A Female Traveller Goes Solo to Saudi Arabia

Female Traveller Goes Solo to Saudi Arabia

In my many years of travel, I can say with confidence that I never expected to travel to Saudi Arabia. A lot of British don't think so. But when Ministry finally announced that is opening the country to tourists after lockdown, I thought:

…. Why not?

After 2020 I would like to share my experience as a British in Saudi Arabia. More important than a British woman, non-Arabic speaking and the non-Islamic solo traveller was there on 5th September 2021.

Getting There

I flew with my favourite Saudia Airlines. It was a bit more expensive than other airlines, but it was amazing to have a direct flight from my city London. And it was a chance for me to get close to the culture of the Kingdom before arriving in Saudi Arabia.

There are dozens of other airlines that fly to KSA depending on where you are from. The two major international airports are located in Riyadh and Jeddah. One of my favourite websites to get the best flight deals is Labbaik Hajj Umrah.

Actual this website offers Hajj and Umrah Packages but it also provides tourism facilities. I trusted upon it after relying on public reviews.

Tourist visas

Getting the tourist visa process is very easy. The cost is about 440 rials (£86.32) and includes medical insurance during your stay. This type of visa is valid for 1 year. But you will courteously stay there for 3 months only. And then you should have to leave this country for entry of next 3 months. So in this way you can spend your 90+90+90=180 days there. If you are not Muslim, you can travel anywhere except Mecca and Medina. And Muslims can perform their Umrah on tourist visas.


To anyone drinking liquor, don't even bother trying to bring it into the Saudia. You can't run away with that anywhere. They scanned my bag and as soon as they saw my bottle of orange soda, they stopped me from leaving the airport.

The conversation between me and the worker:

Worker: Is that alcohol?

ME: No, no. This is Italian lemonade, not alcohol.

Worker: Are you sure?

ME: Yes.

Worker: Look at the label. Note the word "senza alcool" and this refers to alcohol.

ME: No, no, it's called Senza alcool. It means "no alcohol" in Italian.

Worker: Are you sure?

ME: Yes, I swear. You can also lookup the translation yourself. Alcohol is not included.

Worker: Wait a minute. (15 minutes later)

Worker: Well, you can go.

Is it ethical to travel to Saudi Arabia?

I have always believed that a country's government does not reflect its people. I never agree with what the government has done. The best way to help the Saudis is to go there and talk to them. Instead of believing all the false information, learn about their culture and what's happening there.

Let's talk about the rules

Women no longer have to wear hijab or Abaya. The official rule is the modest dress. Things are changing fast as the religious police have been completely disempowered. Niqab and Abaya are still worn by most women, but you can see colourful and trendy Abaya and open kimono in Riyadh and Jeddah. I didn't want to be seen so I chose to wear an Abaya. Tourism is so new in Saudi Arabia that people tend to stare, especially when travelling alone for women. And if you look Saudi like me, people can come up to you and try to speak Arabic.

Most restaurants still have two sections, one for the family and the other for single men. As a single woman, you would sit in the family section. In Riyadh and Jeddah, you will find some cafes and restaurants that are mixed and do not follow these rules.

Prayer Times:

There are five times for worshipping in a day. Everything is closed during these times. Yes, all. So if you're hungry and thinking about eating, you should better make a few adjustments quickly.

Prayers Times:

Fajr....... 5: 41 a.m
Dhuhr.... 12: 37 p.m
Asr........... 3:51 p.m
Maghrib....... 6:15 p.m
Isha...........7:45 p.m

These times may be changed from season to season.

But exact information about prayer time currently, you can get from Google. Prayers usually last about 20 minutes, but many shops can be closed for up to 1.5 hours. Weekend days are Friday and Saturday while Saturday and Sunday are weekend days in Britain. On Friday, Everything is closed for the first half of the day.

Getting Around

Women have been allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia since 2018. Renting a car is truly one of the best ways to get around and it's affordable. Public transport may be another option. That being said, you should know that the driving there is wild. You must be a confident driver. People drive at crazy speeds there; no one recognizes the white lines that are supposed to be lanes, so there are five lanes instead of three, no turn signals, etc. Be ready for anything if you want to rent a car.

However, there are two rules that drivers follow. Nobody runs a red light and nobody uses their phone. The ticket cost is 3,000 rials (£516.56) and the other is 500 rials (£99.62). So don't think you can just stare at your phone. The technology they use to take your picture with your phone is Advanced AF. They will text you with the ticket. The police do not attract people who have broken traffic laws. It's all digital, so you'll never see it coming.

If the idea of renting a car scares you, there are other options, Uber and Careem.


Airbnb is one of the cheaper options. If you have special needs, check with the host before you arrive to make sure they have everything you need. If you're new to the site, you can use this link and receive $55 off your first stay.

Hotels are also a good option. You'll find everything from luxury hotels to long-term apartments. Single traveller rates can go as low as $20 per night there. Be sure to ask if the hotel can accommodate single women. Many of them tend to be for single men only.

Under the new law, unmarried couples can now easily share a hotel room. But there are still many hotels and Airbnb owners who disagree with this law. It is always within their right to refuse you if they wish. This happened to me in Riyadh when I was travelling there with a male friend.

Things to do

There are endless things to do in Saudi Arabia. You can spend months here and not see everything. Cities are also very special from each other. In each of them, you will see many contrasting parts of culture and meet people from different parts of the world. It's such a diverse country.

Final impression

Saudi Arabia is not at all what I expected. Sadly, the media constantly portrays them in ways that are far removed from their true colours. This has created unnecessary disagreements and countless misunderstandings between us. What I've been told and what I've experienced is completely different.

These people are so nicest I have ever met. Saudi hospitality is alive and well. I have never experienced anything like this. You are a guest in their country and they want you to leave with the best possible experience. They treat like royalty with guests.

Arabs are very calm people, despite what we see on TV screens a lot. They are kind, generous, loving, considerate people. As a solo woman traveller, I felt safe everywhere. People treat each other like family.

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