is a peave heaven in the volitile Africa, specially in the Horn of Africa.

    • LOOL, so you want everyone to overlook the reality and create a hoax fairytale good story about Somaliland. The reality is there for everyone to see. When you say peace, what do you know about peace when you oppress other non-Is@@q clans who seek to be part of their brothers in the south. That's not called peace, it's called oppression. The other thing I want to highlight and ask is, why have you (Is@@q) wasted 20+ years of so called peace. If you look ate Hargeysa, it looks like a village. Mogadishu had peace since last year, and the reconstruction witnessed their has never been witnessed in Hargeysa for all that 20+ years of so called peace. What does that tell you? It tells that you guy's wasted all that years chewing Khat and chanting Somaliland. No wonder why the IC doesn't want to take you guy's serious.

        • I'm sorry guy's I should have not used the Is@@q word, but instead I should have used the word ''separatists''. I apologies, because the majority of Is@@qs, who are pro union don't deserve to be labelled with you (separatists) despicable people.

        • I'm sorry guy's I should have not used the Is@@q word, but instead I should have used the word ''separatists''. I apologies, because the majority of Is@@qs, (who are pro union) don't deserve to be labelled with you (separatists) despicable people.

  2. It is true, qat has destroyed so many teeth. I see so many Somalis in UK and Africa who have rotten their teeth because of chewing qat or chat. I know some brush their teeth after a chewing session, but overtime still you can see the effect of chewing qat on their teeth.

  3. I wish this website had facilities to ban certain ppl like Truth1. Are you projecting the racism you suffer in the west on to "Is@@q"?

    Nobody can help u with ur inferiority complex I am afraid. Go help urself and u keep a clean tooth.

      • I have half Is@@q cousins, who their mum is Is@@q. Nothing wrong with that. Apparently you guys don't seem to be aware the fact that Is@@qs, D@@rod, H@wiye etc use to intermarry each other prior the civil war. And still do.

    • I'm sorry guy's I should have not used the Is@@q word, but instead I should have used the word ''separatists''. I apologies, because the majority of Is@@qs, (who are pro union) don't deserve to be labelled with you (separatists) despicable people.

  4. ''One thing you’ll notice is Somalis don’t brush their teeth so their teeth a rotten and just non-existent''' hahhahhahhaha this had me laughing on the floor… I mean seriously how can you say that..

    • Amirah do we deny the truth ? All what said is absolutely true. I could confirm that almost all my age group have no teeth at all and I,m middle age man living in North America since 1982 grabbing chocolate bar every three days at least. There is no single tooth missing or damaged.. what happen to them? .Definitely if your late in somaliland you noticed that male dent y people

  5. LMAO this galman has just comfirmed what we knew before that this people are bunch of Khat Junkies sadly too high screaming & crying about never coming recognition that they forget to brush there teeth.

  6. Chewing Khat causes dental disease and many users lose their teeth. Instead of seeking facts and doing a bit of a research, this hapless backpacker ASSumes that all Somalis do not clean their teeth just because he saw few khat addicts. Let me tell you Mr. Aussie, Somalis are very clean people body and soul and were brushing their teeth when your folks smelt like bison or the other beasts they hunted and were unclean. The fault lies with those who let you in to Somali territory with that racist condescending attitude. You have no manners to write that garbage about others while at the same time you are claiming you are informing others about this region. Shame on you.

    SomalilandPress must delete this insult from the pages of its blog.


  8. The only thing I have to add is Somalilander must be more tolerant toward christian and not force their ladies to cover head or not drinking alcohol in privacy within their Hotel..same as Christian let us to build mosque in their society. Treat someone as you would like to be treated!Somaliland is not Saudia but has to be like Djibouti, Maroco,Dubai..Modern muslim society.

    • You forgot Tunisia, Malaysia, Turkey, Qatar, Indonesia, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Singapore, Jordan.

      The people in this countries are educated and have own culture and tradition. They are not like the uneducated Somali people that swallow everything from Saudi Arabia. What happened to our culture, poetry and the way we used to dress.