Madain Saleh or Madaen Saleh is a large archaeological site located in Saudi Arabia. Madian Saleh is a Nabatean city which is hewed out of the rock, similar to the style of the famous Petra which is located in Jordan. It is also on the tentative list to become a UNESCO Heritage site. This would help draw a lot of tourists to the Kingdom.
1-A section is present in the Holy Quran which explains the real story of these houses. “And you carve out of the mountains, homes, with skill”. Quran 26:149. “And do not touch her with harm, lest you be seized by the punishment of a terrible day. But they hamstrung her and so became regretful. And the punishment seized them. Indeed, in that is a sign, but most of them were not to be believers.” Quran 26:156-158
2-Currently the access to the site is somewhat difficult and several Muslims have refused to enter the area as Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “Do not enter the ruined dwellings of those who were unjust to themselves unless (you enter) weeping, lest you should suffer the same punishment as was inflicted upon them.” – Sahi Bukhari 3381
3-The area is called Madaen Saleh because Hazrat Saleh A.S. was sent to the Thamud. In order to test Hazrat Saleh (may Allah be pleased with him), they asked him to bring a special camel which was later on killed by the leaders of Thamud. Allah destroyed the people of Thamud with an earthquake.
4-To get into the Madain Saleh, you will need a permit, however, some tourists have claimed to gain entry by their ID only. There are hotels and tour groups which can arrange them on your behalf however you will need to apply in advance. You may also do it yourself through the SCTA or Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities which is located in the Diplomatic Quarters.
5-There are two flights every week to the AlUla airport which is operated by the Saudi Airlines. The airport is located around 15 kilometers towards the south east of Al Ula town. The Al Wajh and Medina airports are located 220 kilometers and 330 kilometers (respectively) and they are the closest airports other than the Al Ula airport Al Ula is located 22 kilometers away from the Madain Saleh. There are direct buses being run to Al Ula from nearly every major city. The bus ride from Jeddah is 8 hours long and the ride from Riyadh is 13.5 hours long.
6-Since you cannot stay the night at Madain Saleh, you can try out the two hotels located in Al Ula which are Mada’in Saleh Hotel which is the main hotel in the town. The hotel provides the airport transfer facility and offers various sightseeing packages. It has a 4+ star rating but is not located in Madain Saleh. The hotel offers some of the best food there is, in the entire area. Arac Hotel Al Ula guaranteed clean and delicious food, 4-star hotel rating and 1 of the only 2 hotels in the region. There are no hotels in Madain Saleh.
7-Those who do not want to eat at the hotel can try the street food as well as different restaurants in Al Ula, which any local person from Al Ula can guide you to, including the hotel or tour staff. For those of you who are properly equipped, there are some campsites close to the gate of Madain Saleh. There are also specially organized tours which offer outdoor camping in a highly luxurious manner near the entrance to Madain Saleh.