The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has for many years been behind the veil. The history and culture of the various regions and people that make up the largest country in the Middle East, is a fascinating one. With limited access, the culture of the Kingdom has seen very little influence of the outside world making this one of the least influenced cultures in the world.
Saudi Arabia Tour Package (7 Nights / 8 Days)
Day 01: Arrive Jeddah
We arrive at the commercial capital of Saudi Arabia where we are warmly received and transferred to our hotel. Check in time starts from 1400 hrs. Evening we have a welcome dinner and are introduced to the Kingdom, its culture and attractions.
Overnight: Royal Casablanca Hotel.
Day 02: Jeddah
Great experience starts with a tour of the old city of Jeddah famous for its ornate wooden windows and its colorful market. We visit El Beit Nassif - Prince Nassif House - one of the finest traditional Jeddah houses undergoing preservation. This will be followed by a visit to the well-stocked Abdul Rauf Khalil Art Museum.
Day 03: Jeddah/Madina/Al Ula
Early morning transfer for our morning flight to Madina. Upon arrival, we drive north via Khayber having lunch on route. At Khayber, Charles Doughty of Arabia Deserta fame spent 4 months in captivity. His comb, books, and compass were all investigated. The Acropolis is situated atop a rocky prominent overlooking the oasis of date palms and the old town of Khyber. Visits to Khyber are subject to permits. As we travel north, we parallel the Hijaz where Ottoman Turks built the Hijaz railway line. Originally a railway line existed only between Constantinople and Damascus. To continue to Makkah, pilgrims had to travel by camel caravan, which took 2 months. Once the line from Damascus to Madinah was completed the journey time was reduced to 3 days. Financial assistance for this railway line came from all over the Arab and Islamic world and it took 7000 men to lay the sleepers and rail tracks. Not only did this track help pilgrims it followed the path of the historical Frankincense trails connecting from Wadi Hadhramaut in Yemen. Caravans traveling this route carried spices from the Indies, lapis lazuli from Afghanistan, gold from the Kingdom of Saba, and frankincense and myrrh bound for the churches of Rome and the Pharaohs of Egypt. The cameleers transporting these goods were guided through from well to well by the Nabataeans who took 25 percent of the value of their goods for safe passage.
Overnight: Arac Hotel
Day 04: Al Ula, Madain Saleh/the Hijaz Railway
We spend the day visiting Mada in Salah. First discovered by Charles Doughty in 1876 when he was granted permission by the Turks to travel with a camel caravan of pilgrims on route to Makkah. Mada in Salah is sister city to Petra and the ancient capital of the Nabataeans. The inscriptions Doughty discovered over the doorways were not to be found at Petra in Jordan. Using wet blotting paper he took imprints, which were sent to Paris. Later, these were discovered to be Tomb deeds dating between 100BC to 75AD. We visit the various tombs including tomb of Qasr Al Farid - a spectacular, carved from one piece of rock standing alone in the desert, Al Diwan - the main site of worship, etc. Mada in Salah flourished between 100BC and 100AD and grew rich on the caravan trade which passed through from the incense-growing regions of southern Arabia. The Nabataeans were a Semitic people, formerly nomadic, who wrote in an early form of Arabic script. The tombs are on a monumental scale, similar to those at Petra but with more eastern influence in the design of their facades. There are lions, snakes, and roses embossed on some tombs. In the Koran Mada in Salah is referred to by its Arabic name Al Hijr and how it was destroyed because the people here worshipped false gods.
Next to the Mada in Salah railway station is Qaal at Al Hijr a relatively new caravanserai. These were built for pilgrims who traveled on camel caravans to Mecca. Caravanserai is a Persian word literally meaning Inn where travelers would rest for the night. It was usually built in an oasis with a courtyard in the center. Off the courtyard are arches that would lead through to the various quarters that housed camels and livestock for the night. Alongside would be blacksmiths, coppersmiths, and bakers. On the second level were the sleeping quarters. The Mada in Salah Railway station is the largest and most complete of all stations. There are several buildings here, the main workshop and a small fort to accommodate 25 men. There are underground stores for explosives, more housing, a Rheinland locomotive and 4 Belgian-made carriages along with a water tower. The Hijaz Railway line became well known from T. E. Lawrence the archaeologist turned flamboyant desert warlord. During World War I Turkey sided with the Germans and wanted control of the Suez Canal. The British, French, and the Arabs of the Hijaz, under the Hasehmite King Sherief Hussein, prevented this by staging attacks on the line to prevent the Turks from accessing the desert Kingdom and the Red Sea. During this period Saudi Arabia was still divided and was governed by princes in the different provinces. It was not completely unified by King Abdulaziz until 1932.
Day 05: Al Ula/Hail in the Great Nafud Desert
Today we take a desert drive to Hail. Hails is in the heart of the Najd. We will have a lunch of traditional foods from the region in an old adobe style house. We tour the old city of Hail, situated in the heart of the country. The Al Rashid family of Hail was once the ruling family in Saudi Arabia. We visit the old fort of Iraif situated in a prominent position overlooking the old city, with a commanding view of the surrounding desert terrain and the mountains of Jebel Selma and Aja followed by viewing of the Al Qashla Palace, an old two-story structure of adobe architecture.
Overnight: Al Jabalain Hotel
Day 06: Hail/Riyadh
We continue our drive to the Kingdoms capital city of Riyadh. Enroute we cross Al Qassim Buraida and Majmaah seeing the rural scenery and landscape of the Middle East largest country. Upon our arrival at Riyadh we are transferred to our hotel. Evening we visit the largest camel market in Asia seeing not only how the cadillacs of the desert are sold and bought, but we also get the opportunity to ride on one.
Overnight: Tulip Inn Olaya Hotel
Day 07: Riyadh
We start our Riyadh tour with a visit of the National Museum situated in the downtown area close to the old city of Riyadh. The exhibit displays the various artifacts from the Kingdoms archaeological finds, its history, Islam and modern day Saudi Arabia. It gives us an excellent insight into the country and its people. After lunch, we visit the Muraba Palace - the administrative palace built by King Abdulaziz. It was built in 1936 when his old palace was no longer able to contain his growing household and administrative staff. The Muraba Palace at that time lay about one mile north of the old walled city of Riyadh. King Abdulaziz moved into the Palace in 1938 and this was the beginning of Riyadhs expansion. On the first floor is the royal suite of receptions, or majlis.
Day 08: Riyadh/Departure
After an exciting journey covering the kingdoms behind the veil, we are transferred to the airport for our departure flight home. Check out time is by 1100 hrs.
SaudiArabia Travel Guide
Saudi Arabia Tourism
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the Middle East and occupies about four-fifths of the Arabian Peninsula. It stands at the crossroads of three continents: Europe, Asia and Africa. It holds an important place in the religious map of the world as the cradle of Islam, the world second largest religion. Mecca and Madina,
Islam holiest shrines, are in Saudi Arabia. Uncountable pilgrims make their way into this country from all over the world. Many rules and regulations hassle a non-Muslim in obtaining a visa. But perseverance pays, and once you manage to get inside (legally of course), you will find innumerable attractions and the chance to see modernity in tandem with tradition.
Saudi Arabia Shopping and Nightlife
Souks sell incense and holders, jewellery, bronze and brassware, richly decorated daggers and swords, and in the Eastern Province, huge brass-bonded chests. Bargaining is often expected, even for modern goods such as cameras and electrical equipment (which can be very good value).
Given the Kingdom strict laws against alcohol and music, visitors should not expect to find clubs, bars, or typical live music. But entertainment is still occasionally on offer, such as examples of traditional sword dancing and drumming, which can be hosted at restaurants or hotels.
Another good bet is to follow listings at the King Fahd Cultural Centre, in Riyadh, where recent events have included several concerts.
Saudi Arabia Festivals and Events
The only cultural and folk festival in the country is the Janadriyah National Festival , which takes place every February, lasting about two weeks, at a special site about 45 km north east of central Riyadh. It includes traditional dancing, camel races, lectures and poetry readings as well as traditional arts and crafts shows.
- Jenadrivah Heritage & Cultural Festival
- Jeddah Summer Festival
Saudi Arabia Parks
Saudi Arabia has national parks and wildlife reserves and plans are underway to increase this number. However, the development these areas have seen is limited and obtaining information and permits to visit them can be difficult. The best option is by contacting a tour company.
- National Parks
- Asir National Park
- Al Hasa National Park
- Harrat Al Harrah First National Park
Saudi Arabia Beaches Resorts
A number of beaches are blighted by litter, extremely crowded and access can be limited to men only. Several of the better hotels and beach resorts have private stretches of beaches open to the public for a small fee, with a small number also offering water sports.
- Holiday Inn Resort Half Moon Bay
- Silver Sands Beach Resort
- Al Murjan Beach Hotel & Resort
Saudi Arabia Entertainment
The majority of Western expatriate workers in Saudi Arabia live on compounds that are governed by more relaxed rules than every day conduct in normal society and are able to enjoy a more liberal lifestyle than Saudi nationals. Compounds do vary, but most are comfortable places to live with swimming pools, gyms, sports facilities, restaurants and sometimes even indoor cinemas (banned elsewhere in the country). Although illegal, the home-brewing wine and beer does sometimes occur in compounds, with parties and socialising at home being very much part of the lifestyle.
- National Pastimes
- Socialising with Saudis