You’ve set your sights on visiting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and are just about ready to jet off to the exciting Middle Eastern country. But if you have questions on what to do when you get there, how to get to Saudi Arabia, how to get around and what currency you need to pick up ahead of your visit, here’s everything you need to know about visiting KSA in 2020.
Thanks to Saudi Arabia’s recently implemented eVisa system, travellers from 49 countries (and counting) around the globe can simply apply for visas online or on arrival through an affordable process to visit KSA in 2020. Since its launch, visitors from around the world can stay in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for up to 90 days, and it only takes a few minutes to complete the Saudi Arabia eVisa online. That means travellers won’t have to visit an embassy or a consulate when applying. In fact, when completed and approved, it will be sent directly to the traveller by email. Simple. Head to visa.visitsaudi.com to apply, and to find out which countries are applicable.
Once you’re in KSA in 2020, you’ll need to have the local currency to get around, shop and visit all the exciting restaurants and sights. The currency is called Saudi riyal, which currently is 1 SAR to Dhs0.98 (so, basically the same if you’re coming from the UAE) or 1 SAR to 20p in the UK, or 1 SAR to 27cents in US dollars. In most cities across Saudi Arabia you can expect use cash, cards and contactless payment, too. Some shops and smaller towns only accept cash though, so it’s always good to travel with a few riyal while spending time in KSA. You can find ATMs and cash points most places too, so don’t sweat if you run out of cash.
With a land size spanning more than two million square kilometres (it’s roughly a nine-hour drive from Riyadh to Jeddah), knowing how to get around is essential when exploring the vast cities and desert of KSA. Good thing, then, there are various modes of transport to get around. The most pocket-friendly way to get around is through the SAPTCO (Saudi Public Transport Company) bus service. The local bus network offers a wide network of inter-city routes, connecting more than 385 cities, villages and small villages all over the kingdom – trust us, wherever you are, there will be most likely be a bus station within walking distance. Not a fan of public transport? No worries, you can find the biggest ride-hailing app in the Middle East, Careem, in KSA, and it’s simple to use. Just download the app for instant car hire, and pay by card. Done. Careem currently operates across 29 cities including Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam, and it’s never been easier to get around for the kingdom’s ever-growing ride-hailers.
Saudi Arabia holds the fifth largest desert in the world, so you can definitely expect temperatures to get hot – rising above 50 degrees Celsius in summer. Of course, the country has a way of taking people out of the unbearable heat with huge indoor complexes (including the Riyadh Gallery Mall in the capital) with air-conditioned spaces. However, the weather isn’t sizzling all year round, as the winter months during from November to February boasts near-perfect temperatures – all around 20 degrees Celsius. It’s one of the prime times to journey to KSA, but nights can get chilly, so be sure to bring a few layers.
Where to start
From the rolling mountains of the Tuwaiq cliffs for the trekkers to the vast desert ripe for dune-bashing, there are loads of places to visit and start your exploration of Saudi Arabia. The capital of the country, Riyadh, is your best spot to set out from, as not only does it boast all-things touristy, from city bus tours to the largest museum in Saudi Arabia, but it’s also close to outdoor hot spots, including The Edge of the World – part of the Jebel Fihrayn mountians. The city is booming with cultural events, food festivals and old souks to explore. What more could a traveller want visiting KSA in 2020?