There is no better feeling than purchasing something and getting an additional gift for free. That's how I felt when I redeemed 80K Advantage miles for a round-trip ticket via Qatar Airways and got a fourteen-hour layover in Doha Qatar.
Qatar Airways has a complementary layover program and depending on your class of service, a fee is assessed for a hotel stay or tour as long as the layover is above eight hours.
You could prepay but I waited until I got to Qatar to purchase the tour tickets just in case I didn't need to. As an American Citizen, a visa wasn't needed prior to departure but health insurance is required from a local Qatari company, the list can be found here. (Oddly enough, I was never asked for this)
I landed in Qatar around 5:00 am on a Sunday morning. On first impression, you notice the airport is massive and the more you walk around it seems to get bigger. I made my way to the South Terminal via the airport train to find the Discover Qatar Desk. This took me a while so ill make it easier for you. Find the yellow bear and then walk directly in front of it between the escalators and it's on your right.
The tour was at 8: 00 am so I had some time to burn. I found a Priority Pass lounge for some food. Afterward, I returned to the desk to pick up a transit visa QAR100($27.00) After clearing immigration and heading out to the bus, I was set to tour.
The tour starts by driving by the airport the Royal family uses. I mean this is the type of service I aim for. I then went to stadium 974. One of the stadiums built for the Qatar 2022 world cup. The stadium is made from 974 shipping containers. The first stop was the Dubai Harbor. Looking across the water to the view of tall buildings generates incredible anticipation. Even though the city is new, the backdrop of the old boats in the harbor is a good balance.
The second stop was the Katra mosque or the blue mosque. The mosque is the center of a shopping area with a performance art area, birdhouse, art, and a gold mosque. Would definitely like to return to see these things further in the future.
We then stopped in the old city for a few interesting stops. One was a field for camels, a place to purchase eagles, and the Souq Waqif. I ended up purchasing my fair share of dried fruit before returning to the bus. The tour was about six hours but it gives me an insight into a city I would love to explore.
I went back to the airport and do my version of an art tour. (They do offer one) After a shower and a meal, I was happy to get ready for my flight. Until next time Qatar.
Editors Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any parties mentioned. None of the entities mentioned has reviewed, approved, or endorsed the content listed in this post.