Visiting Saudi Arabia is certainly like visiting another world, especially for Westerners. This strict Islamic country may be a challenge for some visitors, as women are encouraged to wear traditional dress that covers their bodies and regular nighttime pursuits such as bars or clubs are strictly prohibited, but those that are willing to play by the country’s rules may discover some interesting sites, sounds and tastes. Understanding the importance of this desert country in the Islam world, as two of the religion’s holiest sites are located within its borders, will help many travelers discover its importance in the Middle East.
While the Holy City of Mecca is closed to non-Muslims, there are plenty of other sites to see. Riyadh is the capital city, where the National Museum is a must-see. Jeddah, Saudi Arabia’s second city, is a unique blend of modern technology and historical monuments and buildings. The King’s Fountain has been a major landmark of this city since 1980. The city of Taif is considered to be the summer holiday resort for many Saudi Arabians, with its pink palaces and long, winding roads. While visiting the major cities, visitors will enjoy nightlife of a different kind, as markets, restaurants and caf’s tend to stay open quite late.
Getting around the city is relatively simple but it should be remembered that women are prohibited from driving; however taxis are available. Possibly the best option for traveling around the country is the Saudi Arabian Public Transport System (SAPTCO), which is reputed to be comfortable, air-conditioned and reasonably priced.
The best way to gain access into the country is through air travel, as flights into the international airport at Riyadh are available from destinations around the world. Arriving from nearby countries is possible through car or bus travel, but because of the great distances these can be long and tiring trips. Find flights to Saudi Arabia here.
Hotels in Saudi Arabia are available in all major cities, from luxury to budget accommodations. However, Saudi Arabia is a little on the expensive side when compared to others in the Middle East. Those traveling on a budget should expect to spend around $25 a day. A good mid-ranged amount would be around $50 per day, while those counting on a luxury experience should expect to double that amount.