SAPTCO stands for Saudi Public Transport Company. It was established in 1399H (1979CE) and provides transportation services within the country. Importantly, SAPTCO provides a bus service between the cities of Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah, the three main cities visited by pilgrims.
SAPTCO's normal bus service
SAPTCO runs a regular bus service between the cities of Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah. The cost of travel between Makkah and Madinah (and vice versa) is 55 SAR (9 GBP / 15 USD). The regular bus service is fairly no frills, with limited leg room and no food or drink served (so you are advised to bring some with you!).
The journeys commence from the main bus station, the details of which can be found below in the VIP service detail. Bus tickets can be purchased from SAPTCO bus stations.
There are a total of 19 departures daily from Makkah to Madinah. The journey is timetabled to take around 4.5 hours.
The normal bus service departs from Makkah to Madinah at the following times all week: 00:38, 01:40, 07:10, 07:40, hourly from 08:10 until 12:10, 14:10, 15:10, 15:30, 16:55, 18:10, 19:40, 21:10, 21:40, 22:40, 23:40.
There are a total of 19 departures daily from Madinah to Makkah. The journey is timetabled to take around 7.5 hours (this includes a number of stops).
The normal bus service departs from Madinah to Makkah at the following times all week: 01:00, hourly from 06:30 until 11:30, hourly from 13:00 until 17:00, hourly from 19:00 until 23:00, 23:28 and 23:58.
SAPTCO's VIP bus service
The information below is correct as of February 2013 - you should check for the latest bus schedules at your local SAPTCO ticket office.
SAPTCO provide a VIP bus service (in addition to their normal bus service) between many destinations throughout the Kingdom. In particular they provide a VIP bus service between Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah.
VIP buses offer considerably better leg room, are direct journeys (the normal bus stops mid-journey) and include some complimentary food and drink. It is more expensive than the normal bus but for 170 SAR (~30 GBP / 45 USD) per adult for a return trip to Madinah from Makkah, it represents very good value.
Bus tickets can be purchased from SAPTCO's ticket offices in Jeddah, Makkah or Madinah. Please note that the ticket office is located at SAPTCO's normal bus station which may differ from the VIP bus locations.
In Makkah, the SAPTCO ticket office (which is also the collection/drop-off point for the VIP bus) is at its SAPTCO station near to the Intercontinental Dar at-Tawhid hotel (on the Ibrahim al-Khalil road), as shown on the map below:
It will take you around 5-10 minutes to walk there with your luggage from the Intercontinental Dar at-Tawhid hotel although the pavement is quite narrow - as ever, after Jumu'ah there is a lot of people and road traffic which may make it difficult to arrive for the 2pm depart time on that day.
There are three daily VIP services from Makkah to Madinah that run Saturday to Thursday at 11am, 5pm and 10pm. On Jumu'ah the schedule is 2pm, 8.30pm and 11.30pm.
The bus drop off for the VIP service in Madinah is at the Elaf Taiybah hotel (please see below).
It is important to note that the ticket office in Madinah is located at the SAPTCO bus station not at the VIP bus collection/drop-off point. To avoid a long walk it is advised you purchase your tickets for travel from Madinah at Makkah.
The ticket office and VIP collection/drop-off point are shown on the map below:
VIP buses run from Madinah to Jeddah daily at 10am, 2pm and 10pm all week long. The VIP buses to Makkah depart at 10am, 3pm and 9.30pm Saturday to Thursday except for on Jumu'ah when the schedule is 2pm, 5pm and 9.30pm.
You can also catch the VIP bus service from Jeddah directly to Madinah, which runs from near to the Heraa market at 2pm, 5pm and 10pm daily.
All services (Makkah <-> Madinah <-> Jeddah) take approximately 4.5 - 5 hours.
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