Do not be put off arriving the first time at Riyadh airport by the plethora of different signs on top of each immigration desk purportedly aimed to filter the passengers by type - trust your instincts and go for the fastest moving and shortest line.
Once past immigration, head for the staffed customs posts with big luggage X-Ray machines ensuring that you have removed water bottles beforehand; all entering liquids elicit immediate attention.
There are ATM machines/money changers at the arrivals hall - or you get cash on your way to the city asking your cab driver to stop at any drive-in ATM along the way.
Now, for taxis - avoid the few energetic drivers who will try to whisk you to town for upwards to 200 Riyals - The fare is 50 Riyals - Period - State the fare good naturedly to the driver, which the majority will accept with no fuss and get you to town safely. Bon Voyage!
In Riyadh, taxis are commonly referred to as Limos or Limousines, most common way for people to get around the city. All taxis are strictly licensed with driver's ID in the windshield, and cars must be maintained to a reasonably safe standard. So there's really no problem with disreputable or dangerous service here. Gas is cheap, drivers don't usually complain, and the attitudes of the mostly Pakistani and India drivers are generally quite friendly and helpful. Although few cars a dangerous wrecks, some cars are better maintained or newer than others, so I usually flagged one down that appeared to have good brakes, lots of A/C, and no cracks in the windshield. Taxis are everywhere, prices are cheap, and competition keen. For those on a budget though, the buses can be just as adequate and far cheaper still. Only special buses on particular routes accept women passengers, so they must take the taxi. It's safe and acceptable for women to stand on the curb and flag down a taxi in Riyadh. However, most women, expat and Saudi alike, develop a rapport with a driver they trust, and reach an agreement to have the driver waiting for regular errands. Also, it's useful to create a list of several drivers who have cell phones and who can be called upon to make a quick pick-up within a few minutes. Naturally, women who live in compounds have to make arrangements for drivers to enter past security. Women with vehicles must also have a driver, so while gas is cheap, the cost of maintaining a vehicle and driver in Riyadh can be a significant cost.
Considering the long distance separate the main towns of the Kingdom, the air travel can be the most convinient and practical means within the boarders.
Saudi arabia has three International airport:
1. King Abdul Aziz- jeddah
2. king Khaled Intl.- riyadh
3. King Fhad Intl - Dammam
The cheapest way to get around is by the minibus transport that generally starts downtown near the Holy Mosque and Main Souk and then radiates out along main boulevards to the edges of town. The drivers or passengers can speak enough English to help determine which bus to take, but the names are also written in both Arabic and Roman writing in the front window. These rusty wrecks are licensed by the city, but are generally loaded with people to the point of breaking leaf springs. Actually, it was for this reason that I rode them. I enjoyed mixing with the rank and file Saudis and Expatrates from the Asian and Arabic nations. Only men can ride these minivans though. Stand out on the curb and wave to get them to stop, but if you stand in the wrong place or the bus is too full, they won't stop. There are also a fleet of large more slow moving buses that allow women to sit in the rear seats, separated by a rail or sometimes a window pane. These stop at more specific places around the city, and don't go by very often.
It is a fact that Jiddah has one of the largest airports in the world due to Hajj(pilgrimage time),But going to Riyadh and seeing the beautiful airport they have was a real WOW.It`s very practicle and easy to raom.
The flight takes about 1.30 minutes from Jiddah to Riyadh.
There are around the hour flights.
check the link below.
.... are the best way to go around the city. Just like in any big cities of the Kingdom, you have to agree with the driver for the fare even before jumping on the taxi. Fare ranges from SR 5 to 25, depends on your destination, maybe more... but from the airport, not more than SR 50 to the city center.
For non-locals, you better take the white taxis only, unlike in Jeddah, Riyadh has many of those old yellow taxis normally driven by non-english speaking senior locals whom you'll find hard to communicate especially when you're new to the Kingdom.
Flying is the only reasonable way to get to Saudi Arabia from Europe. This said, there's not too many companies that serve the country, especially if you're going to the capital Riyadh.
This tip contains my experience with all the airlines that serve Riyadh since that's where I've been. Given that I always fly economy, that's what my judgement reflects. Business class travel may be a lot different so I don't dare judge that.
Saudia is a thing of its own. An airline that broadcasts a prayer before takeoff and has an arrow pointing to Holy Makkah in its inflight navigation screen cannot really be compared to others. But its service is ok, the food is often reasonable and it would be tolerable if they had less cramped seats and alcohol on offer.
The other airlines you're likely to travel on during your journey from Europe are Swiss, Lufthansa, Air France and Emirates.
Of these, Swiss and Emirates are the best: excellent aircraft, good legspace and, in the case of Emirates, an outstanding entertainment system with over 100 movies and games that you can use already before takeoff (genius at work here!)
Lufthansa is just ok. Their aircraft is modern (usually Airbus A340), but the food is lousy (well, German) and the service can be rude (again, German).
Air France is the absolute worst. They fly small aircraft (A319!!!) with very little if any leg space, crap food and terrible service. This also applies to business class (I was "upgraded" once - not much of an UPgrade I have to say).
Funnily enough, you're likely to get the best fares from Swiss!
Most foreigners (and many more Saudis than you'd imagine) go to either Bahrein or UAE once in a while to get a breath of fresh air and see a "normal" place for a few days: drink alcohol, see (and sometimes buy services from) women without abbaya, practice freedom of speech, this sort of stuff. There's several ways to do that.
Beware of driving as the distances are pretty long. Roads are ok, but populated with Saudi drivers (see my warnings and dangers tip). The only route you can drive in a reasonably short time is Riyadh - Bahrein, which takes 3h30' (4h30' if you stick to the speed limit, 3h if you're a Saudi).
Flying is a better option when going to all the other capitals. The routes are covered by numerous companies: Saudia (Riyadh to Bahrein, Doha and Dubai), Emirates (Riyadh to Dubai), Etihad (Riyadh to Abu Dhabi), Gulf (Riyadh to Bahrein) and Qatar (Riyadh to Doha). Fares tend to vary according to the day of the week and time of the year, but you should make it with just over a thousand riyals per person for a return fare.
All these airlines are safe, and in case of Etihad, Emirates and Qatar the aircraft is very comfy. Saudia has somewhat cramped seats, while Gulf is definitely the worst in terms of comfort. But then again, the flight is short.
No Middle Eastern airlines serve alcohol on flights to/from Riyadh (though you'll find it on European airlines).
Riyadh's King Khaled International Airport is as visually impressive as it is lousy.
The check-in counters seem to be run more or less at random, and my experience has seen me wait from 1 to 40 minutes in line.
There is no airline ticket offices, and tickets are purchased directly at the check-in counters, which adds to the confusion. The inability to hold too many people in the secured (?) check-in areas and the multiple security checks often means that queues extend all the way to the main door.
Immigration can also last up to one hour at peak time (which is around 7 pm, when most international flights seem to land - this must be a joint effort by all the too few airlines that serve the Saudi capital to inconvenience their passengers as much as they can).
When leaving, once you get to the other side of the passport queue you have absolutely nothing to do, no shops at all save for a couple of really bad kiosks and no lounges.
The only nice thing is baggage handling - luggage has almost systematically reached the belt before me on arrival.
Things get somewhat better at the Saudia terminals, but overall this airport makes for a good reason to travel to and from Riyadh only when really necessary.
Contrarily to what people think, taxis are safe and cheap in Riyadh. You'll see plenty of them in the street, usually white Toyotas or similar sedans called "limos" for some unexplained reason.
The only problem with taxis is that it may be hard to tell the drivers (usually from Pakistan or Bangladesh) where you're going unless it's a well-known place. Having it written in arabic does not always help.
In that case be prepared to ring someone who speaks arabic or urdu and knows where you're going.
Where to find them?
Everywhere and anytime.
How to reach them?
Simply Scream TAXI or point by your hand they will stop for you.
Eye contact is enough to stop them.
Who can ride them?
Both males and females.
How much to pay them?
I remember 10 minute of diving he took about 15 riyals. Just bargain and he might low the price.
SR3.75 to U.S. $1.00.
Taxi drivers are very friendly and mostly from South East Asia + Saudis.
Unfortunately their driving mostly horrible.
there are no good public transportation yet in Riyadh, so you have two options:
A. rent a car, Riyadh has a very good road system, but too dangerous from drivers side.
B. take a taxi, and let him fight in the roads instead
When you arrive at the airport to leave the Kingdom,be prepared to be messed about,long delays,not because of extra security,or anything beneficial, just because they can.The guys on the check in desks seem to take great delight in pissing westerners off.......And they do,but just be calm,relax and think of the freedom flight out of there !!!!!
As you can tell by the big smiles on Ed Bromley and Nigels Syms faces,its a great pleasure when you get through to the departure lounge.
Very dry roads out there as I'm sure you can imagine,whenever they do get a deluge of rain the roads are slippey as ice.The local arabs just carry on driving as usual(which is pretty hairy at the best of times).Near accident blackspots you'll find red breakdown trucks (they remind me of Vultures ) just waiting on the side of the road waiting for the inevitable accidents.......Sure enough BANG here they come.I must've seen 5-6 crashes on a 45 minute trip back to the hotel from work.I think Riyadh driving instructors do their training ( if at all !!!) in Naples in Italy
Always haggle when getting in taxis.My mate Ed Bromley and I got in a taxi,sorted out a price and off we went........20 minutes later with the area around looking very familiar I asked him how long he'd been driving taxis in Riyadh,to which he replied "this is my first day".He'd driven round and round and round and got back to where he'd picked us up.
We still paid him as the whole experience was hilairious,and he was pleasant enough,alot of taxi drivers out there are.