Al Ahsa is the largest provincial governorate in Saudi Arabia. Located eastern of Riyadh Region, it has the biggest oasis in the kingdom. With five major cities, Hofuf is the capital and 31 villages. It has many unique places to visit, from the heritage and historical landmarks, mountain and rock formations, desert places.
The province also holds the current Guinness Book of Record of having the largest Dates Farm in the world with 3 million dates palm in a 30,000 acres (12,140.56 has.) palm oasis area with about 300 artisan wells supplying waters to the whole farmland.
Looking for doable adventures, Al Ahsa is one of the excellent choices you can consider. It does not require extreme skills, extreme fitness, and agility here. Everyone can experience the light and enjoy thrills, fascinating sights, and fantastic nature creations. Scheduling a trip for three days is not enough to cover them all, including other stories you might get into during your trip.
My article will not discuss geographical information and history since my topic is about the places you should see when you are in this province. You may refer them to Wikipedia, government websites, and others for historical and geographical accounts. They have accurate and official details.
THE PEOPLE OF AL AHSA
Accommodating, welcoming and friendly locals are the descriptions I could give to the people of Al Ahsa. It was the impressions and the feeling I got during my first trip. Whenever my guide introduces me to a group or individual we met, I always received a warm welcome and a heartfelt invitation to join them and wanted to show me around.
I also noticed that people seem to know one another, even though they are from different towns and cities. They have an extra level of closeness, being from the same province. As we roamed around Hofuf City, my guide seemed to know every resident in the city; to my curiosity, I asked him if those people were his friends. His reply was, “No,” and he explained to me the natural closeness of the residents in this province. I experienced another proof when we toured the Yellow Lake, a group of fellows invited us for a tea. My guide introduced me to the group, and in one utter of a word, there was instant comfort and spontaneous chemistry of closeness. As if we had known each other for so long that even pushed me to re-schedule my trip back, leaving Al Ahsa because of the excellent company we had instantly.
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WHERE TO DINE TRADITIONAL FOODS
The traditional restaurants that offer the real taste of Al Ahsa traditional foods are outside the city center; they are inside Dates Farm areas like Ain Alluimi and the other neighboring towns.
The one that my guide brought was the Zaman Awal Restaurant. Here you have the chance to savor the natural mouth-watering aroma of pieces of bread like Kubos Taghamese, and Tamis baked in a traditional oven fueled with firewood. Slices of bread were served fresh from the oven to the table, where you could even smell the palatable aroma that will make you crave for more.
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I have been in Saudi Arabia for 13 years and am not fond of eating traditional bread; like, Kubos, Taghamese, and Tamis, but here, I had the cravings and appetite that craved for a repeat.
PLACES TO VISIT
Tower of Al Qarah
Princes School (School of Royals)
Al Qaisariah Market
Al Qarah Pottery Shop
The Tower of Al Qarah
The Tower of Al Qarah is a mountain of sedimentary rocks towering the town in the middle of the vast dates farms, Al Qarah, Al Ahsa Province. It displays the unique formations of rock mounds and gulley from outside or as you drive on the circumferential road around it.
The Al Qarah tower to the Filipino community living in the Kingdom is Judas Cave. I asked my guide why others call it Judas Cave. Unfortunately, he does not know why and does not even know it has another name.
So I did brief research about it and found on Google that the name Judas Cave originated from Filipinos with a theory that Judas Iscariot of the Jesus’ Disciples took his own life in this mountain. But this information is not verified and not official, so the correct name of the place remains; The Tower of Al Qarah.
Al Qarah tower has trenches and chambers that visitors love to explore. It has a natural cave that everyone would love to explore without going far from the city.
To see more about Al Qarah Tower - The View, please click here: THE TOWER OF AL QARAH (underratedadventures.com)
To see more about Al Qarah Tower - The Cave, please click here: THE AL QARAH CAVE (underratedadventures.com)
The Yellow Lake (Lake Asfar)
The Yellow Lake or Lake Asfar (Asfar is the Arabic word for yellow) is a lake by the hills of sands in the middle of the vast open desert lands of the Al Ahsa region and the biggest oasis in the Arabian Peninsula. It has a total area of 12 hectares and is home to different freshwater fishes and a feeding hub of wild birds, including migratory birds.
Located east of the Umran City and 40 kilometers from the City of Hofuf, coming here is among the top exciting trips of the sojourn. The journey to Al Ahsa never is completed without a visit to this place, the province's pride that locals proudly present to the visitors. Listed by UNESCO as among the heritage sites and the mystery behind having this body of water in the middle of the desert land not surprising indeed, and they should be.
Looking at the vast open desert lands and farms, plus the whispers of the winds and the chirping, squealing, and quacking sounds of the birds and the wild ducks, are the spices of the trip that fuel the excitement, pushing the adrenalin rise, easing the tensions of driving the shaky roughness of the road drive.
Read more about the Yellow Lake here: THE YELLOW LAKE, AL AHSA, SAUDI ARABIA (underratedadventures.com)
The Princes School - The Old School of Royals and Elites
Are you curious about the school of elite and royals in the early days; how was it like, wondering about the extravagant and elegant architectural design and amenities?
A visit to the Princes' School will give you a chance to glimpse the earliest school of the royals and elite in Hofuf City. The school has been converted into a heritage museum and flocked by tourists, especially during the weekend.
The school was a public school, but most students were from the royals and elite families. However, the strict disciplinary standard by the parents and ancestors during the early days did not make students from the elite families free from the hand of the school's restraint policy.
Read and see more about the Old Royal School here: THE PRINCES SCHOOL - SCHOOL OF ROYALS AND ELITES, HOFUF CITY, SAUDI ARABIA (underratedadventures.com)
200-Year-Old Qaisariyah Market - World Heritage Site
Visiting Al Ahsa province should always include visiting the historic landmark of Qaisariyah Market (Souq Qaisariyah), a 200-year-old UNESCO World Heritage site-listed market. It is located in the district of Al Rafa’ah, Hofuf City. It was built during the Ottoman empire.
As a world heritage landmark, the Tourism Ministry of Saudi Arabia and the province of Al Ahsa are exerting their best efforts to maintain and preserve this old market with its significant roles in the history of the Kingdom.
It has gone several repairs, but each time of work was made sure not to destroy the original face of the market, a way to keep looking at the past in the strides of tomorrow.
Despite being the oldest market, it has so far kept the pace of competition along with the sprouting new and modern markets and shopping malls in the city, for Qaisariyah market remain a one-stop-shop for all your household needs to souvenir, handicrafts, gift, fashion, jewelry, and agriculture supplies and materials.
Read and see more about Qaisariyah Market here: 200-YEAR-OLD MARKET OF AL QAISARIYAH - WORLD HERITAGE SITE, HOFUF CITY, SAUDI ARABIA (underratedadventures.com)
Jawatha Park (Pronounced as Jawaza Park)
Jawatha Park is a public theme park located in Al Khulabiyah, Al Ahsa Province. You may have had enough for a desert camping, picnic with family, and spend time in esteraa (mini resort) for private swimming with family or friends. You may want to try something different that everyone will enjoy; I recommend Jawatha Park.
If you are on your holiday trip to the Province of Al Ahsa, Jawatha park should be on your itinerary list.
Jawatha is accessible by all types of cars since the road going to the park is concrete. With only a 24-minute-drive and 15 kilometers away from Hofuf City, you can already treat your family or friends on a classy yet affordable budget that fits your pockets.
It has an entrance fee of SR10.00 per person.
Click the play tab to watch the video on YouTube.
As much as possible, avoid on weekends because the packs of the crowd coming to Jawatha Park is just like going for a blockbuster movie watch.
Al Qarah Pottery Shop
The tower of Al Qarah, Al Qarah Mountain, does not only give you the civilization history in Al Ahsa and the beautiful scenic sights that you will see surrounding the mountain.
You should also see the pottery shop on the other side of the mountain where you can buy your pots and jars made of clay for your house décor, garden, and landscaping needs.
See more about Al Qarah Pottery shop here: THE AL QARAH POTTERY SHOP (underratedadventures.com)
Guide: MR. HAIDAR AL JUMAH
Mobile: 059 990 5539
I am discussing only in this article are the information based on my own personal accounts of the trip I did to Al Ahsa. So if there are places you find from the other sites but not mentioned here, most likely it was not included yet in the validation visit and trip that I did.