SAUDI ARABIA TRAVEL TIPS: How to plan a trip to Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is a very new destination with a fascinating and beautiful culture. If you want to visit a completely new world and be blown away, these Saudi Arabia travel tips will come in handy: find out how to plan a trip to Saudi Arabia, why you should visit Saudi Arabia, the best time to visit, some essential travel tips, what to eat in Saudi Arabia and the best things to do.
Why visit Saudi Arabia
Why should you visit Saudi Arabia? For a long time, Saudi Arabia has remained largely untouched by tourists. However, recently the government has been pushing the development of its tourism facilities to attract travelers. Saudi Arabia is a beautiful country with strong moral codes and public etiquette. Make sure you take the time and effort to understand them and respect them.
Essential Saudi Arabia travel tips
LANGUAGE: Arabic is the official and primary language. English is an informal second language since large sections of society speak it. Public signs such as road signs are both in English and Arabic.
MONEY/ATM: The national currency is the Saudi Riyal. You can exchange your money in the airport, shopping centers, and other bureaus across the country. ATMs are available and most credit cards accepted.
ELECTRONIC APPLIANCES: Take your universal travel adaptor because the sockets are type A, B, C, and G. The standard frequency is 60Hz and voltage 110/220V.
VISA: A Visa will cost you $80, excluding VAT and payment processing charges. You can apply for single or multiple entries and it’s valid from one to three months. more information
Best time to visit Saudi Arabia
Some of the most useful Saudi Arabia travel tips include weather warnings. Saudi Arabia has four very different seasons. Each is beautiful to see; sharp fresh chills in Spring (February to April), long hot days in Summer (May to September), beautiful sunsets and colors in Autumn (October to November), and the occasional snowy mountain in Winter (November till February).
Spring is also known as the sandstorm season and it’s possibly the worst time of the year to visit Saudi Arabia. During the hottest summer months of July and August temperatures can go above 40-degree Celsius and the cold winter season might have heavy showers and rain.
Therefore, the best time to visit Saudi Arabia is during the Autumn season. Here, the days are still comfortably warm with a cool breeze. During the evening temperatures drop enough to stroll along Jeddah’s waterfront, visit Al Ahsa’s desert springs or simply enjoy some al-fresco dining.
How much is a trip to Saudi Arabia?
Costs can vary depending on your time of visit. These are generic and may change. As usual, you can find cheap options in Saudi Arabia on a budget as well as more luxurious ones.
A double room in a budget hotel starts at $67. High-end hotels can be up to $400 a night.
Bargain street food can be for less than a dollar. Meanwhile, a meal at a local restaurant starts from $14 and a top-end one $67.
You can find cheap activities, like museums, for only $7. Other activities can be more expensive, such as desert tours and scuba diving for a day for $100-120.
What to eat in Saudi Arabia
Although there are now foreign and fast foods available, Saudis prefer eating their traditional rich dishes. Likewise, they’re notorious for their pride and generosity when sharing their food. Be sure to save these important travel tips to remember what to eat in Saudi Arabia, so you don’t miss any of these gems.
A hot bowl of basmati rice with on-the-bone chicken, some vegetables and various spices. A combination of distinctive spices make it stand out. For instance, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, saffron, black lime and even more. Some recipes vary their protein choice with goat, camel, lamb or whatever they fancy. This hot comfort dish leaves the tummy feeling happy and warm.
Directly translated as ‘folded’ in Arabic, as it mainly consists of a flatbread filled with minced meat and eggs, then folded and fried. Found in street markets as a popular snack, appetizer or side-dish. Although it’s most common in the Hejaz regions, it can be found everywhere with differing recipes and even a slight name alteration.
A traditional dish originating from Hadhramaut, Yemen, and stands out from others because of its cooking method. Cooks dig up a pit in the ground, line it with clay, and cook the meat with special spices in this tandoor oven. This comes with rice and is considered a staple dish across many areas.
This recipe has been passed down for generations and centuries, for good reason. This unusual combination of crushed wheat, onion, rice, and spices is cooked with meat and a broth. The result is a divine cross between porridge and dumpling consistency. Also known as ‘Harees,’ is often popular during Ramadan.
So popular it’s often considered the national dish of the region Hejaz. Saleeg is a heavenly warming dish for colder temperatures. It’s mainly white rice cooked with broth and milk, slightly resembling a risotto. It’s served with chicken or other meats, a chili tomato sauce, and even pickled lemons! Children are big advocates for this rich and comforting dish.
Another comfort food for winters, Ferek is both a sweet and savory dessert or snack. It’s a caramelized onion made into a paste texture with sugar, spices, and bread. This enchantingly interesting dish sounds bizarre at first. However, once you have some, it’ll be hard to stop.
Best things to see and do in Saudi Arabia
Make your trip unforgettable. Here are the best things to do in Saudi Arabia:
Explore modern Riyadh
The top spot belongs to none other than the fascinating capital of the Kingdom. Located in the center of the country on a desert plateau, it blends old-city charm with modern elements. A large part of this city remains traditional with sacred forts, palaces, and museums. Browse in colorful traditional streets, between a café or restaurant meal. Alternatively, enjoy the newer aspects, such as entertainment centers and shopping malls built to boost tourism.
The Edge of the World
Hike through miles of desert trails to reach this remarkable spot, a dramatic geological wonder in the rocky desert. As one of Riyadh’s most popular destinations, visitors travel from all over the world to climb to the top. There, you can see undisturbed views of the horizon as the sky blends into the earth. Pack good walking shoes and look out for camels on your way. Keep your eyes peeled along the paths as there might be fossils from when the region was an ocean bed.
Explore Jeddah and Makkah
Jeddah is the oldest and perhaps busiest port city on the Red Sea. Get lost in this historical roads, and walk in the footsteps of pilgrims and traders while admiring the fantastic architecture of this thriving cosmopolitan city.
Close by there is the city of Mekkah, however, this city only allows entry to Muslims. The annual Hajj pilgrimage attracts millions of Muslims from all over the world to worship in unison – something every Muslim must do at least once in their lifetime.
Untouched Waters, The Red Sea
Saudi Arabia hosts plenty of stunning beaches. Because few tourists know of its beauty, most shores are untouched and welcome a peaceful visit. The western coastline stretches for 1600km with around 200 types of colorful coral reefs. These remain unharmed because of the lack of commercial fishing. Local dive sites offer visits to explore marine life and find sharks. Find a local PADI dive center here
Al-Ahsa, the yellow lake, and Al Qarah mountains
Al-Ahsa is one of the worldʼs largest natural oases, with many hot and cold springs, these are considered to have “healing” properties because of the minerals in the water. The oasis is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
When visiting Al-Ahsa make sure you find a guide to take you to the Yellow Lake, as there are no roads leading the way. Don’t be disappointed to find the lake is in fact a mesmerizing blue! Take a picnic and watch the several species of birds who come here during winter with your binoculars.
Al-Qarah Mountain, east of Al-Ahsa, is a major tourist attraction and natural landmark in the Kingdom.
It consists of sedimentary rocks towering up to 70 meters high and it draws visitors from Saudi Arabia and all over the world.
Al-Ula ghost town
Travel through the desert to find an eerily beautiful 2000-year-old ghost town. It modestly lies amongst a valley, palm trees, and red sandstone cliffs. Here you can find remaining Arab architecture from 6th century BC, as well as 800 houses made of mud and stone. Some of these are abandoned, some rebuilt. However, this area is undergoing change. The government now wants to build new hospitality facilities and tourist infrastructure by 2023.
Desert, desert, desert
The desert is the most prominent feature of the Arabian Peninsula, and Saudi Arabia is the largest country. Even though it’s a hostile place, the desert is one of the most fascinating land features on earth. The dunes can reach meters in height; the wind makes the dunes shift continuously, transforming the area, and changing the shapes.
The desert offers an endless amount of activities such as trekking, sandboarding, camel rides, and quad biking! It’s also an incredible place for photography…
Have these out-of-this-world descriptions left you travel hungry? Don’t wait to visit Saudi Arabia, plan your trip now! If you found these Saudi Arabia travel tips handy, leave a comment below.