Saudi Arabia Tours & Holidays
Small Group Tours & Tailor-Made Holidays
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The birthplace of Islam, Saudi Arabia encompasses a vast expanse of arid desert and mountains. The second largest country in the Arab world (after Algeria), it covers some 2,150,000 square kilometres and is the only nation with coastlines on both the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. Home to Mecca and Medina, the Kingdom is the spiritual caretaker of the two holiest shrines in the Islamic world, a role it takes very seriously. Staunchly traditional, the country’s citizens are required by law ...
The birthplace of Islam, Saudi Arabia encompasses a vast expanse of arid desert and mountains. The second largest country in the Arab world (after Algeria), it covers some 2,150,000 square kilometres and is the only nation with coastlines on both the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. Home to Mecca and Medina, the Kingdom is the spiritual caretaker of the two holiest shrines in the Islamic world, a role it takes very seriously. Staunchly traditional, the country’s citizens are required by law to be Muslims and it is one of the few places on earth that has a ‘religious’ police force.
But this is also a land with a vibrant cultural pedigree. Away from the glamour and glitter of its oil-rich modern cities, the country is strewn with World Heritage sites and remote mountain villages. Amongst the rock-hewn splendours of Madain Saleh you can find Nabatean treasures on a par with those at Petra, while the mud-brick ruins of Diriyah provide a fascinating insight into the origins of the Saud Dynasty. The mountains of the south-west are home to a surprising collection of traditional villages that still evoke echoes of the past, whilst the haunting ruins of Al Ula provide a chance to explore one of the most impressive ghost towns anywhere in the Middle East.
Enigmatic and intriguing, Saudi Arabia by its very nature is one of the last great adventures left to discover.
Start your journey
HIGHLIGHTS OF SAUDI ARABIA
Visit the rock-cut city of HegraDiscover the Nabatean city of Hegra, with its rock-carved buildings, built in the same style as Jordan's Petra.
The souqs of RiyadhGo for a spot of shopping and explore a colourful labyrinth of stalls and walkways making up the many souqs and bazaars of Riyadh.
Visit a volcanic craterVisit the spectacular Al Waba Crater, a dramatic volcano formation with a salt field at its centre. Here there is the option to circumnavigate part of the crater or you may opt for the more challenging steep climb down to the basin and then back up again.
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WHEN TO GO
Health and Vaccinations
There are no mandatory immunisations for travellers to Saudi Arabia though you should be up-to-date with Typhoid, Tetanus, Polio and Hepatitis A. We recommend you seek advice from your local GP or travel centre as to the correct immunisations and preventative treatments.
In Saudi Arabia the official unit of currency is the Saudi Riyal, which is subdivided into 100 halala.
To check out the latest exchange rate for the places that you are visiting you can go to www.oanda.com.
On our tours you will frequently interact with local people, each with their own distinct customs and traditions. We therefore ask you to be considerate and to treat them with respect. Your tour-leaders and guides will always be able to advise you accordingly.
Saudi society is going through some major changes at the moment so please bear in mind that any considerations raised here may alter at any time. Ultimately the Kingdom remains a deeply conservative country and is likely to be different from any other destination to which you may have travelled.
Tourism (other than for religious purposes) is a new concept for the Kingdom so come expecting enthusiastic but inexperienced levels of service. Encouragingly, in contrast to previous edicts, there are no current restrictions placed on adult women travelling solo and while it is expected that foreign visitors will dress conservatively, women will not have to wear an abaya (the long black dress covering the body from shoulders to feet) and they will not have to cover their hair.
Alcohol however is still currently forbidden and should not be brought into the country; you should also not arrive into Saudi Arabia under the influence of alcohol.
Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country in which Islamic law is strictly enforced. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend.
Public displays of affection are not considered as being consistent with local culture and traditions.
Both men and women are asked to dress modestly in public, avoiding tight fitting clothing or clothes with profane language or images. Women should cover shoulders and knees in public.
The public practice of any form of religion other than Islam is illegal including wearing religious jewellery for example a crucifix. So please be mindful of anything that may be interpreted as religious iconography.
Language & Religion
In Saudi Arabia, the major language is Arabic, although English is commonly spoken in larger cities. Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country in which Islamic law is strictly enforced and the public practice of any form of religion other than Islam is illegal.
Saudi Arabia is 3 hours ahead of GMT.
A useful website to check the time zone differences is www.worldtimezone.com.
Food and drink
Food in Saudi Arabia is full of flavour and packed with spices, dishes are often rice-based with flat breads and meats such as lamb, goat, chicken and beef.
Food can vary from region to region, but Kabsah is considered by many to be national dish. Kabsah compromises of rice, meat, vegetables and a mixture of spices. The spices can differ depending on location but cloves, cardamom, saffron and nutmeg are often used. Some varieties may be enhanced with nuts such as peanuts, almonds, pine nuts etc.
Lunch is considered the main meal of the day. Traditional dishes are preferred but in larger towns a full range of international cuisine is available. Pork and alcohol are forbidden under Islamic law.
There is a traditional and unique “coffee culture” in the Kingdom. Offering guests coffee is a display of hospitality and generosity which is very much entrenched in the culture so expect to be served Arabic coffee with nearly all your meals.
It is customary for Saudi coffee to be served from a dallah (coffee pot) in a ritualistic manner. The flavour is very distinctive due to the addition of other elements such as cardamom, cloves or saffron.