- Highest per capita income of any country on earth [check]
- Hosting the next FIFA World Cup in 2022 [check]
- Country where a natural disaster is least likely to strike [check]
- Home to a world-class museum designed by I M Pei [check]
- Boasts a Kick-Butt-Award-Winning airline that offers an incredible stopover program [check]
Welcome to Qatar, the Pearl of the Persian Gulf. Once the world center for pearl trading, the discovery of natural gas and oil facilitated Qatar’s burgeoning economy which now makes it the richest country in the world.
Flying home from Jordan on Qatar Airways, the aforementioned award-winning Best Carrier at the World Airline Awards, it was a no-brainer to choose the long layover rather than spend the wee hours of the night in the airport waiting for a connecting flight. Doha is an ideal stopover for any traveler, be they looking for luxury, adventure, or both.
I LOVE a bonus, don’t you?! AND IT GETS EVEN BETTER!
Qatar Airways passengers from several countries who are transiting through Doha are eligible for a free transit visa. When you arrive just head to immigration and present your passport, no questions asked. You’ll already have your next boarding pass and won’t have to deal with your checked bags.
[PRO TIP: Use Uber to get around including to and from the airport.]
Additionally, the airline has partnered with hotels to offer rooms at ridiculously low rates. I was able to book the hotel I wanted for a fraction of what it would have cost otherwise. Check the website for details since they may change.
After reading reviews and considering the short time I thought it would be the most fun to spend the night in one of the Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels by Tivoli. Actually a collection of several small boutique hotels within the Souq, they are perfectly located for walking around and enjoying some really unique sites, like the Falcon Souq and Falcon Hospital, the King’s Stables, and my personal favorite, the Bird Market.
If you choose this hotel group, when you make your reservation on the Qatar Airways website, it will not specify which of the nine hotels you’ll be in. You’ll go to the Arumaila (one of the hotels) to check in, and then be escorted on a golf cart to your hotel! Such fun! As if this wasn’t enough, these hotels, no matter which one you stay in, offer a free nightly tour of the Souq at 8pm. We stayed in the Al Mirqab, and loved it.
This entire experience cost $28USD for the hotel room, about $40 for dinner and less than $10 in Uber rides for two people, for one night.
Cost of seeing so many cool things: Zero.
[PRO TIP: Souq Waqif is dry. For a glass of wine at happy hour venture further afield.]
[PRO TIP: We’d been enjoying delicious Middle Eastern cuisine for two weeks running so we switched up the flavors for one night. We chose to eat dinner at Jasmine Thai Restaurant also in the Souq. It was divine!]