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Female Travel In Saudi Arabia: What It’s Like And A Complete Guide


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Candida Lebrun



Welcome to the enchanting kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a land steeped in history, culture, and natural beauty. While Saudi Arabia has long been known as a conservative country, recent developments have made it more accessible than ever for female travelers to embark on incredible road trips and explore all that this diverse nation has to offer.


In the past, women in Saudi Arabia faced numerous restrictions on their mobility and travel. However, in recent years, the country has undergone significant social and cultural reforms as part of Saudi Vision 2030, a plan to transform the country into a global destination. These reforms have granted women more freedom and opportunities, empowering them to experience the wonders of their own country and share their unique perspectives with the world.


Traveling through Saudi Arabia allows female adventurers to witness the captivating blend of ancient traditions and modern developments. From bustling cities with towering skyscrapers to serene desert landscapes and stunning coastlines, this country has it all. Whether you’re an avid history buff, a nature enthusiast, or a foodie searching for new flavors, Saudi Arabia offers an array of unforgettable experiences.


In this guide, we will provide you with essential information and tips to make your road trip in Saudi Arabia as smooth and enjoyable as possible. We will delve into topics such as dress codes, safety precautions, women-only spaces, major cities to explore, cultural etiquette, cuisine, outdoor activities, shopping, and transportation. If you’re a female solo traveler seeking an adventure like no other, you’ve come to the right place.


So fasten your seatbelt, put on your travel hat, and let’s embark on a journey through the majestic landscapes, rich history, and vibrant culture of Saudi Arabia. Get ready to discover a side of this country that you never knew existed!


Saudi Arabia: A Brief Overview

Saudi Arabia, officially known as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is a country located in the Middle East on the Arabian Peninsula. It borders Jordan and Iraq to the north, Kuwait to the northeast, Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates to the east, Oman to the southeast, and Yemen to the south. With a land area of over 2 million square kilometers, it is the largest country in the Middle East and the 13th largest in the world.


Rich in history and culture, Saudi Arabia is home to some of the oldest archaeological sites in the region, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Al-Hijr (Madain Salih) and the stunning rock formations of the Red Sea city of Al-Ula. The country is also home to the two holiest cities in Islam, Mecca and Medina, making it the spiritual center for millions of Muslims around the world.


Saudi Arabia is known for its vast deserts, such as the Rub’ al Khali (Empty Quarter), which is the largest continuous sand desert in the world. Other natural wonders include the majestic Red Sea coast with its colorful coral reefs, the fertile valleys of the Asir Mountains, and the awe-inspiring volcanic landscapes of the Harrat Khaybar.


The country has a diverse population consisting of Saudi nationals as well as a significant expatriate community. Arabic is the official language, and Islam is the predominant religion, shaping all aspects of daily life and influencing cultural practices, traditions, and values.


Economically, Saudi Arabia is one of the richest countries in the world due to its vast reserves of oil, which is a key driver of its economy. The country has been working towards diversifying its economy through initiatives such as Saudi Vision 2030, aiming to reduce its dependence on oil and promote sectors like tourism, entertainment, and technology.


As a traveler, you will have the opportunity to explore the country’s modern cities, immerse yourself in its rich heritage, witness stunning natural landscapes, indulge in delicious cuisine, and experience the warm hospitality of its people. Traveling in Saudi Arabia offers a unique blend of tradition and progress, providing a fascinating glimpse into a culture that is undergoing a profound transformation.


Now that you have a brief overview of Saudi Arabia, it’s time to dive deeper into the world of female travel in this captivating country.


Female Travel in Saudi Arabia: What You Need to Know

Traveling as a female in Saudi Arabia can be an incredibly rewarding and enlightening experience. While the country has traditionally been known for its conservative culture, there have been significant changes in recent years that have made it more accessible and welcoming for female travelers.


One of the most important things to know when traveling as a female in Saudi Arabia is the dress code. While it is no longer mandatory for foreign women to wear the traditional abaya (a loose-fitting black cloak), it is still expected to dress modestly, particularly in public places. This means wearing loose-fitting clothing that covers the shoulders and knees, and avoiding tight or revealing outfits. It is also advisable to carry a scarf or shawl to cover the head when entering mosques or other religious sites.


Another important aspect to consider is safety. Like any travel destination, it is crucial to take precautions and be aware of your surroundings. While Saudi Arabia is generally a safe country, it is always advisable to follow common sense safety measures, such as avoiding isolated areas at night, staying in well-lit areas, and being cautious of your belongings. It is also recommended to register with your embassy or consulate upon arrival and share your travel itinerary with someone you trust.


When it comes to accommodation, there are now numerous hotels and resorts that cater specifically to female travelers. These establishments provide women-only floors or sections, ensuring privacy and comfort for solo female travelers or groups of women. It is advisable to book your accommodation in advance and check for these options if you prefer a more female-focused environment.


Exploring the major cities of Saudi Arabia is an essential part of any road trip in the country. Riyadh, the capital city, offers a unique blend of modernity and tradition, with its towering skyscrapers, ancient forts, and bustling souks. Jeddah, known as the gateway to Mecca, is a vibrant coastal metropolis where you can explore the historical district of Al-Balad and enjoy the beautiful Corniche.


Dammam, located in the Eastern Province, is a hub of commerce and industry, with its modern infrastructure and access to stunning beaches along the Arabian Gulf. Abha, situated in the southern region of Asir, offers a cooler climate, picturesque landscapes, and the chance to experience the traditional culture of the region.


Medina, the city of the Prophet, is a deeply religious and spiritual destination for Muslims, with its grand Mosque of the Prophet and significant historical sites. Mecca, the holiest city in Islam, is the ultimate pilgrimage destination for Muslims worldwide, and non-Muslims are not allowed access during certain times of the year.


While traveling in Saudi Arabia, it is essential to be mindful of cultural etiquette and customs. The country has a strong Islamic heritage, and it is important to respect local traditions and values. Greeting locals with a polite “As-salamu alaykum” (peace be upon you) and observing Ramadan customs, such as fasting during daylight hours, can go a long way in showing respect for the local culture.


Saudi Arabian cuisine is a culinary delight that should not be missed during your road trip. From aromatic rice dishes like Kabsa and Mandi to scrumptious pastries like Kunafa and Qursan, the country offers a wide variety of delicious food options. Don’t forget to indulge in a cup of traditional Arabic coffee and experience the warm hospitality of the locals.


Female travelers in Saudi Arabia can also engage in a range of outdoor activities and adventures. From hiking in the majestic mountains of Abha to exploring the ancient ruins of Mada’in Saleh or diving in the crystal-clear waters of the Red Sea, there is something for every outdoor enthusiast.


Shopping in Saudi Arabia is a unique experience that combines traditional souks with modern malls. Wander through the bustling local markets, known as souks, where you can haggle for spices, textiles, and traditional handicrafts. If you prefer a more upscale shopping experience, head to the modern malls that offer international brands, luxury boutiques, and a wide range of entertainment options.


The transportation network in Saudi Arabia is well-developed, making it easy to navigate the country. Major cities are connected by a network of highways, and public transportation options such as taxis and ride-hailing services are readily available. Renting a car is also a popular option for those who prefer the flexibility of exploring at their own pace.


For female solo travelers, it is important to take extra precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. Always trust your instincts, research your destination beforehand, and be aware of local customs and cultural sensitivities. It is also advisable to connect with other female travelers or join organized tours to enhance safety and meet like-minded individuals.


As the kingdom continues to evolve, female travel in Saudi Arabia presents a unique opportunity to witness a fascinating blend of tradition and progress. So, pack your bags, embrace the cultural richness, and embark on an unforgettable road trip through the breathtaking landscapes of Saudi Arabia.


Dress Code and Modesty Guidelines

When traveling in Saudi Arabia, it is important to adhere to the dress code and modesty guidelines to respect the local culture and customs. While the dress code for foreign women is not as strict as it used to be, it is still essential to dress modestly in public places.


While it is no longer mandatory for foreign women to wear the traditional abaya (a loose-fitting black cloak), it is still advisable to carry one with you, especially when visiting religious sites or more conservative areas. Wearing loose-fitting and non-revealing clothing that covers the shoulders and knees is recommended.


Here are some tips to keep in mind when it comes to dressing in Saudi Arabia:

  • Wear tops or blouses that cover the shoulders and do not expose cleavage.
  • Choose trousers, skirts, or dresses that cover the knees.
  • Avoid wearing tight or transparent clothing.
  • Carry a scarf or shawl to cover your head when entering mosques or religious sites.
  • It is also a good idea to have a lightweight, loose-fitting cardigan or jacket to wear over your clothes in case you need to be more covered up.

While on private property, such as hotels and resorts, you may have more flexibility in your attire. However, it is still respectful to dress modestly out of consideration for the local culture.


It is important to note that the dress code is more relaxed in expat compounds, where you may see a wider range of clothing styles. However, it is still advisable to dress modestly when venturing outside of these areas.


By observing the dress code and showing respect for local customs, you not only blend in with the local culture but also contribute to a positive and harmonious travel experience.


Safety Tips for Female Travelers

While Saudi Arabia is generally a safe country, it is important for female travelers to take certain precautions to ensure their safety and well-being during their journey. Here are some essential safety tips:

  • Research your destination: Before you travel, take the time to research your destination and familiarize yourself with its local customs, laws, and cultural practices. This will help you navigate the country more confidently and avoid any potentially risky situations.
  • Dress modestly: As mentioned earlier, it is important to dress modestly in Saudi Arabia, especially in public places. This helps to respect the local culture and avoid any unwanted attention. It is also advisable to carry a scarf or shawl to cover your head when entering religious sites.
  • Stay aware of your surroundings: Like in any other destination, it is important to stay aware of your surroundings at all times. Be cautious of your belongings, especially in crowded areas, and avoid displaying expensive items or large amounts of cash. Trust your instincts and avoid any situations or individuals that make you feel uncomfortable.
  • Use reputable transportation: When moving around Saudi Arabia, opt for reputable transportation options such as pre-booked taxis or ride-hailing services. Avoid getting into unmarked or unofficial vehicles, especially if you are traveling alone. It is also recommended to share your itinerary with someone you trust and keep them updated on your whereabouts.
  • Stay in secure accommodations: Choose accommodations that prioritize safety and security, especially if you are traveling solo. Look for hotels or guesthouses that have good reviews and offer added security measures such as 24-hour reception, secure entrances, and well-lit premises. In addition, consider women-only accommodations or floors if you prefer a more comfortable and secure environment.
  • Be cautious with personal information: While interacting with locals or fellow travelers, be cautious about sharing personal information such as your hotel details or travel plans. Keep important documents, such as your passport and identification, secure at all times.
  • Respect local customs and traditions: Saudi Arabia has a rich cultural heritage with strong Islamic influences. It is important to respect local customs and traditions, such as avoiding public displays of affection and refraining from alcohol consumption, as it is prohibited in the country. Observe and follow local rules and regulations to ensure a smooth and respectful travel experience.
  • Register with your embassy or consulate: Before traveling to Saudi Arabia, register with your embassy or consulate. This allows them to provide assistance or contact you in case of an emergency or any unexpected situations.

By following these safety tips and staying alert, female travelers can have a safe and enjoyable experience exploring the beautiful landscapes and vibrant culture of Saudi Arabia.


Women-Only Spaces and Accommodations

As Saudi Arabia strives to promote inclusive tourism and cater to the needs of female travelers, there are now several women-only spaces and accommodations available throughout the country. These spaces provide a secure and comfortable environment for women, whether they are traveling solo or in groups. Here are some key points to know about women-only spaces and accommodations in Saudi Arabia:

  • Women-only floors or sections: Many hotels in Saudi Arabia offer women-only floors or sections, providing female travelers with added privacy and peace of mind. These areas are exclusively reserved for women and are only accessible to female guests and staff.
  • Separate facilities: Women-only accommodations often provide separate facilities such as gyms, swimming pools, and spas. This allows female travelers to relax and enjoy their time without any concerns or limitations.
  • Enhanced security measures: Women-only accommodations typically have additional security measures in place to ensure the safety and well-being of their guests. This may include dedicated security personnel, surveillance cameras, and secure entrances.
  • Social spaces and networking opportunities: Women-only spaces provide opportunities for female travelers to connect with other like-minded women. This can foster a sense of community and companionship, as well as create lasting memories and friendships.
  • Access to female staff: Women-only accommodations often employ female staff members who can provide a more personalized and comfortable experience for female guests. This can include female receptionists, housekeeping staff, and spa therapists.
  • Supportive environment: Women-only spaces in Saudi Arabia aim to create a supportive and empowering environment for female travelers. The staff is trained to understand and meet the specific needs of women, ensuring a pleasant and hassle-free stay.

It is important to note that women-only accommodations may have varying degrees of strictness in their policies. Some places may exclusively cater to female guests, while others may allow male guests but have designated sections or facilities for women. It is recommended to do research and read reviews to find accommodations that align with your preferences and comfort level.


Whether you choose to stay in a women-only accommodation or not, it is important to prioritize your safety and well-being during your travels in Saudi Arabia. Always trust your instincts, take necessary precautions, and ensure you are aware of the local customs and cultural practices to have a memorable and enjoyable experience.


Exploring the Major Cities of Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is home to several major cities, each offering its own unique charm and attractions. Exploring these cities is an essential part of any road trip in the country, allowing you to immerse yourself in the rich history, vibrant culture, and modern developments of Saudi Arabia.


Here are some of the major cities in Saudi Arabia that you should consider visiting during your trip:

  • Riyadh: As the capital city of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh is a bustling metropolis with a perfect blend of tradition and modernity. Explore the historical Diriyah area, home to ancient palaces and fortresses, and visit the captivating National Museum. Don’t miss the iconic Kingdom Centre Tower, offering panoramic views of the city.
  • Jeddah: Known as the gateway to Mecca, Jeddah is a vibrant coastal city with a rich history and thriving arts scene. Stroll along the picturesque corniche, visit the historic district of Al-Balad with its traditional architecture, and explore the modern malls and upscale shopping areas.
  • Dammam: Situated in the Eastern Province, Dammam is a major commercial and industrial hub. Marvel at the stunning King Fahd Causeway connecting Saudi Arabia to Bahrain, relax on the beautiful beaches along the Arabian Gulf, and explore the vibrant local markets.
  • Abha: Located in the southern region of Asir, Abha offers a refreshing change of climate with its cooler temperatures and lush landscapes. Experience the authentic culture of the region at the bustling Asir National Museum, enjoy panoramic views from the Cable Car ride, and visit the colorful Asir Mountains.
  • Medina: Medina is a sacred city for Muslims, as it is home to the Prophet’s Mosque. Explore the historic Al-Masjid an-Nabawi and visit Quba Mosque, the first mosque built in Islam. Take a leisurely stroll through the beautiful Date Market and immerse yourself in the spiritual atmosphere of this sacred city.
  • Mecca: Mecca is considered the holiest city in Islam and is the ultimate pilgrimage destination for Muslims during Hajj and Umrah. Non-Muslims are typically not allowed access to the city, except during certain times of the year. Witness the magnificence of the Grand Mosque, which surrounds the Kaaba, the most sacred site in Islam.

Each city in Saudi Arabia has its own distinct characteristics and attractions, offering a diverse range of experiences. From historical and architectural wonders to scenic landscapes and spiritual sites, these cities showcase the rich cultural heritage of Saudi Arabia.


When visiting these cities, it is important to be mindful of cultural etiquette and respect local customs. Dress modestly, observe local traditions, and be aware of designated prayer times and religious practices.


Embarking on a road trip through the major cities of Saudi Arabia allows you to witness the country’s fascinating blend of tradition and progress. Explore the old and the new, the spiritual and the modern, and discover the captivating stories that make each city a unique destination within the kingdom.


Riyadh: The Capital City

Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia, is a vibrant metropolis that seamlessly blends modernity with deep-rooted traditions. As the political, financial, and cultural hub of the country, Riyadh offers visitors a diverse range of attractions and experiences.


One of the must-visit places in Riyadh is the historical neighborhood of Diriyah. Located on the outskirts of the city, Diriyah is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was once the capital of the first Saudi dynasty. Explore the maze-like streets, visit the beautifully restored mud-brick palaces and fortresses, and learn about the rich history of the region.


For a glimpse into the cultural heritage of Saudi Arabia, head to the King Abdulaziz Historical Center, which houses the National Museum. This expansive museum showcases the country’s rich heritage through interactive exhibits, archaeological artifacts, and informative displays. It is a fascinating journey through the history, culture, and natural wonders of Saudi Arabia.


Riyadh is also home to the iconic Kingdom Centre Tower, a modern architectural marvel that offers panoramic views of the city. Take an elevator ride to the observation deck and marvel at the sprawling cityscape below. The tower also houses a shopping mall, a luxury hotel, and an array of dining options, making it a multifaceted destination in itself.


For those seeking a taste of authentic Saudi Arabian culture, a visit to the traditional souks (markets) is a must. Explore Souq Al Zal, a bustling marketplace known for its vibrant atmosphere and a wide range of local products. From spices and textiles to handicrafts and traditional garments, you’ll find a treasure trove of unique items to take back as souvenirs.


Another popular attraction is the King Fahd Cultural Center, which hosts various cultural events, exhibitions, and performances. The center is a true reflection of Saudi Arabia’s commitment to preserving and promoting its cultural heritage.


As the sun sets, Riyadh comes alive with a buzzing restaurant scene offering a variety of international and local cuisines. From Arabian delicacies like Mandi and Mutabbaq to international favorites, there is something to satisfy every palate.


When visiting Riyadh, it is important to respect local customs and traditions. Dress modestly, especially when entering religious sites, and be mindful of designated prayer times. Keep in mind that Riyadh is a conservative city, so it is advisable to avoid public displays of affection and follow the local laws and regulations.


Riyadh’s modern skyscrapers, cultural heritage, and warm hospitality make it a captivating destination for travelers. Explore the juxtaposition of tradition and progress, and immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of this dynamic capital city.


Jeddah: The Coastal Metropolis

Jeddah, located on the Red Sea coast of Saudi Arabia, is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city known for its rich history, beautiful coastline, and captivating blend of cultures. As the gateway to Mecca, Jeddah attracts a diverse range of visitors from around the world.


One of the highlights of Jeddah is the historic district of Al-Balad. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a treasure trove of traditional architecture, narrow alleys, and old coral-stone houses known as “hijazi” style buildings. Stroll through the bustling souks, explore the centuries-old mosques, and admire the intricately carved wooden balconies and latticework that adorn the buildings.


The Jeddah Corniche is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. This picturesque waterfront promenade stretches for miles and offers stunning views of the Red Sea. Enjoy a leisurely walk along the corniche, take a ride on the Ferris wheel, or indulge in delicious street food from the bustling stalls and cafes along the way.


The city is also known for its vibrant arts scene, with numerous art galleries and public sculptures scattered throughout. One of the standout attractions is the King Fahd Fountain, one of the tallest fountains in the world, shooting water up to 300 meters into the air. Marvel at the spectacular display and capture stunning photographs against the backdrop of this iconic landmark.


Jeddah is also a shopper’s paradise, with a wide range of shopping options to cater to every taste. From traditional souks offering handicrafts, textiles, and spices, to modern malls featuring international brands and luxury boutiques, the city has something for everyone. The Red Sea Mall, Mall of Arabia, and Al Salam Mall are just a few of the popular destinations for shopping enthusiasts.


When it comes to food, Jeddah offers a mouthwatering array of culinary delights. From local street food such as muthabbag and falafel, to international fine dining restaurants, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Don’t miss the opportunity to sample the fresh seafood, a specialty of the coastal city.


As with any destination in Saudi Arabia, it is important to respect local customs and traditions while visiting Jeddah. Dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites, and be mindful of local laws and regulations. Jeddah is considered more liberal compared to other cities in the country, but it is still advisable to be mindful of cultural sensitivities.


Jeddah’s unique combination of history, culture, and coastal charm makes it a captivating destination. Explore the enchanting old town, soak up the sun on the beautiful beaches, savor the flavors of the local cuisine, and immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of this coastal metropolis.


Dammam: Gateway to the Eastern Province

Dammam, located on the Arabian Gulf in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, serves as the gateway to the region and offers visitors a unique blend of modernity and natural beauty. As the capital city of the Eastern Province, Dammam is a bustling hub of commerce, industry, and cultural diversity.


One of the main attractions in Dammam is the mesmerizing King Fahd Park. Spread across a vast area, the park features beautiful landscaped gardens, fountains, and recreational areas. Enjoy a relaxing stroll, have a picnic, or simply unwind in the serene environment. The park also hosts various events and exhibitions throughout the year.


The Half Moon Bay is another popular destination in Dammam, known for its crescent-shaped coastline. This stunning beach is an ideal spot for swimming, sunbathing, and enjoying water activities. During weekends and holidays, the bay is bustling with families and beachgoers looking to escape the city’s hustle and bustle.


Dammam also offers a unique opportunity to explore the rich historic and cultural heritage of the Eastern Province. The Coral Island Heritage Village, located on Tarout Island, is a reconstructed traditional Arabian village that provides a glimpse into the region’s past. Explore the ancient ruins, visit the museum, and learn about the local culture and lifestyle of the inhabitants.


The city is home to numerous modern malls and shopping centers, such as Marina Mall Dammam and Othaim Mall, offering a wide range of international and local brands. It’s the perfect place to indulge in retail therapy, enjoy delicious cuisine at the food courts, or catch a movie in one of the cineplexes.


Dammam’s proximity to the neighboring countries of Bahrain and Qatar makes it an ideal base for exploring other destinations in the region. The Bahrain Causeway connects Dammam to the nation of Bahrain, allowing travelers to easily visit attractions such as the Bahrain Fort, Bahrain National Museum, and Manama Souq.


When visiting Dammam, it’s important to adhere to local customs and traditions. Dress modestly, especially in public places, and be mindful of local laws and religious practices. Saudi Arabia’s weekend falls on Fridays and Saturdays, so plan your visit accordingly considering the city’s business and operating hours.


From its modern infrastructure and bustling markets to its beautiful beaches and cultural heritage, Dammam offers a range of experiences for visitors. Explore the city’s vibrant energy, embrace the warm hospitality of its people, and discover the treasures of the Eastern Province.


Abha: A Scenic Retreat in the South

Abha, located in the southwestern region of Asir, is a picturesque city known for its cooler climate, stunning landscapes, and rich cultural heritage. Nestled in the mountains, Abha offers a tranquil retreat from the bustling cities of Saudi Arabia and an opportunity to experience the unique beauty of the region.


One of the main attractions in Abha is the Asir National Park, a vast nature reserve boasting breathtaking mountain scenery, lush greenery, and diverse flora and fauna. Take a leisurely hike through the trails, enjoy a picnic in the midst of nature, and soak in the stunning panoramic views. The park is particularly famous for the colorful and fragrant Mountain Flowers Festival, held annually when the flowers are in full bloom.


For a glimpse into the cultural heritage of Asir, visit the Abha Palace Museum. Housed in a former royal palace, the museum showcases traditional artifacts, costumes, and historical exhibits, offering insights into the region’s rich history and traditions. Admire the intricate woodwork, learn about local customs, and appreciate the craftsmanship of Asir’s artisans.


The Habala Village is another must-visit destination in Abha. Perched on the rugged mountainside, this ancient village is known for its unique architecture and rich cultural heritage. Explore the winding alleys, marvel at the mud-brick houses adorned with colorful motifs, and interact with the friendly local residents. The village offers a glimpse into a way of life that has remained largely unchanged for centuries.


Abha is also famous for its traditional markets, known as souks. Visit the bustling Tuesday Market, where locals gather to buy and sell traditional goods such as clothes, spices, and handicrafts. Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere, bargain for souvenirs, and sample traditional cuisine from the food stalls scattered throughout the market.


The Al-Soudah Park is another gem in Abha, located at an altitude of more than 3,000 meters. This park offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, and it is a popular spot for picnics, BBQs, and hiking. Take a cable car ride to the top of the mountain for an even more breathtaking view.


When visiting Abha, it is important to note that the cultural traditions in Asir are deeply rooted. Respect local customs and traditions, dress modestly, and observe local laws regarding photography and interactions with locals.


Abha’s scenic beauty, rich cultural heritage, and cooler climate make it a unique and captivating destination. Explore the enchanting landscapes, immerse yourself in the local traditions, and experience the warm hospitality of the people of Asir.


Medina: The City of the Prophet

Medina, located in the Al Madinah Province of Saudi Arabia, holds a significant place in Islam as the city of the Prophet Muhammad. It is the second holiest city in Islam after Mecca and attracts millions of Muslims from around the world for religious pilgrimage and spiritual exploration.


The focal point of Medina is the magnificent Al-Masjid an-Nabawi, also known as the Prophet’s Mosque. This architectural masterpiece not only serves as a place of worship but also as the final resting place of the Prophet Muhammad. As a visitor, you can experience the peaceful and spiritual atmosphere within the mosque, pay your respects at the Prophet’s tomb, and take part in the daily prayers and rituals.


The Quba Mosque, the first mosque built in Islam, is another significant historical site in Medina. Pay a visit to this sacred mosque and gain insight into the early days of Islam and the importance of this holy location.


While in Medina, take a stroll through the vibrant streets of the Old City. Known as the Harat, this area is filled with narrow alleys, colorful markets, and traditional houses. Immerse yourself in the bustling atmosphere, interact with locals, and explore the wide array of shops selling handicrafts, perfume, and Islamic calligraphy.


One of the spiritual landmarks in Medina is Mount Uhud, located just outside the city. This mountain played a significant role in Islamic history and is the site of the Battle of Uhud. Visitors can hike up the mountain, visit the historic sites, and enjoy panoramic views of the city.


Non-Muslims are restricted from entering the holy sites of Medina during certain times, so it is important to plan your visit accordingly. However, visitors can still appreciate the city’s intriguing blend of history and culture from its surrounding areas and while exploring the less restricted parts of the city.


When visiting Medina, it is crucial to respect the local customs and adhere to the guidelines set by the religious authorities. Dress modestly, behave respectfully, and follow any specific rules or restrictions in the holy sites.


Medina offers a deeply spiritual experience for Muslims and a unique opportunity to connect with the history and teachings of Islam. Whether you are embarking on a religious pilgrimage or seeking to deepen your understanding of Islamic culture, a visit to Medina is an unforgettable journey of faith and reverence.


Mecca: The Holiest City in Islam

Mecca, located in the Makkah Province of Saudi Arabia, holds unparalleled significance as the holiest city in Islam. It is the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad and the spiritual epicenter of the Islamic faith. Each year, millions of Muslims undertake the pilgrimage known as Hajj, a once-in-a-lifetime journey to Mecca.


The focal point of Mecca is the Grand Mosque, known as Al-Masjid al-Haram. It encompasses the holiest site in Islam, the Kaaba, which Muslims believe was built by the Prophet Ibrahim and serves as the central focus of worship. The magnificence of the mosque’s architecture, with the towering minarets and the bustling courtyards, creates a truly awe-inspiring atmosphere.


One of the most profound experiences in Mecca is performing the Tawaf, circumambulating the Kaaba seven times as a symbolic act of devotion. Witnessing the sea of pilgrims from all walks of life, united in their faith, is a deeply moving experience that evokes a strong sense of spirituality.


The hills of Safa and Marwa, located adjacent to the Grand Mosque, hold historical and religious significance. Pilgrims retrace the steps of Hajar, the wife of the Prophet Ibrahim, as part of the Sa‘i ritual, running between the two hills in commemoration of her search for water for her son Isma’il.


Jabal al-Nour, meaning the Mountain of Light, is another notable landmark in Mecca. It is the site of the Hira cave, where the Prophet Muhammad received the first revelation of the Quran from the Angel Gabriel. Many pilgrims ascend the mountain to reach the cave and reflect on the profound spiritual experience that occurred there.


Non-Muslims are generally not permitted to enter Mecca, as it is a sacred city exclusively for those performing the Hajj pilgrimage or the Umrah, a lesser pilgrimage. However, the external views of the Grand Mosque and the surrounding areas are still awe-inspiring for visitors who are not of the Islamic faith.


When visiting Mecca, it is crucial to respect the sanctity of the city and adhere to the rules and regulations set forth by the Saudi government and Islamic authorities. It is also important to be prepared for the large crowds and rigorous security measures that are in place during the pilgrimage season.


Mecca is not only a physical destination but also a deeply spiritual experience for Muslims worldwide. It represents the unity of the global Muslim community and the devotion and reverence that millions of believers have towards their faith. An encounter with the timeless rituals, the outpouring of devotion, and the profound spirituality of Mecca is an experience that stays with pilgrims for a lifetime.


Cultural Etiquette and Customs to Keep in Mind

When visiting Saudi Arabia, it is important to be aware of the local customs and cultural etiquette in order to show respect and have a positive interaction with the local people. Here are some key cultural etiquettes and customs to keep in mind:

  • Dress modestly: Saudi Arabia is a conservative country, and both men and women are expected to dress modestly. Women should wear loose-fitting clothing that covers their shoulders and knees, while men should avoid wearing shorts or sleeveless shirts in public.
  • Respect Islamic customs: Saudi Arabia adheres to Islamic principles, and it is important to respect and observe Islamic customs. For example, during the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset, and it is considered polite to refrain from eating, drinking, or smoking in public during this time.
  • Respect for Islamic sites: Saudi Arabia is home to numerous important Islamic sites, such as the Grand Mosque in Mecca and the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina. When visiting these places, show respect by dressing modestly, speaking softly, and following the rules and regulations outlined by the authorities.
  • Greetings: When greeting locals, it is customary to exchange greetings such as “As-salamu alaykum” (peace be upon you). Use this greeting to show respect and initiate a friendly interaction.
  • Dining etiquette: In Saudi Arabian culture, it is common to eat with the right hand, as the left hand is considered impure. If dining with locals, follow their lead when it comes to food customs, such as removing your shoes when entering a home and accepting food or drinks with your right hand.
  • Gender segregation: In public spaces, there may be gender segregation, such as separate seating areas or lines for men and women. Respect these divisions and follow the guidelines set forth by the authorities.
  • Photography: Always ask for permission before taking photographs of people, especially women, as it is culturally sensitive. In some cases, photography may be restricted in certain areas, such as near military installations or government buildings.
  • Alcohol and drugs: The consumption and possession of alcohol and drugs are strictly prohibited in Saudi Arabia. It is essential to respect these laws and avoid any illegal substances during your visit.

Remember, Saudi Arabia is a diverse country with a rich cultural heritage, and the local people appreciate visitors who show respect for their customs and traditions. By demonstrating cultural sensitivity and following the local etiquette, you can create positive connections and enjoy a fulfilling and memorable experience in this wonderful country.


Experiencing Saudi Arabian Cuisine

Saudi Arabian cuisine is a true delight for food enthusiasts, offering a rich and diverse culinary experience. Influenced by the country’s history, geography, and Islamic heritage, the cuisine reflects a fusion of traditional Arabian flavors and international influences.


One of the most iconic dishes in Saudi Arabian cuisine is Kabsa. This flavorful rice dish is typically made with long-grain basmati rice, meat (usually chicken, lamb, or goat), and a medley of aromatic spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, and saffron. The meat and rice are slow-cooked together, resulting in a beautifully fragrant and delicious one-pot meal.


Mandi is another popular traditional dish that originated in Yemen but has become a staple in Saudi Arabian cuisine. It consists of tender, slow-cooked meat (often chicken or lamb) served over a bed of fragrant spiced rice. The smoky flavors and tender texture make Mandi a favorite among locals and visitors alike.


Mutabbaq is a savory pastry that you must try during your culinary journey in Saudi Arabia. It is often filled with a mixture of minced meat, onions, and spices, and then folded and fried until golden and crispy. Mutabbaq is a popular street food snack, perfect for on-the-go eating.


Saudi Arabia is also known for its rich coffee culture. Traditionally, Arabic coffee, or Qahwah, is served in small cups as a gesture of hospitality. The coffee is flavored with cardamom and has a distinct, aromatic taste. Enjoy sipping on this traditional beverage while relishing the warm hospitality of the locals.


When it comes to sweets, don’t miss out on trying Saudi Arabian pastries such as Kunafa and Qursan. Kunafa is a sweet and gooey pastry made with thin layers of shredded pastry, filled with cheese or cream, and soaked in a sugary syrup. Qursan, on the other hand, is a delicious bite-sized pastry filled with dates or nuts, perfect for satisfying your sweet tooth.


Throughout Saudi Arabia, you will find a variety of local food establishments offering delicious and authentic cuisine. From upscale restaurants to bustling street food stalls, the country has a wide range of dining options to suit every taste and budget.


It’s worth noting that Saudi Arabian cuisine is generally rich and flavorful, with spices playing a key role in many dishes. If you prefer milder flavors, don’t hesitate to ask for your dish to be prepared with less spice. Rest assured, Saudi Arabian cuisine offers a diverse range of flavors and aromas that will tantalize your taste buds.


Embrace the culinary journey through Saudi Arabian cuisine, savoring the unique flavors, and discovering the cultural influences that have shaped these delightful dishes. Whether you are enjoying traditional delicacies or exploring modern interpretations, Saudi Arabian cuisine is sure to leave you with a memorable and satisfying gastronomic experience.


Engaging in Outdoor Activities and Adventures

Saudi Arabia is a treasure trove of natural wonders and offers a wide range of outdoor activities and adventures for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers. The diverse landscapes, from sprawling deserts to majestic mountains and turquoise coastlines, provide a playground for outdoor exploration. Here are a few must-try activities:


Embark on a desert safari in the breathtaking Rub’ al Khali (Empty Quarter), the largest continuous sand desert in the world. Hop on a 4×4 vehicle and let an experienced guide take you on an exhilarating ride over the golden sand dunes, experience the thrill of sandboarding, and enjoy a traditional Bedouin-style campfire under the starry night sky.


For hiking enthusiasts, the Asir Mountains in the southern region offer stunning trails and panoramic vistas. Take a trek through the verdant valleys and terraced fields, surrounded by breathtaking cliffs and waterfalls. The Al-Soudah Park in Abha is a perfect starting point for exploring this majestic mountain range.


Explore the hidden treasures of the Red Sea by taking part in diving and snorkeling adventures. The coastal cities of Jeddah and Yanbu offer access to pristine coral reefs teeming with vibrant marine life. Dive into the crystal-clear waters and discover a vibrant underwater world filled with colorful coral formations, tropical fish, and even the opportunity to swim alongside dolphins and turtles.


Thrill-seekers can indulge in adrenaline-pumping activities such as rock climbing and paragliding. The towering cliffs of Wadi Rumah in the Asir region provide a challenging yet rewarding rock climbing experience, while the Al Salam Park in Jeddah is a popular destination for paragliding, offering breathtaking aerial views of the city and the Red Sea.


If you’re a fan of outdoor camping, Saudi Arabia has numerous camping spots that allow you to immerse yourself in nature. From beachfront camping under the starlit sky to desert camping in the tranquility of the dunes, camping in Saudi Arabia offers a unique opportunity to connect with the natural surroundings and enjoy the serenity.


For those seeking a unique outdoor adventure, consider a visit to the Farasan Islands, located in the Red Sea. Experience the pristine beaches, explore the diverse marine life, and go snorkeling or diving in these picturesque islands which are also home to important wildlife sanctuaries.


Before embarking on any outdoor adventure, ensure you have the necessary permits, licenses, and equipment. It is also important to adhere to safety guidelines and instructions provided by experienced guides. Respect the natural environment by leaving no trace and preserving the beauty of these outdoor spaces for future generations.


Saudi Arabia offers a multitude of outdoor activities and adventures, allowing you to connect with nature, experience thrilling moments, and create lasting memories. From desert escapades to diving in the Red Sea, seize the opportunity to explore the remarkable landscapes and engage in unforgettable experiences in the great outdoors.


Shopping in Saudi Arabia: Souks and Modern Malls

Saudi Arabia is a shopper’s paradise, offering a diverse range of shopping experiences that cater to every taste and budget. Whether you’re looking for traditional handicrafts or high-end international brands, Saudi Arabia has it all. Here’s a glimpse into the unique shopping scene in the country:


Exploring the traditional souks, or markets, is an essential part of the shopping experience in Saudi Arabia. These bustling bazaars are a treasure trove of Arabian delights, where you can find traditional handicrafts, spices, textiles, jewelry, and aromatic perfumes. Souq Al Zal in Riyadh and Souq Al Zubeiry in Jeddah are renowned for their vibrant atmosphere and array of local products.


The traditional markets also offer a chance to hone your bargaining skills. Don’t be afraid to negotiate the price with the vendors, as it is a common practice in these markets. Remember to approach it with a friendly attitude and enjoy the lively banter that comes with the art of haggling.


For a more modern shopping experience, Saudi Arabia boasts a plethora of modern malls that rival those found in the world’s major cities. From luxury brands to international retailers, these malls are a shopper’s paradise. The Red Sea Mall in Jeddah, Al Nakheel Mall in Riyadh, and Mall of Dhahran in Dammam are just a few examples of the sprawling shopping complexes that offer a complete retail experience.


Not only do these malls offer a wide range of fashion and lifestyle brands, but they also boast entertainment options such as cinemas, amusement parks, and food courts that cater to various culinary preferences. The food courts in Saudi Arabian malls offer a diverse range of cuisines, allowing you to savor local delicacies as well as international flavors.


In addition to traditional souks and modern malls, Saudi Arabia is known for its gold and jewelry shops. Gold has a special place in Saudi Arabian culture, and gold souks in cities like Riyadh and Jeddah offer an impressive selection of intricately crafted jewelry pieces. Whether you are looking for ornate necklaces, intricately designed bracelets, or stunning rings, you are sure to find something that catches your eye.


When shopping in Saudi Arabia, it’s worth noting that many stores close for prayer times, so it’s important to plan your visit accordingly. Additionally, during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, store hours may be adjusted to accommodate fasting. It’s always a good idea to check the opening and closing times of the stores you plan to visit in order to make the most of your shopping experience.


Whether you choose to explore the traditional souks or indulge in the modern malls, shopping in Saudi Arabia offers a diverse and exciting experience. From unique local crafts and traditional goods to international brands and luxury items, you’ll find something to suit every taste and style.


Getting Around the Kingdom

Getting around Saudi Arabia is relatively easy, thanks to a well-developed transportation network that connects major cities and attractions across the kingdom. Here are some popular modes of transportation for navigating the vast expanse of Saudi Arabia:

  • Air Travel: Domestic flights are an efficient option for covering long distances within the country. Saudi Arabia has several airports, including King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, and King Fahd International Airport in Dammam. Domestic airlines offer regular flights to various destinations across the kingdom.
  • Road Trips: Road trips are a popular choice for exploring Saudi Arabia, allowing you to experience the diverse landscapes at your own pace. The country has a well-maintained network of highways connecting major cities and regions. Renting a car is convenient and offers flexibility, but it is important to be familiar with local traffic rules and regulations.
  • Taxis and Ride-Hailing Services: Taxis are widely available in Saudi Arabia, especially in urban areas. You can easily hail taxis on the street, and many cities also have designated taxi stands. Alternatively, ride-hailing services like Uber and Careem are gaining popularity and can be a convenient and reliable means of transportation.
  • Public Buses: Local and regional buses operate in Saudi Arabia, providing an affordable option for traveling between cities and towns. Different operators run bus services, and the frequency and routes may vary. It is advisable to check the schedules and plan your journey in advance.
  • Trains: Saudi Arabia has a growing railway network, with the Haramain High-Speed Railway being a major highlight. This modern rail service connects Mecca, Medina, Jeddah, and the King Abdullah Economic City, offering a convenient and comfortable means of travel between these destinations.

It is important to note that Saudi Arabia has strict laws regarding driving and road safety. Always ensure that you have the necessary documents, including a valid driver’s license and insurance. Observe speed limits, buckle up, and avoid drinking and driving.


When using taxis or ride-hailing services, it is advisable to confirm the fare or use the meter to avoid any disputes. For longer journeys, negotiate the fare in advance if the taxi does not have a meter.


In addition, it’s important to consider local customs and cultural sensitivities. Dress modestly and behave respectfully while using public transportation, and be aware of designated prayer times as some services may pause during these periods.


With a variety of transportation options available, getting around Saudi Arabia is convenient and accessible. Choose the mode of transportation that best suits your needs and preferences, and embark on a journey to explore the vast beauty and rich cultural heritage of the kingdom.


Tips for Female Solo Travelers

Traveling solo as a female can be an empowering and transformative experience. If you’re considering embarking on a solo adventure in Saudi Arabia, here are some valuable tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey:

  • Research your destination: Prior to your trip, research your destination thoroughly. Understand the local customs, laws, and cultural practices to ensure you are well-prepared and can navigate the country with ease.
  • Dress modestly and respectfully: Saudi Arabia has a conservative culture, and it is important to dress modestly, especially in public places. Wearing loose-fitting clothing that covers the shoulders and knees is recommended. Carry a scarf or shawl to cover your head when entering religious sites.
  • Be aware of your surroundings: Stay vigilant and be aware of your surroundings at all times. Avoid isolated areas, particularly at night, and trust your instincts if a situation feels uncomfortable or unsafe.
  • Stay connected: Ensure you have a reliable means of communication, such as a local SIM card or internet access, to stay connected with friends, family, or local authorities if needed.
  • Register with your embassy or consulate: Register with your embassy or consulate upon arrival in Saudi Arabia. This allows them to reach out to you and provide assistance in case of an emergency or unexpected situation.
  • Avoid sharing personal information: Be cautious about sharing personal information with strangers, including details about your accommodation, travel plans, or personal documents. Keep important documents, such as your passport and identification, secure at all times.
  • Utilize women-only spaces and accommodations: Take advantage of women-only spaces and accommodations available in Saudi Arabia. These provide a sense of security and comfort for female travelers, particularly those who prefer a more female-focused environment.
  • Trust your instincts: It is essential to trust your instincts and listen to your gut feelings. If a situation or person feels unsafe or uncomfortable, remove yourself from it and seek assistance if necessary.
  • Connect with other female travelers: Consider connecting with other female travelers or joining organized tours. This can provide an additional layer of safety and the opportunity to meet like-minded individuals who share similar travel experiences.
  • Learn basic Arabic phrases: Learning a few basic Arabic phrases can be incredibly useful for communication and showing respect to the local culture. Simple greetings and polite phrases go a long way in establishing connections with locals.

Remember, solo travel in Saudi Arabia can be a rewarding and enriching experience. By following these tips and using common sense, you can make the most of your journey, embrace new experiences, and create lifelong memories in the kingdom.



Embarking on a road trip through Saudi Arabia offers a unique and unforgettable experience for travelers, particularly for those seeking to explore the country’s rich history, vibrant culture, and diverse landscapes. As a female traveler, it’s important to be aware of the unique considerations and opportunities available to you.


From the bustling cities of Riyadh and Jeddah to the serene retreats of Abha and the spiritual greatness of Medina and Mecca, Saudi Arabia has a wide array of attractions to suit every interest. Adhering to the dress code, respecting local customs, and staying informed about safety guidelines are essential for smooth and enjoyable travels.


Whether you’re navigating the souks, indulging in authentic Saudi Arabian cuisine, or engaging in outdoor adventures, be open to immersing yourself in the beauty and diversity of this remarkable country. Saudi Arabia’s recent cultural and social reforms have made it more accessible and welcoming for female travelers, providing an opportunity to witness the captivating blend of tradition and progress.


As you embark on your road trip, remember to appreciate the warm hospitality of the Saudi people, connect with other travelers, and embrace the chance to learn about the country’s rich history and fascinating culture. By following these insights and integrating them into your travel plans, you will create lasting memories and contribute to the positive growth of both your understanding of Saudi Arabia and its perception in the world.


So fasten your seatbelt, set out on your journey, and be prepared to fall in love with the majestic landscapes, the enchanting history, and the diverse tapestry of culture that Saudi Arabia has to offer. Get ready for an experience filled with adventure, discovery, and personal growth as you explore the wonders of the kingdom. Saudi Arabia is waiting to welcome you with open arms, offering an extraordinary and unforgettable road trip experience.