A birthday tour in Kuwait

 

Undoubtedly, December is the best month of the year for visiting Kuwait. Mild weather, spring to summer day temperatures (regarding the European standards), slight breeze, friendly sun, fresh greenery. The maximum day temperature reaches 22-24 C degrees, the minimum is about 12. It’s lovely staying outdoor – no fog, no haze, no dust.

In July and August it’s hard to even breathe outside with harsh sun and 50 C degree heat. But the winter is a real blessing in Kuwait. In addition, some shiny Christmas decoration could be found around, that makes the environment look festive and amusing. Prior to my arrival, I was unaware of all that above and picked December accidentally. But it was a very good choice, that I am grateful for. 

It’s December 17th, my birthday. Some friends and relatives felt entertained when I announced it’s my 28th birthday, only I celebrate it for the 20th time. I knew the day was going to be spectacular from the morning. A bright, sunny, fresh first blush in Kuwait. The view of the Arabian Gulf – right in front of my hotel’s window. I was determined to explore Kuwait city and to discover (as usual) the favorite spot of the first time visitor. 

Deliberately, I ignored all the popular sightseeing ( they are not so many in Kuwait) – Kuwait Towers, the House of mirrors, the National Museum, the Grand Mosque, the Liberation Tower. I saw them mentioned in every travel blog I read, properly positioned at “Top 10 sights to visit in Kuwait”, “Top 15 attractions in Kuwait”, “What to visit when in Kuwait”, “What to do while in Kuwait”. I felt like my Kuwaiti birthday tour should be distinct, with its own spirit and different perspective. Anyway, it was randomly picked and completed mostly walking, opposing the usual driving or taxi routes, so I’ll turn it upside down at the start. 

My first steps led me to 

THE MALLS 

The Avenues Mall

You know from my first Kuwaiti article that I was advised upon arrival about the Malls like the most significant attraction in Kuwait. The Malls are everywhere. For two days I have visited only 4 of them:

The Avenues 

Marina Mall/ World 

Olympia Mall 

City Center 

The Avenues Mall

The Avenues is the biggest one, kind of a local pride. To be precise, it’s not exactly a Mall, it’s mostly a shopping town. The local residents warned me that I would need two days at least to walk through it entirely. I got bored and irritated at the third hour. But that’s me, I am far from a shopping maniac, so wasting the time by entering shop by shop is not my cup of tea. It was fun to see it, though. I still regret some purchases I missed because of my hesitation. By my opinion the visit of The Avenues is not a lifetime memory, especially after Villaggio Mall in Doha, Qatar and Dubai Mall. 

The Avenues Mall 

Marina Mall is a different story. I really enjoyed my time there. It’s cozy, full of restaurants and bars, traditional and walkable, in and out. The yacht marina is just in front of the Mall with an amazing view to Kuwait City and to the Arabian Gulf. There is a fantastic walking pedestrian area – Corniche (you know I am walk addicted), lots of greenery, space and comfort. I was unable to explore the entire area called Marina World, but don’t mind to go back for touring it once again. 

My simple advice – take a cab to Marina Mall, the average price will be between 3 and 5 KD, depending on your distance from the site. Then take a long walk in, around and pin it as a starting point of the upcoming on foot tour. 

CORNICHE 

Corniche 

This is the name all the Gulf countries adopted for beside the sea Promenade, that belts the bay and provides an endless large walkable trek. Not sure how long is the Kuwaiti Corniche, I walked only 8 km of it. It was stunning! Maybe one of the best promenades I have ever experienced. After visiting more than 60 countries, only the Cape Town’s (South Africa) could be compared with the Kuwaiti one. Extensive, large, flat, extremely green, very well designed, maintained and clean, with lots of opportunities for entertainment and variety of activities.  I got really impressed. 

Corniche

Here you can walk as long as you want, jog, cycle, photo shoot, sunbath, hang out, relax or waste your time.


Alternatively of cycling ( it’s the best way with no traffic to move through the city), roller-skating or boosted boarding. No limits. A convenient place for wheel chairs and baby strollers.

Everyone is free to find their own activity from picnic, to active work out in the outdoor gyms, bouldering or other extreme challenge options (paintball, bike ramps, slopes and off roads) 

Boulder wall at Corniche 

THE SCIENTIFIC CENTER

The Scientific Centre 

Okay, let me start with the most important announcement here. Eventually, I found it. It’s my absolutely favorite site in Kuwait – The Scientific Centre. Outside of this amazingly mapped building is located a 100-year-old wooden boat and a car, that challenges the visitors to lift it by a hand.  All around is designed to entertain, educate and keep you relaxed.

Inside are the Aquarium, the Discovery Place, the IMAX Cinema, some cute bars and restaurants. Linked to the Promenade, the Scientific Centre is the best starting point to explore the area of Salmiya.  I am already biased, it means unable to detect anything belittling my special affection and love from first sight with the Scientific Centre. 

100 year old wooden boat 

The star ship inside was quite unexpected and impressive. There is a combo ticket with some seasonal discounts for visiting in a package The Aquarium and the Discovery Center – about 4 KD per adult, the kids are getting in at a symbolic cost. It’s a lovely place for children’ entertainment. Everyone, even the adults, can get some scientific classes of geology, biology and archeology. The IMAX is just footsteps away. 

The space ship 
Speaking tubes

STARBUCKS CAFE 

No, it’s not a commercial and no one paid me to drop a couple of good words 🙂 Just I can’t skip the fact that Kuwait is the place with maybe the biggest number of Starbucks per capita in the world. I have never seen so many Starbucks located at the same country. You will get one at each corner. The quality is fairly good, but there is a huge defect – their WIFI sucks. During my travels, I used to recognize Starbucks by their complimentary good WIFI, that could be something very useful when you are in a country with no affordable roaming or unstable 4G. But not in Kuwait.

My advice – if you need a speedy, complimentary WIFI in Kuwait, just look around for the Starbucks competitor – Costa Coffee. Their internet is super stable and secure.

BEACHES

It’s such a pity the Kuwaiti white beaches are empty and no on goes there for sunbathing during the day. The beaches are completely deserted. They look great, large, covered by thin white sand, flat, well maintained, clean. Even the sea water temperature in December is still bearable and could be a great refreshing option. 

Kuwaiti white beaches

By sunset the situation dramatically changes. Dozens of local families head to the beach for having picnic, a walk, a talk. The kids use the beach as a playground, the friends – to gather. It’s quite chilly and windy in December evenings beside the seashore, but it seems like the only preferable time for Kuwaiti residents to hang out outdoor. 

No one comes in a swimming suite and my, eager for beach vacation, European soul finds such a waste regrettable. But the dress code in Kuwait is quite strict. It’s a Muslim country, that tries to suffice and balance with plenty of expatriate nationalities, mentality and habits. Regardless of the liberal rules, any nude body parts exposed publicly are highly intolerable and the expatriates are advised to follow a humble clothing. It doesn’t mean the European women should wear abaya (the local traditional black female dress), but it’s recommendable the shoulders, the elbows and the knees to be covered. 

So…my Kuwaiti birthday was quite memorable. All required travel points were successfully covered: 

  • A remote travel target spot
  • Unknown country for first time visit
  • Great warm weather 
  • Kind of entertainment 
  • New things to learn and experience
  • Mingle with the locals
  • Plenty to explore and discover
  • Traditional local meal tested (machboos)

Time for the next challenge in my bucket list. Bahrain, I am on my way 🙂 

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