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QR free transit visa - DIY Doha night tour?

QR free transit visa - DIY Doha night tour?

Old Nov 12, 16, 3:05 am
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QR free transit visa - DIY Doha night tour?

With the advent of the QR free transit visa, I am wondering whether it's worth considering doing a DIY night tour of Doha.

There are three of us travelling in a heavily discounted J ticket BKK - OSL that has a long overnight hour layover in Doha at the start of December. Due to the minimal revenue on the ticket as well as there being quicker connections, according to the rules it does not qualify for STPC. We are scheduled to arrive into Doha at 2240 and are flying onto OSL 0825 the next day. We were planning to just "slum it" in the lounge having discounted paid for stopover and airside transit hotel.

As there are no overnight city tours, I was wondering if its worth considering doing a DIY city tour, grabbing a cab and getting them to drive around for a hour or so - literally just to see the sights and take a couple of pics, but wanted to ask the advice of the QR FT community whether this is a sensible idea?
  • Is the city generally lit up at night?
  • Apart from views around the corniche, is there much else to admire at night? Any suggested itinerary?
  • Overnight there is no public transport, so seems that a taxi is going to be only sensible option. Car rental could also be an option but I then have the faff of navigating a city I don't know (but I do have an IDP)
  • Any view as to whether catching a taxi from the airport rank or an Uber is going to be preferable?
  • Is a taxi driver going to be up for a tour with a little bit of waiting time whilst we snap some pics?
  • Any ideas on likely time to do this with a taxi cost? Is it sensible to agree an upfront cost or just use the meter?
  • Seems I can rent something like a Suzuki Swift Dezire for just GBP25, so if I can cope with driving (and not drinking on the flight) this might be an option - seems that the car hire is open 24hours. The UK Government notes that road discipline is poor, speeds high and minor accidents common. But I will have driven 2500km in Thailand

I've tried doing some searches around the above idea and there doesn't seem to be much out there. Is it because I am bonkers, or more because free transit visas are a new innovation...

What does the FT community think? Has anyone done something like this? Any advice?
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Old Nov 12, 16, 3:37 am
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Most parts of the city are well lit at night.

My suggestion would be, as soon as you land take taxi or uber to Souq Waqif. Most shops would close anyways but the main drag in the center of the Souq is busy till late especially in the weekend, you would have some restaurants and cafes open until 1am to 3am and its a nice place to smoke shisha and people watch. I would suggest to use a website like this to pick a restaurant/cafe beforehand and look at opening times.

Then walk from the Souq to the Museum of Islamic Arts Park (MIA Park) which is open overnight, its a nice place to stretch your legs with good views of the Museum, the skyscrapers and a Richard Serra sculpture to boot. Then take an Uber back to the airport, they are plentiful even at 1 or 2am.
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Old Nov 12, 16, 9:32 am
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Thanks @N1Rotate, very useful. So it seems like this is a distinct possibility.

I separately note that there is zero tolerance for any trace of alcohol on and in a driver, so although the price to hire a car is good value, actually getting a cab is going to be a much better option with the temptations that are likely to encourage me to have a drink or two on the flight from BKK.

Any other tips or suggestions welcomed.... with the QR transit visa I am sure this could be an increasingly popular option for travellers on transit when the city tours are not running or oversubscribed, especially outside of the heat of the day.
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Old Nov 12, 16, 11:01 am
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Winter weather

The suggestion by N1Rotate seems reasonable. It is the rainy season now (don't laugh), so your plan B could be Souk Waqif, if it is light drizzle, or a 5* hotel bar to see how the local expats get down.

In Qatar, you can only access alcohol as a tourist at certain hotels (they will ask to see your passport). Souk Waqif is 100% dry, so you won't be increasing your blood alcohol limit with dinner.

Taxis in central town around the Souk are plentiful (remember the weekend here is Friday/Sat). Uber is also popular.
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Old Nov 12, 16, 2:18 pm
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Originally Posted by Mr. Big View Post
It is the rainy season now (don't laugh)
Sorry, could not resist...
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Old Nov 13, 16, 1:41 am
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Originally Posted by Mr. Big View Post
The suggestion by N1Rotate seems reasonable. It is the rainy season now (don't laugh), so your plan B could be Souk Waqif, if it is light drizzle, or a 5* hotel bar to see how the local expats get down.

In Qatar, you can only access alcohol as a tourist at certain hotels (they will ask to see your passport). Souk Waqif is 100% dry, so you won't be increasing your blood alcohol limit with dinner.

Taxis in central town around the Souk are plentiful (remember the weekend here is Friday/Sat). Uber is also popular.
Excellent and useful feedback, although I know about the shifted weekend from dealings at Dubai, I had forgotten to apply this to Qatar. And I had innocently assumed that it would just be good weather the observation about the rainy season is again useful. We can prebook the visas at no cost and if the weather is against us we can just decide on the night to not venture out to the city.
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Old Nov 13, 16, 5:45 am
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Originally Posted by plunet View Post
And I had innocently assumed that it would just be good weather the observation about the rainy season is again useful.
To put "rainy season" into perspective, the month of December has about 1 day with rain (> 1 mm) on average, with an average of 12 mm for the whole month. (Paris: 11 days, 60 mm)
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Old Nov 13, 16, 2:49 pm
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Following this thread with interest
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Old Nov 14, 16, 1:44 am
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Originally Posted by oh_lol View Post
Following this thread with interest
I will happily feed back in early December on the outcome of this - whether we did it, and what happened.

If anyone does anything similar in the meantime please share your experiences.
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Old Nov 14, 16, 2:12 pm
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That'd be great. I'm in a similar situation early next year, although have much more time in DOH, prefer wandering around at night time.
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Old Nov 18, 16, 11:08 am
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Doha Climate

Originally Posted by FlyingScientist View Post
To put "rainy season" into perspective, the month of December has about 1 day with rain (> 1 mm) on average, with an average of 12 mm for the whole month. (Paris: 11 days, 60 mm)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doha#Climate
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Old Nov 20, 16, 4:12 am
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The Souq and Corniche is the best option as mentioned. Very easy to get a taxi to the Souq, then walk across to MIA. You could then walk along the Corniche up towards the Sheraton then get a taxi back from there. I am not sure how late the Dhows go but they will take you across the water from one end of the corniche to the other or just around for 15 minutes and its pretty cheap and a fun way to see all the lights of the city.

Alternatively you could go to one of the hotels for a drink.

With regards to the rainy season, it was around this time last year when there was one big downpour which flooded many of the roads and even the airport roof leaked. I think other than that, it rained on Christmas day and I don't actually think there has been any rain since?!
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Old Nov 25, 16, 12:19 pm
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plunet I am asking the moderators to move your last post to the http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/qatar...hour-visa.html thread where it has much more relevance.
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Old Dec 4, 16, 7:27 am
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As a quick update, I can confirm that our DIY night tour of Doha worked. I will give some more feedback in the next few days (jetlagged).
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Old Dec 4, 16, 4:32 pm
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Following with interest.

I am hoping to do something similar this coming Thursday. Get into DOH from BOS around 1700 and then flying to DEL at 0225 I think.

Is it possible to hire a taxi to do a city tour and then bring me back to the airport or would that be too expensive?

Also is there a place at the airport where I could leave my trolley bag? I am traveling in Biz so perhaps the lounge will let me?

Lastly for some reason the online visa thing didn't work for me and I am wondering how the visa on entry process works (I know my passport is eligible).

Thanks all

Last edited by Astronomer; Dec 4, 16 at 4:47 pm
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