Backpacking in Saudi Arabia

Backpacking in Saudi Arabia is an adventure that has gained significant popularity in recent years. As the largest country in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia is known for its rich cultural heritage, stunning landscapes, and historical sites. Backpackers flock to this destination to explore its hidden gems and experience the local culture firsthand.

One attention-grabbing fact about backpacking in Saudi Arabia is the country’s new tourist visa program. In September 2019, Saudi Arabia opened its doors to international tourists, allowing them to explore the country independently. This change has revolutionized the way backpackers can experience the wonders of Saudi Arabia and has contributed to the growth of backpacking tourism in the region.

To understand the significance of backpacking in Saudi Arabia, it is important to delve into its history. Traditionally, Saudi Arabia has been a less-accessible destination for international tourists. However, with recent government initiatives aimed at diversifying the economy and promoting tourism, the country has been actively working to increase its appeal as a tourist destination. Backpacking in Saudi Arabia has become a way for travelers to explore beyond the well-trodden path and discover the untouched beauty of the Arabian Peninsula.

One compelling statistic associated with backpacking in Saudi Arabia is the rapid growth of the tourism sector. According to the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, the number of foreign visitors to the country increased by 13% in 2019, following the opening of its tourist visa program. This indicates a growing interest in backpacking opportunities and highlights the country’s potential as a backpacking destination.

Exploring Saudi Arabia as a backpacker offers a unique experience that blends history, nature, and cultural immersion. From exploring the ancient Nabatean ruins of Al-Ula to hiking through the breathtaking landscapes of the Asir Mountains, backpackers have the chance to witness the country’s diverse and awe-inspiring beauty. Additionally, backpacking in Saudi Arabia provides an opportunity to interact with the friendly locals, taste delicious Arabian cuisine, and gain insight into Saudi Arabia’s rich heritage and traditions.

In conclusion, backpacking in Saudi Arabia has gained momentum in recent years due to the country’s new tourist visa program and efforts to promote tourism. The historical significance, natural beauty, and cultural immersion opportunities make Saudi Arabia an appealing destination for backpackers. As the country continues to open up to international travelers, more adventurers are seeking to discover the hidden treasures that lie within the heart of the Arabian Peninsula.

Backpacking in Saudi Arabia
Backpacking in Saudi Arabia

Is Backpacking in Saudi Arabia Worth It? Discover the Untapped Beauty of the Arabian Peninsula

Backpacking in Saudi Arabia refers to the activity of traveling on a budget, often independently, to explore the vast and captivating landscapes of the Arabian Peninsula. This exciting adventure allows travelers to immerse themselves in the rich heritage, unique cultural experiences, and awe-inspiring natural wonders that this historically significant region has to offer. From ancient ruins and stunning deserts to bustling cities and serene coastlines, Saudi Arabia has plenty to offer avid backpackers seeking an off-the-beaten-path experience. In the following article, we will delve into the various advantages, must-visit destinations, and essential tips for backpacking in Saudi Arabia, providing you with all the information you need to embark on this remarkable journey.

Backpacking in Saudi Arabia

If you are an avid backpacker and love exploring off the beaten path destinations, Saudi Arabia might just be the perfect fit for you. With its rich history, breathtaking landscapes, and unique cultural experiences, backpacking in Saudi Arabia offers a truly unforgettable adventure. Here is everything you need to know about backpacking in this Middle Eastern gem.

Visa Requirements for Backpackers

Before you embark on your backpacking journey in Saudi Arabia, it’s important to ensure you have the necessary visa. In the past, obtaining a tourist visa for Saudi Arabia was quite challenging, but the country has recently opened up to international tourists. Now, travelers from various countries can apply for an e-visa or visa on arrival, making it much easier for backpackers to explore the country.

Must-Visit Destinations

Saudi Arabia boasts an array of stunning destinations that should not be missed during your backpacking adventure.

  • Riyadh: The capital city of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh, is a bustling metropolis blending modernity with traditional Arabic charm. Explore historical sites such as the Masmak Fortress and immerse yourself in the local markets and authentic Arabian cuisine.
  • Jeddah: Known as the “Bride of the Red Sea,” Jeddah is a vibrant coastal city with a rich heritage. Wander through the enchanting UNESCO World Heritage Site of Al-Balad, visit the iconic King Fahd Fountain, and indulge in delicious seafood.
  • Medina: As one of the holiest cities in Islam, Medina attracts millions of pilgrims every year. Visit the Prophet’s Mosque, Al-Masjid an-Nabawi, and soak in the spiritual atmosphere of this sacred place.
  • Asir Mountains: For nature lovers, a visit to the Asir Mountains is a must. Trek through lush green valleys, hike to breathtaking viewpoints, and discover the unique culture of the local tribes.
  • AlUla: AlUla is home to the remarkable UNESCO World Heritage Site of Madain Saleh (Al-Hijr). Explore the ancient Nabatean tombs and rock formations that rival those of Petra in Jordan.

Traveling Around Saudi Arabia

Getting around Saudi Arabia as a backpacker is relatively easy. The country has a well-developed transportation system that connects major cities and popular tourist destinations.

Public buses are a cost-effective way to travel between cities, and there are also private bus services available. Domestic flights are another convenient option, especially if you want to cover long distances quickly.

For shorter journeys within cities, ride-hailing apps such as Uber and local app Careem are widely available.

Accommodation Options

Backpackers in Saudi Arabia can choose from a range of accommodation options to suit their budget and preferences. Hostels and budget hotels are available in major cities like Riyadh, Jeddah, and Medina.

Camping is a popular choice for outdoor enthusiasts, with many scenic spots offering designated camping areas. Just make sure to obtain the necessary permits and follow the local regulations.

Safety and Cultural Etiquette

Saudi Arabia has a conservative culture, and it’s essential for backpackers to respect local customs and traditions. Dress modestly, especially in public places, and be mindful of local sensitivities.

While the country is generally safe for travelers, it’s always advisable to take necessary precautions. Stay updated on travel advisories, carry a copy of important documents, and be cautious of your surroundings.

Backpacking in Saudi Arabia: An Up-and-Coming Destination

As Saudi Arabia steadily opens its doors to international travelers, backpacking in the country is becoming increasingly popular. From exploring ancient historical sites to immersing oneself in the vibrant local culture, Saudi Arabia offers a unique and enriching backpacking experience.

So, if you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path adventure, consider backpacking in Saudi Arabia. You won’t be disappointed!

Statistic: According to the Saudi Arabian General Authority for Statistics, the number of international tourist arrivals in Saudi Arabia reached 17 million in 2019.

FAQs – Backpacking in Saudi Arabia

  1. Is backpacking popular in Saudi Arabia?

    Yes, backpacking is becoming increasingly popular in Saudi Arabia, with a growing number of tourists choosing this mode of travel to explore the country’s rich culture, history, and natural wonders.

  2. What are the best backpacking destinations in Saudi Arabia?

    Saudi Arabia offers several incredible backpacking destinations. Some popular ones include Riyadh, Jeddah, Al-Khobar, Abha, Taif, Najran, and the stunning natural landscapes of Asir Region and the Empty Quarter.

  3. Is it safe to backpack in Saudi Arabia?

    Saudi Arabia is generally safe for backpackers. The government has put significant efforts into ensuring the safety and security of tourists. However, it is always advised to stay informed about local customs, guidelines, and any specific safety recommendations.

  4. What should I pack for backpacking in Saudi Arabia?

    Essential items to pack for backpacking in Saudi Arabia include lightweight clothing suitable for the region’s conservative culture, comfortable footwear, sunscreen, a hat, a reusable water bottle, a travel adapter, a first-aid kit, and any necessary medications.

  5. Do I need a visa to backpack in Saudi Arabia?

    Yes, most visitors to Saudi Arabia require a visa. Tourist visas can be obtained online or upon arrival for eligible nationalities. It is recommended to check the specific visa requirements and procedures before planning your trip.

  6. How can I travel between cities while backpacking in Saudi Arabia?

    Saudi Arabia has an extensive transportation network, including buses, trains, and domestic flights. Buses are a popular and affordable option for backpackers, connecting major cities and tourist destinations. Ride-sharing services and taxis are also available in urban areas.

  7. What are some unique experiences for backpackers in Saudi Arabia?

    Backpackers in Saudi Arabia can enjoy a variety of unique experiences such as exploring ancient historical sites like Mada’in Saleh, hiking in the magnificent mountains of Asir, camping in the stunning lunar landscapes of Harrat Khaybar, and immersing themselves in the local culture and hospitality.

  8. What is the best time to go backpacking in Saudi Arabia?

    The best time to go backpacking in Saudi Arabia is during the cooler months between October and April. This period offers more comfortable temperatures for outdoor activities, although it may vary depending on the specific region you plan to visit.

  9. Can I use my credit/debit cards while backpacking in Saudi Arabia?

    Yes, most hotels, larger restaurants, and retail establishments in Saudi Arabia accept major credit and debit cards. However, it is recommended to carry some cash in smaller denominations for smaller shops and markets, as cashless payment options might not be widely available.

  10. Are there affordable accommodation options for backpackers in Saudi Arabia?

    Yes, Saudi Arabia offers various accommodation options for backpackers, including budget hotels, hostels, guesthouses, and even camping opportunities in designated areas. It is advisable to research and book in advance, especially during peak travel seasons.


In conclusion, backpacking in Saudi Arabia offers an incredible opportunity to explore a land of rich traditions, breathtaking landscapes, and diverse cultural experiences. Throughout this article, we have highlighted the numerous attractions and activities that make Saudi Arabia a must-visit destination for adventurous backpackers.

Firstly, we discussed the country’s stunning natural wonders, such as the mesmerizing Red Sea coastline and the vast expanses of the Empty Quarter desert. These unique landscapes provide endless opportunities for hiking, snorkeling, and camping, allowing backpackers to immerse themselves in the beauty of Saudi Arabia’s untouched wilderness.

Furthermore, we explored the country’s vibrant cultural heritage, including its ancient archaeological sites, traditional souks, and captivating festivals. From the historical marvels of Al Ula and Madain Saleh to the lively streets of Jeddah and Riyadh, backpackers will have the chance to witness the blend of past and present that characterizes Saudi Arabian culture.

Moreover, we highlighted the warm hospitality and openness of the Saudi people, who are increasingly welcoming and accommodating towards tourists. The recent changes in Saudi Arabian tourism regulations have made it easier for backpackers to visit, with the introduction of the e-visa system and the development of tourist-friendly infrastructure.

Overall, backpacking in Saudi Arabia promises a unique and unforgettable experience. With its diverse landscapes, rich culture, and welcoming locals, this often overlooked destination deserves a spot on every adventurous traveler’s bucket list. So, pack your backpack and embark on an unforgettable journey through Saudi Arabia’s hidden treasures.

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