Saudi Arabia has a reputation for being the holiest country for Islamists across the world. But, a handful of people know that KSA is also a beautiful tourist destination.
It promises an unforgettable journey for travelers, basking in its glory of picturesque heritage sites and undiscovered gems.
If you are planning a trip to this fantastic destination, this travel guide will help you cover all the basic requirements on local laws, getting around and things to do.
Saudi Arabia: A Quick Look
Currency: The official currency is the Saudi Riyal (SAR).
Language: Arabic is the official language, but English is widely spoken.
Best Time to Visit: Winter months, from November to March, have pleasant weather and favorable temperatures for outdoor excursions.
Saudi Arabia Visa Application Process
Before you visit Saudi Arabia, you must understand its entry requirements. Except for GCC nationals, all other citizens require a Saudi Arabia visa for entry.
For example, if you are a UAE citizen, you do not need a visa; however, if you are an Indian staying in the UAE, you must apply for a tourist visa from an office or Embassy.
To apply for a Saudi visa from Dubai, you need a valid passport, proof of accommodation, bank statements, and a travel itinerary.
Show an invitation letter in case someone sponsors your trip. If you’re a resident of the UK, US, or the EU, you can easily apply online with an e-Visa application.
Back in 2022, KSA launched a free 96-hour transit visa for international visitors stopping by the airport. So, the visa application will vary depending on your type of request: single-entry and multiple-entry visa, or 30-day and 90-day visa.
You can consult a local authorized visa agency to help you breeze through the application process and submit the application on your behalf. Visitors should leave the country before the visa expires.
Getting Around Saudi Arabia
Since the introduction of tourist visas in 2019, Saudi Arabia has improved and extended its public transportation system. There is a vast network connecting the cities and regions seamlessly.
Riyadh and Jeddah, the two major cities of KSA, have metro systems that make commuting convenient. Taxis are widely available in urban areas.
Make sure to use registered taxis for safety and reliability. There are also ride-sharing services like Uber and Careem, which are available in prominent cities and provide a convenient and private option for transportation.
Another cheap transportation in Saudi Arabia is the public bus, which operates in major cities and connects different neighborhoods.
Domestic flights are available if you need to travel between cities that are far apart. Saudi Arabia has a well-connected network of airports to help travel and explore every corner of the country in lesser time.
Whichever mode of transportation you choose, always consider the local regulations, cultural norms, and safety precautions while getting around in Saudi Arabia.
Places to Visit in Saudi Arabia
With a Saudi Arabia tourist visa, travelers can dig into the rich culture and history of the country that will leave them spellbound. Here are the 5 top places you must visit in Saudi Arabia:
A one-of-a-kind village in Saudi Arabia, Rijal Almaa is tucked 50 km from Abha. amid mountains. This is a preserved village, where the tall buildings of 60 homes are made using Basalt rock, echoing stories from more than 700 years ago.
Umm Al-Qamari Island
Not be surprised, when you find a beautiful island amidst this Arabian desert. This is a city and a natural reserve located on the Red Sea coastline and spread over 4.03 sq kilometers. It is teeming with birdlife, such as Turtle doves and Herons.
On the eastern side of the Red Sea is Old Jeddah, reputed as a World Heritage Site. Tourists wander through winding alleys of this historical quarter that weaves a unique story. The streets are dotted with souks, mosques, and buildings.
Al Ula offers a breathtaking landscape, from the world’s largest mirrored building to sandstone outcrops. You can drive around and take Instagrammable pictures. Its Old Town is full of boutiques and shops selling souvenirs and handicrafts.
National Museum of Saudi Arabia
The famous museum of Riyadh is worth visiting as it is a historical center in the country. Boasting numerous exhibitions on geology, historic kingdoms, and past lifestyles, this museum has served humanity with wisdom since 1999.
Local Laws & Travel Advice
Once you have applied for a visa, learning about local rules and regulations is next. Saudi Arabia is an Islamic country that follows conservative customs and practices. Here are the common advice for happy traveling in Saudi Arabia:
One must dress modestly when in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Locals are often found wearing an abaya (females) and thoub (males).
These are not, however, compulsory for non-Muslim women and men. Women can carry a headscarf for places where they are compulsory. Avoid wearing transparent or revealing clothes.
Put on dresses that cover your shoulders, arms, and legs. Women are expected to wear loose-fitting and decent clothes.
Public eating, drinking, and smoking are prohibited during the daylight hours of Ramadan.
If you are visiting Saudi Arabia with your spouse or partner, remember that public displays of affection, such as holding hands, hugging, and kissing, are unacceptable in public.
Avoid throwing public slurs or criticism on Islam or the Royal Family. It is better to avoid such general discussion as it is considered illegal and punishable.
This country has a loud demarcation of functioning between men and women. You need to respect these boundaries and adhere to any gender segregation guidelines.
Always ask for permission before taking photos, especially of people. Photography of government buildings and certain areas may be restricted, so be aware of your surroundings.
Greetings are important. Learn a few basic Arabic phrases and use them, as they are considered respectful.
Fridays are considered public holidays, so it is better not to plan or schedule meetings on this day.
You must greet people with respect and regard. Do not ignore the non-verbal clues, and maintain eye contact.
Alcohol is not allowed in the country, and hence, consuming any alcoholic beverages is illegal.
Other Travel Tips
To understand the budget of the Saudi Arabia trip, keep track of the latest exchange rate of Saudi Riyal. This will give you an idea of how much money will be involved in the expense.
Although most credit and debit cards are accepted in hotels, shops, and restaurants, carrying some cash is a good idea.
To get an overview of your Saudi Arabia travel budget, consider all factors, from accommodation and transport to attraction and food.
Pack sunscreen, a hat, prescribed medicines, a small backpack, and hiking shoes.
Don’t forget to use a map to be aware of your routes.
Book the flight tickets a few months before the date to ensure the lowest price. You may sign up for flight price-drop alerts beforehand.
Visiting Saudi Arabia is an enriching experience for travelers. It has recently emerged as a tourist destination, so it is vital to be aware of and respect its local customs.
From the simplest way of getting a KSA visa to the dress code, this guide has it all. This way, you can have a more enjoyable and culturally reviving trip to Saudi Arabia.