A budget for Saudi Arabia for a single person is difficult to define because everyone does things differently. If you want to take some of the activities, it can pull a pocket, as they were expensive. So it isn’t easy to do things without spending some money. Saudi Arabian people live with high standards; they are rich! And for travelers, it is a highly-priced destination compared to other countries in the Middle East.
Your highest cost will be the public transport and accommodation. You won’t see a lot of backpackers here because of insufficient hostels- incomparable to Asian countries where you can determine your daily budget.
However, Saudi Arabia is rapidly modernizing and establishing itself and offers a lot of new and unique experiences. It will be the biggest rival of the United Arab Emirates within a few years, so it’s time to visit before it overflows with tourists. As a solo female traveler, I truly enjoyed my trip to this conservative country.
Flights To Saudi Arabia
You can fly to Riyadh or Jeddah for an inexpensive. There are a lot of flights to Saudi Arabia from Europe if you search on Skyscanner or Momondo. I used these two search engines to find which airline offers the cheapest fare and booked straight at the airline’s website. Read on how to find cheap flights. If you want to travel cheaply, be flexible with your dates – by comparing the prices. It is mostly cheaper to fly on weekdays which you save a significant amount on the flight.
Also, search for a cheaper departure point – with my ticket price, departing from Amsterdam is lower than leaving from Brussels. I flew with Qatar Airways a round trip to Riyadh cost 527 euros, not to mention a long transit in Doha Qatar, which can be frustrating. But a consideration to take sometimes if looking for the cheapest way. Knowing what to do on a long layover in Doha may be interesting.
How to spend a long layover in Doha, Qatar
Costs Of Taxis In Saudi Arabia
A short ride with Uber costs around €3, and the longer ones are between 10 to 20 euros if without the traffic. The taxi costs approximately four euros with negotiation for shorter rides; however, cabs have metered you can always ask the driver to turn it on.
The biggest problem in big cities like Riyadh and Jeddah has too many cars. So taking a taxi between 12 pm and 4 pm costs more than you can imagine because of the congestion. Thus, how many times do you take cabs in a day? That is not easy to tell – there are times I take six rides in one day and sometimes less.
Cost Of Hiring A Car In Saudi Arabia
With so many car rentals in Riyadh and Jeddah, it is better to do some homework and search for which company suits you. It can be tempting to see their competitive price but look at what you get at the rental price. As I only needed a car for one day, I searched for the cheapest one and found Enterprise offered 35 USD for their smallest vehicle with basic insurance.
However, their rental rules – you get a vehicle with an empty tank which means you have to return the car without refueling. So easy as it is without searching for a gas station at the end of the rental.
In my opinion, it is cheaper to rent a car than to take a taxi every time. So at the bottom of this blog, you will see that I spent so much money on cabs. But I only hired the car on my last days in Riyadh as I wanted to explore outside the city. I should have done it prior, but my fear of driving in Saudi Arabia pushed me to take the taxi – and in the end, I seemed to have no choice because hiring a cab for a day costs a lot of money.
Walking In Saudi Arabia
Although walking is not advisable, it can also save you the cost of a taxi. The biggest problem in Saudi Arabia is that pedestrian crossing rarely exists. You don’t see many people walking on the street, especially women. But who cares! That’s why taxi drivers have bugged me, but I just ignored them. Read my other post as a solo female traveler to Saudi Arabia.
Going to Saudi Arabia: a solo female traveler
We all know walking is the best way of exploring an area, but it doesn’t seem to be in Saudi Arabia. Also, it would help if you looked where you walk because you suddenly find yourself on a busy road where the sidewalk is coming to an end. But the taxis will rescue you and jump into it; you’ll make drivers a better day – only tourists wandering the street.
Long-distance Buses In Saudi Arabia
On the other hand, taking a long-distance trip by bus is a lot cheaper – a journey of five hours costs 15 euros. And despite how expensive the taxis are, you can still rely on buses for a lower price if you plan to travel to other places. The bus stations are pretty organized, but English-speaking staff is rare. So before getting on a bus as they are all the same, don’t hesitate to ask which one is going to your destination, for sure you will arrive at your journey’s end. See my post on cities to visit in Saudi Arabia.
Top three cities to visit in Saudi Arabia
Saptco is the national bus company in Saudi Arabia. Their long-distance buses are suitable enough for long trips, though I make only one journey to Medina. As for the tickets, if you want to avoid the hassles at the bus station, you can purchase them online through their website – all you need is an email and a local phone number.
Accommodation Prices In Saudi Arabia
Hotels in Saudi Arabia are pricey. In general, if you want a decent room it will cost around 75 euros a night. However, if you check on booking.com – you may find a room without a refund, which can be a lower rate. But traveling during the pandemic I didn’t take the risk of booking a non-refundable room. Also, keep in mind hotels near the center are more expensive, so you have to consider that when booking a room.
However, if you don’t mind staying away from the center, studios or apartments are cheaper than hotels, but there are some disadvantages. It is like staying in your own home, as you have to clean yourself. But please, if you plan to book this accommodation, you better pack a towel in your luggage as you won’t get it there.
Nevertheless, the benefit of staying in an apartment or studious is that sometimes you have a fitted kitchen with utensils and prepare your meal. In addition, there are always supermarkets near you where you can go for groceries. Hostels are scarce in Saudi Arabia. So if you are on a tight budget, Couchsurfing is the cheapest option – also the best way to interact with locals. I haven’t done it yet; probably never will because I’d like privacy.
Cost Of A Meal In A Restaurant
Expect to spend around 10 to 15 euros in the restaurant. However, being a lone traveler sitting alone at a table is so awkward. I never have any issues traveling solo as a female in other countries than Saudi Arabia. The country’s culture is just completely different. You can’t avoid that men will stare at you when I say stared, really without blinking their eyes which melts you down.
But it didn’t take long, and I found my way to the food court area inside the shopping malls – an alternative place for cheaper meals and more comfortable sitting where nobody is looking at you while eating. It is even better if you are picky because there are so many to choose from and for 3 euros you get a good serving.
Cost Of Sights In Saudi Arabia
Pleasantly, most sights in Saudi Arabia are free – that’s good news! However, some museums charge a nominal fee like 10 riyals – still, it isn’t so much. The only thing I spent so much was when I took the tour bus in Medina for €19 and the Skybridge in Riyadh.
Be aware: visiting Skybridge during the weekend and working days can impact the entrance fee. It means Friday and Saturday are weekends in Saudi Arabia. The best time to visit Skybridge in Riyadh is during working days. Not only less crowded but also cheaper – the admission costs 15€ while double the price during the weekend.
Tips: If you want to see the difference between day and night – I suggest going up to the Skybridge from 4:30 pm and waiting until dark. In that way, you can see the contrast between the city’s view.
Cost Of Domestic Flights In Saudi Arabi
If you plan to fly between cities, the budget airlines – Flynas and Flyadeal can take you anywhere for a reasonable price.
However, you need to pay additionally for the luggage, but that’s the case. Even some charter flights charge you for checked bags.
Firstly, I was thinking of taking the train from Riyadh to Jeddah, but I wasn’t keen to endure long hours journey, so I flew with Flyadeal for €143, including a suitcase. I just booked my flight three weeks before my trip; thus, it was a fair price. My experience with budget airlines in Saudi Arabia wasn’t too bad. Despite the reviews, there weren’t delays whatsoever.
Tourist Visa Cost For Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is expensive to travel to, but you will likely complain about the visa price. Unlike other countries in the Middle East, you can enter without obtaining a tourist visa in advance or receive a passport stamp at the airport for free.
But for Saudi Arabia, it’s a different story – you must pre-arrange your tourist visa beforehand, which costs €125, including travel health insurance. So if you’re one of those 49 eligible countries, it is easy to get an e-visa online.
And it would be best if you had your documents ready before applying e-visa, such as your air ticket, hotel booking, passport, and credit card. It’s a straightforward process if you fill out the form correctly. The tourist visa will allow you to stay for three months in Saudi Arabia.
Cost Of Mobile Sim Card
Do you need a local sim card in Saudi Arabia? Well, it’s up to you, but I think it would be helpful to have a local number if you travel around. Surely if you used Google Maps, you also need to have mobile data for Uber. The sim cards are available at the airport. When exiting the arrival terminal 1 and 2 – you will find phone counters from Mobily and Zain.
I opted for the package of Mobily for €41, which includes 10 GB of mobile data and unlimited social media. Anyway, it is not obligated to buy the whole package. Instead, they also have cheaper rates – see for yourself on the price list.
Budget Cost For A Single Person
So here’s the summary cost of my trip to KSA. You’ll notice that I don’t spend so much money on food as I don’t often go to a restaurant. Instead, I eat at the food court and buy some food and drinks at the supermarket. I also stay a couple of nights in an apartment where cooking facilities are available.
- International and domestic flights – €670
- Transportation – €269
- Food and drinks – €165
- Accommodation – €641
- Car rental plus fuel – €63
- Tourist visa – €125
- Tour bus Medina – €19
- Entrance fee – €15
- Sim card – €41
- Miscellaneous – €128
I spent 2136 euros in two weeks and a half in Saudi Arabia, which is quite a lot for a single person. However, I wasn’t surprised as I knew this would be an expensive trip. But, despite everything, it’s worth a trip and a once-in-a-lifetime journey. It is challenging for budget travelers because low-cost accommodation is hard to find. Moreover, getting around isn’t easy, as only the taxis you can rely on – that said, it is an expensive destination.