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Saudi Arabia

SAUDI ARABIA TRAVEL GUIDE

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the Middle East and occupies about four-fifths of the Arabian Peninsula. It stands at the crossroads of three continents: Europe, Asia and Africa. It holds an important place in the religious map of the world as the cradle of Islam, the world's second-largest religion. Mecca and Madina, Islam's holiest shrines, are in Saudi Arabia. Uncountable pilgrims make their way into this country from all over the world.

 

As a country that strictly enforces Sharia law, if you are not prepared to accept several limitations on your behaviour and freedom of expression, or if you feel uncomfortable with such adjustments, you should not travel to Saudi Arabia.

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SAUDI ARABIA QUICK FACTS

  • Capital: Riyadh

  • Government: Absolute monarchy

  • Currency: Saudi riyal (SAR)

  • Area: 1,960,582 km²

  • Population 33,7 million (2018)

  • Language: Arabic

  • Religion: Sunni Muslim majority and a Shia minority mainly in the eastern province.

  • Electricity: 127 or 220V, 60Hz (US, Schuko, Type G plugs)

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SAUDI ARABIA PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

  • 23 September, Unification of the Kingdom
  • Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha are official holidays.

The Islamic weekend for the public sector is all day Thursday and Friday.

Also, work schedules may be seriously disrupted during the month of Ramadan and businesses may commonly take time off for other Islamic holidays.

FESTIVALS IN SAUDI ARABIA

Saudi Arabia

BEST TIME TO VISIT SAUDI ARABIA

The best time to visit Saudi Arabia depends on the specific region you plan to visit and the type of weather you prefer. The country has a very hot and dry desert climate, with temperatures ranging from hot to extremely hot throughout the year. However, some parts of the country, such as the mountainous region of Asir and the eastern province of Al-Ahsa, have a more moderate climate with cooler temperatures and higher humidity. There are three main seasons in Saudi Arabia:

  1. Winter: The winter season in Saudi Arabia lasts from November to March and is generally the coolest and most pleasant time of year. The weather is dry and cool, with temperatures ranging from around 15-25°C (59-77°F). This is also the busiest tourist season, so you may want to book your accommodations in advance.
  2. Spring: The spring season in Saudi Arabia lasts from March to May and is characterized by warm temperatures and increasing humidity. The weather during this time of year is generally pleasant, with temperatures ranging from 25-35°C (77-95°F).
  3. Summer: The summer season in Saudi Arabia lasts from June to August and is the hottest and most humid time of year. Temperatures can reach as high as 50°C (122°F) in some parts of the country, making it a challenging time to visit for those who are sensitive to heat and humidity. This is a good time to visit if you are interested in outdoor activities such as hiking or camping in the desert.

SAUDI ARABIA WEATHER SYNOPSIS

Saudi Arabia is characterised by a desert climate, with the exception of the southwestern part of the country, which exhibits a semi-arid climate. Summers in the central region are extremely hot and dry, with temperatures exceeding 50°C. The country sees dry and cool winters with freezing nighttime temperatures. Mountainous regions experience several weeks of severe frost and snow, while eastern and western regions experience hot and humid summers. Saudi Arabia's climate is impacted by the Indian Ocean monsoons, the El Nino Southern Oscillation, and the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD).

Saudi Arabia

SAUDI ARABIA TOURIST SEASONS

Most destinations have different times of the year when they’re more or less popular with tourists. 

Read more...

Peak Season

Shoulder Season

Off Peak Season

JANUARY

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FEBRUARY

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MARCH

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APRIL

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MAY

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JUNE

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JULY

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AUGUST

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SEPTEMBER

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OCTOBER

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NOVEMBER

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DECEMBER

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SPORT & ACTIVITIES

SNOW SPORT IN SAUDI ARABIA

HIKING & CYCLING IN SAUDI ARABIA

When trekking in Saudi Arabia, keep in mind that the air is dry and the sun is unforgiving.

BEACH OPTIONS IN SAUDI ARABIA

While there is no shortage of public coastline in Western Saudi Arabia, it's really Jeddah's private beaches that stand out. If you're visiting the beaches, just be aware that you may need to wear appropriate clothing ie nothing too revealing.

SURFING IN SAUDI ARABIA

KITESURF IN SAUDI ARABIA

Wind is consistent almost all year round in Saudi Arabia. Jeddah is an epic spot for kitesurfing, offering winds from 17-25 knots and sunshine almost every day! The no wind season begins in December but by January it's back and stays throughout the rest of the year.

For more details on kite surfing in Saudi Arabia expand this section!

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TRAVEL SAFETY IN SAUDI ARABIA

Always consider the current safety risk of each destination and do not travel without travel / medical insurance

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HEALTH RISKS IN SAUDI ARABIA

Be aware of possible health risks in 

Saudi Arabia

Yellow fever - The yellow fever virus is found in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and South America. The virus is spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no medicine to treat or cure an infection. To prevent getting sick from yellow fever, use insect repellent, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and get vaccinated.

Zika Virus - Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects. There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.

Malaria - Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that commonly infects a certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans. People who get malaria are typically very sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness. Although malaria can be a deadly disease, illness and death from malaria can usually be prevented.

Dengue - Dengue is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. About one in four people infected with dengue will get sick. For people who get sick with dengue, symptoms can be mild or severe.

For the latest travel health notices and recommended precautions click

SAUDI ARABIA TRAVEL COSTS

The cost of traveling to Saudi Arabia will depend on a number of factors, including the time of year you visit, the length of your trip, your mode of transportation, your accommodation preferences, and your planned activities.

 

Here are some sample costs to consider when planning a trip to Saudi Arabia:

  • Flights: Prices for flights to Saudi Arabia will depend on your departure location, the time of year you travel, and how far in advance you book. As a rough estimate, you may be able to find round-trip flights from the United States for around $1,000-$1,500, although prices can vary widely depending on your specific route and dates of travel.
  • Accommodation: Accommodation costs in Saudi Arabia can vary depending on the type of accommodation you choose and the location. Prices for hotels and resorts in major cities and tourist areas can range from around $100-$300 per night, while budget options such as hostels and guesthouses may be available for $50-$100 per night.
  • Transportation: The cost of transportation within Saudi Arabia will depend on the distance you plan to travel and the mode of transportation you choose. Public transportation options such as buses and trains can be relatively inexpensive, while renting a car or hiring a taxi can be more expensive. As a rough estimate, you may be able to get around within cities using public transportation for around $5-$10 per day, while longer distance travel may cost $50-$100 per day depending on the mode of transportation you choose.
  • Food and drinks: The cost of food and drinks in Saudi Arabia can vary depending on where you eat and what you order. Street food and local restaurants tend to be more affordable than upscale restaurants and cafes, and prices for groceries and other essentials are similar to those in other countries. As a rough estimate, you may be able to get a meal at a local restaurant for around $10-$20, while a meal at an upscale restaurant may cost $30-$50 or more.

Overall, the cost of traveling to Saudi Arabia will depend on your specific needs and preferences. It is a good idea to create a budget and plan your expenses in advance to ensure that you have a smooth and enjoyable trip.

SAUDI ARABIA TRAVEL TIPS

Here are some travel tips to help you have a smooth and enjoyable trip to Saudi Arabia:

  • Plan ahead: It is a good idea to research your destination and plan your trip in advance to ensure that you have a smooth and enjoyable experience. Make sure to book your flights and accommodations ahead of time, and consider purchasing travel insurance to protect against any unexpected setbacks.
  • Respect local customs: Saudi Arabia has a conservative culture and follows strict laws and customs. It is important to respect local customs and dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites. Women should cover their heads and wear loose-fitting, modest clothing, and both men and women should avoid displaying public displays of affection.
  • Stay hydrated: The weather in Saudi Arabia is hot and dry, and it is important to stay hydrated to avoid dehydration and heat stroke. Carry a water bottle with you at all times and drink plenty of water throughout the day.
  • Be mindful of your surroundings: As with any destination, it is important to be aware of your surroundings and take precautions to ensure your safety. Avoid walking alone at night, and be aware of your belongings to prevent theft.
  • Learn a few basic phrases in Arabic: While many people in Saudi Arabia speak English, it can be helpful to learn a few basic phrases in Arabic, such as "hello," "thank you," and "goodbye," to show respect for local culture and to facilitate communication with locals.
  • Get a SIM card: It can be helpful to purchase a SIM card upon arrival in Saudi Arabia to stay connected with family and friends and to have access to maps and other travel resources.

Overall, by following these tips and using common sense, you can have a smooth and enjoyable trip to Saudi Arabia.

SIGHTS & HIGHLIGHTS OF SAUDI ARABIA

Saudi Arabia is divided into 13 regions, each with its own unique culture and attractions. Here are some of the main regions of Saudi Arabia and the highlights of each region:

  • Riyadh: Riyadh is the capital and largest city of Saudi Arabia, and is known for its modern skyline and cultural attractions. Highlights of the city include the Masmak Fortress, the National Museum, and the Kingdom Centre, a skyscraper with an observation deck offering panoramic views of the city.
  • Mecca and Medina: Mecca and Medina are the two holiest cities in Islam and are home to the Masjid al-Haram (Grand Mosque) in Mecca and the Masjid an-Nabawi (Prophet's Mosque) in Medina, which are visited by millions of Muslims from around the world each year on the pilgrimage known as the Hajj.
  • Jeddah: Jeddah is the second-largest city in Saudi Arabia and is known for its vibrant culture and cosmopolitan atmosphere. Highlights of the city include the Al-Balad district, with its historic architecture and traditional souks, and the Corniche, a waterfront promenade with a variety of restaurants and cafes.
  • Asir: Asir is a region in southwestern Saudi Arabia known for its mountainous terrain and cooler climate. Highlights of the region include the Rijal Alma' village, with its ancient stone houses and terraced farms, and the Al-Hada Mountains, which offer hiking and camping opportunities.
  • Al-Ahsa: Al-Ahsa is a region in eastern Saudi Arabia known for its oases and date palm plantations. Highlights of the region include the Al-Ahsa Oasis, with its lush gardens and palm groves, and the Al-Hofuf Archaeological Museum, which features exhibits on the history and culture of the region.
  • Tabuk: Tabuk is a region in northwestern Saudi Arabia known for its desert landscapes and ancient ruins. Highlights of the region include the Madain Saleh ruins, a UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring ancient rock-cut tombs, and the Tabuk Castle, a medieval fort with panoramic views of the surrounding desert.

Overall, Saudi Arabia has a diverse range of regions and attractions, each with its own unique culture and character.

Saudi Arabia is a country with a rich history and culture, and offers a variety of attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy. Here are some of the best things to see and do when visiting Saudi Arabia:

  • Visit the holy cities of Mecca and Medina: Mecca and Medina are the two holiest cities in Islam and are home to the Masjid al-Haram (Grand Mosque) in Mecca and the Masjid an-Nabawi (Prophet's Mosque) in Medina, which are visited by millions of Muslims from around the world each year on the pilgrimage known as the Hajj.
  • Explore the ancient ruins of Madain Saleh: Madain Saleh is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the northwestern region of Saudi Arabia, and features a collection of ancient rock-cut tombs that date back to the Nabatean civilization.
  • Hike in the Al-Hada Mountains: The Al-Hada Mountains are located in the Asir region of southwestern Saudi Arabia and offer a range of hiking and camping opportunities, with breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.
  • Visit the Al-Ahsa Oasis: The Al-Ahsa Oasis is a lush green oasis located in the eastern region of Saudi Arabia, and is home to a variety of gardens and palm groves.
  • See the sights in the capital city of Riyadh: Riyadh is the capital and largest city of Saudi Arabia, and is known for its modern skyline and cultural attractions. Highlights of the city include the Masmak Fortress, the National Museum, and the Kingdom Centre, a skyscraper with an observation deck offering panoramic views of the city.
  • Shop and dine in the vibrant city of Jeddah: Jeddah is the second-largest city in Saudi Arabia and is known for its vibrant culture and cosmopolitan atmosphere. The city is home to a variety of shopping and dining options, including the Al-Balad district with its traditional souks and the Corniche, a waterfront promenade with a variety of restaurants and cafes.

Overall, Saudi Arabia has a diverse range of attractions and activities to offer visitors, from cultural and historical sites to outdoor adventures and modern city life.

Saudi Arabia

WHAT TO EAT IN SAUDI ARABIA

Saudi Arabian cuisine is a blend of Middle Eastern and Arabian flavors, and features a variety of dishes made with ingredients such as lamb, chicken, rice, and vegetables. Here are some popular dishes to try when visiting Saudi Arabia:

  • Kabsa: Kabsa is a popular dish made with spiced rice and chicken or lamb, and is often served with vegetables and a side of yogurt or raita.
  • Shawarma: Shawarma is a popular street food made with shaved meat (such as lamb, chicken, or beef) that is grilled on a spit and served in a pita or wrap with vegetables and sauce.
  • Falafel: Falafel is a popular vegetarian snack made with ground chickpeas or fava beans that are formed into balls or patties and deep-fried. Falafel is often served in a pita or wrap with vegetables and sauce.
  • Hummus: Hummus is a popular dip or spread made with chickpeas, tahini (sesame seed paste), and spices, and is often served with vegetables or pita bread.
  • Mandi: Mandi is a traditional dish made with lamb or chicken that is slow-cooked in a pit filled with hot coals, and is served with rice and vegetables.
  • Biryani: Biryani is a popular rice dish made with spices, meat (such as chicken or lamb), and vegetables, and is often served with a side of yogurt or raita.

Overall, Saudi Arabian cuisine offers a variety of flavorful and satisfying dishes to try during your visit. It is always a good idea to be mindful of local customs and dietary restrictions when dining out in Saudi Arabia.

LGBTQ IN SAUDI ARABIA

Saudi Arabia

WHERE TO STAY IN SAUDI ARABIA

Where you should stay when visiting Saudi Arabia will depend on your specific needs and preferences, as well as the specific destination you are visiting. Here are some options to consider when choosing accommodation in Saudi Arabia:

  • Hotels: Saudi Arabia has a range of hotels to choose from, including international chains, local chains, and independent hotels. Hotels in Saudi Arabia can vary in terms of quality and price, so it is a good idea to do some research and compare options to find the best fit for your needs and budget.
  • Resorts: Saudi Arabia has a number of resorts located in popular tourist destinations, such as the Red Sea coast and the Al-Ula region. Resorts in Saudi Arabia can offer a range of amenities and activities, such as swimming pools, spas, and water sports, and may be a good option for those looking for a more luxurious and relaxing vacation.
  • Hostels and guesthouses: Hostels and guesthouses are budget-friendly accommodation options that are often popular with travelers. These types of accommodations may offer shared dorm rooms or private rooms, and may have shared bathrooms and common areas.
  • Renting an apartment or villa: Another option for accommodation in Saudi Arabia is to rent an apartment or villa. This can be a good option for those who want more space and privacy, or for those traveling with a group.

Overall, the best option for accommodation in Saudi Arabia will depend on your specific needs and preferences. It is a good idea to research and compare different options to find the best fit for your trip.

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