Being a Muslim, visiting Saudi Arabia was always at the top of my travel wishlist. Seeing all the beautiful destinations in the country has encouraged me even more, to seriously think about it and this time not only visiting but settling in Saudi Arabia.
And yes, here I’m living in Saudi Arabia. So, for everyone who is thinking about visiting Saudi Arabia. I wrote this first-timers visit guide to plan the best trip to Saudi Arabia.
Where is Saudi Arabia Located
Saudi Arabia is located in the furthermost part of southwestern Asia.
It is bordered by the Arabian Gulf, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar in the east; the Red Sea in the west; Kuwait, Iraq, and Jordan in the north; Yemen and Oman in the south.
Best time to visit Saudi Arabia
The best time to visit Saudi Arabia is from November to February. During this time the country has pleasant weather with no surprises.
And the best time NOT to visit Saudi Arabia is summertime, especially between the months of April to October. The temperatures are wild and cannot be tolerated by most people.
The hottest month in most cities in Saudi Arabia is July (36C Avg)
The coldest month in most cities in Saudi Arabia is January (14C Avg)
COVID-19 travel restrictions
Saudi Arabia is now open to visitors with no mandatory vaccine or PCR test. Saudi Arabia has also lifted the quarantine for most countries.
You have to download the Tawakalna App. Tawakkalna mobile application allows you to enter
restaurants, malls, and all other public places.
You won’t need the app at the airport because you will only be able to activate it once arrived in Saudi Arabia using the entry (border) number on your passport.
The face mask is still mandatory in indoor venues.
Saudi Arabia Visa Requirements
Visa On arrival
You can get a 12-month tourism visa on arrival in Saudi without needing to apply in advance, if:
You have a valid US, UK, or Schengen visa that you have used at least once to enter the issuing country.
You need to travel to Saudi Arabia on one of the country’s national carriers: Saudia, flynas, or flyadeal.
You can apply for an evisa to enter Saudi Arabia if you are from one of the below countries:
- North America: Canada, US.
- Europe: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom.
- Asia: Brunei, China (Including Hong Kong And Macau), Japan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Singapore, and South Korea.
- Oceania: Australia, New Zealand.
If your country is not listed above, you, unfortunately, do not meet the requirements for both the evisa and visa on arrival, which leave you the only option of applying for a normal visa through the Saudi embassy in your country.
Having Travel insurance is now a mandatory condition when visiting Saudi Arabia. It’s required so you can cover your Covid treatment expenses.
There is no special Covid travel insurance so you can get normal travel insurance and preferably a good one.
Currency in Saudi Arabia
The currency of Saudi Arabia is the Saudi Arabian Riyal. It is abbreviated as ر.س or SAR. One USD is equal to 3,75 SAR.
The banknotes frequently used are 5, 10, 50, 100, and 500 riyals. However, the 20 and 200 are rarely found or used.
In case you stumble upon a 200 note be careful because it looks very similar to the 500.
Internet, SIM Card, and VPN
The only way to stay connected in Saudi Arabia is to buy a local prepaid SIM that’s if you are not using your local SIM card roaming.
There are several internet providers in Saudi Arabia, STC, Mobily, and Zain are the biggest and best in providing good network coverage and deals.
If you are not sure which one to go with just go for STC (Saudi Telecom Company) STC provides the best network, coverage, and overall mobile internet speed.
You can easily purchase a SIM card with an internet package on arrival at the airport or at any shopping center.
In Saudi, the internet is censored and, if you want to access blocked sites, you will need a VPN.
I use ExpressVPN and I highly recommend it.
Dress code in Saudi Arabia
For both men and women, it is best to dress as modestly as possible. Women especially must avoid showing too much skin.
Covering the heart or wearing the black Abaya is no longer required for both locals and tourist women. However, wearing loose outfits will spear you a lot of curious looks.
Read our full Saudi Arabia Dress Code for more advice on how to dress modestly when visiting.
Solo Female Travel in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is a safe country for solo female travelers. Yes, it’s a conservative country with some cultural and religious restrictions on local women but foreign women and tourists have more freedom than Saudi women.
In case you are wondering about harassment, I would say this isn’t something you should worry about in Saudi Arabia. Saudi men are very respectful, generous, and helpful.
They already treat their women like queens that need protection, so you should expect to be treated the same as long as you respect their culture and way of living.
If you are a female planning a solo trip to Saudi Arabia, I would say go for it. You will experience a life-changing experience in a vibrant country.
Food in Saudi Arabia
Experience Saudi Arabia won’t be complete without trying some of its traditional dishes. From meat and rice dishes like Kabsa to fast food vegan, there is an option for everyone wishing to explore the country.
I have written an extensive food guide about Saudi Arabia. Make sure to take a look to prepare your food wishlist.
Transport in Saudi Arabia
There are multiple ways to get around Saudi Arabia. My favorite one is hiring a car as it gives me flexibility. But depending on your travel style and your itinerary in Saudi Arabia, hiring a car may not be the best for you.
Saudi Arabia is a huge country, and intercity traveling may take a lot of time driving or with public transport. So this is where air travel comes in handy.
The country has a few domestic carriers like Saudia (www.saudia.com), Flynas (www.flynas.com), and Saudi Gulf Airlines. Prices can be a bit expensive but when you have no option but to fly it’s worth the price.
You may also consider the railway option. The railway company in Saudi Arabia (Saudi Railway Company or SAR) travels to different locations across the country including Dammam, Riyadh, Jauf, Hofuf, Hail, and Al Qassim.
The train is quite good with reasonable ticket prices. Bookings are made online. You can take a look at their website (www.sar.com.sa) to review the destinations, schedule, and prices.
Accommodation in Saudi Arabia
Accommodations in Saudi Arabia are widely available unless you are visiting remote areas.
Big cities like Riyadh, Jeddah, and Damman offer a wide variety of accommodations from hotels and villas to apartments and Airbnbs.
You can easily find and book your stay with booking.com, my favorite website for getting my accommodation ready for me.