Asian Countries

Saudi Arabia Travel Guide

ON THE GO

Traveling by plane

There are many commercial airports and airplanes are by far the best mode of transport for traveling within the country. Saudi Arabian Airlines (SV) connects the larger cities with each other. There are numerous special flights to and from Jeddah during the Hajj.

On the way by car / bus

The 150,000 km long road network, which is being expanded, connects the larger cities and the more rural regions. Most of the main roads are excellent. A highway connects Jeddah with Medina, and a relatively good road leads from Jeddah to Dammam. The road that winds down the slopes of Taif and Mecca is a masterpiece of road construction.

However, driving in the Eastern Province can be difficult. The determination of guilt in traffic accidents is extremely arbitrary, and many traffic violations are automatically punished with imprisonment. As a foreigner is more tolerated than welcome, you should drive particularly carefully and in accordance with the regulations. Women are not allowed to drive a car or bicycle in public. Non-Muslims are not allowed to enter Medina and Mecca and the immediate vicinity; the police direct visitors to the special ring road known as the “Christian bypass”.

Bus:
Scheduled bus service from SAPTCOin long-distance and local transport. Air-conditioned double-decker buses are sometimes used. All buses must have a screened section for female passengers.

axis
are available in the cities, but it is relatively expensive to use. Taximeters are rare and the fare should be agreed in advance.

Rental cars
can be obtained from the larger international car rental companies (minimum age 25 years).

Documents:
The national driver’s license with a certified Arabic translation is valid for up to 3 months. International driver’s license (with translation) recommended. Women are not allowed to drive themselves or with men to whom they are neither related nor married.

On the go by train

The main connection of the Saudi Railways Organization (Internet: www.saudirailways.org) runs from Riyadh to Dammam via Harad, Hofuf and Dhahran. Air-conditioned trains with dining cars run on it every day. Another route is between Riyadh and Hofuf.

There are three classes. Children under four years of age travel for free, children between the ages of four and eleven pay half. Women are only allowed to travel when accompanied by their husbands or male relatives.

Note on rail travel

The first high-speed line in Saudi Arabia (Haramain High Speed Rail project) is currently being built between Mecca and Medina and is scheduled to go into operation in 2015.

On the way by ship

On both coasts can dhows rent for excursions. A fast car ferry connects Duba and Hurghada regularly.

NIGHTLIFE

Introduction

The nightlife in Saudi Arabia is very different from what you are used to in other parts of the world. Other than restaurants and hotels, there is no western-style nightlife. Due to the strict gender segregation required by law, any establishments where men and women could come together are prohibited. These include, for example, night clubs, discos and pubs. Although there is a small Saudi Arabian film industry, cinemas have also been banned since the 1980s. Since the reform initiated by King Abdullah in 2005, there have been special permits for individual film houses from time to time, but the films are usually watched at home on satellite TV or on DVD.

But even in Saudi Arabia, a country located in Middle East according to themeparktour, you don’t have to do without an evening entertainment program entirely: In the larger cities, men can visit the few bars that are not very well visited due to the alcohol ban. Significantly more visitors are drawn to the coffee houses, in which small snacks are served in addition to water pipes, tea and coffee. Folkloric sword dance performances and drum concerts are offered in some restaurants and hotels. Various concerts and performances are also held at the King Fahd Cultural Center in Riyadh.

In the fasting month of Ramadan, night suddenly turns into day: The shopping centers open in the evening hours and often don’t close again until dawn.

CULINARY

Regional specialities

  • Pitta(flat, unleavened bread) is a staple food that is eaten with every meal.
  • Rice, lentils, hummus(chickpea puree), and burghul (ground wheat) are common.
  • Kultra(meat skewers) are a popular main meal.
  • Kebabsare often served with soup and vegetables.
  • Mezzehis a starter that can consist of up to 40 dishes.

useful information

Eating, drinking and smoking in public during Lent in Ramadan are severely punished. At the beginning of a meal one says Bismillah (In the name of God) and ends the meal with the saying Alhamdulillah (God be praised).

Tip

It is customary to give tips, 10% of the invoice amount is appropriate.

Regional drinks

Non-alcoholic beer and non-alcoholic cocktails are served in the hotel bars. Arabic coffee and fruit juices are served in almost all restaurants. Sweet tea is often served. A particular specialty is Qamar ad-din, a drink made from dried apricots.

Minimum age for consuming alcoholic beverages

Alcohol is forbidden by law and violations are severely punished regardless of nationality or religion.

ACCOMMODATION

Hotels

The selection of accommodation options is very good nationwide, the prices depend on the standard and the respective facilities. Advance booking is recommended during the pilgrimage. In luxury and top hotels, 15% service charge and in all other hotels 10% service charge. Hotel prices in Mecca and Medina are twice as high during the pilgrimage. In the summer months, a surcharge of 25% is required in the holiday resorts such as Taif, Abha, Kamis Mushait and al-Baha.

Categories:
Classification into seven different hotel classes: Deluxe, 1st class A and B, 2nd class A and B and 3rd class A and B.

Saudi Arabia Travel Guide