Advantages of Driving
Some people just love to drive. This may be your favorite option! You can stop and stretch your legs whenever you want. Get off the main road and see some sights. Capture that perfect desert photo. Calm a crying baby, etc.
It is fairly easy to get around KSA. There are main highways that get you from one city to the other. When you set out on any journey here keep in mind that the weather can change. Usually sandstorms blow across the highway and kick up sand, also obscuring your view. Bring plenty of water, snacks, sunglasses and tissues or toilet paper and hand sanitizer. You don’t want to be stuck out in the middle of nowhere without these.
Along the highway there are cafes and gas stations with small provisions. Public restrooms are usually not serviced well, and you more than likely will see your stall with a hole in the ground. That is the traditional toilet here in KSA. It’s a fine skill to pull up your abaya and keep it away while you are doing your business. No toilet paper or running water are usually found. That’s why it’s very important to bring your own.
These are in various stages of construction. Some rest stops are like abandoned dilapidated truck stops with maybe a public restroom to be had and maybe a small prayer room. Others have maybe one cafe or coffee drive-thru, gas station and a public restroom and prayer room. The newer ones have popular places like McDonald’s, Baskin Robbins, gas station, small store. Here you can rejoice at a McDonald’s restroom!
- Gas up before you begin any travel in case the gas stations are far.
- Check tire pressure as heat can make it lower.
- Make sure your wipers work. If in a sand storm, you’ll need them as much as you’ll need them in rain.
- There are great opportunities to see camels and desert rocky landscape as well as groves of date palms and farms. It can get boring to be in the middle of desert so keep that in mind, especially if you’ve got kids.
- Many semi trucks use these highways for transport so just be aware there are many trucks on your journey with you.
Advantages of Travelling by Train
If travelling by car is not your thing, you can take the train. We recommend 1st or 2nd class. You can reserve your seats 2 weeks in advance to guarantee you have a reserved spot. There are seats that have a table between them, perfect for a family of four, or for a group of friends, coworkers, etc. One train car will have an area for prayer and a cab for snacks. Some of the trains are newer than others.
Train travel is 4 – 4 1/2 hours from Dammam to Riyadh. It will take you the same time driving straight through with a bathroom stop. If you are a family it may take 6 hours between the multiple bathroom stops, gas stop, McDonald’s break, etc.
Our experience taking the train from Dammam to Riyadh and back was a good one. We booked 2nd class and had an easy ride there. We brought our own snacks and water. First class seats come with a bottle of water and maybe a snack. The air conditioning is fine and there are bathrooms onboard. Some trains have screens keeping you updated on your travel and also play cartoons (without sound) for the kids. This is really great! The train to Riyadh was older and all of the windows were etched from the sand. We couldn’t see out at any time as things were a beige blur. On the way back we had beautiful views of desert and the stops along the way with big clear glass windows!
You can check here to read more about booking train travel.
You book train travel using Saudi Railways Organization (SRO) to go to Riyadh from Dammam. The points in between are Abqaiq and Hufof.
There is a new train SAR. It leaves from Riyadh and goes to points northwest. Riyadh-Majmmah-Qassim-Hail. More destinations are planned. They have business and economy class, private cabins, as well as discounted student and disabled fares. Check out their website below:
Advantages of Flying
Getting there the fastest in shortest amount of time.