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Updated: Aug 22, 2022

SAPTCO is the only bus company that caters to the needs of transportation from Riyadh to the different provinces and cities in Saudi Arabia.

Quick Facts

Distance from Riyadh: 1,340Km

Travel Time Duration: 18 hours

Regions to Cross: Al Qassim and Hail

A straight trip that lasts for one and a half rounds of the clock with people of different backgrounds, upbringing, and cultures is an exciting challenge to test your patience, social flexibility, and emotional adaptability to stand whatever may come along.

I got used to traveling long trips as a resident of the province back in my homeland, the Philippines; whenever I need to go to Manila, I always travel by land. I seldom do it via air; from my province to Manila takes six to seven hours when traveling at night, and traveling during the daytime will take eight to nine hours.

But I don’t feel any difficulty because, in my place, we have numbers of bus options to ride, from ordinary non-aircon to aircon buses, and the VIP trips which are equivalent to business and first-class in the airplane. We have all these options, so I always go with costly VIP trips, but convenience is something that money cannot buy. Convenience is convenient; that’s it.

My travel to Tabuk is challenging because we don’t have the options in my place in the Philippines, so I only need to go via SAPTCO as my best option and choice. I would have tried the VIP Express of SAPTCO, but on the travel date of my trip, there is no available, so I could not try and tell you about it. I decided to go for the land trip to see the coin on all its sides.

Beautiful Mosque in Buraidah, Qassim Province

After Nine hours of travel from Riyadh, the beautiful scenery of the mountain of rocks in Hail are calmly seen from inside the car on your way to another half of the 18-hour trip. The sights of Saudi Arabia unravel (Above)

The view of the desert that seems no end has stood no escape from your eyes. (Right Photo)

Traveling to Tabuk City from Riyadh by bus takes long hours and plenty of patience is required. It has both the advantage and disadvantages: excitement and boredom.

But if you want to know the places between Tabuk and Riyadh, traveling by land through public transport is a good option. It gives you an idea about the topography, terrain formations, and sights that only a few are fortunate to see. It is somewhat hitting multiple birds in one shot of the sling and a lap of the trip on a marathon visit. Now, let us talk about the favorable and unfavorable sides of making the trip by land:


  1. Low cost of transportation fare. The fare cost for a round-trip ticket is way cheaper than a one-way airplane ticket.

  2. Chance to see the vast open land and the changing colors of the deserts.

  3. Enjoy the sights and between each town and city getting passed by the bus.

  4. Sometimes on your trip, you will have the chance to experience sudden sandstorms happening in the identified sandstorm areas.

  5. Every stop-over for a blogger like me creates another segment of the story.

  6. Chance to meet instant friends.

Cheerful and friendly Saudi youngsters spontaneously joined the author in his selfie video taking.


  1. Exhausting

  2. Long hours of travel spending times that rather for some essential and beneficial activities.

  3. Encounter and seated along with the inconsiderate passengers making annoying noises inside the bus.

  4. The absence of luck may find you seated next to a smelly passenger, which you need to suffer for the whole duration of 18 hours.

  5. You are postponing the call of nature’s necessity until you reach the specified stop-over area.

Traveling in a Private Car

  1. Traveling in your car is the best option should you wish to go by land because you are the one in control. Unlike in public transport, you need to go with the flow and ways, rules and policy of the transport company.

  2. You will experience the advantage and disadvantages enumerated above.

  3. Should you rest and recharge your energy for a while, all the gas stations have a lodging facility where you can take a short sleep with affordable room rates.

  4. Each gas station has a shop and small meals dining facility to buy food items and eat.

  5. You should be in a convoy or at least a group of 2 cars. Because, in the event of any trouble along the way, the other could assist. It is difficult to travel by only one car, especially if you get into trouble in the middle of the desert between one town to another.

  6. Travel time is way shorter than in public transport because you can drive the car up to speed you think is still safe. While the public transport, SAPTCO, as part of their road safety policy, the running speed is only up to 80Kph.

  7. If the purpose of your trip is purely for road trip adventure, you should be in your car. You can stop in every town, city, and province to explore and discover what each place could offer to travelers and visitors.

Stop-over points all have gas stations, supermarkets, food houses, and lodging houses to cater to the needs of the travelers for food, refueling, and taking a short rest.

Small town but clean and orderly. The town of Taima is about 3 hours travel to Tabuk City.

Important Things To Bring

Traveling In A Private Car

  1. Adequate drinking water

  2. The stock of water for the car radiator

  3. Food items to eat along the way.

  4. Spare tires

  5. Car tools and accessories

Traveling in Public Transportation

  1. Bottled water in your bag

  2. Light snacks or finger foods so that you will not starve in case of a delayed stop at any meal station.

  3. Handkerchief or tissue

  4. Alcohol or sanitizers

  5. Candy or chewing gums

The changing colors of the desert are viewed as you move from one point to the next.

Desert is not just about brown, blackish, reddish, and golden colors of sands, rocks, and empty lands. There are greens also as you reach the farm areas.

Generally, traveling a distance of 1,340 km is long and fun. Tiring, yes, but the feeling experience depends mainly on how the travelers perceive everything that goes along the trip. If one makes it difficult and horrible, of course, it’s terrifying. But if you perceive it as excellent and look at everything on the positive edge, traveling to Tabuk from Riyadh by land is a kind of experience worth every mile a smile, just like how I see it from my experience.

To complete the trip a total experience and knowledge gaining, I suggest observing the following:

  1. At every stop you do, if you are not eating or praying, always make sure to look around the place to see the untold other things, find the sights that are not shown, and have a familiarity with the area.

  2. If you see something worth remembering, capture it with your camera for the memory to stay.

  3. Never hesitate to ask the locals what is the name of the place for you to know where you are.

  4. Initiate a cordial conversation with the locals or the people working in the area, and ask something interesting about the place.

  5. When talking to a resident of the area, start the conversation by saying the good things you see around, and they will open up for other things they can offer to visitors, like tourism spots, facilities, and others. The cordial conversation usually ends with an establishing connection that will help you in the future should you return to that place.

  6. Observe the time allocation of the stop set by the drivers to avoid getting left out.

  7. Upon the stop, do first the most important things like going to the comfort rooms, buying something, and taking your meals before doing anything else.

The long travel duration of Riyadh to Tabuk makes no difference from any other long-distance trips in any place generally. If you are creative enough to turn the hassles into excitement, you will have a memorable trip.

Happy trip!

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