Friday, July 31, 2015

Attractions/Places to Visit/See in Al Ahsa (Al Hofuf), Ash Sharqiyah (Eastern Province), Saudi Arabia – Tour/Travel Guide (Updated)

Originally Posted on 21st May 2013:

 

Al Hofuf

A-Hofuf is one of the major cultural centers in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. It is the closest city to the famous Ghawar oil field, one of the world's largest conventional (land-based) fields. Al Hofuf is lead producer of the dates because it is situated in one of the largest oasis in the world with large groves of palm trees counting more than 2 million.

Al-Hofuf offers a great number of history landmarks and souvenirs to visit along with all the modern developments. Climate here is hot and arid in summer, and cold in winters getting warmer when it rains.

There is also Railway Service from Riyadh to Dammam with a stop at Al-Hofuf with following schedule: http://www.saudirailways.org/portal/page/portal/PRTS/root/Home/02_Passengers_Services/02Train%20Schedule

This city was under Ottoman Empire and one can see its reminiscence in the town while strolling. Al Hofuf was also the capital of the eastern province till 1953. Besides this, Al Hofuf is a great cultural and educational centre sheltering the most prestigious families of the country. King Faisal University is an educational and learning center facilitating a separate section for women to study dentistry, medicine and economics related to home.

Industrial activities at Al Hofuf include manufacturing of copper and brass wares, cloth, swords, draggers and food processing. There are many water sources, it grows date palms, wheat, rice, barley and fruits supporting agricultural business.

 

 

1. Al Ahsa Archaeological and Heritage Museum

The museum was built in 1983 on a land area 7000 m2 and it was opened to visitors in 1987. It has lots of information on geology.

Operating Time:

Morning time: 8:00 am to 2:30 pm
Evening time: 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Thursday: 8:00 am to 1:00 pm.
Friday: 4:00 pm to 8:3 0 pm

Ticket: Free

Time Required: 1hr

Address: Museum, Al-Ahsa, Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities, Prince Sultan Street, Al Hofuf, Tel: 5802639/03 5803942/03 Fax: 5816141/03

Coordinates: 25.359704,49.599358

Google map links: http://goo.gl/maps/6E5UT  

image

Update(01-05-2015): I visited this museum again on Friday, 1st May 2015 at 5:15pm with colleagues but it was closed. As per its operating time it should have been open, there were no other people/cars there and the entrance looked like as if it has been closed for a while. I am not sure if it has been closed for good, plz check in advance if you are planning to visit it.


 
 
It was Closed! - Review of Hafouf National Museum, Al Hofuf, Saudi Arabia - TripAdvisor
 
Hafouf National Museum: It was Closed! - See 2 traveler reviews, 2 candid photos, and great deals for Al Hofuf, Saudi Arabia, at TripAdvisor.
 
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On 16th May 2013, we left Riyadh at 6:08am and headed straight to Al Ahsa National Museum. We reached there by 9:20am. It is a small museum, we spent an hour there.

From 20130517-16 - Trip to Al Ahsa (Complete Album)

 

 
 
Small but good - Review of Hafouf National Museum, Al Hofuf, Saudi Arabia - TripAdvisor
 
Hafouf National Museum: Small but good - See traveler reviews, candid photos, and great deals for Al Hofuf, Saudi Arabia, at TripAdvisor.
 
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2. Qasr Ibrahim (Ibrahim Palace)

From 20150502-01 - Hofuf Trip
From 20150502-01 - Hofuf Trip
From 20150502-01 - Hofuf Trip

Work on the Fort started with the Quba Masjid in 1555 in Al-Hofuf by the Ottomon Governor of the time and then grew over the next hundred years to include the Fort, Jail, and Turkish bath (steam bath). In 1801, the Saudi Governor Ibrahim Ibn ‘Ufaysan renovated the castle. Covering 16,500 square meters, Qasr Ibrahim combines Islamic and military architecture.

Operating Time: From dawn to dusk

Ticket: Free

Time Required: 1hr

Coordinates: 25.378797,49.586073

Google map links: http://goo.gl/maps/BlaVy

image

1st May 2015: I visited this Fort again on Friday 1st May 2015 at 5:35pm with colleagues. It has a little different view in the evening because of the lighting. I think it looks better in the evening and that is also because it is quite hot in day time, most of the year. The mosque inside is still functional thus it is not closed for Zuhar, Asar or Magrib prayers. ‏‎

You can walk to Qaisariah Souq which is nearby. Infact it would be better to walk to Qaisariah Souq if it’s a weekend evening due to the traffic and no parking availability in front of the Qaisariah Souq.

From 20150502-01 - Hofuf Trip

 

18th April 2014: I visited this Fort again on Friday, 18th April 2014 at 6:42pm with another family. Last time I visited it, it was morning time, this time it was completely dark and the fort gave a different picture altogether. Due to lighting it looked different and nicer.


 
 
An Ottoman Fort - Review of Ibrahim Palace, Al Hofuf, Saudi Arabia - TripAdvisor
 
Ibrahim Palace: An Ottoman Fort - See 3 traveler reviews, 5 candid photos, and great deals for Al Hofuf, Saudi Arabia, at TripAdvisor.
 
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16th May 2013: We left museum at 10:30am and reached Qasr Ibrahim at 10:45am. It is big with nice architecture. There is also a small museum present inside. We spent an hour there. The mosque contains a large single dome and is unique in its construction and style in the Kingdom. Although it was very hot outside but inside the masjid it was very pleasant, also the way to an underground room was very indiana jones style.

From 20130517-16 - Trip to Al Ahsa (Complete Album)

 

3. Al Jaalaaneyah Mosque

16th May 2013: We left the palace at around 11:40pm and reached Jaalaaneyah Masjid by 12:15pm. The idea was to offer Zuhar Salah there but the masjid was closed. It is a small masjid and it seems regular salah is not conducted there anymore. On internet we could only find that it’s a historical masjid but couldn’t find any other information about its history. You can safely skip this place in your visit.

From 20130517-16 - Trip to Al Ahsa (Complete Album)

Ticket: Free

Time Required: 15min

Coordinates: 25.431115,49.625845

Google map links: http://goo.gl/maps/WDVBN

 image

 

4. Jabal Al Qarah (Lime Caves)

image

Jabal Al Qarah Caves are an intricate cave system developed in the calcareous sandstone, marl and clay of the Upper Miocene to Lower Pliocene Hofuf Formation. Jabal Al Qarah is known for its tall, linear cave passages and narrow canyons.  Morphology of caves suggest that these caves resulted from erosional enlargement of a series of very deep and narrow joint-controlled fissures in the Hofuf Formation. The massively tall monoliths that stand outside the entrances of the caves are like soldiers guarding treasures. The shapes they have taken, through time, by sand storms and wind erosion would make anyone with a creative mind, blush. Jabal Qarah is a flat-topped hill with a maximum elevation of 225 meters above sea level. By the passage of time, water and wind transformed this hill into an abode of caves and fascinating landscape. The caves (known as Ghar Al Hashshab in Arabic – caves of the arrow maker) .

Operating Time: From dawn to dusk

Ticket: Free

Time Required: 2hr

Coordinates : 25.411406,49.693206

Google map links: http://goo.gl/maps/T3UrI

image

Update(01-05-2015): I visited these Caves again on Friday, 1st May 2015 at 9:27am with colleagues but it was closed. The guards there informed us that the caves are under renovation and they will open after Eid. We roamed around, took some pictures and then left. It was a big disappointment for us because this is the best attraction in Hofuf area and we were really looking forward to visit it. Plz check in advance if you are planning to visit it.

 

18th April 2014: I visited these Caves again on Friday, 18th April 2014 at 3:23pm, with another family. Last time when I visited these Caves it was afternoon and it was very hot outside, this time it was cooler and better. This time I also climbed the mountain of these caves, which was not easy and it came out to be an amazing experience. The top of the mountain is plain but with gaps, opening in the caves, thus it was not easy to move around. Also at that time the sun was setting thus it gave a beautiful view of the mountain top as well as the ocean of date palm trees, the biggest oasis of the world.


 
 
This time I could see the top of the caves - Review of Al Qarah Mountain, Al Hofuf, Saudi Arabia - TripAdvisor
 
Al Qarah Mountain: This time I could see the top of the caves - See 19 traveler reviews, 34 candid photos, and great deals for Al Hofuf, Saudi Arabia, at TripAdvisor.
 
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16th May 2013: We left Jaalaaneyah Masjid by 12:30pm and reached Jabal Al Qarah Caves by 1:15pm, it took us sometime to find the entrance of the caves because we had the wrong coordinates. The coordinates given above are the correct ones. The caves are magnificent, a must visit for everyone. The entrance of the caves is like of a giant castle in a fantasy story, like "khul za sim sim", it was very hot outside but the temperature inside was totally opposite and it was pitch black inside, this mountain was once an island and the waves of the sea and wind with the passage of time developed these caves, nature's way of playing with the clay. It is a good idea to bring a torch light for visiting these caves. Some paths inside the caves are only suitable for slim people. We spent an hour there.

From 20130517-16 - Trip to Al Ahsa (Complete Album)

 
 
Mysterious - Review of Al Qarah Mountain, Al Hofuf, Saudi Arabia - TripAdvisor
 
Al Qarah Mountain: Mysterious - See 18 traveler reviews, 34 candid photos, and great deals for Al Hofuf, Saudi Arabia, at TripAdvisor.
 
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5. Levitating Rock

1st May 2015: As Jabal Al Qarah Caves were closed thus we tried to explore the area near by, we saw a small hill and headed towards it and at 9:54am we found the famous levitating rock which was Photoshopped and went viral on the internet a few years ago. The actual rock formation is also amazing but it is not levitating in the air without any support. There was also a small cave across the road which we explored. It seemed its being used for BBQ picnics by the locals.

Operating Time: From dawn to dusk

Ticket: Free

Time Required: 30hr

Coordinates : 25.423616, 49.689944

image

Levitating Rock pic which went viral:

http://www.disclose.tv/forum/the-levitating-rock-in-saudi-arabia-t8777-30.html

 

Actual Rock:

 

From 20150502-01 - Hofuf Trip

 

6. Qasr Sahud (Sahud Palace)

16th May 2013: On our way from caves to Sahud Palace we offered Zuhar and Asar salah and reach Sahud Palace by 3:35pm. It was closed and it seems it has been closed for some time now so you can skip this place in your visit. There was no information found on internet about this palace.

From 20130517-16 - Trip to Al Ahsa  (Complete Album)

Coordinates: 25.414066,49.582694

Google map links: http://goo.gl/maps/GTgvw

  image

 

7. Jawatha Mosque

16th May 2013: We reached Jawatha Masjid by 4:15pm. It was in the middle of the desert. It was also closed but the door was not locked so we were able to open it. The ruins of the original masjid are not left. It has a small park around it. We spent half hour there.

From 20130517-16 - Trip to Al Ahsa (Complete Album)

Jawatha Mosque also incorrectly spelled Al-Jawana is located in the village of Al-Kilabiyah. It was the earliest mosque built in east Arabia. The site is still used for prayer.

Ticket: Free

Time Required: 15min

Coordinates: 25.470244,49.677086

Google map links: http://goo.gl/maps/7Oqjc

image

 

8. ‏‎Qaisariah Souq

It is a very old market which caught fire and thus it has been rebuilt again, it is full of traditional items for sale.

Ticket: Free

Time Required: 30min

Coordinates: 25.376771,49.588938

Google Maps Link: http://goo.gl/maps/SseiT

image

1st May 2015: I visited this Market again on Friday 1st May 2015 at 6pm with colleagues. This time we also visited the entrance on right side of the market which is a big traditional gate. It looked nice. My colleagues had tea there.


 
 
Good like last time - Review of Qaisariah Souq, Al Hofuf, Saudi Arabia - TripAdvisor
 
Qaisariah Souq: Good like last time - See 10 traveler reviews, 7 candid photos, and great deals for Al Hofuf, Saudi Arabia, at TripAdvisor.
 
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18th April 2014: We couldn’t find this market in our first visit, but this time I had noted down the coordinates from the internet. We reached there at 9:45pm, most of it was closed by then. It is a big market with narrow streets, constructed in traditional style, over the actual 100s of years old market. We purchased Zam Zam water, some spices and oils from there. The prices were reasonable.

From 20140419-18 - Trip to Hofuf and Uqair

 
 
Beautiful at night - Review of Qaisariah Souq, Al Hofuf, Saudi Arabia - TripAdvisor
 
Qaisariah Souq: Beautiful at night - See 9 traveler reviews, 7 candid photos, and great deals for Al Hofuf, Saudi Arabia, at TripAdvisor.
 
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Al Ghazal Hotel

1st May 2015: We were 4 colleagues in total thus we took a 2 room suit. The rates of this hotel have increased alot. The suit cost us around SR 350. The cost of double room had also increased from SR 137 to SR 200.

 

16th May 2013: From the Masjid we went towards the city to search for the Hotel to spend the night. We found Al Ghazal Hotel, it is a 2 star hotel, it was nice and clean and the rates were very reasonable. We paid SR 137 for a night for a double bed room.

 

From 20130517-16 - Trip to Al Ahsa (Complete Album)

Coordinates: 25.390729,49.593476

Google Maps Link: http://goo.gl/maps/9huW3

 

 

9. Al Ogair/Uqair Old Port

From 20140419-18 - Trip to Hofuf and Uqair
From 20140419-18 - Trip to Hofuf and Uqair

Uqair is an ancient fort of Islamic origin. The fort sits on the east coast of the Arabian Gulf. These routes were once an important lifeline that transports goods from AlHasa region to Bahrain and beyond.

Al Ogair is the first ever seaport in the Kingdom and major seaport for successive civilizations in Al Ahsa.

Ticket: Free

Time Required: 3hr

Coordinates: 25.64481,50.215298

Google map links: http://goo.gl/maps/B1OMP

image

2nd May 2015: We reached there at 6:57am and the sea looked like a big calm lake. There were no waves, no blue colors, it looked very different. This might be due to the time, I have not been there that early. The old port, market, masjid, government and custom buildings all were closed. Not sure if those were closed for good or just because it was early. My colleagues were not comfortable swimming in this kind of sea and they requested to visit Uqair Corniche Park thus we left soon.

 

18th April 2014: I visited this beach again on Saturday, 19th April 2014 at 10:30am, with another family. There was some renovation work going on in old port, market and masjid and it was closed but the supervisor of that renovation work was a Pakistani guy and he let us in. After visiting the historic building we went for a swim and it was great fun.

 

17th May 2013: We left the hotel in the morning at 6:45am and started our journey towards Al Oqair. We reached there by 8am. This place has old port, market, masjid, government and custom buildings. The beach has blue colored water in different shades based on the depth. There are dedicated places for swimming in the sea. I swam in the sea for the 1st time. There were a very few people there. We spend 3 hours there.

From 20130517-16 - Trip to Al Ahsa (Complete Album)

 
 
Uqair Beach
 
Uqair old port             Uqair Beach is one of the important tourist spots of  Al-Ahsa province, because of its long history, beautiful scenery, and the old castles.            Uqair was the on...
 
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Al Ogair To​urism Destination
 
 
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10. Uqair Corniche Park 

Ticket: Free

Time Required: 1hr

Coordinates : 25.778864, 50.170956

image

2nd May 2015: We reached there at 7:45am and there were already a few families there enjoying their time. We crossed the shallow water and the safety markers rocks and we found chest high water after that. Initially the seabed was uneven and rocky but after that we found even, sandy seabed and it was great fun swimming there. You would need waterproof sandals to reach there, if you would like to see inside the water then swimming goggles are required. I had GoPro for underwater photography. After a while the coastal guards signaled us to come back inside the safety markers and thus we had to leave swimming.

 

 

18th April 2014: I had seen a picture of this park in Janadriyah Festival and since then I wanted to visit it. If you want to know about Janadriyah Festival then visit the following link:


 
 
urShadow's Blog: Event: Janadriyah Annual Heritage & Culture Festival 29 (2014) (Updated)
 
 
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After getting free from Uqair Old Port, we reached Uqair Corniche Park at 12:33pm and it was a very pleasant surprise. It has proper parking, play areas for children, grassy plains and then shallow beach for 100s of meters, even a 2 year old can enjoy in the sea without any danger. It is not suitable for swimming because the water is not deep enough but it is great for family picnic. I experienced lying on the seabed for the first time.  

 

 

11. Camel Market

17th May 2013: We left the beach by 11am, offered Jummah Salah on our way, bought some lunch and went to the Camel Market which was on the way to Riyadh. There were camels and goats/sheep available for sale but there was not much to see thus you can skip this place in your visit. On internet it is stated that camel races are conducted in this market but there was no such activity when we visited.

Ticket: Free

Time Required: 30min

Coordinates: 25.368303,49.446802

Google map links: http://goo.gl/maps/blGIp

  image

 

The places we couldn’t visit: 

12. Afsar Lake

You need a 4x4 to reach there.

Pics from Internet:

Ticket: Free

Time Required: 1hr

Coordinates: 25.518277,49.770813

Google Maps Link: http://goo.gl/maps/IuxXl

 

13. Abqaiq Salt Mines

It is 5000 years old Salt Mine and it is still operational. I couldn’t find its location.

 

17th May 2013: You can see the complete pictures and track info on this link:


 

 
 
urShadow's Blog: 20130517-16 - Trip to Al Ahsa
 
 
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Contributions From: Amnah Anwar and Nisa


 
 
urShadow's Blog: Amazing Places Most People are Unaware of in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
 
 
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-urShadow

 

References: https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Hofuf

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