Skip to Content

9 Hour Stopover in Qatar: Is It Worth Exploring?

If you need to do a 9 hour layover in Doha, this is your guide to what to do to make the most of your time there. Also, how to leave the airport!

Having seen the overstretched Doha Hamad International Airport for 2 hours on the way to Vietnam I knew I didn’t want to spend 9 hours there on the way back. We couldn’t even get anywhere to sit for an hour, never mind lay down.

If you’re wondering what to do in Doha airport for 9 hours, I’d say leave it, ASAP.

stopover at Doha Airport

9 hour stopover in Qatar

I’d been debating for a few weeks before we left for our two-week trip to Vietnam whether to fork out for a hotel in Qatra, or stay the night in Qatar’s Hamad Airport.

Other Qatar Airways passengers can get a hotel voucher when they have a stopover as long as ours, but apparently our super cheap flight meant there was no budget for this. I tried to pull some strings at work (I worked at Flight Centre), but was firmly told it was up to me to sort my own hotel.

I had a look around and found a relatively cheap hotel near the airport called La Villa, where double rooms were going for around £34. It was right in the centre and close to the seaside Corniche Boulevard. I decided to just go for it and get it sorted on booking.com – I was bored of weighing up the pros and cons.

Click, click, yep, done, then I received an email thanking me for my booking.

Please be advised that couples checking in to the same room must present a marriage certificate upon check-in as per Qatari law.

Damnit. There was no getting around that one, me and my boyfriend would need two rooms. Pushing it up to £68 and doubling the price.

Leaving Doha airport stopover

Cancel that then, and I booked two singles knowing that there was a free cancellation option upto 48 hours before check in. Although in moments of boredom I carried on the debate in my head as to whether I’d done the right thing, right up until we were actually there.

Leaving Doha Airport in 3 easy mistakes

I might be a travel blogger, but I’m inexperienced in layovers and changing planes. We only had 9 hours in Qatar and we wasted over an hour because we had no idea what we were doing, and just kept going wrong.

Lucky for us our flight did actually get in about 30 minutes early, but if you’re planning on leaving the airport here’s what to do for a quick escape to make the most of your 9 hour layover in Doha.

9 hours in Doha Airport

1. Get off at the first terminal,  arrivals

If you’re leaving Doha Airport during a layover, you need to listen!

The announcement on the airport bus told us that if we have yellow tickets we must go to Departures. This may sound obvious to some, even me now, but we followed that instruction and carried on to Departures, rather than Arrivals. And so we couldn’t get out the airport once we’d arrived in the terminal.

We had to sit and wait with the other dumbasses for a bus to take us back to Arrivals.

Time wasted: 40 minutes

2. Know if you have a hotel voucher 

If you have a hotel voucher given to you by the airline go to the hotel voucher desk just as you get in the Arrivals doors. If you have booked your own hotel join the passport and immigration control queue.

Doha for 9 hours

We joined the hotel voucher queue, as there was something vague like ‘hotels’ written across the desk. We waited for ages and then were told to join the passport queue as they were getting ferried directly to their hotels supplied by their airlines.

Time wasted: 20 minutes 


Follow me on Instagram Stories for the latest travel adventures!

[instagram-feed]


3. Have the visa cash ready 

If your passport was issued in one of these 34 countries you can get a visa on arrival for 100 Qatari Rial (about £17).

If you don’t have the correct currency make sure to check the people in front of you are paying with card and clearing the desk ok.

I sailed on through, but my boyfriend ended up being directed to the only desk where the card machine was broken.

This meant he had to walk across the airport to the ATM, queue there to get some cash out, then queue to get some special prepaid card, then join the queue of people who’d suffered the same fate. Apparently he couldn’t just go to another desk because they’d already started his entry process.

He also had to pay more as he had to buy the prepaid card.

Time wasted: 25 minutes

9 hours in doha

Doha Airport to Hotel

We cleared the last security checks easily and went outside to pick up a taxi.

The second we stepped outside the heat hit us and both of us immediately fogged up, thanks to our glasses.

Men in white jalabiyas were offering us taxi rides and asking where we wanted to go, but neither of us could see a thing. Little bit nerve-wracking, but through the fog I could see ‘Karwa’ written on the taxis over yonder, and the magazine I’d read on the flight said to use those, so off we went.

9 hours in qatar

We paid 50 Rial (£8.50) for the 5-minute journey to La Villa Hotel.

On the way we saw huge skyscrapers, beautiful mosques and the uniquely designed national museum. I could also see big flash cars, huge new roads and looming bank buildings. There weren’t many people about though, especially compared to Ho Chi Minh City where we’d just come from.


MONEY OFF BOOKING.COM

The hotel was fine. Nothing fancy, but we each had a nice big bed and a big TV, which I was too tired to even turn on. By the time we got there it was 11:30pm – we decided to just go to bed and get up early to do a taxi tour instead – by midnight and after a quick look out my window I was asleep.

Me in my room and my boyfriend in his.

Taxi tour of Doha

We booked a taxi at the front desk for 5:30am and told the man we wanted to see The Pearl. I slept lightly, although slightly paranoid about waking up in time seeing as you couldn’t phone each other’s room, my boyfriend’s phone didn’t work, and the Wi-Fi there was next to useless.

9 hours in Qatar

After a quick shower I was in the lobby for 5:25am and the taxi was there right on time.

We soon realised there had been a misunderstanding on ‘The Pearl’. I’d wanted to see the flats and man made island, which was apparently 30 minutes drive away. We only had 30 minutes till we had to be at the airport.

Our taxi driver took us to The Pearl monument via the ATM. Thanks to Doha’s one-way system we got to see The Corniche, and get close to the skyscraper filled skyline. We saw a palace and the football stadium in the distance, getting ready for the World Cup 2022. The sunrise was incredible – one of the brightest and harshest I’ve ever seen.

Getting out the car was like hitting a wall of heat though, it was sweat inducing to just cross the road, and it was still early. Not sure how all those footie fans will cope with it in a few years time.

Our friendly taxi driver dropped us at the airport for 6am and we sailed through with our hand luggage – the checked in baggage was all taken care of. One coffee later and we were at our boarding gate, mission ‘9 hours in Qatar’ accomplished.

The cost of our stopover in Qatar

Qatar airport escape

Stopover time: 22:25 to 7:55

  • Visa: 100 (£17)
  • Hotel: 200 (£34)
  • Taxi to hotel: 50 (£8.50)
  • Morning sightseeing taxi for 30 mins: 100 (£17)

Cost of seeing Qatar each: (£76.50)

If you can spare £76.50 I’d definitely recommend getting out of the airport in Doha.

The taxi ride, getting a tiny glimpse at a new country and not feeling crappy at the airport thanks to no sleep made it totally worth it. If we needed any more reassurance we only needed to look at people trying to sleep on the floor to know that we’d done the right thing.


*BOOK YOUR TRIP NOW TO SAVE TIME LATER*

Q&A on a Doha Airport layover

8 hours stopover in Doha

Can you leave Doha Airport during a layover?

Yes, you can. If I was to do it again it’d probably seem pretty easy, but as this was my first stopover, ever, we wasted a lot of time. Please read the guide above to learn from my mistakes!

What can I do in Doha airport for 9 hours?

First recommendation would be to leave, like we did.

Otherwise there are a few shops, and a lot of people trying to sleep on the floor. That’s your second option.

stopover in Doha Airport

What can you do in 9 hours in Doha?

The fact that we were there overnight, from around 11pm to 7am, did kinda of limit what we could do in Doha for 9 hours. We managed a shower, a sleep and a quick tour, which was just fine.

If your 9 hours in Doha is more daytime, then see how many of these Doha activities from The Independent you can fit in.


PIN 9 hour layover in Doha for LATER


My Personal Shopping Experience at Heathrow Airport
← Previous
52 Coolest Things to Do in Kerala, India
Next →

Afshan

Thursday 7th of November 2019

I absolutely enjoyed reading this. I'm an Indian expat, grew up in Qatar and didn't really see this from a foreigners perspective. Anyways, I'm sure if you decided to visit again, you would love it. Feel free to DM me on Insta @the_halal_lifestyle and I'll link you up on places to stay, visit and eat at. Oh, and Uber is way more affordable and reliable than the karwa!

VickyFlipFlop

Friday 6th of December 2019

Oh fab! Thanks for the hot tip. This post was written a while ago now, so it's good to have some updated info. Thanks :)

Courtney

Monday 12th of August 2019

Hi Vicky.

I know your post is quite old but I'm having a few problems making a decision for my stopover in Doha.

I have an 11 hour stopover in Doha arriving at 5:30 am. I am just 1 hour short of the stopover deals the airline has to offer. So I emailed the hotel inside the airport where they've quote me $365 Australian dollars for 8 hours. This is insane, so I called the airline to see if they could help me find accommodation outside the airport and was told because I missed out by 1 hour I was not entitled to a transit hotel. I asked if I could leave and stay at a hotel outside the airport, they told me I was not allowed to leave.

I'm confused by this as you were able to leave. Being a solo female traveler I am very nervous about leaving and not making it back. I was hoping the airline would provide support.

Any advice?

VickyFlipFlop

Wednesday 14th of August 2019

Hi Courtney, oh that's strange – and annoying. You'd definitely have time to explore Doha with 11 hours from 5:30am. I've just looked up hotels, and yes, the transit one is the only one available and super expensive. All the others seem to be 4 miles away.

I'd be very surprised if you can't leave the airport, that seems very strange. If I was you I'd talk to the airline staff and see when you arrive. We didn't even get questionned when we left.

As you say, it's a few years since I did this but seems very strange not to be able to leave. You'd be able to get a taxi and look around easily in that time, but yes, depends if you want to.

Have you seen this page? https://www.qatarairways.com/en-gb/offers/doha-city-tour.html

Hope that helps.

Vicky

Sofia

Thursday 7th of March 2019

Very nice article, I loved reading about your experience :)

VickyFlipFlop

Friday 8th of March 2019

Oh thanks! Hope it helps with your trip planning :).

Mar

Sunday 27th of January 2019

In my trip to Namibia I had the chance to stopover in Doha for almost one day and we really enjoyed! It is worth it!

VickyFlipFlop

Monday 28th of January 2019

Yeah I totally think it's worth it for the day. I wouldn't really want any longer, but fun to be able to check it out for a few hours. Definitely recommend getting a private taxi driver to show you round.

Eppie

Thursday 11th of January 2018

Hi,

Because i wanted to buy cheaper tickets for my family (cheaper by usd 480 for 2 adults and 2 kids), i bought us the long 9,5 hours layover instead of 2,5 hours layover. We will reach Doha 15 23:30 then connect out flight at 09:00 the next day. The airport hotel rate is super expensive. I would like to have some sleep but the hotels rate are so expensive that wud end up the same if i have bought the more expensive tickets. What wud u recommend me if you were in my situation?

VickyFlipFlop

Friday 12th of January 2018

Hello Eppie, how about the Villa Hotel I recommend above? It's difficult because of the timings of your flight but if you get up super early you'd be able to have a taxi ride round Qatar like I did. That would make the extra money worth it?