When the fans arrive in Qatar, it is clear that they are in for a treat as they look forward to the World Cup.
But where is the best place to stay in a country that is on a peninsula smaller than Connecticut and has hosted the smallest World Cup in history?
The hostilities battle is likely to heat up as Qatar is set to host around 1.5 million fans during the month-long tournament, which kicks off on November 20.
Jimmy and Kennis Leung were among the first fans to arrive at the Fan Village Cabins Free Zone, one of the largest sites available for supporters, to watch on Thursday.
“They built this in the desert,” Jimmy told CNN Sport, as he surveyed the location, which impressed him.
“It’s too expensive to stay in a hotel or AirBnB in Doha so this is a good option.”
The Free Zone fan village is about 20 minutes by metro from downtown Doha, but today it’s like entering a dystopian world.
There are other valuables around the town – a building or two and a main road – so the staff quickly directs you to reception, which is a 10-minute walk across a large car park.
An endless line of portacabins, arranged in various colors and labeled alphabetically, stretches on and on, with large gazebos with hundreds of empty tables and chairs.
Basketball courts, outdoor sports facilities and large televisions are scattered around the complex where fans can play and relax.
When CNN visited on Friday, only a few fans flocked around, although many are expected during the tournament.
Getting around is also a bit of a hassle – the Leungs admit to getting lost on the endless roads that connect the villages. However, there are electric scooters to get around and the staff will take you to your door in a golf cart.
The Leungs work in the media and came from Hong Kong to watch their favorite team, the Netherlands, at Qatar 2022.
“It’s very quiet right now but there are food options and the rooms are nice, but small,” Kennis added.
As fans like Leungs struggled to find their feet in Qatar on Friday, they were greeted by news that soccer body FIFA has made a U-turn and no alcohol will be sold there the eight stadiums that will host the 64. games.
For those sponsors who are on a budget and can’t afford what the hotel offers, eight The city of fans offers a choice of “standard accommodation and cabin style”.
Some World Cup visitors, however, were less than impressed with what was on offer.
“There are a lot of toilets and containers and a big screen where we can watch the game together but the hotel, well… What can I say?” Fei Peng from China, who is here to watch 30 World Cup matches, CNN Sport said.
“This is the best option we can afford. It’s so expensive in Doha that we can’t hope anymore.”
A night in the Free Zone fan club starts at $207 per night, according to the official Qatar World Cup hotel agency, but can be found at Caravan City is the cheaper option, at $114 per night.
And if your heart is set on camping under the stars, a tent in Al Khor Village can be had for $423 a night.
If you’re not on a budget, self-proclaimed “eco farm” cottages offer a more luxurious option for $1,023 a night., staying on a cruise ship will set you back at least $179.
Many fans are expected to stay in neighboring countries to Qatar, flying in and out of the Gulf kingdom for the game.
Qatar Airways announced in May that it had partnered with regional carriers to launch an additional 160 return flights per day at “competitive prices” that would bring fans from Dubai, Jeddah, Kuwait , Muscat and Riyadh.
There will be no baggage check-in to expedite transfers and a dedicated shuttle service will be in place to take fans from the airport to the stadium.
It is also possible to drive from cities such as Riyadh, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which are less than seven hours away.
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Those arriving in Doha must contend with the heat.
The competition has been moved to the winter months due to summer temperatures – the average high in Doha in the second half of November is around 28 degrees Celsius (82 degrees Fahrenheit), which is much better. than in July, at the World Cup. After all, the average high temperature should be 42 degrees Celsius (106 degrees Fahrenheit).
Even in winter the heat drains energy, if you come from a colder climate. Go too far, too fast and you’ll soon be drenched in sweat and in need of water.
Shade is king and competition staff, around Doha, are very quick to advise you to avoid direct sunlight.
The temperature drops a little, although not much, in the evening and at night it is humid and sticky.
Fortunately, Doha is equipped with air conditioning inside the stadium and the white wall system will also help to cool off the heat.
With two days to go until the first game, the country is already gearing up for a World Cup like no other.