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JustHere | November 15, 2017

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Doha Bus: Miles to go…

Doha Bus: Miles to go…

If you are new to Doha, or are here for just a few hours or have lived here but haven’t really taken the time to get to know the place, Doha Bus might be your way of getting acquainted with a section of it.

Role-playing is fun, so having lived here all my life, the opportunity of being a tourist in my own city by hopping onto the yellow-and-black double-decker bus seemed like an exciting experiment.

A friend and I purchased tickets for the 11am bus at the Doha Bus ticketing kiosk near the main entrance of City Center. It is advisable to call ahead to confirm the bus timings even though customer service representatives seem quite confident about the availability of a bus at City Center at hourly intervals. The tickets are simply payment receipts for the fee paid and are valid for 24 hours from the time they are purchased. They, however, do not specify the time of the bus time on the ticket, which reflects the aforementioned uncertainty of the departure time from the initial boarding point (City Center).

After a few minutes wait, we stepped into the large double-decker bus. The driver and a guide greeted us. The best seats in the bus – those in the first row of the upper deck – were available.

We waited for nearly fifteen minutes for other passengers to arrive. A trip that was meant to begin at 11am now began nearly a half hour behind schedule with a total of five passengers on board. Our first stop was at the Hilton Doha. The Doha Bus stop signs are placed along the route it takes, and indicates where the bus stops. The bus was originally designed to be an open-top tour bus, however, during summer, a closed-roof bus is pressed into service.

After a five-minute stop at the Hilton, the bus made its way towards Katara and The Pearl. There wasn’t much hopping on and off… We alighted at The Pearl, where we spent close to an hour, until the next available bus. The bus then moved along the Corniche, with stops at Rumailah Park, Souq Waqif, the Museum of Islamic Art and the Doha Tower (Burj Qatar).

Informative pre-recorded commentary throughout the ride, gave some interesting information. Did you know that the design of one of the oldest heritage buildings in Qatar, the General Post Office building, was originally designed keeping carrier pigeons in mind?

Miles to go
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Ticket price (per adult): QR180 (available online or at their ticketing kiosk at City Center); check their website for updated prices; valid for 24 hours from time of purchase
Hours:  10 am to 10pm; call Customer Service to enquire ahead
Contact: +974-4442 2444
Route map is available here.

[/boxify] Although the Doha Bus takes passengers to and around Doha’s most scenic locations, it offers a very incomplete picture of Doha as there are a number of other places which tourists must visit to experience the city in its entirety. In comparison to similar city bus tour services in some other major cities around the world, this one lacks any additional amenities that would justify the QR180 (USD50) ticket price.

Similar bus tours in other cities typically include a tour guide on-board the bus, usually a native of the city, who provides an animated tour, and engaging the passengers in the process. Doha Bus does not yet provide this. Tourists or first-time visitors to the city may not benefit very much in terms of getting to know the city through a Qatari native’s eyes as the staff aboard the bus comprises mainly expatriates and there is not much first-hand interaction with the local culture or people.

Flexibility though is the bus service’s main forté. The tour operators will even offer to send a bus to pick you up from a pre-arranged location. They offer pick-up services from the hotels around Doha as well as other buildings that might be on their route. Just call them an hour before you plan on taking the tour. The customer service line on the phone number provided is not the most reliable way to get in touch, in our experience. So, the best approach is to visit their ticketing kiosk at City Center if you’re seeking details of the trip. Ask if and how you can get in touch with any of their customer service agents to arrange a tour. If you require a telephone number, do not hesitate to ask, they are usually happy to oblige.

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