Most common question and the easiest to answer. Yes very safe and it’s absolutely fine to walk, drive or travel around with group or solo , male or female. Just the standard common sense stuff and that’s it ! tourist are always welcomed and attract positive attention , everyone tend to help and even invite you for meal or tea. Local police are effective and helpful when needed assistant.
Strict is very relative so it depends on what level you view strict for example if alcohol ban is strict then yes they are very strict on that. To be realistic about this , Saudi was strict to most of its middle eastern peers but till recent years many aspects of life has been relaxed and new policies introduced to make things easier for outsiders to feel ease about living and travelling in Saudi. Many of these new regulations favored generally women advancement which we will cover in the next point but answering the strict question I would say as of now Saudi is defiantly not on the top list of the most strict destinations just be open minded and relaxed , the government is being easy going about anything goes against its customs since it could be confusing and you can simply adjust to its customs. Bottom line people and the surrounded culture are friendly enough that you can figure out things ! like what will happened if I did not dress modestly as a women or any similar question and the answer is almost always nothing just be respectful and follow their customs.
Many changes came into place in the last 3 to 5 years for women advancement in the country. To start with women represent half of the population and contribute on more admission to educational sectors that men which means they are educated and exposed to changing environment around them. Therefore , the regulations and policies played a major role into adapting to new effective changes that support women in all aspects in life, this is very impressive if you notice that following changes took place only in the past 3 years such the notable women can drive freely , travel without permission anywhere, being the guardian of her children legally , work , study and have the exact equal right as men in the labor force. Given the recent changes , women and solo female traveler can drive and travel freely as men and there is no exceptions or something specific female traveler should take note except that she is expected to dress modestly that is not covering heads or wearing scarf but modest dress that respect the custom and tradition of the country
Saudi Arabia although new in the tourism they have pretty decent infrastructure that we consider at least to be average and acceptable that makes independent traveler able to relay on the basic services such as the airports , available local flights , buses between cities , reliable roads, instructions and signed mostly translated in English, hotels and guest houses although not many in the small cities and relatively pricey Booking in advance is the best option especially for rent car if you plan to travel around the cities , booking local flights is also highly recommended as well as the hotels or guest houses. All these advance bookings are recommended to control prices as they tend to change. However if costs are not the main concerns then normally these earlier mentioned services can be available without advance booking of course besides high season of Ramadan and Hajj You can basically book any services and pay using the on-line services as all these companies have a websites or you can use the international website such booking or car rental or sky scanner etc..
Depends if you want to a tour operator plan different itinerary then reach out to them but since Saudi is a big country and going from North to South could be a big hassle so we recommend you decide on 2 things. How many days ? and what type of travel theme is it about. Here are some ideas to build your plan : Basic and express : Go to Riyadh and Jeddah ( usually they are the base ) Nature and local living : Go to South Region via Jeddah or Riyadh Landscape Go to Tabuk and Al Ula ( both have airports) Food , City live and Urban go to Jeddah Sea , fishing , diving and other water activity: go to west coast and start from Jeddah to North Adventure and Active : Go to South Region that is Abha and Jizan Historical Sites Go to Riyadh and visit small towns around it then head to Al Ula
-It’s car friendly place more than walking. Expect to use car as you main transport -People are friendly and like to host -The country is very diverse and different in every region -Food is great diverse and cheap -Prices are relatively high for accommodation -shops close during prayer time
We always recommend to keep open mind and absorb the culture shock if it exist. The more free mind you will have the more enjoyment the trip will be especially that the place is relatively new for tourism and its sites are new. However we believe the most enjoyable factor in the trip is meeting the locals and understand different traditions during the journey which can be best experienced with free mind.
Each Middle Eastern country has a unique vibes and Saudi Arabia is just another place with its own kind of history , customs, diverse people , food and landscape.
Affordable accommodation and mid range and budget friendly guest houses. Local buses within the city that is reliable to replace taxi or rent car. These are the most lacking that every traveler will observe.
Surprisingly Saudis tend to stay up till late which means places are still open even pass mid night. These places are malls , Cinema , concerts and restaurants. Lounges, caffes and fine dinning is the most common and busy during night.
Non-Muslims are not allowed to visit the holy sites due to religious reasons.
People are used to foreigners since 30 % of the population is non Saudi and it has been this way for a very long time. If you are coming as a tourist they tend to be more interested to help out or invite you , remember that the population is mostly young and with the internet age everyone is connected and have a reasonable overview about what’s happening around them.
With the new visa system that can be obtained online or on arrival , being in Saudi for a long layover is possible from the main airports that are Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam. You can just pick a taxi and go around the main sights. Taxi drivers are very knowledgeable about where tourist might be interested to go and when. Airports would take on average 45 Min to any destination around so consider that when travelling.
Yes that’s very possible and we have created few ideas that you can check it. Countries that have short and direct connection by flights or even on ground are Egypt, Jordan , Lebanon, UAE, Bahrain and Oman. Other destinations that still have relatively short distance i.e 3 to 4 hours but direct flights are Turki , Azerbaijan, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Ethiopia and Greece.
Flights are reliable and efficient. They are 4 budget carriers and 1 international carrier, where all cities are well connected. Actually Jeddah to Riyadh is the fourth business route in the world ! Tickets are moderately priced given that Saudi is a large space. Booking late usually result in high fare and booking online plus issuing the boarding pass is possible.
Car for distance of 5 hours and local flights since it can be cheaper and shorter. Generally we recommend you use flights crossing region to region and car between the same region. Just one main tip book in advance!