Saudi Arabia is a unique and fascinating destination for a road trip that is sure to leave you with unforgettable memories. This country is steeped in history, culture, and natural wonders that are just waiting to be explored. A road trip in Saudi Arabia offers the perfect opportunity to experience the country's diverse landscapes, from the towering mountains in the west to the vast deserts in the east.
One of the highlights of any road trip in Saudi Arabia is the opportunity to visit the many historical and cultural sites that dot the landscape. You can visit the ancient city of Mada'in Saleh, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that features well-preserved tombs and temples from the Nabatean civilization. You can also explore the historic city of Jeddah, with its winding streets and beautiful coral architecture, or visit the Al-Ula archaeological site, which features ruins from the ancient Lihyanite civilization.
Another incredible aspect of a road trip in Saudi Arabia is the country's natural beauty. You can explore the towering peaks of the Asir Mountains, home to lush green valleys and traditional villages, or trek through the beautiful Al-Ahsa Oasis, a vast palm grove that stretches for miles. You can also experience the thrill of driving through the vast and breathtaking Arabian desert, with its towering sand dunes and stunning vistas.
One of the best parts of a road trip in Saudi Arabia is the chance to experience the warm and welcoming culture of the country. You can stop at roadside cafes and restaurants to enjoy traditional Saudi Arabian cuisine, such as the popular kabsa, a fragrant rice dish served with meat or chicken. You can also visit local markets and souks to purchase traditional handicrafts and souvenirs or interact with the friendly locals to learn about their customs and traditions.
Safety is also a top priority in Saudi Arabia, with the government taking significant steps to ensure the safety and comfort of visitors. Road infrastructure in the country is modern and well-maintained, and many services are available along the way, including rest stops, fuel stations, and accommodation.
In conclusion, Saudi Arabia is a fantastic destination for a road trip that offers a unique blend of history, culture, natural beauty, and adventure. With its diverse landscapes, rich cultural heritage, warm and welcoming people, and excellent infrastructure, Saudi Arabia is a must-visit destination for any road-tripper looking for an unforgettable experience. So pack your bags, hit the road, and get ready for an adventure of a lifetime in Saudi Arabia!
The western part of the country is characterised by stunning beaches of the Red Sea. It’s definitely worth directing your steps to such places as Rabigh, Yanbu, Al Wajh, Duba, or Tabuk with its stunning Tabuk Castle.
With jewels such as Madain Saleh, Northern Saudi Arabia will enchant you with complexes of stone dwellings that are comparable to the ones in Petra, Jordan. Other historically important places include Jeddah, Asbtar, or Hail.
While traveling around Saudi Arabia, the most important place to see is, of course, Riyadh. It owes its intriguing ambiance to a variety of entertainment venues, top dining spots, and traditional souks that are rife with plenty of items worthy of the status of a perfect holiday souvenir.
Suggested Road Trips in Saudi Arabia
As a first-time road tripper in Saudi Arabia, there are many fantastic routes to choose from. Here are three of the best and most recommended road trips to experience in this fascinating country:
Riyadh to Al Ula: This road trip takes you from the bustling capital city of Riyadh to the stunning Al Ula region in the northwest. Along the way, you'll pass through the beautiful Tuwaiq Escarpment, with its dramatic rock formations and stunning vistas. You can also visit the historic city of Mada'in Saleh, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that features well-preserved tombs and temples from the Nabatean civilization. Once you arrive in Al Ula, you can explore the breathtaking sandstone cliffs, ancient ruins, and traditional mud-brick villages that make this region so unique.
Jeddah to Taif: This road trip takes you from the coastal city of Jeddah to the mountain town of Taif. Along the way, you'll pass through the beautiful Al Wahba Crater, a massive volcanic crater that stretches for miles. You can also visit the historic city of Mecca, with its iconic Grand Mosque and Kaaba, one of the holiest sites in Islam. Once you arrive in Taif, you can explore the beautiful Al Hada Mountains, with their lush green valleys, traditional villages, and stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
Dhahran to Abqaiq: This road trip takes you through the heart of the Eastern Province, from the oil hub of Dhahran to the historic town of Abqaiq. Along the way, you can visit the beautiful Half Moon Bay, a popular destination for swimming, fishing, and picnicking. You can also explore the ancient rock carvings at the Jubbah Archaeological Site, which date back thousands of years. Once you arrive in Abqaiq, you can visit the impressive oil and gas facilities that are the lifeblood of the region, as well as the historic Al-Malik Abdulaziz Palace, which was built in the early 20th century.
Overall, these road trips offer a fantastic opportunity to explore the diverse landscapes, history, and culture of Saudi Arabia. With its breathtaking scenery, rich cultural heritage, and warm and welcoming people, Saudi Arabia is a must-visit destination for any road tripper looking for an unforgettable experience.
Saudi Arabia offers a system of buses that will take you to most of its larger cities. However, the greatest freedom of choice will be guaranteed by your own rental car. A number of car rental companies are situated at international airports and in major cities.
While travelling around Saudi Arabia, it’s best to stick to major roads which are considered the safest arteries in the country. If you are planning on venturing into the rural areas, it’s best to organise a convoy. Make sure that your seatbelts are fastened at all times as Saudi Arabia has a very high rate of car accidents. Also, be sure to refuel your car on a regular basis as the distances between the cities are large. The speed limit in built-up areas is 60 km/h, 70 km/h, and in some places 80 km/h, whereas it is allowed to drive as fast as 120 km/h on open highways.
If you are planning on staying for less than three months, your driver’s licence or an International Driving Permit will be enough. Otherwise, you’ll have to get a local driving licence.
While Saudi Arabia is a beautiful and fascinating destination for a road trip, there are a few things to be aware of to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey:
Driving Laws: It's important to familiarize yourself with Saudi Arabia's driving laws and regulations before embarking on a road trip. Speed limits are strictly enforced, and seatbelt use is mandatory for all passengers. You should also avoid using your mobile phone while driving, as it's prohibited by law.
Road Conditions: Saudi Arabia has an extensive network of modern highways and roads, but some rural roads can be narrow and in poor condition. Be cautious when driving in rural areas and watch out for potholes, unmarked speed bumps, and other hazards.
Extreme Weather: Saudi Arabia is known for its hot and dry climate, with temperatures often exceeding 100°F (38°C) during the summer months. If you're traveling during the summer, be sure to bring plenty of water and stay hydrated. You should also be aware of sandstorms and dust storms, which can cause visibility issues and make driving hazardous.
Cultural Sensitivity: Saudi Arabia is a conservative country with strict social customs and traditions. As a visitor, it's important to be respectful of local customs and dress modestly when in public. Avoid drinking alcohol in public and refrain from public displays of affection.
Religious Customs: Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam and is home to many important religious sites. If you're visiting these sites, be respectful of local customs and dress modestly. Non-Muslims are not allowed to enter the holy city of Mecca or the holy site of Medina.
Security: Saudi Arabia has a high level of security, but it's important to be aware of your surroundings and take precautions to ensure your safety. Avoid large crowds and demonstrations, and be cautious when driving in remote areas or at night.
In summary, a road trip in Saudi Arabia can be a fantastic adventure, but it's important to be aware of local laws and customs, road conditions, weather patterns, and security concerns. With a bit of preparation and common sense, you can enjoy a safe and unforgettable journey in this fascinating country.
The best time of year for taking a road trip in Saudi Arabia depends on your interests and preferences, as well as the region you plan to visit. Here are some things to consider:
Climate: Saudi Arabia has a hot and arid climate, with temperatures often exceeding 100°F (38°C) during the summer months. If you're sensitive to heat, it's best to avoid visiting during the summer. The best time to visit Saudi Arabia for mild weather is from November to February, when temperatures are cooler and more pleasant.
Peak Tourist Season: Saudi Arabia's peak tourist season is during the winter months, from December to February, when the weather is mild and comfortable. During this time, many festivals and events take place, and popular tourist destinations can be crowded.
Religious Events: If you're interested in attending religious events or visiting religious sites, it's best to plan your trip around the Islamic calendar. The Hajj pilgrimage takes place in the Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijjah, which falls between late August and early September. The holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims fast from dawn to dusk, is also a significant time in the Islamic calendar.
Outdoor Activities: If you plan to engage in outdoor activities, such as hiking or camping, it's best to avoid visiting during the summer months when the heat can be extreme. Spring and fall, from March to May and September to November respectively, offer mild temperatures and pleasant weather for outdoor activities.
Overall, the best time of year for taking a road trip in Saudi Arabia depends on your interests and preferences. If you prefer mild weather and fewer crowds, it's best to visit during the winter months. However, if you're interested in religious events or outdoor activities, you may want to plan your trip around the Islamic calendar or the milder seasons of spring and fall. Regardless of when you visit, be sure to check the weather forecast and plan accordingly.
The cost of a road trip in Saudi Arabia will depend on a variety of factors, such as the time of year, the length of the trip, the type of accommodations, and the activities you plan to do.
Accommodations: The cost of accommodations in Saudi Arabia can vary widely depending on your preferences. Budget hotels and guesthouses can be found for around $30-$50 per night, while higher-end hotels and resorts can cost upwards of $200 per night.
Food: Saudi Arabian cuisine is diverse and delicious, with a range of options from budget-friendly street food to high-end restaurants. A budget-conscious traveler could expect to spend around $15-$20 per day on food, while those looking for fine dining experiences could spend $50 or more per day.
Activities: The cost of activities in Saudi Arabia will depend on what you want to do. Many outdoor activities, such as hiking and sightseeing, are free, while others, such as guided tours or entrance fees to historical sites, may cost more. Admission fees for museums and attractions vary but are generally affordable, ranging from $5-$20 per person.
Renting a Car: The cost of renting a car in Saudi Arabia will depend on the type of vehicle you choose, the length of your rental, and the rental company. On average, you can expect to pay around $30-$50 per day for a standard car rental. Keep in mind that additional fees, such as insurance and taxes, may apply.
In general, a budget-conscious traveler could expect to spend around $50-$75 per day on accommodations, food, and activities, not including the cost of renting a car. A week-long trip could cost around $350-$525 per person, while a month-long trip could cost around $1,500-$2,250 per person.
Overall, a road trip in Saudi Arabia can be affordable and enjoyable, as there are plenty of budget-friendly accommodations and activities to choose from. With a bit of planning and budgeting, you can have a fantastic trip without breaking the bank.
Here are some recommended guidebooks and road maps for a road trip in Saudi Arabia:
Lonely Planet Saudi Arabia: This guidebook provides detailed information on Saudi Arabia's history, culture, and attractions, as well as practical information on transportation, accommodations, and dining options. It also includes maps and suggested itineraries for road trips in various regions of the country.
Insight Guides Saudi Arabia: This guidebook provides a comprehensive overview of Saudi Arabia's history, culture, and attractions, as well as practical information on transportation, accommodations, and dining options. It includes stunning photographs and maps to help you plan your road trip.
Michelin Middle East Road Atlas: This comprehensive road atlas covers all of the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia. It includes detailed maps of major cities and towns, as well as highways and back roads. It also includes a detailed index of place names and landmarks, making it easy to navigate your way around the country.
Saudi Arabia Road Map by Reise Know-How: This road map is designed specifically for travelers in Saudi Arabia, with detailed maps of major cities and towns, as well as highways and back roads. It also includes information on points of interest and natural landmarks, making it a useful tool for planning your road trip.
Overall, these guidebooks and road maps can be useful tools for planning and navigating your road trip in Saudi Arabia. Whether you prefer traditional paper maps or digital tools like Google Maps, there are plenty of resources available to help you make the most of your journey.
Here are some good reads to consider before taking a road trip in Saudi Arabia:
"In Search of King Solomon's Mines" by Tahir Shah: This book tells the story of the author's quest to uncover the legendary mines of King Solomon in Saudi Arabia's Empty Quarter. It offers fascinating insights into the country's history, culture, and natural landscapes.
"Desert Kingdom: How Oil and Water Forged Modern Saudi Arabia" by Toby Craig Jones: This book explores the history of Saudi Arabia and its rise to become a global oil power. It offers insights into the country's political and economic systems, as well as its relationship with the rest of the world.
"A Saudi Arabian Diary" by Victor Henderson: This book is a personal account of the author's experiences living and working in Saudi Arabia. It offers a unique perspective on the country's culture, customs, and daily life.
"The Adventures of Ibn Battuta" by Ross E. Dunn: This book is a historical account of the 14th-century Moroccan explorer Ibn Battuta's travels throughout the Islamic world, including Saudi Arabia. It offers insights into the region's history, culture, and geography.
"Saudi Arabia Exposed: Inside a Kingdom in Crisis" by John R. Bradley: This book is a critical examination of Saudi Arabia's political and economic systems, as well as its social and cultural challenges. It offers a thought-provoking perspective on the country's past, present, and future.
Overall, these books offer a variety of perspectives on Saudi Arabia's history, culture, and contemporary challenges. Whether you're interested in exploring the country's natural landscapes or delving into its political and economic systems, these books can provide valuable insights and inspiration for your road trip.