Middle East Mega Combo (Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iran)
For a long time such an exciting trip was logistically impossible. Now, with the new e-visa scheme of Saudi Arabia, doing a thorough tour of the Arabian world becomes possible! This combo allows you to visit most of the Arabic countries in one go, study their contrasts and explore their variations in culture.
The tour starts in Bahrain, where we’ll ease our way into the arabian world by visiting its most liberal part. We will see the best of Manama, including its mosques, forts and souqs before heading out on a road trip to see outside the capital, from its oil fields and deserts to ancient burial grounds and go karting on the Formula 1 track
We then head to Saudi Arabia, the neighbouring country, starting by the capital city, Riyadh, and you explore the modern centre of the KSA as well as its ancient history in and around, from the Al Masmak fort to the Edge of the World. From Riyadh you catch the train to Qassim. Saudi Arabia does not lack sand, and you will watch the sun set over the huge dunes around Qassim. Another train ride later and you will reach the ancient city of Ha’il where you will visit Jubbah town and explore the forts and mosques of this famous city. Then we’ll fly to Jeddah, and explore the stunningly beautiful, labyrinthine al Balad old town and its coral houses and souqs as well walking the famous corniche, and spend a night in the mountains around Ta’if, famous for its rose farm and its funfair. This part will end with the chance to go snorkeling in the Red Sea before we head to Kuwait!
We spend a day looking around Kuwait City, from its Andalucian influenced Grand Mosque to the very macabre War Museum – the Iraqi invasion of 1990 is very much still fresh in people’s memories. Then we grab our cars and go on a road trip outside of the city, stopping at oil refineries and desert vistas but also driving along the ‘Highway of Death’ – the road the Iraqi army used to enter Kuwait.
From Kuwait, it’ll be time to fly to Iran, the black sheep of the Middle East, which has strenuous relationships with most of its neighbours. This part takes us to all of the major sites in Tehran as well as the ancient capitals of Shiraz and Esfahan. As well as the history, this tour also offers lots of opportunities to interact with locals, and witness the visual reality of what is the Iranian Revolution. On the trip itself and through our local guides, we will be doing lots of hidden extras, not published on the itinerary, for obvious reasons, where possible we will show you every side of this unique and majestic country.
Please know that the Iran visa, for those who cannot get it on arrival (UK, Canadians, USA, Colombia and a few others countries) might create a considerable logistical challenge if you book this tour, as you will be on the road for a good while, meaning it could be hard to get your visa if the visa codes are delivered late. Get in touch with us for more information if this is your situation! We offer visa support for people of all nationalities (except for Israel) under the following deadlines: March 7th (US/British Nationals) and March 28th (All other passports). Book early!
Arrival into Manama and transfer to our centrally located hotel
For those arriving early we can arrange camel rides or snorkelling activities for an extra charge
At 6pm we meet in the hotel lobby and head out for dinner to get to know your YPT guide and the other people in the group. We’ll be eating at Al-Abraaj which offers all manner of Middle Eastern food from Lebanese to Persian!
Bahrain is one of the only places in the region where alcohol is permitted and we’ll go out for drinks where we may rub shoulders with Saudi holiday-makers and expats alike!
Overnight in Manama
Friday 27th March – Manama
Our first stop is the impressive Al Fateh Grand Mosque, one of the largest mosques in the whole world which can hold over 7000 people at the same time!
We head to the Al Fateh Corniche to check out the Bahrain National Museum. The corniche itself is a great place to walk along the seaside and take in the weekend with the Bahraini people
Visit the Abu Mahir Fort, otherwise known as the Muharraq Fort which offers the best views over the whole of Manama
Lunch at the 1950s Haji’s Café
Explore Manama Souq
Watch the sunset from the top of the Qala’at al-Bahrain, the Bahrain Fort. Built on DIlmun settlements over 3000 years old, it was built in the 14th century but has since been renovated. The fort is located just outside of Manama and offering stunning views of the area
Dinner in town at Bahrain Block 338
Overnight in Manama
Saturday 28th March – Outside Manama
Today we go exploring outside Manama in our private transport
Check out the 11th century Al Khamis Mosque and Museum
Stop by the ancient Dilmun burial mounds which go back 4000 years
Lunch half way up the King Fahd Bahrain/Saudi Causeway
After lunch we head south to the Formula 1 circuit hopefully for some go karting!
Visit the oil museum, the first oil well drilled on the island
In amongst the oil infrastructure we can see the Tree of Life, this tree stands unique in the desert, covered in graffiti and the size of it makes an impressive sight in amongst the oil wells and desert, especially considering it doesn’t have an obvious water source!
Drive back to Manama
We head to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with the 17:40 flight to Riyadh! (FLIGHT NOT INCLUDED)
Airport transfer to our centrally located hotel
Meet the newcomers joining for Saudi Arabia
Overnight in Riyadh
Sunday 29th March – Riyadh
After breakfast we head straight to Al Masmak, the clay and mud brick fort in Riyadh city centre. Probably the most iconic part of Saudi today this part of the old town played centre stage in the restoration of the House of Saud
Visit the Grand Mosque, Deira Souq and the Dukhanah and Athomairy Gate
After lunch head to the National Museum including the Al Muraba Palace and mosque
Stroll through the museum gardens and take in the atmosphere
We head to Riyadh’s highest tower and mall to see how Saudi’s spend their money
Dinner and overnight in Riyadh
Monday 30th March – Riyadh and around
TRIP HIGHLIGHT Get up early to head out to the Edge of the World – a ‘window’ in the Tuwaiq Escarpment cliff face looking over an acacia valley. This place is one of Riyadh local’s most popular vacation spots and gives amazing views over the plains below
After lunch we head to where it all began at Al Diriyah, Saudi Arabia’s first capital and the original home of the royal family, now a UNESCO heritage site
Drive back to Riyadh
Dinner and overnight in Riyadh
Tuesday 31st March – Qassim
Set off for the train station and we board the 9am train to Qassim, arriving at 12 noon
Grab lunch and then we explore this historic city, renowned as one of the most conservative parts of the whole of the kingdom
Our first stop is the al Mithnab mud village. Then head to the heritage museum and a palm tree farm
At the end of the afternoon we’ll watch the sun set over an expanse of sand dunes. The locals bring their pickup truck here and drive like madmen up the dunes at breakneck speed. If you’re nice/silly enough, they might even take you for a spin!Optional extras – camel ride, quad biking or microlight flight
Drive for 300 KM in the desert to Ha’il
Dinner in the city of Ha’il
Overnight in Ha’il
Wednesday 1st April – Ha’il
After breakfast we’ll explore the gorgeous town of Ha’il
Ha’il is an oasis town famous for its natural beauty and we first drive out to Joubbah town via the Sanman mountain with its 10,000-year-old rock carvings
Visit the Al Qashlah Fort and Earf Castel as well as the local souk
Dinner and overnight in Ha’il
Thursday 2nd April – Jeddah
Up early for the 6:30am flight to Jeddah, the second largest city in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and a port city on the Red Sea
After we check in to our hotel we go straight out to explore Jeddah, taking in the city centre and old Jeddah – al Balad. See the old city gates and traditional markets (souqs) in this labyrinthine part of the city. This is where traders from all over Arabia and Africa live and work in a surprisingly colourful world
The most famous architecture are Jeddah’s coral houses, that still stand in various states of disrepair.
Stroll along the beach and view the ‘floating’ mosque, before a walk along the Jeddah Corniche for great views of the Red Sea
Seafood dinner in one of the cities famous seafood restaurants
Overnight in Jeddah
Friday 3rd April – Ta’if
In the morning we drive to Ta’if, in the Mecca region and one of the oldest towns in the KSA, famous for its rose production, and the rose season will have just started
Stop at Al Katib and Kaaki House, the Bin Abbas Mosque and visit the local souq
Lunch in Ta’il
Head to the Al Gadee Factory where roses are distilled to produce rose water and oil and see the Al Koaa Mosque and Dam
Drive out to the Al Shafa mountains and visit a local rose farm
Bin Abbas Mosque and city centre souk
Overnight in Ta’if
Saturday 4th April – Jeddah
Early morning drive back to Jeddah
Optional extra – snorkeling in the Red Sea!
Enjoy a late lunch in Jeddah to celebrate our time in the country
We head to Kuwait and recommend taking the 20:40 flight arriving in Kuwait City at 22:50. (FLIGHT NOT INCLUDED)
Transfer to our centrally located hotel
Overnight in Kuwait
Sunday 5th April– Kuwait City
After breakfast, where we’ll have our pre-tour meeting, we head out on a tour of Kuwait City.
Our first stop is the must-see museum of Kuwait, which is not for the faint-hearted, the War Museum which depicts the Iraqi invasion during the Gulf War
Visit Kuwait’s Grand Mosque, proper dress for women can be borrowed from the gatehouse. This huge mosque is fairly unique in the region for its Andalusian architectural influence
Lunch at the Kuwait Towers with great views of the city
After lunch we head to the traditional fish market and Dhow harbour
Visit Sadu house, where we can see a traditional Bedouin Kuwaiti house and culture and stop by the National Museum
If we have time we’ll head to the Tareq Rajab museum of Islamic art and calligraphy. This private collection is one of the best not only in the country but of the whole region and a must-see if you’re an art afficianado
Head for dinner and then watch the sunset over the Arabian Sea
Overnight in Kuwait City
Monday 6th April– Road Trip
Today we grab our car and drive off to see parts of the country outside Kuwait City
We stop off at, you guessed it, an oil refinery to get some classic Kuwait oil photos
Lunch in Ahmadi
Head towards the Iraqi border on Highway 80, the road the invading armies entered Kuwait on, now known as the Highway of Death
Get some shots of the desert which makes up most of this country
Head back to Kuwait City
Our last group dinner and overnight in Kuwait City
Tuesday 7th April– Tehran
Last morning to experience a bit more of Kuwait or have a lay-in before we head to take recommended 12:10 flight to Tehran arriving at 14:30. (FLIGHT NOT INCLUDED)
Free afternoon to walk around Tehran and get to know the newcomers.
Visit National Jewellery museum – the contents of this place actually back up the Iranian currency, a truly amazing experience and certainly one of the highlights of the trip regardless of if you are a jewellery fiend or not!
Visit to the heart of Old Tehran to soak up the night time atmosphere, drink some local tea and people watch.
Overnight in Parastoo Hotel.
Wednesday April 8th – Tehran
Drive through Tehran past anti-US propaganda and the US embassy (possibility of actually seeing inside the embassy, something which was considered impossible only a couple of years ago!).
Visit Saad Abad & Niavaran palaces, the last Palaces of the last Shah of Iran. Lunch at Darband hills.
One hour free time or tea by the river.
Shopping in the Tajrish Bazaar of Tehran and visit a nearby mosque. One hour free time.
Traditional Iranian dinner of kebabs at famous restaurant Ayaran restaurant, near Ferdosi square.
Evening walk around the city, with us taking the opportunity to try some shisha, fresh juice bar, and mingle with locals.
Overnight in overnight in Parastoo hotel.
Thursday April 9th – Tehran/ Shiraz
Check out of hotel for morning flight Shiraz.
Visit the citadel in the centre of the city and mingle with locals.
Visit Grand Bazaar for some shopping and photos. Chance to buy old anti-American stamps from a local shop owner and collector.
Lunch in Saray E Mehr restaurant in the middle of bazaar for traditional Di Zi dish.
Free walk around the bazaar or relax with tea and shisha at poets house/tea house. Great chance to mingle with local students.
Dinner at hotel or out to a fast food joint for burgers, falafel, and sambusas.
Overnight at Parsian hotel.
Friday April 10th – Shiraz/Persepolis
Up bright and early to visit the colour stained mosque when the morning light shines through spectacularly.
Late morning drive to Persepolis.
Lunch at traditional restaurant called “Paradise” on the way to Necropolis tombs.
Visit the botanic gardens of Shiraz.
Stop for traditional Shiraz ice cream at a famous local shop.
Visit a famous Hafeizieh Iranian poet’s park and tomb. Great opportunity to mingle with locals and take photos.
Dinner at hotel.
Exploring the streets. Shopping for military hats and patches.
Overnight in Parsian hotel.
Saturday April 11th – Shiraz/Esfahan
Drive to Esfahan with stop at Cirus’s tomb, an old fortress on the way. Tea time break.
Lunch in a restaurant in one of the smaller cities on the way.
Go to the famous old Khaju bridge.
Walk across bridge and mingle with locals. Short rest at hotel.
Walk for a dinner at local restaurants.
Visit one of the oldest carpet shops. Explanation on a variety of Persian carpets and opportunity for a purchase. The presentation involves a show how carpets are made and explanation of 30 different styles of carpets.
Evening visit to the 300 year old Abbasi Hotel for traditional Iranian tea.
Overnight at the centrally located Esfahan tourist Hotel.
Sunday April 12th – Esfahan
Visit the beautiful Safavid Chehelsetoon Palace.
Sheikh Lotfollah mosque and Ali-qapoo palace.
Lunch in a traditional restaurant at the square.
Visit to Shah Mosque.
Free time to see square and shop for gifts at surrounding bazaar.
Chance to change money for small crisp rial denominations. There is an official change place with good rates but they also have a stack of small denominations that they hold. (They remembered us from last time and changed some money for the group).
Optional visit to Iran/Iraq war museum.
Visit Zurkhane gym to watch an ancient Persian sport workout, a strength building exercises done with traditional drum and bell music.
Overnight at the Tourist Hotel.
Monday April 13th – Esfahan/Tehran
Morning flight to Tehran.
Visit Mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini.
Visit the Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetary.
Stop at the Shah’s Monument AKA Revolution Monument for photos on the way from the airport.
Farewell meal at the Armenian Club. Armenians are the main ethnic Christian minority in Iran.
• Visa fees
• Travel insurance
• International air transfers
• Single supplement (€760)
• Dinners, drinks and personal spending
• Optional extras as stated in the itinerary
• Tips to the drivers & local guide
We have expert guides ready to help answer any questions you may have.