Back to Study Trips

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Exploring Architectures and Civilisations of Ancient Arabia

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is situated in the Arabian Peninsula, boasting a vast land area of approximately 2.15 million square kilometres, making it the second-largest Arab nation and the fifth-largest country in Asia.

Its geographical borders are defined by a diverse array of neighbours. To the west lies the Red Sea, while to the north, Saudi Arabia is flanked by Jordan, Iraq, and Kuwait. In the east, it shares boundaries with the Persian Gulf, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. To the southeast, it is bordered by Oman. The southern reaches are adjacent to Yemen and the Gulf of Aqaba in the northwest serves as a natural divide between Egypt and Israel.

One of Saudi Arabia’s distinctive geographical features is that it possesses coastlines along both the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf, contributing to its strategic significance and maritime connectivity. The country’s topography is characterised by a blend of arid desert landscapes, lowlands, expansive steppes, and towering mountain ranges. Riyadh, serving as its capital city, holds a pivotal role in the nation’s administration, while Mecca and Medina stand as the holiest cities in Islam, attracting millions of pilgrims every year.

Beyond its contemporary significance, the land that constitutes modern-day Saudi Arabia has been an ancient cradle of cultures and civilisations. Traces of human activity dating back to prehistoric times have been uncovered here, shedding light on humanity’s early interactions with this region. Notably, the rise of Islam, the world’s second-largest religion, which emerged within the boundaries of present-day Saudi Arabia. In the 7th century, the Islamic prophet Muhammad’s unification of the Arabian Peninsula led to the creation of a cohesive Islamic religious entity.

The territory of modern-day Saudi Arabia was historically composed of distinct regions, including Hejaz, Najd, parts of Eastern Arabia (Al-Ahsa), and South Arabia (‘Asir). The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was officially founded in 1932 by King Abdulaziz.

In 2019, Saudi Arabia opened its doors to international tourism and invited visitors to uncover the kingdom’s cultural heritage and diverse landscapes.

The Siam Society, under the leadership of Mrs Bilaibhan Sampatisiri, has organised a study trip to Saudi Arabia from 19 to 27 February 2024. This endeavour aims to discover the remarkable heritage sites of Saudi Arabia, a nation that stands at the crossroads of history and modernity.


Monday, 19 to Tuesday, 27 February 2024


with Mrs Bilaibhan Sampatisiri

President of The Siam Society


The tentative programme will be as follows:

Day 1: Monday, 19 February 2024:  Bangkok – Jeddah
12:30 Meet at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport, Check in at the Saudia Airlines counter
15:20 Depart Bangkok to Jeddah by Saudia Airlines flight SV845
20:15 Arrive at Jeddah International Airport, and transfer to Crowne Plaza, Jeddah.
Day 2: Tuesday, 20 February 2024: Al-Balad tour (Jeddah Historical City) – City tour
Breakfast at the hotel





Today we will start in the morning with a short stop at Jeddah Corniche and Jeddah Waterfront before we continue to visit Tayebat Museum to look into Jeddah’s rich and cosmopolitan past of the city’s 2,500-year history.  With several floors of in-depth exhibits, the museum offers a living history lesson on the foundation of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and the wider Arabian Peninsula. There is also an entire floor dedicated to the city’s rich Islamic heritage. The museum is housed in a multiroom complex that re-creates the traditional Hijazi architecture of the old city, with bay windows overlaid with intricate wooden latticework and ornate coral masonry.

Afterward, visit The House of Islamic Arts, a museum specialised in Islamic arts from the far countries of China and India to the farthest countries of the Maghreb and Andalusia. The museum contains more than a thousand pieces of art, representing 15 centuries of the history of Islamic art from all countries of the Islamic world.

Noon: Lunch at a local restaurant




Explore Al Balad which means “the town”. Locals use this name to refer to this area as the base of Jeddah. Al-Balad was founded in the 7th century and historically served as the centre of Jeddah. We will go through the history of these buildings including going inside one of the buildings to see the interior designs and furniture. Al Balad is registered as a World Heritage UNESCO site and since then the old buildings, with their unique window designs and doors, have been preserved along with their unique buildings, of which some were made from seashells and stones.

While wandering around the narrow streets, we will see the old mosques, some were founded over 300 years ago and are still functional as a mosque, and understand how merchants used to sell their goods and how pilgrims used to get their supplies of cloth and food before they head to Makkah through the Makkah Gate in Al Balad.

Evening: Dinner and overnight at Crowne Plaza, Jeddah
Day 3: Wednesday, 21 February 2024:  Jeddah – Medina
Breakfast at the hotel
Morning: Check out of the hotel and transfer to a High-Speed Train Station.
Depart by high-speed train to Medina. (The maximum weight of the luggage is 25 kg. There will be carriers at the train station to manage the luggage.)
12:20 Arrive at Madinah train station and transfer to the restaurant.




City tour of the holy city of Medina. See from the outside, the vast Al-Masjid an-Nabawi (Prophet’s Mosque) – a major Islamic pilgrimage site. Its striking Green Dome rises above the tombs of the Prophet Muhammad and early Islamic leaders Abu Bakr and Umar. The Masjid al-Qiblatain (Qiblatain Mosque) is known as the site where the Prophet Muhammad received the command to change the direction of prayer to Mecca. (These two mosques do not allow non-Muslims to enter.)

Visit the Dar Al Madinah Museum, located in the Knowledge Economic City. It has many exhibits that show how the city expanded from the time of Prophet Muhammed to the present time. It also contains rare manuscripts and a variety of religious model representations that link the story of Islam and the prophet’s biography.

Evening: Dinner and overnight at Le Meridien, Medina
Day 4: Thursday 22 February 2024:  Medina – Dadan and Jabal Ikmah – AlUla
Breakfast at the hotel
Morning: Check out of the hotel and proceed to AlUla which is an ancient Arabic oasis city located in Medina province of northwestern Saudi Arabia.  For centuries, its oasis has been a crossing point for caravans on the incense trade route, which connected Asia, Africa, and Europe, transiting spices, myrrh, cotton, ebony, and silk.
Noon: Lunch at a local restaurant







Explore the ancient capital city of Dadan and examine tombs, excavation sites, and thousands of early Arabic inscriptions.

We will visit the most famous oasis of the 1st millennium BCE, the Oasis of Dedan, where excavations on extensive archeological sites have revealed the existence of large fortified cities of the ancient Dadanite and Lihyanite civilisations. These kingdoms developed their own culture including a specific language and alphabet, that resulted in a mix of Arabian traditions and strong influences from the surrounding empires.  See the two exceptional tombs located some 50 metres above the wadi where the ancient oasis was centred. Those are the only tombs that are decorated with two carved lions, each showing the importance of their owners such as governors or influential people. These sculptures of lions are an outstanding example of the Mesopotamian influence and are the proud iconic figures of this ancient oasis.

Visit Jabal Ikmah, a mountain near the ancient city of Dadan, AlUla’s Jabal Ikmah, widely known as the ‘open library’ for its diverse array of inscriptions, has been added to the Memory of the World International Register on 23 May 2023.  This documentary heritage collection titled ‘Arabian Chronicles in Stone: Jabal Ikmah’ comprises approximately 300 inscriptions engraved into the mountain’s walls during the ancient Dadanite and Lihyanite civilisations, dating back to the second half of the first millennium BCE.

Evening: Dinner and overnight at Sahary AlUla Resort, AlUla
Day 5: Friday, 23 February 2024: Hegra (Madain Saleh) – AlUla Old Town – Elephant Rock
Breakfast at the hotel.





Visit Hegra, also known as Madain Saleh, or Al-Hijr is an archaeological site located in AlUla in the Al Madinah Region, south of Petra in Jordan.  A majority of the remains date from The Nabataean Kingdom. It is the largest settlement after Petra, its capital. This Archaeological Site of Madain Saleh is the first World Heritage site to be inscribed in Saudi Arabia. It features well-preserved monumental tombs with decorated facades dating from the 1st century BC to the 1st century AD. The site also features some 50 inscriptions of the pre-Nabataean period and some cave drawings. With its 111 monumental tombs, 94 of which are decorated, and water wells. The site is an outstanding example of the Nabataeans’ architectural accomplishment and hydraulic expertise.

Proceed to AlUla Old Town

Noon: Lunch at a local restaurant



Visit AlUla Old Town, where pilgrims, travellers, and permanent settlers congregated through the ages. Explore the maze of adobe buildings that remain and enjoy views of AlUla Castle, dating back to the 10th century. Walk through Old Market Street in AlUla Old Town, and shop at several retail stores selling products from local artisans, cafes, and more.

Visit Elephant Rock, a spectacular rock formation that resembles an elephant with its trunk touching the ground, is one of AlUla’s geomorphological wonders and has become one of AlUla’s iconic landmarks. Elephant Rock, also known as Jabal AlFil, is one of AlUla’s many geological marvels.

Evening: Dinner and overnight at Sahary AlUla Resort, AlUla
Day 6: Saturday, 24 February 2024:  AlUla – Hail
Breakfast at the hotel



Check out of the hotel

Proceed to Hail, the capital and largest city of Hail Region in north-western Saudi Arabia. Hail is largely agricultural, with significant graindate, and fruit production.

We will pass through the famous desert of Nefud Al Kabir which is literally translated as the “vast expanse of sand dunes”. It is 290 kilometres long and 225 kilometres wide, with an area of 103,600 square kilometres.

Noon: Lunch at a local restaurant




City tour of the city of Hail. Pass by the A’arif Fort which is on a hill on the edge of the city. It is a mud-brick and the fort was built over 200 years ago. (The opening time of A’arif Fort is unstable. If it is open, we will pay a visit to the fort.)

Visit the Al-Samraa Park which extends over an area of about 90,000 square metres and is distinguished by its proximity. It is one of the most famous and most beautiful parks in Hail, where it is frequented by many visitors. The mountain has breathtaking views where you can see the entire city, and the park has fountains and places for fishing.

Visit Aja Salma Cafe and Museum which is one of the most prominent tourist places in Hail. It is a museum that displays archaeological, heritage pieces, and collectibles of the region’s culture for visitors and tourists. There is also a wonderful cafe with outdoor seating so that we can rest and enjoy a cup of coffee.

Evening: Dinner and overnight at Millennium Hotel, Hail
Day 7: Sunday, 25 February 2024: Hail – Jubbah Neolithic Rock Art – Riyadh
Breakfast at the hotel
Morning: Check out of the hotel




Proceed to visit one of the best and oldest examples of Neolithic Rock Art in Jubbah, situated in the northwest of the city of Hail, about over an hour drive. Jubbah lies by the ancient lake. Several archaeological sites of human settlement from the Middle Paleolithic period were found around the margin of a paleolake. Jubbah is surrounded by large sandstone outcrops that are filled with ancient petroglyphs and inscriptions, carvings of aurochs, cheetahs, and lions. Those drawings are still visible today on several rock faces. Two components of Rock Art in Hail situated in a desert landscape are Jabel Umm Sinman at Jubbah and the Jabal al-Manjor and Raat at Shuwaymis which were listed as UNESCO World Heritage in 2015 for their numerous petroglyph panels and rich inscriptions.
Noon: Lunch at a local restaurant
Afternoon: Proceed to Hail for a light meal before transfer to the Hail Airport
19.05 Depart Hail to Riyadh by Flynas Airlines flight XY134
20.15 Arrive at Riyadh Airport, and transfer to the hotel
Evening: Dinner and overnight at Crowne Plaza, Riyadh
Day 8: Monday, 26 February 2024: Riyadh – Diriyah – Riyadh Airport
Breakfast at the hotel





Check out of the hotel and visit Al Rajhi Grand Mosque, the largest mosque in Riyadh, which is considered an architectural marvel and one of the most significant Islamic institutions in the city. Built by the donation of the Al Rajhi family, it serves not just as a place of worship for Muslims, but also as a meeting place for the community for social events like Eids and large community gatherings.

Visit the National Museum of Saudi Arabia which was established in 1419 and is a significant part of the King Abdulaziz historical centre in Riyadh. Artifacts from all periods are exhibited with explanations about their historical significance.

Then visit Murabba Historical Palace, situated within the premises of the museum. The palace was built in the form of a square surrounded by walls, highlighting the nature of the local society that values the privacy of their homes. Divided into 2 floors, the palace has 32 rooms which consist of receptions for the king’s guests, and administrative offices for the king’s aides and guards.

Noon: Lunch at a local restaurant





Visit Al Masmak Fortress. Surrounded by sand, this squat fortification was built around 1865 and was a big fortress that represented an empire. It was the site where a daring 1902 raid by Ibn Saud took place. Highlights among the exhibits include maps and fascinating photographs of Saudi Arabia dating from 1912 to 1937.  After that, we will visit Souq Al-Zal which is one of the oldest traditional markets. Traditional dresses, antiques, Oud “Arabic perfume” and jewelry are being sold here.

Visit At-Turaif district in Diriyah, the birthplace of the first Saudi State, a historical crossroads of pilgrims and traders. This historical district is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is known for its well-preserved adobe structures that showcase the Najdi architectural style. It was the first capital of the Saudi dynasty and holds great cultural and historical importance in the country’s history. Explore the traditional mud-brick buildings, and historical mosques, and learn about the rich history of the region.

Evening: Dinner at a local restaurant
22:00 Transfer to Riyadh International Airport.
Day 9:  Tuesday, 27 February 2024: Riyadh – Bangkok
02:40 Depart Riyadh to Bangkok by Saudia Airlines flight SV846
13:40 Arrive at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport

The Siam Society reserves the right to change the programme as necessary.


Contribution of THB 190,000 (THB 194,000 for non-member). Single room surcharge of THB 37,000. A deposit of THB 50,000 and a photocopy of the identification page on your passport must accompany the booking. Your reservation will be confirmed as soon as the deposit has been made. In addition, basic accident insurance is included. There is a 3% surcharge for credit/debit card payments to cover bank charges. Payment in full will be required 30 days before the start of the trip (i.e. by Friday, 19 January 2024). Please pay by cash or cheque payable to “The Siam Society”. Transfer can also be made to The Siam Society travel account at TMBThanachart Bank (ttb), saving account no. 053-2-18000-7 or by scanning the QR code below. Once payment has been made, please e-mail the deposit or transfer the docket to us.


  • The contribution includes a domestic air ticket (Hail to Riyadh by Flynas Airlines flight XY134), high-speed train ticket, accommodation (twin sharing basis), meals as mentioned in the programme, transfer and sightseeing coaches, entrance fees, gratuities, and other costs incurred to make this trip possible.


  • International air tickets are not included in the price (Bangkok – Jeddah and Riyadh – Bangkok),but for those who would like us to book their tickets, it can be arranged at the time of booking.
  • Visa fees (if any), personal expenses, personal food and beverage consumptions, etc.

Please note that the flight itinerary between Bangkok – Jeddah and Riyadh – Bangkok as mentioned in the programme only serves as a suggestion. Trip participants can travel with their preferred airline of choice throughout the above sequence of the itinerary.

Tourist Visa Policy

Saudi Arabia is opening its doors to the world through its new tourist visa. Through the fast and easy-to-use online portal, international visitors from 63 eligible countries such as Thailand, the United States, the United Kingdom, EU countries, Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore can apply for an e-Visa. The cost is SAR 535 (about USD 142, depending on the exchange rate).

The e-Visa will be a one-year multiple-entry visa, allowing tourists to spend up to 90 days in the country. The tourist visa allows you to take part in tourism-related activities such as events, family and relatives visits, leisure, and Umrah (excluding Hajj) and excludes other activities such as studying.

Holders of the US, the UK, or the Schengen business or tourist visas can also apply for the visa upon arrival.

However, we will be updating the visa policies once again, before we start the process of applying for the visa for participants.

Please note that your passport must be valid for at least six months longer than your intended stay in Saudi Arabia.

To comply with payment and cancellation policies set forth by the tour agencies and to facilitate smooth working conditions between The Siam Society and the tour agencies, please carefully read the cancellation policies stated below:

Cancellation charges:

40 days before the start of the trip: Deposit forfeited
39-30 days before the start of the trip: 50% of the tour cost
Less than 30 days or cancellation without notice: No refund

Covid-19 policy

Due to a lower number of worldwide infections, many countries have relaxed their travel restrictions and quarantine requirements regarding Covid-19.

Nevertheless, when traveling as a group, The Siam Society would like to remind you of the following measures that we have put in place:

– We kindly ask that our trip participants perform a self-administered ATK test prior to the commencement of the trip. Participants are also asked to carry with them multiple sets of ATK test kits, along with their preferred set of medicines (for consumption if infected with Covid-19.)

– In the event that trip participants are tested positive during the trip, the group will continue to follow the planned itinerary. To ensure the health and safety of all trip participants, those who tested positive shall adhere to appropriate self-isolation measures as directed by the trip leader.

– Those tested positive with severe symptoms shall be treated in accordance with the health measures stipulated by the local government. Medical costs in excess of the insurance coverage shall be at the expense of the trip participant(s).

– The Siam Society will provide health insurance for all trip participants. Medical costs in excess of the insurance coverage shall be at the expense of the trip participant.

– Our staff and local tour operators will constantly provide you with the latest updates on local health and safety regulations.

For further information and bookings, please contact Khun Thun at 02-661-6470-3 ext 205, or studytrips@thesiamsociety.org. The Society’s office is open from 09:00 to 17:00, Tuesday to Saturday.

More upcoming study trips