Maybe the wanderlust in me is whining and I am itching for my next vacation already to embark on a new adventure. Maybe it’s the morbid city traffic that’s eating into my soul slowly. As Riyadhizens though, we all know too well how important it is to take a break from the tribulations of the this town’s life and get a taste of the “free” world once in a while. Whether it’s during one of the many non-working holidays that we get or it’s for a simple weekender to breathe a different kind of fresh air. Here are the Top 5 Places that you can visit within a stone throw’s distance of Saudi Arabia. You’ll have the chance at low-cost airfares and world-renowned tourist spots. Saudi Arabia is being excluded in this list for the obvious reasons. For non-GCC expats, I’m afraid we’ll all require a visa. But if you are Middle-Eastern, then this perimeter of the Earth is your oyster!
Duh. Need I say more? This is practically a no-brainer. It may very well be the default choice for those up for a weekend with all the contraband to boot. A five- to six-hour bus trip can take you to our friendly neighbor of Bahrain via the VIP SAPTCO bus service with round trip tickets at only 225SAR. If you are a first-timer and quite the eager picture-taker, the must-see sights are the Tree of Life in the Sakhir Desert, the Bahrain International F1 Circuit, the Arad Fort and the Bahrain World Trade Center. If you’re a non-tourist and is only there for the movies and booze, well, I’m pretty sure you already know where to find those. 😛 Choose Bahrain if you’re up for a no-fuss, rustic weekend and just a simple quick breather. The city center is pretty small and straightforward, but it doesn’t mean you won’t have fun. I did a more in-depth cover of my trip to there in a previous article titled ‘Bahrain Bound‘.
2. United Arab Emirates
Dubbed as the “New York City” of the Middle East, a visit to the UAE will have you immersed in a truly modern and multicultural Arab state. Be enamored by it’s world-class infrastructure and tourist-centric activities. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the favorite cities to visit. In Dubai, it’ll be a mortal sin to miss photo-ops at the Burj Khalifa, Dubai Aquarium, Burj Al Arab and while you’re at it, why not take a snapshot while jumping off Skydive Dubai overlooking Palm Jumeirah? I’m sure it will be a memorable one. Previous features on Dubai from me and Janelle can be read here and here. 🙂
In Abu Dhabi, major tourist attractions are Ferrari World at Yas Island, Yas Waterworld and du Arena where most of the international concerts are held. Check out my adventure series on Abu Dhabi here, here and here. My personal tip: bring lots of sunblock!
Beautiful Jordan! Jordan holds a dear place in my heart as t he first country that I have ever traveled to. Amman is a city atop a mountain so the weather was endearing to me during my entire stay. It is a country full of history and the people are simply down to earth and kind. Petra, the “pink/rose city” is an experience all on it’s own. Especially if you walk up to the very top where the monastery is. If you don’t like to hike, make sure you have enough money for a donkey. I learned that the hard way. 😛 Then there is the biblical, Dead Sea — which is right across Israel. So if you want, feel free to float towards their coast. But at your own risk, ok?
As for the city center, there are also ancient sights to behold: there’s the Amman Citadel and the Jerash which can be visited by car. It is mostly a historical and architectural marvel.
I am so dying to visit Turkey. One of our previous Pink Tarha members, Shoegarfreeruby, was able to visit this marvelous country earlier this year and she was able to enjoy the gorgeous scenery, not to mention gorgeous people, all around Istanbul. She has described Turkey as vibrant and whimsical and for bohemian spirit like me, it sounds just like the perfect place. Not to miss are the major tourist attractions like the Sophia Hagia and Blue Mosque for architectural delights, the “Fairy Chimneys” of Goreme for a rock formation like no other and my personal dream destination, is Turkey’s Pamukkale!
If UAE is the “New York of the Middle East, then Lebanon (Beirut in particular) is considered as the “Paris” of the Middle East. Before all the political unrest of the recent years unfolded, Lebanon was known for it’s wonderful weaving of the Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern cultures. It also has a little bit of everything: if you want the night life and cafe scene, Beirut is the place for you. There are also beautiful beaches in the coastal area like the Tyre Beach for one. If snow is your thing, then head on to the Mzaar Kfardebian for some skiing and snowboarding. This place is on my bucketlist too!
So there, book your next trip out after seeing this list. Just remember, Riyadh is just here waiting for you when you get back. 😉 [Do come back, hehe].