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Madain Saleh is accessible by car from any location in Saudi Arabia.
From Riyadh City center, Take the Buraidah/ Qassim Road north. It is about 600++ Km to Hail (about 7 hrs drive) From Hail, another 400km to the City of Al Ula.
To cut driving time, fly to and drive the rest of the way from either Madina (400 kilometers), Hail (400 kilometers), or Al Wajh (230 kilometers) to Al Ula.
Written Oct 12, 2007
Mada'in Salih is not a town or city to have any bus stations or airports. Since it's around 30 minutes away from al-Ula town, the best thing is to rent a car and get there if you're traveling on your own. Make sure to have a permission to enter the spot; it's touristic only. Otherwise, if you're coming a travel agency or a group, a couch would do fine to get through the entrance gate.
It takes 8 hours from Jeddah to Mada'in Salih,
or 4 hours from Madina,
or 2 hours and half from Khaybar.
Remember, you cannot find actual accommodation at Mada'in Salih. So you can have a tent or something to stay at. Or you just drive to al-Ula to stay at one of the two hotels. See the accommodation tip for further information.
Written Jul 2, 2005
U need a good transpotation Bus or Forwheeles car... U dont want to get stuck in the middle of the sands ;) besides it's a 5 hours trips from the Airport to the spot... u need to relax on the trip and worryless...........
Written Feb 23, 2006
The nearest town to the archaeological site of Mada'in Saleh is al-Ula, situated 20 minutes away. It is a town equipped with hotels, restaurants and other amenities necessary for a road traveller, but unfortunately no commercial airport. Thus, a long drive is necessary to reach Mada'in Saleh, from whichever direction one comes. The closest airport is that of al-Wajh on the Red Sea, only 2.5 hours away via a recently paved road that traverses the mountains, but it is a small airport, typically with one less-than-daily flight to each of the major cities in Saudi Arabia (and maybe no car hire either?). Medina's airport, by contrast, is much more convenient due to the frequent (sometimes hourly) flights to Jeddah and Riyadh, as well as international flights to major cities around the Arab world. It is how I travelled to Mada'in Saleh. Note that the airport of Medina is open to non-Moslems, who are expected to take the outer ring road around the city to avoid entering the restricted area (even though no one ever checks). Although the drive from Medina is long, some 4 hours, the road traverses amazing landscape consisting of rugged mountains, ancient lava deposits, lush green oases, sand dunes and vast plains with acacia trees. There are many petrol stations along the way and about half way is Khaybar with some restaurant options. Both Hail and Tabuk are about a 5-hour drive away, east and north of al-Ula, respectively, but like al-Wajh, they may not have frequent flights or car hire companies.
Updated Mar 7, 2011