|Hitchability:||<rating country='sa' />|
|Meet fellow hitchhikers on Trustroots|
|<map lat="24.56788668653" lng="44.085131250105" zoom="4" view="0" float="right" />|
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a country in Western Asia. It's generally hard to get visas for people who are not Muslim and not from Muslim countries.
Hitchhikers are known for their determination though, so if it is truly your desire to visit, the easiest way is to gain a position as an English teacher in a private academy. There are many jobs in this industry. The TEFL certificate to each is easy to obtain, and can be got over the internet with a minmum of a month to complete. When you find a job, the company will pay for your visa and flights into the country. The contracts generally state a trial period. You can then do as you please when in the country. There are no barriers to internal travel, except within holy cities. To get out the country, it is quite easy to be sacked by a company, and they are obliged to pay your airfare back home.
Other ways to enter the country are as visiting family to current numbers living out there, and this is difficult to obtain.
It has been whispered that within the next 2-3 years, KSA will begin issuing tourist visas. Which probably means 20-30 years at the speed Saudis work. (Edit 2020: This was written back in 2014 and the Saudis managed to introduce the tourist visa in September 2019, so it "only" took 5 years :P )
When you are in, hitchhiking is quite feasible. Saudis are generally well educated, as fascinated by the West. The highways are built on the USA system, and are difficult to hitch on. However, stand at an exit, and a Saudi will soon stop to ask if you need help, and will run you out to a good place. The ferry to the Farsan Islands is free from Abha, and hitchhiking in the islands is very easy, as is wild camping.
Saudi hospitality is golden (if you dont happen to be from India, Pakistan, Sudan, or any of the pool of poor countries it indentures as modern slave labour). Saudis have a warm heart, and are keen to cut through misunderstandings about their society. You will often be offered bread, food, tea, soft drinks... especially during religous holidays. A trip to the desert, or a Saudi wedding, are priceless cultural events.
The mythical Saudi tourist visa has apparently become a reality, although it is fairly expensive. Saudi Arabia has begun issuing online visas for attendees of certain international events (the first one being the Formula E race in Riyadh on December 15, 2018). You'll obviously have to buy a ticket for the event, pay the visa fee and insurance. The total for the Formula event was around €240. According to the website, the visa is valid for 30 days, however those who got the visa reported only 14-day validity. You may arrange the dates as you like, however they must include the date of the event. It is unclear whether you actually have to attend the event, likely not. Offical website:sharek.sa
Update 2019: The Saudis have finally introduced an actual independent e-visa in September 2019, so going there is now easier than Iran. It costs around SAR470 (around EUR110) incl. mandatory insurance. Offical website. It's a multi-entry visa valid for a year, with 90 days per individual stay. It is unclear whether it is valid for overland entry (the usual rule in Saudi Arabia is that your first entry should be via an airport). It is definitely not valid for overland entry from Bahrain.
The most conservative of the countries cities, it is a joyless, bland and totalitarian city, full of religious police. For cheap food and a more real atmosphere, head down town on cheap local buses *2SAR and go to Little Manila, the Philipino district, which is a breath of fresh air.
Here, and Medina, are off limit to non-Muslims. Your visa on your passport will stipulate that whether you are or are not a Muslim.
In 2012, lukeyboy95 did a 4 month stint in the country as an ESL teacher. It is a great place to save money for travels. It is tax-free, you are paid in dollars, and the companies pay all living costs. Work is easy, and gives plenty of scope for planning other trips. I travelled 2 years with the money earned. Just be very VERY weary of Visa conditions. You need permission from your company to leave the country. In Saudi, it is not uncommon to be picked up without even putting your thumb out. It is a HIGHLY safe society, as you would expect with all the chopping (exagerated) that goes on... you can go anywhere, at any time. Exercise more caution in conservative zones, where zenophobia could be higher. Highways are great, with alot of private cars. I hitchhiked on the Red Sea coast, and a bit in Dammam. Very easy. The Farasan Islands are absolutely beautiful and deserted, and there are many interesting sights, including the mountains. Alot of cultural sensitivity is required.
In 2015 I was able to get a 3 day transit visa at the vfs Tasheel office in Amman, Jordan (the address is: First Floor, Amman Gate Building, 7th Circle, Near Abu Aishah Mosque P.O.Box: 850445, Amman 11185, Amman, Jordan) There I convinced the guy I needed to get through overland to get a flight from Dubai (even though I had no proof), and they let me submit an application. It took 5 business days to process, and when I got it they let me hitchhike into the country from the border south of Ma'an. From there I went to Madein Saleh, and then to Hail. The police eventually caught on and told me (as I was on my 3rd day at this point) that I had to leave, so they bought me a flight to Dubai. They were always very courteous, and even with only 3 days it was a fascinating experience. Knowing arabic helped immensely as many people only spoke that. - PhyiscsHipster
Nomadwiki & Trashwiki