Many foreigners have an idea of the Middle East that Lebanon does not fit into. It is a country of mountains, rivers and beaches; it is not in the desert nor does it have a desert! Whilst Lebanon is very open and comprises many religions, it also has a great deal of traditional Arab culture. In many ways it is the gateway to the rest of the Middle East.
How should I dress?
In general you may dress as you please, you will find people wearing western style clothing and others wearing a hijab (head scarf) or a burka.
Some neighborhoods are more conservative than others, so try to be aware of the kind of area you are going to and dress accordingly. In conservative areas it is best to cover your legs and shoulders (men and women). Any outfit that shows too much skin can attract unwanted attention.
If you want to enter a mosque, women will need to cover their head, arms, legs and chest. Men are expected to dress modestly in a mosque often seen wearing trousers and a shirt that covers their shoulders.
Are there special customs during holidays?
Most holidays are celebrated throughout the day and you will see shops decorated for the festivities. Ramadan is one of the holiest of Islamic holidays and requires its followers to fast from sunrise to sunset. Be considerate of those who are fasting, avoid eating and drinking in front of them.
All legal taxis in Lebanon can be recognized by their red number plates. There are major taxi companies and services like Uber. It is always best to understand the fare in advance.
There are people who drive around in their cars with a blue license plate and offer to give you a ride. This is called a ‘servees’. The fare is a flat rate of 2,000 LLP and the driver will often stop to pick up others. Again be sure about the fare in advance and make sure you have small bills or change.
Checkpoints are located on many roads in Lebanon. They are usually manned by the Lebanese Army, who are very well trained, and will always be polite to foreigners. You will rarely be asked for your passport while crossing them, unless they are checking if you have permission to visit the south of Lebanon (see http://www.living-lebanon.com/south-lebanon.html). Always be polite to the Lebanese Army, they are working very hard to keep Lebanon safe. If some political unrest breaks out in the area you happen to be in, then go directly to the Lebanese Army, they will help you to leave the area safely. Always follow their instructions.