Cheap Flights to Bahrain

The seaside landscape of Bahrain has been settled for 4,000 years. Its prime location along the Persian Gulf has made it a center for the pearl trade, although it's now known for its petroleum-based economy like neighboring Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Land reclamation has been in fashion throughout the Gulf, but it is particularly popular in Bahrain with its shallow waters. Gaps in between sand bars have been filled in with earth, to provide a growing terrain on which to build new, innovative works of architecture. You can see this happening along Manama's waterfront, with its shiny Bahrain Financial Harbor. Yet Bahrain features more than reclaimed land and brand new architecture. It is also home to a number of traditional houses, lively souks, and ancient archaeological sites. And you won't want to miss the varied dining scene, from trendy Japanese Fusion lounges to more traditional local cafes where you can get a cup of mint tea and a pastry.

Flights to Bahrain land in Bahrain International Airport, located in Muharraq to the east of Manama. Gulf Airlines is the major service provider located here, operating flights to many international destinations. Daily busses also run to and from neighboring Saudi Arabia. Travelers with a Philippine passport will need to arrange for a visa with the assistance of a sponsor. Qualified sponsors could include a Bahrain travel agent, a local citizen, your hotel, or your airline.

Bahrain's most popular attraction is undoubtedly its National Museum, which provides an informative starting point to any visit. It's housed in an attractive postmodern building right on the waterfront, with an array of historical documents and archaeological finds from throughout the ages. There's also an art gallery with both traditional and contemporary styles represented. Beit al-Quran is another intriguing pit stop, with its massive collection of ornate Qurans and manuscripts. You'll even find a full verse of the Quran written on a single grain of rice. Test your haggling skills at the Manama Souk, with its labyrinthine corridors and secret alleyways where vendors hawk fragrant spices, glittering baubles, questionable electronic devices, and tempting gemstones.

When you're ready to get away from it all, take a camel ride in the desert and watch the sun set as the temperature starts to drop. Al Dar Island is also a popular day trip, accessible on small boats which lead to a peaceful sandy white beach. You can try your hand at jet skiing or even go pearl diving in these warm, shallow waters.

Travel Tips

•Bahrain is considered to be more liberal than many of its neighbors. Alcohol is legal and there is a laid-back atmosphere in the capital of Manama.

•The practice of reclamation has reduced the number of natural beaches in Bahrain, but the local businesses have made up for this by constructing a number of artificial beaches. You'll find sandy resting areas at most luxury hotels, which can be accessed for the day.

•One of Bahrain's most enigmatic sights is its Tree of Life, which flourishes in the middle of the desert with no apparent source of water. Covered with green leaves, this 400-year old Mesquite tree also bursts into bloom twice a year.

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