4.4.22

Saudi Arabia: The Ultimate Travel Guide

 


27th country I've visited that has left me speechless in the best way possible, making me want to go back to see more.
Saudi is the 27th country I’ve visited. Every country I’ve gone to is touristy & commercial in one way or the other. This was different… it’s only been opened for tourism for a few years.. it was untouched, unknown and surprising in the best ways possible. My lack of research made it that much more exciting, I didn’t know what to expect. 


This trip was not my first time in Middle East, I've gone to Dubai, Qatar and Abu Dhabi to name a few and while Saudi Arabia was always on my bucket list I have been hesitant going since I didn't know anyone else that has gone. To my biggest surprise around New Year's eve of 2021 I found out my aunt from Lithuania was going to a car show in Saudi Arabia which made me much more comfortable knowing there are tourists already going and exploring the country. I knew once she'd come back and I would hear about the trip through my mom I would feel more comfortable too. The reason why I am sharing this more personal reason of mine is because that is when I realized I am not comfortable exploring unknown places and that is the problem. We will never learn anything new, explore something first if all we do is follow other people's footsteps and go to visit countries where everyone goes. There are so many countries in the world that are ready for tourism but yet all many people do is go to the most commercial countries over and over and over again. Of course, there is nothing wrong with that if that is what they're comfortable with but it is extremely important to acknowledge that yourself and try to step out of your own comfort zone -- you never know where it'll take you or what that experience will teach you. 


In case you did not know Saudi Arabia is the largest country in Middle East by area, which means there is more than enough to see and explore. Me being there for less than a week felt short and rushed. While my blog is known for travels like weekend in Poland, Philippines for a few days and 48 hrs in London this country needs more than two weeks to be spent there. The group I went with has done all the work and came up with the best itinerary which I will share in this blog post making it easy for you to just look up the flights, hop on a plane and go experience it your own! 


S T A Y  
I believe Riyadh is a must-see since it is the capital of Saudi Arabia and that is where you fill fly into once you go to Saudi Arabia. 1 night and 2 full days will be more than enough to visit a few spots I have mentioned under " VISIT " part below. However, Alula which is an hour flight from Riyadh offers a lot to see and requires at least 5 days there so that you are not rushing and getting the full experience by seeing all the landmarks. 
Hotels: Hilton in Riyadh. Habitas hotel in Alula. Even though Habitas may seem quite a bit expensive, it is absolutely worth it, don't believe me? google it, it'll blow your mind on how beautiful the entire property is, which is centrally located in Alula making it easy to see all the landmarks mentioned below under "VISIT". 

F O O D 
The restaurants in both Alula and Riyadh offer a large variety of items to pick from based on what you are craving. Anything from sushi to Middle Eastern food is available. 

Restaurants in Riyadh: Off White [great for brunch, located inside of outdoor shopping mall], Najd village restaurant [offers local Middle Eastern food where you fully get the experience by removing your shoes and eating on the floor with food being served at low level], Miyazu [modern Japanese classics served at a lounge-like environment, great for dinner], Sum + Things [great for brunch, serves anything and everything you may crave whether it's a pizza, caesar salad or authentic Middle eastern meal. It is located inside of a very cute place that also sells unique items you may want to buy to bring back home].

Restaurants in Alula: Somewhere [lounge-like restaurant, great for dinner, serves modern Mediterranean food], Merkaz [great for lunch, located in the Old Town which is great if you want to grab a quick bite while exploring the area], AlfaOne Retreat [great for dinner, gives off great Tulum-like boho vibes].


V I S I T 

Alula: Rainbow rock, Elephant rock, Desert X, The Old Town, Harrat, Maraya. 

Riyadh: Sky Bridge, The Boulevard, Red sand dunes or you may contact The Traveling Panther to book their sunrise desert experience.

F Y I  

Dress code: Covering your shoulders, not showing your belly and covering your knees is expected out of respect for the country you are visiting. As everywhere else you may travel you go there to see their traditions, country and culture so it is only natural to dress and respect the place you are visiting by dressing appropriately. 

Items not to pack: crop tops, shorts, skirts that don't cover your knees. 
Items to pack: cover ups (I brought a few beach cover ups and they were great to cover shoulders especially when it does get cold early am and at night), wide leg pants/trousers, maxi skirts, turbans & hats are great to hide from strong sun and fun for photos! 

Getting around: Uber is available and the app works well if you want to get around the city of Riyadh, if you are in Alula I highly recommend hiring a driver or renting a car yourself. However the streets by major landmarks might not have marks on where to enter or how to find it and by having a local driver you might get around quicker, be able to explore more, help tourism and make some new local friends! 


Special thank you to VisitSaudi and their team & some of the most talented creators that helped capture this beautiful country: Fabio Zingg, Demas Rusli & Lizzie Peirce

1 comment:

  1. I’ve always wanted to travel to Saudi Arabia but I was scarred. After reading your blog post I’m ready to try it. You never know what your going to experience. Love your posts .

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