Getting Around Saudi Arabia
Flying between Saudi Arabia's main and regional airports is a fast and inexpensive way to get around. Domestic carriers include Saudia (www.saudia.com), Flynas (www.flynas.com), Flyadeal (www.flynas.com) and Saudi Gulf Airlines.
Intrepid adventurers will love driving through the vast deserts in Saudi Arabia while other drivers may prefer to cruise between cities. A good recommendation is to drive along the Red Sea coast from Abha in the south to Tabuk in the north, passing through ancient villages such as Al Habala, Zee Ain, Al Balad, AlUla, Hegra, and Dadan. This stretch of road is part of the incredible Incense Route that connected southern Arabia to the Mediterranean at a time when the Arabian frankincense and myrrh were much sought after.
Side of the roadRight
The road network in Saudi Arabia is constantly being upgraded and expanded upon, and many roads are of excellent quality. The maintenance works deserve a shoutout. Given that extreme temperature fluctuations can cause damage to the roads, the road-surfacing engineers in Saudi Arabia rely on high-quality materials to ensure smoothness.
Roads are divided into three categories:
• Main roads connect large cities in different regions; they start with a single or double digits, like 5 or 10.
• Secondary roads connect smaller cities with the main road networks; they start with three digits, like 135.
• Sub-roads connect villages; they start with four digits, like 1370.
Car hire companies are widely available at airports and in most cities across Saudi Arabia. Some rental companies require the customer to be at least 25 years old or may impose a surcharge.
Metered taxis are available in all major cities. Taxi drivers are professional and while most of them speak good English, it doesn't hurt to have your destination written out in Arabic, together with the name of a nearby landmark.
SAPTCO (www.saptco.com.sa), the national bus company, runs coaches between cities and towns across the Kingdom. It also provides transport services to five neighbouring countries, namely Egypt, UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Yemen. All buses are clean and tickets are affordable. Passengers are advised to book online.
On highways, the speed limit is 120-140kph (75-87mph). Within the city the speed limit varies but most of the time is 50kph (31mph).
Beware that non-Muslims cannot enter the Holy City of Makkah (Mecca) and the Prophet's Mosque in Medina.
Emergency numbers include 999 (police), 997 (ambulance), 993 (traffic accidents), 998 (civil defence), 996 (highway patrol), 994 (border guard).
Call your car rental company.
The car hire companies require a valid national driving licence. If your licence isn't printed in the Latin or Roman alphabet, then you must produce an international driving licence.
Buses and taxis are abundant in Riyadh and Jeddah.
Saudi Railways Organization (SRO) runs the train service between Riyadh and Dammam, passing through Abqaiq and Hofuf.
Saudi Railway Company (SAR) operates the service between Riyadh and Hail, passing through Al Majmaah and Qassim.
On the western part of Saudi, the Haramain High-Speed Railway whisks passengers between the holy cities of Makkah and Medina, passing through Jeddah, King Abdulaziz International Airport (Jeddah) and King Abdullah Economic City.