Best ways to make your dinars (and fils) go further ..
Time Out Bahrain staff
Stay If you’ve just arrived and are looking for a cheap place to stay, you could do a lot worse than checking out Bahrain Guest House –‘your home away from home in the kingdom’.
It’s in the middle of Juffair, so close to lots of nightlife and restaurants, and has a lovely garden and pool to enjoy while you’re looking for somewhere more permanent and manager Glen has more than 20 years’ real estate experience to help on that score.
Best of all it only costs about BD20 for a single night dropping down to as little as BD20 a night if you stay for a week or more. (39 461 869).
Back on the subject of finding somewhere to live, pay a visit to www.expatriates.com/bahrain where you’ll find a good selection of reasonably-priced apartments and villas and lots of other useful stuff – the items for sale section could come in handy if you’re going to be renting unfurnished as there are always people coming and going so there’s usually plenty of household stuff advertised.
Play There’s no doubt about it, Bahrain’s a lot cheaper if you’re a girl. There are countless ladies’ nights to take advantage of and many of them don’t just offer free drinks but you can also tuck into cut-price food as well.
Our favourite is Block 338, have a girls’ night out in the garden with drinks all evening for BD5 and discounts on bar snacks. And guys don’t really have to miss out, lots of the ladies’ night venues are ideal for date nights. Yes you have to buy your own bevvies but, look at it this way, at least your girl goes free.
For other cheap night out options, check out our nightlife pages for quiz nights and karaoke specials where you can join in for free, have a soft drink and potentially walk away with a prize – a win-win situation. Block 338 (39 159 912).
Pamper Cutting back doesn’t have to mean letting yourself go. At Beauty Garden in Adliya almost all treatments are just BD2 – that’s manicure, pedicure, Morroccan bath and the like. If you really want tosplash out you can get an hour’s massage for BD8 from a tiny woman with fingers of steel. (17 744 730).
Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be a boys’ equivalent, though we’d be happy to be proved wrong. But lads can get a good professional massage at Thai Massage for Men in Juffair at BD14 and we’re told it’s the business. (17 728 787).
Chill And once you’ve done the massage, you could join a free yoga class at the RIA Centre (17 716 871) or with the Sahaja guys (39 575 301) or learn the art meditation at Bahrain Meditation Centre where all seminars and lectures are free based on the centre’s philosophy that service from the heart is priceless and spiritual! (17 712 545).
Hit the movies A great and not overly expensive way to spend a couple of hours is a visit to the cinema. City Centre and Seef show the latest movies for around BD3 but you can watch English movies for BD2.5 at Saar Cinema and Al Jazeera Cineplex in Muharraq.
Fancy a taste of Bollywood? It’s even cheaper at the somewhat grubby but atmospheric Awal Cinema in Gudaibiya where you can catch the latest Hindi hits for just BD1.5.
Alliance Francaise has regular French language film showings at its premises in Isa Town. (17 683 295).
Bahrain Cinema Club in Juffair is really good value with an eclectic cinematic mix showing every Wednesday. (39 682 323).
And, if you’re really determined to tighten your belt, you could always go for a bit of time in. Grab a handful of DVDs, there a shops behind Al Jazeera in Adliya and close to Midway Supermarket in Saar that have the latest hits and up-to-the-minute Western TV series for around a dinar a pop. Break out the popcorn, invite your mates round and enjoy.
Eat Of course we could just say, see the ‘ten dishes for a dinar or less’ feature in the April edition of Time Out Bahrain but for some favourite options right here, right now, we’re very partial to the Arabic pizza at Sameeh Pastries on Gudaibiya Avenue for just 800 fils (17 292 928) and vegetable biriyani at Sree Gauri Krishna, near Awal Cinema, for a ridiculously cheap 600 fils – make a night of it and catch a Bollywood movie, that’s a whole night out for just over BD2 per person!
If you want to spend a little more but still keep to a budget, Cucina Italiana in Juffair is currently offering starter, pizza or pasta and coffee for just BD4, at Nu Asia BD4.5 will get you a drink, starter and main course and, upstairs at Marina Mall you can fill up on the all-you-can-eat buffet for just BD3.
Also check out our monthly meal deals for special offers and buy one get one frees at various venues.
Something for the kids We know we keep mentioning it but we think Bahrain Science Centre is a brilliant facility. It’s full of interactive exhibits and fun, educational stuff for kids to do and, on top of that, it’s also recently launched a full-on activity programme so there’s loads to do almost all the time from activities such as learning how to choose a healthy meal to weekly experiments and debates and it’s all free! (36 001 399/34 360 631).
Seek out some culture Shopping and partying not your thing? Then Bahrain’s a great place to take in some culture.
The Sheikh Ebrahim Centre on the Pearling Trail in Muharraq hosts performances and lectures every Monday evening such as visiting art experts, scholars and authors. These are usually free and take place in the centre’s stunning auditorium. (17 322 549).
If you’ve got a couple of hours to spare take a slow stroll around Bahrain National Museum, it’s open daily from 8am-8pm and has a wealth of exhibitions on the island’s rich past. There are regular international visiting exhibitions and the outdoor sculpture garden, which will be particularly popular with young visitors. And all in all it’s a wonderful place to learn more about Bahrain in an atmosphere of cool peace and tranquility. (17 298 714).
Another one that’s equally popular with adults and kids is the National Library at the Isa Cultural Centre next the Grand Mosque, the building that looks a bit like the front of the Sydney Opera House.
It houses almost 75,000 books over four halls – general, reference and periodicals, national publications and special collections and foreign books.
There’s a special section donated by the US Embassy and collections and sections donated by other individuals and embassies as well as the libarary of HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalid Al Khalifa which includes many valuable Arabic and Foreign language publications.
There’s also a comprehensive kids’ library and multi-media facilities making for an interesting few hours’ browsing. (17 366 666).
Al Bareh Gallery, behind the Carlton Hotel, and Al Riwaq Art Space, on Osama bin Zaid Avenue, both in Adliya, are also both worth a visit. Both are free and Al Riwaq is currently holding a collection clear-out with some exquisite pieces available at reduced prices.
Shop Yes, we have some super malls and there seem always to be sales in one or all of them. But if you really want to go the budget route, pay a visit to one of the island’s charity shops.
The Bahrain Young Ladies Association store has a really good range of clothes and accessories for all ages. We’re told it’s the dropping off point of choice for the kingdom’s more well-to-do philanthropists so you’ll often find real bargains on never-worn designer wear.
The furniture villa, which supports Tony the Dogfather, is a good spot to find household items and both Tony and the BSPCA hold regular designer sales.
Also look out for media announcements of clearance sales for the likes of Al Hawaj and Saks Fifth Avenue. They’re usually held in the bigger hotels and can be an absolute scramble but you’ll be certain to find a bargain with items knocked down to a fraction of the regular price.
With Christmas not far off, make a date in your diary for the American Women’s Association craft fair where you’ll find a huge range of arts and gift ideas, all very reasonably priced.
And there you have it, proof positive that you can have a great time in Bahrain without breaking the bank.