Last week we were visiting Doha and wanted to find a way to get an overview of the city as we only had 3 days there. Luckily Doha Bus Tours came to our rescue and provided us with tickets, so we could ride around the city. Doha Bus was set up in 2013 and is a privately run, hop on/off bus service. There are 5 of the brightly coloured buses and they stop at 22 different spots around the city. Free headphones (like you get on the plane) are provided and you can listen to the tour as you go around the city. The audio guide is available in 7 different languages; English, Arabic, German, Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, and Portuguese (Brazil). You just select the correct option when you plug your headphones in.
Doha is a city of skyscrapers and you’ll get the chance to cruise past many of them on this tour. We got on at the City Center shopping mall stop, which was not far from where we were staying. We did have to wait a while for a bus (I think we had just missed one as we saw it from our hotel), 40 minutes in fact. Later in the day we waited 15 minutes for another bus, which was fine. There isn’t a timetable, so you need to make sure you have allowed enough time for your tour. Then we took a turn out to Katara, which is a newly built (and still under construction in parts) cultural village. The bus continued onto The Peal Qatar, which is an artificial island with properties available for non-residents to buy (for the first time). The area looks very plush and we were intrigued by the private islands that some of the houses were located on.We stayed on the bus to see the Souq Watif and the Museum of Islamic Art. Both of which we returned to visit in more detail later in our trip. This is where I think the Doha Bus is so useful because it did help us identify the placed we wanted to see more of.
The commentary as we went along was interesting and helped us understand what we were seeing. In parts it’s a little out of date and could do with being updated, for example it talks about the new airport that is being built, slthough it’s already open now. That said, I don’t think it really impacted on the tour at all. The headphones provided are the in ear ones, so you might want to consider bringing your own headphones for children or if you have small ears like me. Whilst we were on the bus, we were regularly provided with small bottles of chilled water, which provided very welcome refreshment. We went in two different styles of buses on our day with Doha Bus. Both buses were air-conditioned downstairs, but there are better views to be had upstairs. One bus was partly air-conditioned upstairs too with a dividing door to the rear of the bus. The other bus had a canopy for shade, but was open where the windows would usually be. Air conditioning is more comfortable on a hot day, but in October the canopy was fine. No windows means that it’s easier to take better pictures as you go around. The staff were very friendly and helpful.
One of the perks of a 24 hour or 48 hour ticket is being able to go on the night tour.Doha is very well-lit up at night and it’s a different view to the daytime. The traditional fishing boats or dhows are festooned with lights along the harbour. Many of the skyscrapers are lit up too and are quite dramatic. We were also provided with a hot drink for the night tour, which was a nice touch.