A country on the Arabian peninsula in Western Asia, Saudi Arabia has recently opened up its borders to foreign tourists. Previously, only business visas and visas from pilgrimages were available for Saudi Arabia, and so tourism is relatively new!
With new law changes, like those that allow unrelated men and women to meet in public, Saudi Arabia is moving towards their Vision 2030 which will help the country to rely less on oil and diversify its economy by building its tourism sector.
As a relatively new place to travel, you may be wondering how to travel to Saudi Arabia and looking for tips on what to do while you’re there. We’ve done a bit of research into what you’ll need to travel, where you should travel, and what you’ll need to know when you go. To find out more about traveling to Saudi Arabia in 2022, check out the rest of this post!
What travel documents do I need to travel to Saudi Arabia?
Traveling to Saudi Arabia was recently opened up to western tourists with the advent of the e-visa. So, before you go googling ‘Saudi visa for Canadians,’ keep reading here and we’ll tell you everything you need to know.
An e-visa is open to citizens of 49 countries and allows you to stay for up to 90 days. It is valid for a year from the date of issuing. Since rules have changed, single women can apply and travel the country alone too.
Travel insurance is a prerequisite for travel to Saudi Arabia and you will need to purchase it before you arrive. This is because healthcare is incredibly expensive for foreigners to the country.
You will also need your passport and will need this to apply for an e-visa.
Tips for traveling Saudi Arabia in 2022
There are a few tips for traveling to Saudi Arabia which we have found and have listed here for you to check out.
Travel by air
Though you can travel by land into Saudi Arabia, traveling by air is much quicker and will take you into the heart of the major cities in this vibrant country.
Hotels can be expensive
Budget accommodation in Saudi Arabia is rare and yet to properly be established. Since tourism is only just opening up in the country, backpacking hasn’t quite hit and so hotels will not be cheap.
Some spaces are segregated by sex
Though rules are changing, lots of restaurants still have segregated dining. This means there is a place for men to sit and then a family, and all-female, dining area. You will find some places no longer have this system but things are changing slowly.
Alcohol and drugs are illegal
It is illegal to possess or consume alcohol and drugs in Saudi Arabia. These crimes come with hefty punishments, indeed, some drug offenses carry the death penalty. Little is changing regarding these laws so do not expect to be able to drink alcohol on your visit to Saudi Arabia.
Avoid public displays of affection
If you’re traveling with a companion, avoid any public displays of affection. It is considered indecent and tourists will be fined if they are caught.
Women can travel freely
Since changing the rules allowing unrelated men and women to meet in public, women are too, now allowed to travel freely in the country. You may also apply for a visa along with a partner to who you are not married.
Arabic is the national language in Saudi Arabia and English is not widely spoken. While you will meet people who can speak the language, don’t expect to get by without a few key Arabic phrases. Learn a few phrases in Arabic to ensure you can be polite with the locals. Note: road signs in Saudi Arabia are usually written in both Arabic and English.
It is expected that both men and women will dress modestly in Saudi Arabia. For women, this means covering the knees and the shoulders and wearing loose-fitting clothing that does not show the figure off underneath. Similar rules apply to men and they should avoid wearing shorts.
These rules have relaxed slightly where foreign women were required to wear the abaya, a local dress that covers the women’s entire body.
Places to see in Saudi Arabia
With tourism being relatively new, you’re probably wondering where you should go in Saudi Arabia. Well, there are tonnes of places with lots of cultural and historic value you should see.
We recommend making a trip to Jeddah, on the shores of the Red Sea, this city offers a magnificent blend of old and new with tall, contemporary skyscrapers contrasting with the relaxed seafront. We also suggest making a trip to Riyadh, the largest city in Saudi Arabia and one of the wealthiest in the country, and taking a look at the National Museum.
Outside of the most well-known places, you could visit Ha’il, a desert town close to one of the country’s five UNESCO World Heritage Sites, or head to Ta’if to the city of roses where more than 700 rose farms perfume the city.
Saudi Arabia has recently opened its borders to Western tourists so now is your chance to see this captivating country and take in all of the history and culture. Check out the e-visa application online now to find out more.