While many would wonder what is the point of going to visit a stone village in the middle of Saudi Arabia, adventurous travellers looking for off the beaten path experiences will be thrilled to find something that even some locals don’t know much about.
How do I get to Thee Ain Heritage Village?
The only way- as far as I know- is to drive. You can rent a car in any major Saudi city (we did this in Jeddah) and then drive to the town of Baha. If you’re driving from Jeddah, I recommend taking the route that runs parallel to the coast (the roads are the nicest on this route). You may consider hitchhiking but this isn’t something I have tried and thus, cannot recommend. The town of Baha is the closest place near Thee Ain Heritage Village offering accommodation options (that I could find).
My recommendation is to stay over, enjoy a lovely hotel breakfast and then head to Thee Ain Heritage Village to spend as long as you like there. You could, however, stay in Taif and do a day trip there and back but this will be exhausting particularly in winter when daylight hours are reduced. The roads between Taif and Baha aren’t the best for driving at night (we drove this route and I do not recommend it).
Where can I stay near Thee Ain Heritage Village?
I will only recommend one place- because it’s the place I stayed at and was extremely happy with- Swiss Spirit Baha. Not only were the front desk staff extremely cordial, the room was spacious and comfortable. A hot shower on a cold winter’s night was ideal. And let me not get started on the buffet breakfast. It easily rivaled breakfasts I’ve had in big brand hotels. Splurge a little and spend money on this! You can find a behind the scenes on my Instagram in the Saudi Arabia highlight.
Swiss Spirit Baha is a 35 minute drive from Thee Ain Heritage Village. The drive is incredibly scenic and you should allocate extra time to stop on the dedicated lookout points along the way. When the clouds roll in, its stunning!
How much does it cost to visit Thee Ain Heritage Village?
Other than the cost of the car and petrol, there is no other expense. Thee Ain Heritage Village does not require an entrance fee at the time I visited (December 2022).
What can I expect at Thee Ain Heritage Village?
This cultural site has been placed on the list of tentative UNESCO World Heritage Sites thanks to its unique nature.This is a 400 year old village featuring interconnected multi-story houses are a marvel as they were simply constructed by stones laid one atop another, with timbers that form floor beams to provide stability to the stone structures.
Upon taking the turn into the designated road, you will immediately see Thee Ain Heritage Village. There is a little space off the road where you should stop to take a photo of the village in its entirety, embraced by towering mountains (see photo above). After which, you can continue on to the large and well maintained parking lot before beginning your explorations.
Saudi Arabia spent upwards of 15 million riyals to restore the historic village as a major tourist attraction, and the restoration is ongoing. Nevertheless, as this is hidden gem, you are still likely to have the whole village to explore freely all by yourself.
As you meander between the stone structures, you will have an abundance of picturesque viewpoints. But take a moment to breathe in the experience that makes you feel as if you’re back in the 18th century when the village was at its peak.
I would advise you not to miss out on the lush oasis located behind the stone structures. There is a little waterfall and an outdoor cafe that is absolutely quaint. If you’re lucky, there is an elderly man who will show you his favourite photo spots. They’re nothing special but he is genuinely sweet.
What to wear at Thee Ain Heritage Village?
As with everywhere else in Saudi Arabia, an abaya and/or headscarf is not mandatory. Covering your shoulders and knees is advised though. It can get very hot so try to wear something flowy.
WHAT ARE THE RATINGS ON PANDA’S RATING SCALE?
Thee Ain Heritage Village boasts traditional Saudi houses built centuries ago and has a year-round spring running throughout that is used to refresh thirsty visitors and wildlife. If you’re lucky, you will be visited by a passing baboon family from the mountains! Don’t miss the opportunity to see fields of date palms, as well as banana and mango farms which hug the village mosque. Experiencing places like this showcase the diversity and richness of the sites in Saudi Arabia… if you can, don’t miss the opportunity to visit this wondrous place.
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Have you heard of Thee Ain Heritage Village in Saudi Arabia? Or have I just put it on your list? Let me know in the comments below!