Entry will be refused to citizens of Israel and travelers with any evidence of having visited Israel which includes stamps of Egyptian/Jordanian neighboring land borders with Israel in addition to Israeli visas and entry stamps, any products with Hebrew labeling, etc. Passports are slavishly checked for Israeli stamps page-by-page at the border, so you if you have an Israeli stamp, then you will need to get a new passport.
Visas (http://www.syriatourism.o...) are needed for most individual travelers. These are available in 6-month single/multiple entry, 3-month single and 15 day land borders only versions. Citizens of Arab countries do not require visa, except unaccompanied Moroccan women below 40 years old. In addition, citizens of Malaysia, Turkey and Iran do not require visas.Getting visas in advance is expensive and confusing. Americans are required to apply in advance at the Syrian embassy in Washington DC, even if they live elsewhere, and pay US$131. Most other travelers, though, can get them anywhere, a popular choice being Istanbul Turkey where they are generally issued within one day for â¬20 Canadians or â¬30 EU citizens. A "letter of recommendation" stating that your consulate has "no objection" to your visit to Syria may be required. The visa issued must have two stamps and a signature, otherwise the visa is considered invalid and you will be turned back at the border. It is necessary to keep the blue arrival form as it must be submitted upon departure.
Official policy says that, if your country has a Syrian embassy or consulate, you should apply for your visa in advance. Most nationals must apply for a Syrian visa in the country in which they are a citizen. Alternatively a foreign national may apply for a Syrian visa from a Syrian Consulate in a country other than their own if they hold a residency visa valid for at least 6 months for the country in which they are applying. There are very few exceptions to this rule. In practice it is possible to obtain a visa on the border for most nationals.
Almost every national can get a visa at the border, regardless of the fact it is not officially written or recommended. But do not buy a bus ticket that will take you all the way across the border. They will always leave you there because it does take 2-10 hours for US citizens and they will not tell you that in advance at the time of purchasing of the bus ticket. Buy a ticket to the border via minibus/shared taxi servees then do the same when you get to the other side. US citizens cost U$16, while others are more costly, Japanese are U$12/14, Singaporeans are $33, Austrailians/New Zealanders are about $100, Swiss are 63 USD. They only take US$ or Euros. You may only receive a 15-day single-entry tourist visa and will have to go through this process if you ever re-enter Syria. When you exit Syria, you will have to buy/pay an exit card for about $12.
If going by land, and you are planning to get a visa on the border, bring US Dollars or Syrian Pounds. Foreign currency will not get a good exchange rate and at most crossing there are no facilities for credit/debit cards. Travelers cheques are also not accepted.
American citizens need to beware of sanctions on Syria. While traveling and spending money in Syria is permitted, you may not fly with Syrian Arab Airlines, and more importantly, many US banks err on the safe side and ban all business with Syria. Some credit or ATM cards may not work, although many Americans today experience little problems in this regard. Be wary, however, as some travelers have had their bank account access frozen, regardless of whether or not they informed their bank of travel to Syria.
Buses run from Turkey, with frequent connections from the city of Antakya Hatay. You can also travel by bus from Jordan & Lebanon.
When arriving into Damascus by bus, make sure to move away from the bus terminal to find a taxi to the centre of town. Otherwise, you run the risk of paying several times the going rate, which should be around SYP150, as cars posing as taxis operate next to the terminal.
This is normally a two-man operation, with one person trying to distract you, while the driver puts your suitcase into the trunk of the "taxi" and locks it.
Syria has three international airports: Damascus International Airport DAM, 35km 22miles SE of the capital, Aleppo International Airport ALP just northeast of Aleppo in the north of the country, Lattakia International Airport LTK, south of Lattakia, main sea port of the country. The first two airports have regular direct flights served by Syrian Arab Airlines and the British airline bmi to Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, while the third one for the time being is connected only with the capital city of Egypt, Cairo and with Kuwait through jazeera Airways, since mid 2009. Flights from Damascus and Aleppo compete with other international carriers serving the same destinations, and Syrian Arab Airlines has code share arrangements with many airlines, including the Turkish Airlines flights to Istanbul.
Damascus international airport is served by many of the larger European carriers to the Middle East including Lufthansa, bmi, Turkish Airlines and Aeroflot. Low-price tickets from Europe can sometimes be found, but until the recent war in Lebanon, cheaper fairs could sometimes be obtained through Czech Airlines, Cyprus Air or Malev. Royal Jordanian can be reasonable through Amman. Some low-cost airlines from the Middle East such as Air Arabia UAE/Sharjah, flydubai UAE/Dubai and jazeera Airways Kuwait serve Damascus frequently, and many other Gulf carriers such as Gulf Air, Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways have up to several daily flights to Damascus. To cut down on airfare from Europe some people catch a charter flight to Turkey Antalya and then take the bus to Aleppo.
The only connection to America is served by Conviasa in a non-stop flight from Damascus to Caracas.
Upon arrival, a free entry visa can be delivered to almost all travelers if they are being received by local Travel Agency. Call the Syrian Embassy in your home country for more information.
Syria levies a departure tax of 550 Syrian Pounds ~US$13 at land and sea borders. Since Summer 2009 airport departure tax is included in the ticket price, and airlines will put a manual stamp on your boarding pass.
One of the practical and reasonable ways to enter Syria from Turkey is; take a domestic flight to Gaziantep and then taxi to Aleppo through Oncupinar border-gate in Kilis. The journey takes around 2 hours including custom formalities. The fare is USD 60.00, per car with max 4 and one way. Taxis holding license can be arranged in Kilis or Gaziantep. Turkcan Turizm, 0348 822 3313
The nearest car ferry port is Bodrum in Turkey.
Occasional passenger ferries run between Latakia and Limassol, Cyprus. This service has come and gone over the years, and only 4 sailings in each direction are scheduled for 2008. Confirm that the departure will occur with Varianos Travel before making plans that incorporate this route. (http://www.varianostravel...)
Latakia and Tartous serve as ports of call for a number of Mediterranean cruise lines.
There are two international train connections to Syria:Tehran - Aleppo - Damascus and Istanbul - Aleppo
Turkish Railways page "trains to Middle East".Shows up to date prices, timetables. The Syrian Railways site has not been updated in English for some time so this Turkish page is a better source of information. (http://www.tcdd.gov.tr/tc...)
Flying to Istanbul followed a train/coach down to Damascus is a very cheap alternative to flying direct to DamascusÂ£200 return flights from the UK to Istanbul it takes about 36 hours max to Aleppo leaves on Sunday morning; see (http://seat61.com/Syria.htm). Contrary to popular belief it does not continue to Damascus, you have to change trains. Seat61 (http://www.seat61.com/Syr...) is very accurate and should be consulted.
All trains from Istanbul HaydarpaÅa train station on the Asian side of the Bosporus are operated jointly between TCDD Turkish and CFS Syria and are by far the cheapest way into Syria from Europe, flying to Istanbul and continuing by rail can cost â¬200 - â¬300 less than a flight to Damascus.
Recent track renovations across Turkish rail network resulted in Toros Express driving Istanbul to Gaziantep from which another train into Syria can be caught being suspended, and it is not certain when and if it will resume service. However there are still daily night trains Istanbul to Adana, which is a short bus ride away from Antioch and Gaziantep, the former of which has extensive bus connections to Aleppo while the latter has twice weekly train connection with the said Syrian city.
Tur-ista (http://www.tur-ista.com/) travel agency can book your train tickets before you get to Istanbul, this is a good idea with trains booking up very quickly Tur-ista tel: +90 (212 334 2600).
When traveling from Lebanon, service taxis taxis that follow a fixed route only, usually from near one bus station to another are a convenient way to reach Damascus, Homs, Tartus, Aleppo or other Syrian towns. A shared service taxi from Beirut to Damascus will cost about between 700 and 800 Syrian Pounds per person $17, based on four people sharing the same taxi. If you want a private taxi then you will have to pay for every seat. From Latakia to Beirut a seat in a service will cost 800 Syrian Pounds with around 500 Syrian Pounds being charged from Tartous to Tripoli. In most cases it is necessary to buy a Syrian visa before leaving home, often costing about $130 or less, depending of the country of residency. It's possible, to obtain free entry visa for tourists if being received by a local Travel Agency. It is also possible to arrive by car from Turkey. A private taxi from Gaziantep Airport Turkey will cost about $60.
Service taxis run from Dar'a across the Jordanian border to Ramtha; from there microbuses are available to Irbid and Amman -- the stop in Dar'a permits a side trip to Bosra, with UNESCO-recognised Roman theater and ruins.