Contrary to popular belief, Saudi Arabia is much more than the desert it is believed to be. One of the most significant examples of this is the lush green provinces of Al Baha and Asir.
Majestic mountains, outdoor adventures, and picturesque landscapes are just a few reasons why Al Baha and Asir are an alluring destination. These regions are situated in the southwestern part of the country and have something for every traveler – whether you’re an adventure seeker, nature lover, or just a curious culture enthusiast.
About 220.4 km away from Taif is the beautiful Al Baha province and 178 km away is the gorgeous Asir region.
Al Baha do things differently compared to the rest of the Kingdom, including winter – local, regional expert, and guide, Mosaied Althabiti reveals that Al Baha is divided into two main sections, namely the uppermost part of the mountain (Sarad) and the foothills (Tihama), as winter approaches, locals beat the extreme temperatures by driving down to the lower summit of Tihama mountain to warm up. There are four towns, namely Al Makhwah, Qlwa, Ghamid alzinad, and Al Hejrah located on Mount Tihama, brimming with recreational activities, heritage villages, and natural reserves.
Start your trip by exploring the lower peak of the Shada Mountains (Al Asfal). It is a perfect spot for anyone who wants to appreciate nature – with unique geological structures. The stunning landscape is located 20 kilometers northwest of Al Makhwa. The mountain comprises caves that have been engraved with drawings and inscriptions which date back more than 3000 years.
Al Baha is also the perfect spot to enjoy an ideal cave retreat. Many tourists are drawn to the caves of Sheda Mountain, just like the caves resort in the Lower Shada Mountain in Al Makhwah.
They have been restored and transformed into resorts with all amenities like lights and seating areas perfect for a nice picnic. The caves are said to have the perfect view of sunsets and sunrise. It is the ideal stop for hiking and photography enthusiasts. In between these caves, you will spot plantations of various fruits like bananas, mango, and coffee beans. You can have your local scout or guide set up a visit to try fresh produce.
Explore the historical sites of the province by visiting the earthy Dhee Ayn, Marble Village, one of the unique heritage sites. Dhee Ayn ancient village is a 400-year-old village located down the cliffs of Al Baha 24 km south along Al Aqaba Road, in Al Makhwah. The heritage site includes more than 40 houses although the ancient structures are not made of slate and stone, the marble village got its name due to its iconic location atop a marble hill. With the cool breeze reigning, exploring this ancient city will be both fun and enlightening.
- Al Baha is known to produce some of the best coffee beans in Saudi Arabia.
- Banana plantations are prevalent in Al Baha valley; as you descend on the slope leading to the Marble village. You will see first-hand authentic village life, with banana and guava sellers found on the roadside.
- Hikers rejoice and climbing enthusiasts enjoy this part of the mountain as it’s ideal for hiking with its pleasant weather, rich history, and natural landscape.
A certified instructor, Mosaied Althabiti is a proactive member of the Saudi tour guide association. Known to be the best guides in Al Baha, he is deeply acquainted with the region and its traditions and gives a beautiful personalized experience of the province.
Winter in Asir tends to get very cold, as compared to the rest of the kingdom. This region is known for its great mountainscape and flora and fauna. The area is rich in cultural architecture and traditional art. Here is a list of places that you can visit on your journey to Asir – as the temperatures get a bit extreme.
Approximately 4 hours away from Al Baha is Asir’s beautiful province, which comprises Abha, Khamis Mushait, Al Namas, and Tanomah.
Explore the peaceful mountains of Al Souda (Black Mountain), located in the Asir National Park’s heart. With various hiking trails and adventure activities around the area, Jabal Al Souda is a utopia for those who want to get closer to nature and explore the Juniper covered landscape.
- This spot is perfect for bird watching enthusiasts, as the region is known to be home to over 170 species of birds.
Habala Hanging Village
Located in the Asir region of Saudi Arabia, Habala is a small mountain village which is approximately one hour away from Abha city – Habala comes from the Arabic word for the rope as the village in the past was accessible only through a rope ladder. This spot offers a stunning view of the grand mountainscape that is picturesque and breathtakingly perfect for photography lovers.
One of the best destinations for visualizing the Asir region’s flora and fauna is located in Al Qahtan, about 15 kilometers north of Al Namas. The location is considered a natural park due to its natural forests, an abundance of Juniper, and animals like Hyena, Wolves, and the Arab Caribou, which have been spotted in this location.
As the winter approaches Abha, the capital city of Asir hits hibernation mode, double-check before embarking to spots here.
The Fog walkway
Located in the Al Dhabab neighborhood in Abha, the fog walkway overlooks the beautiful Tihama Mountains. The walkway gives a perfect illusion of wandering amongst clouds and fog – set on Abha’s vast mountaintops; the walkway is one of the natural marvels the kingdom has to offer.
Al Maqar museum for civiliZation
If you are looking to spend a warm cozy day in the lap of historical affluence, the Maqar museum in Al Namas is the perfect place to go. A comprehensive display of artifacts belonged to the Abbasid, Umayyad, and Ottoman periods of history.
The Museum took 35 years to build and is an architectural marvel comprising two million natural stones.