Region of culture

Explore Asir

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The southern endpoint of the Red Sea coast, Abha is the culturally rich capital of the Asir region, and a great base for exploring this mountainous part of the kingdom. The city has plenty to explore, from the mud-walled Shada Palace, now a museum, to the lake and amusement park by the five-star Abha Palace Hotel. There are vibrant traditional markets in Abha and sister city Khamis Mushait, and historic neighborhoods like Al Nasb and Al Basta. More broadly, this is a place to get immersed in the unique culture of the Asir region, whether exploring the Al Muftaha art village or learning about the customs of tribes in the spectacular nearby villages of Al Habala and Rijal Almaa.   

Caves of Shada Mountain

A natural installation that offers a unique, adrenaline-fueled opportunity to drive through mesmerizing zigzags of history. Explore the beauty of the caves and do not forget to get a taste of the region’s signature honey and ghee dish while staying at the lodging, served to your delight with freshly baked bread and local Shadawi coffee.

Al Qatt Al Asiri Museum

Asir boasts a lavish heritage, namely its distinguished Al Qatt Al Asiri art form pioneered by women whose works live to inspire through generations. Stop by the Museum and let its owner Fatima Al Almaai walk you through the region’s history, as well as her own twenty-something year journey to get this project off the ground.

Bin Adhwan Tourist Village

A must-stop in the Asir region, this beautiful village offers a modernly equipped lodging where visitors can get a taste of local cuisine and explore the adjacent museum whose collection encompasses the region’s rich and diverse history. Get a close look at the distinctive Al Qatt Al Asiri art form while staying there.

The Hight City

Explore the blend of modernity and heritage on this breathtaking tourist spot. The High City boasts 18 restaurants and cafes situated atop a mountain with a panoramic view over Abha city and the locally famed Aqabat Dhela route. What makes the architecture special is that it incorporates stones from the surrounding mountain to preserve the identity of Asir.

The Shipbuilder

This breathtaking coastal town was once a main port in the Kingdom - known for its shipbuilding industry. Ships used to set sail from and to Umluj. Today it is a landmark tourist attraction with its pristine beaches, clear water, and rich biodiversity. Stop by and marvel at the Umluj beauty, while taking in the diverse history of its locals.

When in Asir, go and explore

Mountain slopes with warm orange sky

Green Mountain

One of Saudi Arabia’s more curious landmarks, Jebel Thera — better known as the Green Mountain — is a peak in the south of Abha, lit at night by neon green lights that emit a warm emerald glow across the city. The best way to get to the summit is by cable car, where there’s a Lebanese restaurant and cafe with a terrace and panoramic views.

Cable cars at top of mountains

Al Habala

The hanging village of Al Habala is a curious wonder. A series of sandstone houses perched on the ledge of a sheer cliff, it was built almost 400 years ago by the Qahtan tribe, who reached the village by rope ladder (the name comes from ‘habal’, the Arabic term for rope). They lived here self-sufficiently until the 1980s, working small terraced farms. Today, there’s a cable car to the village from May to October, and visitors are greeted at the top by Qahtani men wearing traditional flower garlands.

Woman standing outside of double blue doors with street art

Al Muftaha Village

Abha’s bohemian arts center, Al Muftaha Village is a beautiful little quarter around a mosque daubed with calligraphy. Little galleries showcase the work of regional craftspeople and artists, whose work is often colorful and figurative. Walls are daubed with bright murals, many nodding to the geometric patterns that Asiri women would traditionally paint their homes with. Small museums either side of the mosque tell the story of Abha’s artistic heritage, including how the status of local families was defined by the quality of the murals in their homes.

Recommendations

  • Where to stay

    Take your pick from the iconic Abha Palace, with its glass pyramid and large spa overlooking Lake Saadd; the contemporary Bayat by Cristal; or the business-friendly Mercure Khamis Mushait in the city’s east.

  • Where to eat

    Opt for Nahran at the Abha Palace for Arabic dishes and lake views; the Green Mountain Restaurant for local classics in an iconic spot; N Lounge for quality western dishes; and the revolving restaurant at the Assalam Palace Hotel.

  • Where to have fun

    Enjoy the best of the cool highlands with a walk around Abha Lake Dam, or visit Wadi Mahala to see where the region’s birds and wildlife cluster. At Souq Al Thulatha, also known as Tuesday market, browse stalls stocked with incense, local honey and beautiful handmade crafts – ideal for souvenirs.

  • Rent a car

    There are car rentals in central Abha, but most are on the road to Khamis Mushait, including Avis, Theeb and Budget.

  • Learn more

    Amazing Tours’ Islands and Mountains trip ends at Abha, including the hanging village, while Bondai’s evening tours feature the Shada Palace and Green Mountain. Alboraq’s five-night tours pass through the city and also take in the famed Rijal Almaa village.

Things to do in Asir

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