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Expat Exchange - Best Places to See While on a Look-See Trip to Yemen (Plus, Itineraries) 2024
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Best Places to See While on a Look-See Trip to Yemen (Plus, Itineraries)

By Joshua Wood, LPC

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Summary: For those contemplating a move to Yemen without a specific locale in mind, embarking on a look-see or exploratory journey to explore various expat havens can provide invaluable insights. Here are some top suggestions for places to explore while scouting out Yemen.

Embarking on a Look-See trip before relocating to a new country is a crucial step in the decision-making process. It allows potential expatriates to explore the living conditions, culture, and amenities of various cities and towns. This firsthand experience can be invaluable in determining whether a particular location meets one's personal and professional needs. For those considering a move to Yemen, a Look-See trip can provide insights into the local lifestyle, security situation, and community, helping to make an informed choice about where to settle.

Recommended Itineraries

When planning a Look-See trip to Yemen, it's essential to tailor your itinerary to the length of your stay. For a 10-day trip, consider visiting the capital city of Sana'a, followed by the coastal city of Aden, and then Taiz. If you have 20 days, you can extend your journey to include the ancient city of Shibam, the port city of Mukalla, and the beautiful island of Socotra. These itineraries offer a mix of urban and natural landscapes, providing a comprehensive overview of what life in Yemen can offer to expats, retirees, and digital nomads.


Sana'a, the capital city of Yemen, is known for its stunning old city, a UNESCO World Heritage site, with unique architecture and bustling markets. Expats and digital nomads are drawn to its rich history and cultural heritage. The cost of living in Sana'a is relatively low compared to other capitals, and the city offers a glimpse into traditional Yemeni life. With a population of over 1.7 million, Sana'a provides a balance between the conveniences of a large city and the charm of ancient traditions.

Travel Tip: While in Sana'a, be sure to visit the Bab al-Yemen, the iconic gate to the old city, and enjoy a meal at the famous Shaibani Restaurant, where you can taste traditional Yemeni dishes.


Aden, once a British colony, is a port city known for its natural harbor and historical significance. Expats appreciate the city's relatively moderate climate and its blend of colonial architecture and modern developments. The cost of living in Aden is affordable, and the city's coastal location offers beautiful sea views and beaches. Aden's population is around 800,000, making it a bustling yet manageable urban environment for newcomers.

Travel Tip: Don't miss the chance to explore the Aden Crater, a volcanic site with panoramic views of the city, and dine at the Sasso Café, which offers a variety of international cuisines.


Taiz is known for its cultural significance and educational institutions. It's a city that attracts expats interested in experiencing Yemen's intellectual life and has a vibrant community atmosphere. The cost of living is reasonable, and the city is surrounded by stunning mountains, providing a scenic backdrop for daily life. Taiz has a population of over 600,000 and offers a mix of urban amenities and natural beauty.

Travel Tip: Visit the historic Ashrafiya Mosque and enjoy the local cuisine at Al-Mokha Restaurant, which is renowned for its traditional Yemeni coffee and dishes.


Shibam, often referred to as the "Manhattan of the Desert," is famous for its towering mud-brick skyscrapers. This ancient city is a must-visit for those interested in historical architecture and traditional urban planning. Expats and digital nomads looking for a quieter lifestyle may find Shibam's small-town feel appealing. The cost of living here is low, and the community is tight-knit, with a population of just a few thousand.

Travel Tip: Explore the Shibam's old walled city and take a guided tour to learn about its unique construction techniques. The local restaurant Al-Hajar offers a taste of authentic Yemeni cuisine in a traditional setting.


Mukalla is a port city with a rich maritime history and a relaxed coastal vibe. It's an attractive destination for expats who enjoy seaside living without the hustle and bustle of larger cities. The cost of living is moderate, and the city's economy is growing, offering opportunities for business and investment. Mukalla's population is around 300,000, providing a balance of community and privacy.

Travel Tip: Spend some time at the Mukalla Fish Market for a glimpse into the local way of life and enjoy fresh seafood at the popular restaurant, Fish World.


The island of Socotra is a natural paradise, known for its unique biodiversity and alien-like landscapes. It's an ideal spot for expats and digital nomads who are nature enthusiasts and seek a tranquil environment. The cost of living on Socotra is higher due to its remote location, but the experience of living in one of the most biodiverse places on Earth is unparalleled. The island's small population offers a peaceful retreat from urban life.

Travel Tip: Visit the Dragon Blood Trees in the Dixam Plateau and relax at the pristine Qalansiyah Beach. For dining, the Summer Land Hotel offers fresh, locally-sourced meals in a serene setting.

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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