How Much Does It Cost to Travel to Iraq?

Despite all of the conflict and war, Iraq remains a fascinating place to visit. With ancient architecture, delicious food, and accommodating people, Iraq will truly make for a memorable trip. But how much would that pleasure cost you?

The exact price depends on the length of your stay, your preferences, and what you plan to do. Even so, the bulk of the expenses will come from travel and accommodation.

Visa

To ensure you are not denied entry into the country, you need to secure a visa before departing for Iraq. There are different types available, with tourist and business visas being the most popular choices.

The visa fees themselves range from $50 to $150, depending on how long you plan to stay. If you happen to hold a diplomatic passport, your visa will be free of charge. Note that you can apply for the cheaper one-month visa and then extend it later in Iraq.

You would additionally spend a few extra dollars on passport photos, full-color copies of important application documents, and delivery fees to send your application to the Iraqi Embassy or Consulate near you.

If you are entering on land from another country that shares a border with Iraq, you might be able to get a visa on the spot for $80. However, this method is less reliable and thus not recommended.

Flights

Flight prices vary greatly based on how early you book your flight and your preferred class. They can start from several hundred dollars and quickly climb into the thousands.

For example, for a trip from any airport in New York City to Baghdad, booked about a month before departure, Turkish Airlines offers roundtrip tickets between $500 and $800 for economy class. For business class, this price becomes $3,000 when browsing under the same conditions. The prices are similar for flights with Qatar Airways or Emirates, which are the other two leading carriers in the region.

Flying from the west coast is more expensive, as the distance is greater, with economy class tickets starting from $900 for the main carriers who travel to Iraq.

Accommodation

The options for your stay are also quite wide. The capital Baghdad boasts several 5- and 4-star hotels, where the prices average about $200 per night, but cheaper accommodation is also available. The rates are similar in the second most populous city, Basra. In smaller towns, both the hotels and the prices are modest compared to Baghdad.

Food

You can expect much lower prices of food in Iraq compared to the United States. Two people can enjoy a three-course dinner at a reputable restaurant for less than $50. Coffee, alcohol, and soda also sell for 50%–80% cheaper than in the US.

Organized tours

If you don’t wish to travel on your own, you can also book an organized tour. The duration of such tours varies from a few days to a couple of weeks. There are travel agencies that specialize in this kind of tourism, and they are mindful of any potential risks and avoid dangerous areas. Hinterland Travel, for instance, offers a 10-day tour of Baghdad and the cities of Mesopotamia and Babylon, with food, accommodation, and transport included, for $3,500. You would still have to pay for your visa and flights, however.

The Final Bill

Ten days in Iraq can set you back anywhere between $2,500 and $10,000, according to a recent study published by Swedish financial research firm Sambla. It is up to you whether you travel economy or business class, and how luxurious you prefer your hotel to be.

Traveling to Iraq: Basics for Beginners

So, you want to travel to Iraq? Great choice. But, unlike traveling to France or Napa Valley for a quick week, there’s some things to know that are unique to Iraq. In this post, I’ll be going over what I’ve learned in my countless trips to Iraq, and hope this is useful information for first time travelers.

  1. Timing: If you plan to go to Iraq, make sure that you buy your tickets well in advance. Yes, you’ve heard the traditional time-tested advice of being sure to book your tickets early when traveling anywhere, but this is an order of magnitude more important when traveling to the Middle East. I recommend that you book tickets anywhere from October to December the year before the summer you plan to go. I’ve been told by friends to constantly check with travel agents as the prices change from year to year, and they know the optimal booking times better than we do, bu
  2. Have a travel agent: I’m sure you’ve seen ads for sites like Expedia and Trivago, but you’re going to want to go the “old fashioned” way if you want the best rate. Iraq is a unique travel destination, and often times travel agents have local connections and can secure you flights that aren’t even available on these booking sites, and at a much lower price. Take for example my trip last summer, where my travel agent was able to book me a first class Lufthansa price for just under 40% less than what these travel discount sites were offering. I also got a lot more variety, and while I didn’t opt for it, there was a one way flight available only through my travel agent that wasn’t available on any online booking sites.
  3. Luggage: Don’t cheap out when it comes to luggage. I’ve tried all of the new startups offering light luggage and even designer luggage, and can say that CHESTER’s carry on is the best carry on luggage that I’ve had in my 15+ years traveling back and forth to Iran. It’s lightweight, makes for easy access on the long flight to Iraq, and comes at a price that’s reasonable ($190, but $170 with a discount code.)

I hope that was insightful for first time travelers and regulars alike. I tried to keep out the general tips like “make sure to bring shorts because it’s hot” and include the little things that I’ve found go a long way.

Moving from Iraq to the USA & “The American Dream”

The Iraqi debt crisis is out of control. Often times, parents in Iraq hope and plead for their children to go to the United States with hopes for a better life. It is, after all, what seems to be the end all be all answer. The Iraqi parents believe that the second that their child lands in Iraq, in whatever mode of transport (often times not a commercial flight, rather via water channels or unmarked aircraft) that he or she chooses, that the American dream will be handed to them.

It is quite the opposite actually, and we are here to look at the story of Maryam, a 23 year old living in the United States for 8 years. Maryam was born in the heart of Baghdad and moved to the United States when she was 8 years old. “It seemed to be the place of opportunity and an opportunity to change my fate”, says Maryam, sipping on native Iraqi tea in a cafe during our interview. “I love the country, but what seems to be left out in the conversation that parents have with their children before sending them off is the debt that they will endure. The average American has tens of thousands of dollars of debt, and a vast majority of Americans die with at least one form of debt. You get a credit card, get some debt, and then wonder how long do late payments stay on a credit report because you made a mistake. This stays with you forever and it is different than the Middle East where credit is nonexistent. It’s these basic personal finance mistakes that parents don’t know about and cannot warn their young, naive children going to a new country about and that is what hinders them from the American dream.”

We thank Maryam for her time and expertise on this interview and hope to have more to you soon.