Despite what you have heard on social media, Saudi Arabia is a friendly tourist destination as long as you adhere to their laws and customs. Since it opened its doors for tourism, all you need is an e-visa to travel to Saudi, which costs $120 valid for one year with an option of several entries, and you can stay up to 90 days maximum. Before this, the country only issued visitor visas for religious pilgrimage and business purposes.
Whether you are traveling to Saudi Arabia for business, religious reasons, or pleasure, there are some things you need to know as you visit. Before anything else, find out about سعر تذاكر العربية للطيران to Saudi early enough to take advantage of cheap flights. Below are some crucial things to bear in mind to enjoy a stress-free experience in Saudi.
Safety of tourists
The first question many people who would like to travel to Saudi ask is whether it is safe for tourists. It is a safe tourist destination but be respectful to their local laws and customs, just like when traveling to other countries. It is best to carry out due diligence before you travel, consult the travel advisories and be mindful of your surroundings.
Keep in mind that Saudi Arabia is usually very hot. The highest temperature in Riyadh gets to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. From around June to August, it never goes below 80degrees Fahrenheit. If you are visiting Saudi as a tourist for sightseeing, plan your trip around fall or spring when it is usually much cooler.
Before you travel to Saudi, it is best to have yourself vaccinated against Hepatitis A and B, typhoid, and rabies. Again, if you are traveling to Saudi for the annual Haji pilgrimage, health professionals advise you to get a meningococcal vaccine. Large gatherings of up to 3 million people go there annually, which can be a breeding ground for meningitis. The country’s health care services are quality should you find yourself injured or ill during your visit.
The official currency in Saudi Arabia is the Saudi Riyal. To understand better, a combo meal at the McDonalds, which you will find in the city, goes for around 19 riyals, an equivalent of $5. Always carry some cash with you, although recently, the number of businesses that take credit cards have increased. But it is important to confirm in advance to avoid any surprises. Saudi banks have ATMs that accept international cards. Note that designated money exchanges provide better exchange rates than the ones based in hotels.
The official language in Saudi Arabia is Arabic, but most of the staff you find in hotels and other tourist areas have a good command of English since it is the second most widely spoken language.
Getting around in the country
Most tourist sites are scattered all over the country, but there is always a way to get around. The best way is to use domestic flights and rent a car in the destination. There are daily car rentals, and gas is cheap, but you need an international driving license to rent a car. You can also use busses to get around, but you need to use taxis once you get to the destination. Most of the cities in Saudi are not walking-friendly, so you have to rely on taxis.
Internet is censored
When you are in the country as a tourist, you may not access some websites as they may be blocked or inaccessible to users in the region. The Saudi government reserves the right to monitor your internet use which means that the internet is censored. But you can access blocked sites via a VPN and navigate anonymously.
Accommodation in Saudi
Luxurious hotels are scattered all around the country, and you will find outstanding accommodation options depending on your budget. The most luxurious hotels are in Riyadh, Jeddah, and Medina, the second holiest city in Islam. You can احجز الفنادق في المدينة المنورة أونلاين to avoid any last-minute inconveniences. Mecca and Medina are historic Islam centers, and they are off-limits to non-Muslims, especially during the hajj period.
Note that segregation happens in public areas ad you will find different entryways for men and women, the seating areas as well. Keep in mind that it is a punishable offense to photograph any local, so seek permission before taking any pictures. Remember that stores and hotels close during prayer time, five times a day, so plan your itinerary around these periods.
The locals are hospitable, and it is not unusual to get an invite for coffee, some food, or small gifts. The locals consider it rude to decline a gift. Remember to eat with your right hand always. When invited to a house, remove your shoes and leave them outside unless your host insists on keeping them on. Steer clear of discussions involving their religion, politics, and women.
Note that it is prohibited to shake a Saudi woman’s hand if you are a man unless she does it first. Place your hand over your chest and say hello to be on the safe side. Recently they relaxed the dress code for foreign women, so you don’t necessarily need to wear the niqab (a long cloak that covers everywhere, including the face except the eyes only) but avoid tight-fitting clothes all the same. Men should wear modestly also.
Keep in mind that the local customs of Saudi Arabia represent a strict adherence to the Wahhabi school of Islam. As such, you will find segregation of men and women in many public places. Drinking alcohol is prohibited, especially in public areas, and avoid public display of affection even if you are a couple.