Madain Saleh on a Budget

Eager to visit Saudi’s first UNESCO World Heritage site but don’t know where to begin? I’ve got it all covered with minimal cost!

Al Ula is located on the north-western side part of Saudi, about 380km north of Madinah. It is known for its ruins and historical places of over 2,000 years old.

Things You Need:

1. A vehicle – It does not necessarily need to be a 4×4.

2. Minimum two Drivers – For a comfortable journey between 700-800km

3. Gas – (about 300SAR/80USD for 2 days)

4. A Tent – A regular tent costs 100SAR/26 USD from any supermarket and it would fit 3 people.

5. Warm clothes and a lot of them if you visit in winter!

6. Camping Stove

7. Food & Water – Eggs, tuna cans, bread, cup noodles, tea, coffee, marshmallow, BBQ stick, snacks and anything that makes your belly happy.

8. Utensils – Thermos, eating utensils, a pot and a pan.

9. Wood & Fire Starter

All of the above amounts to about 180SAR per person if you are in a group of 3 and a lot less if you are in a larger group.

Recommended Route:

1.Begin your journey towards Al Ula at 6:00 p.m. (for 700/800km distance)

2. Arrive in Al Ula around 2:00 a.m.

3. Set up your tent anywhere in the barren desert between the mountains and away from the city which is very easy to find; rest until sunrise.

Day 1 in Al Ula

1. Al Deerah Heritage Village (Old Town) – Get lost in the maze of a 2,000-year-old mud-based ghost town.

There is a fortress easily accessed by the stairs where you can have an aerial view of the compact old town.

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Photo by @Sammiboyo
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Photo by @Sammiboyo
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Photo by  @Sammiboyo

Some part of it has been renovated yet the Ministry of Tourism still preserves the authenticity of the old town.

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Photo by @alertthememory


2. Lion Tomb – These tombs were evidence of the 2,600 years of settlement in Al Ula. Some of these tombs have a neat lion carving above them and believed to keep the deceased safe.

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*If you happen to be there on a Friday, make sure to get there at least 2 hours before the Friday prayer as they close the site for Friday prayer and resumes at 3 p.m.


3. Elephant Rock – A rock formation in a shape of an elephant is one of the iconic rock formation in Al Ula. You will find a blue sign that says Jabal Al Feel “Elephant Mountain”

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Photo by @alertthememory


4. Waterfall Tourist Resort – Enjoy a relaxing lunch at a local farm with a spectacular backdrop of sandstone mountains that you could climb on after or before a delicious meal.

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Photo by @mal2at

Don’t forget to pick some fresh tangerine for dessert!

*90SAR per person for a buffet lunch, prior reservation required.

Saeed Al Johani-0554555419


5. Viewpoint on King Abdulaziz Mountain – I love the spot for a 360 view of the quaint little town of Al Ula. However, I would not recommend it for sunset viewing because the west side is a plateau.


6. Sunset Viewing– Face to the west, check the surrounding, climb a mountain, and snap the perfect shot of sunset in a barren desert, surrounded by picturesque sandstone mountains.

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Photo by @Sammiboyo

7. Stargaze: Set up your tent between mountains, start a bonfire, cook dinner, get cosy, and stargaze the night away.

Photo by @alertthememory

Day 2 in Al Ula

1. Madain Saleh –  Be prepared to get blown away by 131 intricately carved tombs out of sandstone mountains.

Climb one of the mountains for a mesmerizing view of the tombs.

Photo by @mal2at
Photo by @mal2at
Photo by @charbel_khoury


2. Hejaz Railway Museum – The train built under the order of the Ottomans to transport pilgrims from Levant and others to the holy sites of Makkah and Madinah.



3. Lunch – Either cook your own lunch or buy some local dish and find a picnic spot to have your last feast in Al Ula


4. Hike by Sahary Al Ola or Madakhil Camp – Savor the last moments with another climb on a mountain or explore a cave.


5. Drive back to your city with new memories, a lifetime of adventures and stories to be shared with your loved ones.

There you have it! A wonderful journey to one of the majestic spots in Saudi Arabia that will cost you a lunch meal in an average restaurant!

What are you waiting for?! Yalla! Grab your friends and hit the road!

If you want to know more about Madain Saleh, check my previous post here

Important: A permit to enter Lion Tomb & Madain Saleh can be arranged through any resort/hotel; 50 SAR/14 USD for each site. 

Madain Saleh is currently closed for the public visit for an unknown period of time.

If you would like to arrange a group trip, please feel free to contact Abdullah Ashi – 0542493449

Check out more photos below by @mal2at, @charbel_khoury, @alertthememory,

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A Yemeni/Indonesian who knew nothing outside Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; now craving to explore other cultures, traditions, and way of life.

9 Comment

  1. Great job, proud to have met you dear, till next time my Friend and Safe travels

  2. Good job Nada, let’s plan it for going Madain Saleh. Count me I’m in…

    1. I’ve done my share of planning so in case you guys go, let me know 😄

  3. Kiran Zachariah says: Reply

    Nice to know about this place …thank you for sharing this article

    1. My pleasure! I hope you will visit it someday 😊

    2. Im glad you enjoyed it ❤

  4. Brilliant info…Nada I am intending a trip this weekend. Is it still closed. Anybody …any info about this site please contact me on 0571053593. Thanks

    1. Hi! Unfortunately it is still closed but this shouldn’t stop you from visiting Al Ula. 🙂

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