While Kuwait may not be the first place on everyone's bucket list (and understandable so), the prospect of seeing a long-lost friend and exploring a small but unique country had captured my attention. Back in mid-December I decided to burn some of my leave from work and make the trip there. Given that I now owned a Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card, I booked a flight with Turkish Airlines through Chase's travel portal as my point are now worth 1.5x when booking through the portal. I wasn't expecting too much of Turkish Airlines as they were the cheapest airline to fly on this trip, but I was happily surprised by the quality of their service. Everything from check-in in D.C .to arrival in Kuwait went very smoothly, and the food onboard the flight was delicious. I had a long 8 hour layover in Istanbul airport, during which I ventured into the airport hotel and took a nice nap as I don't sleep very well on airplanes, especially in economy. I lucked out and booked a last-minute Airbnb room for this visit and it worked out great. Airbnb rooms and accommodations in general in Kuwait are surprisingly expensive so I would advise looking far in advance for accommodations. Personally I love Airbnb as I enjoy meeting each person or couple and I have yet to have a bad experience. For this booking, a very nice couple was renting out the empty room in their apartment in the Salmiya area of Kuwait, which is just outside the limits of Kuwait City.
The first time I met up with my friend who lives in Kuwait, also in Salmiya, she took me to Al Shaheed Park. This is a fairly new park near the middle of the city and it is very well built. From this park there are great views of the skyline of Kuwait City. It is also a nice area to take a walk or to visit a cafe. Cafes are very popular in Kuwait as places to spend time with friends and family.
Another thing that is very popular in Kuwait is going to malls. As you can imagine, during the summer months it gets incredibly hot in Kuwait and unbearable to stay outside for too long. The first mall that I checked out is called The Avenues. This mall has a very open design and you can find all of the popular retailers as well as several very good cafes and coffee shops.
Another excellent recommendation from my friend while she was working was to visit the Souq Sharq. Souq Sharq is essentially a large market, and next door to it is also a large fresh fish and seafood market. The Souq is located right on the water in Kuwait City and also right next to the marina. Here you can take a walk along the water if the weather is nice out that day. It rarely rains in Kuwait so there's a good chance the weather will be great for a walk along the water.
Souq Al-Mubarakiya, also known as the Old Souq, is definitely worth a visit and even spending half of a day there as well. At the entrance to the Old Souq you will find a few local restaurants offering traditional Kuwaiti food. I strongly recommend sitting down at one for lunch and ordering hummus with pita. It is beyond incredible. The best hummus I've ever had. In the Souq itself you will find endless small shops and markets selling everything you can imagine. This souq has a different feel to it as it has been around for a very long time.
A tip I will give you on what not to do in Kuwait is to visit the Kuwait Towers. The Kuwait Towers are really the iconic part of Kuwait City's skyline, however, going inside the Towers is really nothing special. You can go to the top of one of the Towers, but the view from the top is not good at all as you are enclosed in glass windows that are not very see-through. The Towers just didn't appear to be very well-kept on the inside for visitors. However, they are definitely worth a look from the outside.
I spent a lot of time walking along the coastline Salmiya as well as it is very pretty and has very nice walking paths. The Scientific Center is also located right on the water in Salmiya and contains a small aquarium that you can visit, as well as many activities for kids.
A few other tips for other places you can visit in Kuwait are the 360 Mall, the Grand Mosque, and the various restaurants and cafes you can find along the water in Kuwait City or Salmiya. People in Kuwait are very quiet and family-oriented, especially on Sundays, so don't expect to see or experience anything too crazy in Kuwait. Especially if you're looking for clubs and partying, you won't find it there. Alcohol is not permitted to be sold in restaurants, cafes, etc. and can only be consumed in your own home. Despite this, I thoroughly enjoyed my time exploring Kuwait and experiences a country quite different from the places I normally visit. I would recommend spending only 3-4 days in Kuwait, maybe 5 at the most if you want some more time to relax and enjoy the environment and culture. I spent a week there and had a lot of time on my own as my friend was working during the day. A week was definitely too much time. Learn from my tips and visit Kuwait if you're looking for something different. You won't regret it.