Doha, the capital of Qatar is one of the prominent hubs for transit between Asia, Europe, even America. Its airport, Hamad International Airport said to be the world’s most luxurious airport. So when I came back home, I chose to fly with Qatar Airways. Besides all the luxurious stuffs people been waving about, Qatar also offering transit city tour and free visa for Indonesian passport holder. I am so in!
The airline offers a transit city tour for its passenger who has more than 5 hours of transit. But be aware of your arrival and departing time, since the first tour starts at 8 am and ended at 9 pm. You can always check the schedule on their official page. Apparently, there are eight kinds of transit tours you can join, from the basic one (which I took), desert safari, to beach club access in five stars hotel. Oh, my friend said if we have more than 8 hours stopover, we can get a free stay in four stars hotel. Radisson, Holiday Inn, Ramada, you name it.
Ok now let’s back to the transit city tour. I took the basic one, which only cost QAR 75 or around USD 21. I booked it a day before my departure through the website and pay with credit card. With one two clicks, the booking email came. Then I was confused about the transit visa, so I asked through their Twitter. Turns out, Indonesian passport holder doesn’t require any visa to enter Qatar. It is as easy as entering ASEAN countries.
During my arrival at Hamad International Airport, I went straight to A4 gate where the Qatar Airways transit city tour booth located. Do not go straight to immigration clearance, because the transit tour officer will assist you! At 8 am sharp, on time with the schedule, the officer gave us a paper for the immigration purpose and assist all the tour participant to the immigration booth.
There weren’t many people joined that morning, maybe because it was the first schedule on the day. Most of them were like me, a solo traveler. A little tip from me, try to get the window seat in the bus as you’ll see many things from the window. We got mineral water and cookies as our welcome gift. Our tour guide that morning was a Filipino lady and her English were good although sometimes I didn’t catch her accent.
She explained some information about the country, the city, and some fun trivia. Fun fact, the Qatar royal families have a separated airport terminal and it seems extravagant, even from the exterior. 20 mins later, we reached our first stop, Dhow Harbour. It located near the Museum of Islamic Art. From there, we could see the panoramic view of skyscraper building. After 10 mins of photo stops, we continue our journey in the capital city.
What I realized during my bus ride on Doha, I didn’t see any motorcycles. I rarely see people walking on the street, even if the weather was not that hot. All I see were fancy cars and buildings. Doha was filled with skyscrapers with unique designs. I also noticed there were many posters of a man in buildings and cars. The tour guide said it was the picture of the king or the prince, I forgot. But it was everywhere. The second photo stop was Katara Cultural Village with its famous beacon. The village also serves as venues to festival and exhibitions, from local to international level. The unique architectural design of the lighthouse was the eye-catcher of the cultural complex.
Next, we move on to The Pearl, a man-made luxurious island. When the bus approach the complex, I could tell that this area was different, like high-end different. You can see all the designer label stores, Ferrari showroom, all the lavish restaurants, and the architectural was somehow reminds me of Venice and Miami. Nah, I haven’t visited those cities yet, but judging from the picture, I could tell that The Pearl reminds me of those cities. I wish I could spend like half the day there, sitting on the bench next to the sea, but then again it was only 10 mins photo stop.
Our 3 hours tour wrapped up in Souq Waqif, the traditional market in the heart of the city. We got 45 mins to explore the market, so I took my camera out and let myself lost in the maze of handcrafts, souvenir, and spices stores. I really love it here! Unlike Grand Bazaar or Spices Bazaar in Istanbul, the seller wasn’t shouting at us to buy at their store. I could really enjoy my solo sightseeing time. I even took some me time, sitting on the bench and just watching people pass by.
Qatar was beyond my expectation. I can not wait to get back for the 2022 World Cup!