Up until recently, Saudi Arabia tourism packages were almost non-existent, due to this country’s previously strict entry rules. Fortunately, though, the requirements have now been somewhat relaxed, so you can visit this country without so much red tape.
This vast and mysterious land has so much to offer, and using a Saudi Arabia tourism package is one of the best ways to travel here and experience it all. The structure and convenience of an organised tourism package can help you make the most of your holiday, although of course it’s still possible to visit as an independent traveller.
The companies involved in Saudi Arabia tourism packages provide you with itineraries that ensure you safely enjoy the highlights of this country, tailored to your tastes and needs. Read on to learn more!
- 1 Suggested Saudi Travel Itinerary
- 2 What to Do on Holidays in Saudi Arabia
- 3 Tourist Places to Visit in Saudi Arabia
- 4 Saudi Arabian Tourism and Important Cities
- 5 What Is the ‘Edge of the World’ in Saudi Arabia?
- 6 Introduction to Hiking in Saudi
- 7 Tips for Saudi Arabia Tourism for Women
- 8 Apply for Your Saudi Visa and Find Out More
Suggested Saudi Travel Itinerary
There are a multitude of tourism packages available. Which one you pick depends on what you want to do, whether that’s a leisurely Red Sea coastal visit, or an in-depth cultural journey to the major cities and urban areas. You can even combine these options.
Visiting the kingdom is a great chance to explore the desert, the rougher and more rugged mountainous areas, or the bustling towns with their markets and souks. It really is up to you.
For most of the tourism packages available, the ethos revolves around staying in accommodation related to the experience. You can, however, take tours using more modern-day rooms and chain hotels.
Normally, you don’t take a plane to reach different parts of the country, so instead you travel by train, coach or 4-wheel drive cars.
A typical tourism package would involve:
- Day 1. Starting in Jeddah, you would likely visit Al-Balad, the old town. The coral stone buildings and outstanding architecture demonstrates the rich cultural mix, plus the importance of Jeddah as part of a flourishing trade route.
- Day 2. Continuing in Jeddah, a tour would encompass the old port, where you can visit a floating mosque along the shoreline and a very arty waterside called the ‘Corniche Front’. The rest of the day would be spent wandering around the bazaars for bargains and fun haggling with the traders.
- Day 3. Today you would travel to Taif, the ‘City of Roses’. Here you can visit a rose processing plant and purchase ‘all things rose’, from pot pourri to essences and rose water. A trip here can take you via some mountain villages as well. To conclude, you have a chance to visit a bustling souk.
- Day 4. Onward to Medina. This is a chance to visit the desert and have a picnic at the Al Waber Volcanic Crater. You can sit and relax here or climb down the crater to the salt field at the bottom. It is a bit of a climb, so bear this in mind!
- Day 5. From Medina to Al Ula. Follow Lawrence of Arabia’s journey to the north and visit the ruins of the old town and castle. The highlight of this trip is an overnight stay in a desert camp under the stars. It is possible to book 2 nights here and explore Al Ula the next day.
- Days 6 and 7. Today you move on to Ha’il, through the desert to Tayma Oasis. This houses an excellent museum with ancient artefacts and antiquities, collected over many years.
- Day 8. From Ha’il to Buraydah. Are you interested in rock art? Here you will see incredible rock art carvings, believed to be some 10,000 years old! Then, it is onwards to Buraydah.
- Day 9. The last legs of your journey find you in Buraydah, which starts with a trip to a camel market, then the capital Riyadh. The noise in Buraydah’s camel markets is incredible (and it’s a bit smelly too!). Later you can visit the date market for some mouthwatering dates, of which there are many varieties! After, you travel to Riyadh, where you can look forward to a visit to the Edge of the World to experience the sunset.
- Day 10. A single day in Riyadh is not really enough, so you could extend your tour. You can spend this day doing a variety of things, from visiting the Kingdom Tower to enjoying a traditional lunch. There’s also scope to visit another UNESCO World Heritage site (Dir’aiyah) or simply wander around the huge central market.
In brief, there’s sure to be a Saudi Arabia tourism package to suit you. For example, on a Red Sea experience you can relax, go diving and see marine life, while a visit to the kingdom’s cities and deserts is exciting and culturally enriching.
What to Do on Holidays in Saudi Arabia
There are many great reasons to holiday here, ranging from incredible sites to top sporting activities. Sport has become a major part of Saudi holidays, including international athletics and football, both of which are of major interest.
For example, this country now holds its own Formula One Grand Prix, so this has become part of the global circuit for intrepid motor racing fans, after the race in Singapore. Or perhaps you might enjoy watching the incredibly competitive camel racing competitions!
Alternatively, both relaxation and recreation are available on a holiday here. There are many outdoor adventures, which include cycling, camping, mountain climbing, hiking and venturing into the desert by camel or horse!
Spending night-time in the desert under a tent can also be a magical experience. ‘Glamping’ and ‘tentalow’ holidays in Saudi are starting to be extremely popular in the cooler night air. You can certainly experience things you never have before on a holiday here!
Meanwhile, for water sport enthusiasts, there are plenty of dive sites and scuba diving opportunities along the coast, particularly in the Red Sea area.
Are you an adrenaline junkie? If so, try dune buggy driving in the Red Sand Dunes, near Lake Kharrarah, close to Riyad. Or, if this is too risky for you, you can sandboard down from the top of the dunes to still get a rush.
You can also enjoy concerts in this country, as this side of leisure is opening up. Top DJs and bands have been invited to perform in Riyadh, introducing brand new possibilities to your holiday here.
Tourist Places to Visit in Saudi Arabia
This Gulf kingdom is actively developing tourist places to visit. Tourism to the Persian Gulf region is now known as ‘the white oil’ and is fast becoming the second most important source of income.
You are spoilt for choice, whether you wish to see amazing archaeological or architectural sites, have fun experiences or simply soak up the atmosphere. Some of the top tourist places to visit in the country are:
- Riyadh and Jeddah. We write about what to see and do in Saudi’s principal cities further below.
- Farasan Islands. There is both superb diving here, and this is the place for budding bird watchers. The main island has a beautiful beach from which to snorkel and see plenty of marine life, including manta rays, dolphins, dugongs and potentially the rare hawksbill turtles.
- Mada’in Saleh. This archaeological site houses the tombs of the ancient Nabatean people. There’s also a stunning oasis to see at neighbouring Al-Ula. This area is beautiful and encompasses a rich history.
- Taif. A visit to this country is not complete without seeing the city of Taif. There is excellent trekking here, while the town is mostly known for growing roses and producing rosewater. It’s best to visit in the spring when it is a mass of colour and perfumed air!
- Qassim Region. This region in the north has a rich cultural heritage with beautiful buildings, particularly in the towns of Buraidah and Unaizah. Unaizah also has a fascinating traditional marketplace.
- Asir Mountains. These mountains are a nature lover’s paradise, as the area is rich and verdant with juniper forests and spectacular views. It is estimated that over 500,000 wild Hamadryas baboons share this area with a medley of exotic birds and lizards! From the top, you can get a cable car down to pretty villages, some built thousands of years ago.
- Al-Hofuf. This site offers a mixture of a date palm oasis and hilly climbs, underneath which are ghostly caves created by constant erosion. This UNESCO World Heritage site will delight intrepid climbers.
Saudi Arabian Tourism and Important Cities
- If you want amazing views over the capital, as well as wonderful food, then visit The Globe. This is a glass ball posing high above in the Al Falaisiah Centre, with 360-degree views over the landscape.
- For shopping, close by is the Riyadh Gallery. This area is full of designer and high street shops as well as jewellery and luxury goods.
- If you are interested in history, the National Museum is a focal point of Riyadh.
- Whilst this city was once the capital and a bustling fishing port, most people visit to see the Al Balad district. This is one of Saudi’s 4 UNESCO World Heritage sites.
- There are plenty of street cafes where you can see locals playing backgammon and other pursuits, drinking strong coffee and smoking from hookah pipes!
What Is the ‘Edge of the World’ in Saudi Arabia?
The ‘Edge of the World’ in Saudi Arabia is yet another amazing tourist destination here.
Located north-west of Riyadh in rocky desert terrain, the name comes from what appears to be an infinite view over the horizon from the top of the escarpment.
Getting here takes some effort, but once you arrive you’ll understand exactly why tourists do it. Hiking boots are recommended for the climb! Many hikers and campers choose to spend a night under the starry sky in the Acacia Valley below.
Introduction to Hiking in Saudi
Hiking is quite a new pursuit in this country, but it is estimated that over 50,000 locals now enjoy this as a regular pastime. Clubs have been formed and organised events take place on a regular basis.
Some of the most popular hikes are the Kara Heritage Trail, which is considered straightforward, while Jabal Abyad and Jabal Bayda are located in a lava field with 2 extinct volcanoes! Visitors claim that this is a real natural wonder to behold.
Tips for Saudi Arabia Tourism for Women
Whilst the kingdom has relaxed certain rules, women travelling here should still adhere to the laws of the land. The following are the must-respect rules:
- Clothing – long and non-figure revealing clothing is expected, as is wearing a headscarf.
- Keep makeup to moderate levels, as otherwise, you may come to the attention of the ‘mutawa’ Islamic religious police.
- There are still segregated entrances to buildings and segregated zones, so be careful where you go.
- No swimming in public is allowed, whether in swimming pools, gyms or beaches.
- If you go shopping for clothes you cannot try them on in the store, as disrobing in public is forbidden.
- No public displays of affection are allowed, even if the person is your husband.
- No reading of uncensored fashion magazines is allowed, so leave them on the plane or dispose of them at the airport.
Apply for Your Saudi Visa and Find Out More
To conclude, visiting the kingdom will shed a whole new light on this country for you. The Crown Prince has introduced the ‘2030 Initiative’ to make visiting this country easier and increase the variety of tourism opportunities available.
It is now simpler to visit with tourism packages or independently, while Saudi Arabia visas are much quicker to obtain than in the past. When you take the opportunity to travel here, it could be the trip of a lifetime to a country that was previously reticent to allow it!