7 Important Things Before UK Holidays

Planning a UK tour from Saudi Arabia?

If so, stay assured that your UK holidays will be a memorable one.

The UK (United Kingdom) comprising of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland is located in North-Western Europe. 

A UK tour will have few parallels in the world. From the stunning green countryside of England to the quaint country lanes of the Welsh countryside, majestic mountains and lochs of the Scotland, and more, the UK presents a breathtaking panorama of picturesque delights.

What’s more?

Additionally, the UK is home to nearly 30 UNESCO World Heritage sites, magnificent cityscapes, rugged coastlines with its beautiful beaches, and 15 fabulous national parks. Then there are some of the most iconic landmarks in the form of grand palaces, royal parks, and stately museums’. Centuries-old historical architecture and designs, and culture seem to seamlessly blend with the finest of modern architectural marvels and indulgences.

7 IMPORTANT FACTORS BEFORE YOUR UK TOUR

Before planning a UK tour from Saudi Arabia, there are certain factors you should be well-conversant with. 

Like:

ENTRY CONDITIONS

Currently, there are no red list restrictions in place for travel to the UK. This means, any Saudi traveler can embark on UK tour with a UK tourist visa.

On arrival at the airport in the UK, Saudis like everybody else need to show their identity documents, like passport, visa, or national identity card. Additionally, they must also 

  • Ensure to get identity documents ready. This will help to face the airport authorities with confidence.
  • Take off face covering or sunglasses if wearing one. 
  • Go through the passport control queue and counter together if travelling with the family or a group. 
Saudi citizens embarking on a UK tour must also fulfil the following conditions.
  • Three doses of COVID-19 vaccine. The third dose must be taken eight months after taking the second dose.
  • Two doses of vaccine for those under 18 and 12 years of age.

Exemption is granted to those groups who have got a vaccine waiver on medical grounds. This must be as per the status on the Tawakkalna Application.

Those under the age of 12 years are required to have a valid insurance policy against COVID-19.

VISA AND RELATED DOCUMENTS

Under the UK Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW), Saudis can undertake a UK tour without the need for a visa. This is however subject to the purpose of the visit, that is, whether the visit is for – business or medical treatment or study or tourism.

An EVW:

  • Is for a single entry only. This means Saudis will need a new one every time they visit the UK. Additionally, a separate online EVW application has to be made for each person travelling, including children.
  • Allows Saudis to undertake UK travel for a period of six months. The visit cannot be used for getting married, or entering into a civil partnership, or seeking work employment.

If Saudis intend to stay in the UK for longer periods of time, then they will need to intimate the purpose of entry. Additionally, they will need to check what documents and visa will be required to visit and stay in the UK for more time.  

The UK Government website offers a TOOL that can be used to check what the visa requirements are.

PASSPORT:

All Saudis undertaking UK travel must hold a passport. The passport must be valid for the entire duration of the stay. Usually, all passports must have at least six months validity, after the date of departure.

To stay safe, it’s advisable to keep abreast with the latest travel regulations and rules before departure to the UK.

AIRPORT GUIDELINES

Before embarking on a UK tour, it’s important to know that

  • Passenger number restrictions still continue at Heathrow Airport. So stay in touch with the airline for the latest updates and plan ahead before heading to the airport. 
  • Consult the UK Home Office for the most up-to-date information, if planning a visit to the UK for more than six months. This should be done regardless of the purpose of the visit.
  • Entry and exit rules can change any time at short notice. Hence, Saudis should contact Saudi Arabia’s High Commission or the nearest consulate of the UK for the latest information on the same.
  • Check COVID-19 requirements on the Gov.UK website, before planning to travel.

Keep all importance documents together in hand luggage before heading to the airport.

HEALTHCARE

Before travelling to the UK, 

  • Stay abreast with the latest public health guidelines. Then make sure to conform insurance coverage with the insurance provider.
  • Ensure vaccination is up-to-date with the rules in the UK.
  • Ensure to maintain comprehensive travel insurance. This will cover medical costs when visiting the UK or any country in the world. Check to see what is are covered for and what not covered for; and if credit cards are allowed for paying medical cost and bills. 

The standard of medical facilities in the UK is of a high standard. If you’re on a short visit, some GP and hospital treatments are free. Likewise, if you’re on a long visit, that is, more than six months, you will need to pay a surcharge when applying for a visa.

In case, you have health issues when in the UK and need to see a doctor, you can 
  • Avail the NHS (National Health Service). This will allow you to consult a doctor if required. Additionally, check the Saudi Arabia Government website to see if Saudi Arabia has a reciprocal agreement with the UK Government.
  • Call 111, the NHS non-emergency number. Its free of cost and allows you to speak to a healthcare professional
  • Dial 999 or go to the nearest hospital near your place in the UK. This can be done if you require urgent medical care.

SAFETY

When in the UK, 

  • Exercise caution and common sense and stay alert for any suspicious behavior.
  • Stay alert to any incidents that you feel can spark a terrorist attack. Also, take official warnings seriously. The UK has seen international terrorists from the Islamic extremist groups and extreme right-wingers staging attacks on occasions. Hence exercise caution. Additionally, whenever the UK Government issues a terrorism threat level as ‘substantial’, it indicates an attack is most likely. 
  • Stay alert to crime incidents. Petty crimes are common. Beware of pickpockets who mostly loiter around in tourist areas, restaurants and bars, and transport utilities like bus, tube, etc. Additionally, take care when using ATMs and credit cards.
  • Stay alert to incidents of spiking and acid attacks across the UK. There have been several incidents in recent times.
  • Avoid areas that are notorious for protests or protests are occurring. They may hold potential for sudden violence and disruption. Stay abreast with media reports on the same as this will help you stay updated. Also, follow the guidelines given by the local authorities.

ETIQUETTE RULES

When in the UK, do what the locals do. That is, embrace their culture and follow certain etiquette rules. 

Like

  • Be punctual. In the UK, punctuality is important. You’re generally expected to arrive on time. In case, you’re running late, you have a 10-15 minute grace period.
  • Let people off the train before you get inside the train. If you don’t do it then it can cause a crowded mess. This will put off the British people who may curse you for not knowing the rules. 
    Never bluff when in line or skip the queue. People in the UK respect the queue and expect others to do the same. They consider it as rude if you happen to skip or butt in front of people.
    Never be rude to the staff or wave hands or call out to seek attention of a waiter in a restaurant. This is regarded as rude. Though tipping is not compulsory it is considered rude if you do not tip. The norm in the UK is 10-12.5 percent of the bill.

A few more that aren’t essential but to be mindful of:

  • Avoid asking personal questions. People in the UK love a debate but hate being asked personal questions, especially regarding religious and political affiliations; and salary.
  • Remember when and how to reply to ‘How Do You Do?’ The correct response should not be ‘Fine, Thank You’, but instead should be ‘How Do You Do?’  This will require the first person to answer.
  • Know certain rules before sitting down for dinner. In the UK, it is not common to remain standing until you’re invited to sit down. However, this is less common if you happen to know the other person well and the meal happens to be a casual one.
  • Pay for a round of drinks for everyone in your group when at a pub. Pub culture in the UK is big. If someone gives you a drink, likewise you are expected to reciprocate. It is not proper for someone to buy own drinks’ in a bar or pub.

PACKING FOR YOUR UK TOUR

Make sure to pack

  • Variety of clothes for all weather conditions, no matter what the season is. Pack clothes and things essential to cope with all types of weather conditions.
  • Equipment for any special activities you plan to do in the UK. This can include hiking or walking or swimming or any kind of sports, summer or winter.

The UK maintains strong guidelines on what can and what cannot be carried in the hand luggage. Hence, make sure to check out the latest rules on the same and also carry a stock of plastic bags before flying.

Aside from the above, keep a printed copy of the address you’re travelling to with you when in the UK. In case, you miss a coach or train ride to your next destination, the printout will save you and get you help quickly.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

7 Important Things Before UK Holidays

The best time to make a UK tour is during the months of March to May (spring months) or May to September (summer months). 

During the spring season, colors of blue, green, and purple will start to bloom again across the UK landscape. Some of the finest places to see during this season include Leigh Woods in Bristol, Bickling Estate in Norfolk, Stourhead in Dorset, and more. Aside from these places, the UK also offers a vast network of 2, 25,000 kms plus of walking routes. The routes are all along scenic dotted with beautiful scenery attractions that will leave you spellbound. The crowds will be less during the season making it a good time to explore the UK countryside. Further, accommodation and travel rates will be much more affordable than the usual holiday season ones.

WHY GO IN THE SUMMER?

Summer season suits those who enjoy plenty of sunshine and don’t mind mingling with the crowds. The season generally sees outdoor activities at its best. Like the ‘Feast Nights’ in Cornwall when you can show up with the cutlery, plates and wine of your choice, and revel in the food that’s offered at the communal tables. Then there’s Britain’s highest pub Tan Hill Inn in Yorkshire Dales; and the Edinburgh’s Arthur’s Seat. You can also enjoy a Thames Clipper Boat ride in London or savor the fish n’ chips’ at the seashore. The season sees many more unique events across the UK. The only hitch is it will be the most crowded season. Accommodation and tickets are generally hard to get unless they are booked months in advance. Finally, prepare to pay more almost everywhere.

Avoid UK holidays during the wet and cold months (Oct to Feb), unless you’re a hardcore winter sports enthusiast.

FLIGHTS FOR YOUR UK TOUR FROM SAUDI ARABIA

British Airways, Gulf Air and several other airlines like Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines, operate daily direct flights to the UK from Saudi Arabia. Some like Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines even provide connecting flights to the UK.

There will also be help and information desks available at the airports. In case, you’re confused you can get help and see assistance from these desks.

CONCLUSION

UK holidays will be a tremendous experience. There is a bucket-load of things to do and see during the UK tour.

Each urban center in the UK has its own unique flavor and style. Likewise, each rural destination has its own unique aura and vibrancy. From the city vibes of London, Glasgow, etc to the green, rolling hills of the countryside, you will be left mesmerized. Simply put, UK travel will be one of a kind travel experience.

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