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The Souq Waqif in Doha was a fascinating experience as it’s one of those areas where you can truly soak in the vibe of the destination you are visiting. If you happen to visit Doha and you happen to ask for recommendations on places to visit chances are that the Souq Waqif will be the number one landmark that the locals will recommend you to visit and I strongly agree, so make sure to make it a priority during your visit to Doha, Qatar. It’s one of the most popular attractions in Doha and a place not to be missed during your visit.
On Today’s installment I will be sharing my experience while visiting the Souq and some of the things you should keep in mind during your visit. But before I begin, I would like to share what the Souq is about.
THE SOUQ WAQIF
The Souq Waqif is a traditional standing market where you will be able to find dozens of local restaurants along with shisha lounges. Within the market you will find a handful of shops selling traditional garments, spices, handicrafts and souvenirs. The Souq was recently modified but the vibe of the old days its still there.
It’s worth nothing that for those wanting to get more information on the Souq during your visit and curious on some of the good restaurants to dine in and more in depth information you will be able to find a tourist information center where the staff is ready to help you and answer any of your questions.
EXPLORING THE SOUQ
At the time of my arrival to the Souq call to prayer was just happening and it was fascinating to see the locals rushing to the prayer rooms to practice their religion. Within the market you will see prayer halls and that’s for the males. As call to prayer happens you will be able to hear it as you stroll around the mosque which made the atmosphere even nicer as I was truly soaking in the vibe.
Male Prayer Halls – Souq Waqif
As I previously mentioned, there is a handful of restaurants and shisha lounges at the Souq and you can’t leave without having some shisha, Arabic coffee or a signature dish. Some of the restaurants are playing the local Arabic music and it truly makes the experience one of a kind and the prices are reasonable. Do keep in mind this is a popular attraction so some things may be higher priced than normal which is to be expected when you visit one of the major attractions in Doha.
The best time to visit the Souq is during the evening since the temperature goes down. During the day I would not recommend because it is extremely hot in the UAE and it’s not very safe being exposed to the sun for a couple hours. Doha by night its lovely as it’s light up and the cool breeze helps as well as you stroll around the Souq.
INSIDE THE MARKET
Exploring inside the market was truly the best experience as you will be able to find everything and anything you are looking for. It is also fairly big and a complete maze. They will be certain sections of the Souq where you will see the same items being sold so keep in mind that some shops may have different items priced at a cheaper cost than the first shops you saw, thats usually how it works with the outdoor markets. It is extremely clean and the market has a very calming vibe, not like the Spice Bazaar in Istanbul where the hustle and bustle can be felt – The Souq portrays a very relaxing atmosphere.
Make sure you take your time to walk around the Souq to see everything they offer. One of my favorite sections of the market was the perfume area which are rare to find in America, they are priced at cheap cost starting at $20 and of course, some may be more expensive than others but the choices are endless. As far as payments go, I would enforce carrying cash instead of using credit cards since for the most part they aren’t accepted. ATM’s can be found within the market but I shy away from using those for protection of fraud.
TIPS TO KEEP IN MIND WHEN VISITING THE SOUQ
- Taxis are easy to find when trying to leave the Souq. My advice is to always return to the main entrance of the Souq where normally everyone visiting gets dropped off. The chances of getting a taxi there are higher than any other area of the Souq. Make sure your taxi has a taxi meter and it’s working properly. By my own personal experience, I got on a taxi and his meter was frozen due to going over the speed limit.
- The Souq is completely safe and security are constantly walking around the area to make sure things are running smoothly and safely. Upon arrival to the market you will see security as well, don’t be alarmed those are also directing the traffic and keeping things safe.
- Always carry cash and avoid using credit cards at the ATM’s for safety reasons. 90% of the shops are cash only and they don’t take credit cards.
- Visit the market during the evening to avoid any heat strokes because during the day it’s very hot.
- Within the Souq Market you will be able to visit a few other exciting attractions such as Corniche and Museum of Islamic Arts which is free of charge. You can either walk or take a taxi.
- The opening hours: 10am – noon and from 4:00pm – 10:00pm. However, the majority of restaurants and café’s remain open all day.
For those who have visited the Souq Waqif, how was your experience?