around the city
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
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).
Getting there (from Europe)
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!
- Business Travel
Arriving in Riyadh
When you land at King Khalid International Airport (KKIA) in Riyadh, you'll be greeted by long, long queues. Expect to wait up to 5 minutes per person, so do your math when picking a queue!!
As tempted as you might be to pick a small queue on the left, stick to the right. I've found the right hand side to consitently move faster.
- Business Travel
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.
The "Do's" when Taking a Cab in Riyadh
Only those who know how to speak English.
--Better those who are recommended by friends you already know very well.
Only when you are already familiar with the place you are going.
Be sure that your cellphone or any communication devices are fully loaded, battery and card.
Inside the taxi, take the license number in case of trouble.
If you are feeling suspicious slightly open the window for fresh air,
deep breath and ring somebody you know for support.
It is always best to know few words and numbers in Arabic before going out in public without a male company.
If you decided to go down just say ‘heena kalas’ meaning ‘here’ and ‘it is finish’. Go down quickly and leave a payment to stop him from harassing you.
*Photo taken from internet*
Best Solution: Rent a Car or Buy One
The opposite is true for limousines in residential areas. It can be quite difficult to spot one on the residential streets.
Car rental agencies are quite numerous in some areas like Sulimania.
I am not an expert on this but I bet you can find great deals of great cars to rent for few days, weeks or months.
So the best solution especially for women is to buy a car and hire a driver, if not, probably wait for your husband or dad to drive you around.
Owning a car in Riyadh is much cheaper compared to Philippines due to free-taxes and status. There are range of choices from a second-hand car to an extremely luxurious typed vehicles. Yihey to the tax-free city!
By the way, single women getting a ride from people who are not married couple or no presence of family are not allowed. If inspected and no family papers could be shown, everybody in the vehicle could be thrown into jail for days, months and get deported, depends on your connection.
As everybody already knows, I will again repeat.
"Women are not allowed to drive in Riyadh."
Saudi women in push for 2008 driving breakthrough
Riyadh to anywhere around the city
Regular bus fare regardless of distance is 2 saudi riyal. Public bus originates from Batha district. These buses except for the bigger SAPTCO buses, are not airconditioned. Its seats have remained so much to be desired and could be too crowded. Rent-a-car fee starts at SR.50 above depending on the car's model.
- Road Trip
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Women not allowed to Drive Their cars
As women are not allowed to drive in the Kingdom, I am sure its widely known by now abouyt Saudi Arabia as the only country in this globe not allowing women to drive their own cars. well that a sad truth.
So women may only sit in the back seat of taxis. A married woman can only ride in the front seat of a car if the driver is her husband or a male relative.
Women still drive in suburban areas and deserts where they have to do their errands by them selves.
(Women driving) comes to the top as hot issue from time to time, since tens of them took their husbands' cars and drove in capital streets some 15 years ago.
Impressive but lousy airport
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.
- Business Travel
- Budget Travel
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.
Have a pen with you
When you land at Riyadh airport, you will need to fill in an entry form that you will need to give to passport control. You will also need to fill in an exit for when you leave. It is essential that you fill in these forms properly. However, you can only get them at the airport, when you arrive or leave and, of course, there is no way you will find a pen there. So, make sure you have one with you, in a pocket or in your hand luggage.
Riyadh-Dammam by Train
Sine 1947, when construction work commenced for the current railway network in the Kingdom linking Riyadh the capital city with Dammam in Eatern province through Hafuf and Biqaq cities.
Saudi Railways Organization operates several passangers trains every day between Riyadh and Dammam, some are express non stop, while others make two stops in between at Hafuf (Al Ahsa) and Biqaq.
The trains go as fast as 135 km per house which allow journeys range betwen 4 to 5 hours.
Rihab (non stop) one way: SAR 130.
Normal first class: SAR 75
Normal second class: SAR 60
Riyadh-Damam 4 trains a day
Departure times:10 am, 12:30pm, 4:45pm, 9:30pm
Dammam-Riyadh 4 trains a day
Departure times: 6am, 10:13am, 7:45pm, 1:05am
The exsiting Saudi railway network includes two lines in operation:
1) 556 km single track line built in the 1950s and used only for freight
2) 449 km single track line built in the 1980s and used by passenger trains
The railway handles about 850,000 passengers and 850 million ton-kms of cargo every year.
Saudi Arabia also announced three new railway lines to be constracted in the comming 4 years.
1- SAUDI LANDBRIDGE PROJECT which will Connect Jeddah ( Red Sea ) to Dammam (Gulf) Over 1,000 km of new railway to be constracted to carry cargo and passangers.
2- MAKKAH MADINAH RAIL LINK PROJECT which will be a high speed passenger service (more than 220 km per hour) to accommodate annual pilgrimage between Mecca and Al Medina through Jeddah.
3 North-south mining railway.
T A X I S
.... 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.
- Business Travel
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- Road Trip
White taxis with Ar-Riyadh signs on the roof are now the only cabs in Riyadh. Taxi drivers come from many Arabic countries & the subcontinent and a small percentage speak any English, try to find someone from Pakistan as they are more helpful and understand better, whereas for all other taxi drivers don’t depend on their ‘Yes’ answers – it is advisable to give directions for every step of the journey. All taxis have meters, but the price is negotiable & for Westerners is always higher than for other nationalities. Prices of local journeys should not cost more than SR10 to SR30 inside the major ring road. The quality standards of the taxis is pretty good.
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