About Bahrain (BH)
The Kingdom of Bahrain (BH) is comprised of an archipelago anchored by Bahrain Island in the Persian Gulf, wedged between the coast of Saudi Arabia to the east, and the Qatar Peninsula to the west. Considered the most “western-friendly” of Gulf Coast countries, Bahrain is a popular tourist destination for visitors seeking an Arab Lite experience, with most of the traditional Islamic characteristics tempered by a healthy dose of social liberalism. The main island of the sovereign state is linked to Saudi Arabia by the King Fahd Causeway, a 25-kilometer marvel of engineering, and the only accessible route via ground transportation. Despite its position in the sea, Bahrain has few natural beaches, and the majority of islands are man-made reclamation projects. Situated 25 km (15 mi) south of Manama, the distinctive artificial island cluster of Durrat Al Bahrain features a stunning array of beachfront villas, shopping malls, luxury hotels, entertainment venues, an 18-hole golf course, and a 400-berth marina.
In the absence of public transportation, and in light of a sketchy taxi situation, visitors will find it necessary to rent a car in Bahrain. That much everybody can agree on. Whether or not driving in Bahrain is any easier or more difficult than other Gulf Coast countries will depend on whom you ask. General consensus says local law enforcement has cracked down on reckless driving, but Bahrain is not a place for timid or inexperienced drivers. The roads are in great shape and it’s a tiny island oasis, so getting around isn’t terribly challenging; however, traffic congestion persists across the island. Due to Bahrain’s history as a former British protectorate, the transportation network will be very familiar to visitors from the U.K., and all road signs are clearly marked in Arabic and English.
Choosing your car
Cheap car rentals in Bahrain are available from Sixt, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, and Thrifty. The most popular vehicles in Bahrain are fullsize SUVs, but all types are offered. Choose from minicars, compact hatchbacks, economy, standard, and fullsize sedans, estate wagons, premium and luxury vehicles, and 7-12 seater minivans.
Tips and advice
Informed travelers are aware that travel and accommodation is anything but cheap in the Middle East. The daily rate on a car hire in Bahrain may be the most reasonable expense of your trip.
Bahrain car rentals are not allowed in Saudi Arabia without signing a waiver, paying a surcharge and purchasing additional insurance, and providing proof of a Saudi visa. Meanwhile, traversing the King Fahd causeway will incur a pricey toll in both directions.
To save money, you can drive your Bahrain car rental to the causeway entrance, find parking and take an unofficial taxi across the border. Just be sure to have the appropriate visa(s).
Parking in Bahrain is extremely limited, competitive, and expensive, and the majority of cars you’ll see parked on the street are doing so illegally.
As in other Middle Eastern countries, respect and courtesy are paramount virtues. Any sort of emotional outburst or angry gesture is considered extremely offensive, and likely to land visitors in serious trouble.
Even though the limited road network is laid out on a fairly symmetrical grid, your Bahrain car rental should not be driven off the lot without GPS.