Why it's Taboo: Strict conduct rules govern visitors and locals alike. For example, women visitors must be met by a sponsor upon arrival into the country, can be arrested by the mutawain (religious police) for improper dress, and are not allowed to drive. Tourists are required to abide by local laws, as violations (including homosexual activity and adultery) may be punished with lashings or the death penalty.
Why it's Still Worth Going: Saudi Arabia was considered closed to outsiders for centuries, enshrouding the country with a sense of the forbidden and mythical. Once inside, you can see the Mada'in Saleh (an elaborate ancient settlement), The Empty Quarter's stunning sand dunes, and the pristine Red Sea reefs.
How to Visit: You will need a sponsor in order to get a visa, and visas can take several months to process. Obtain a business visa or try for one of the five-year multiple-entry visas issued by the Saudi Embassy to American visitors and students. Be aware that having an Israeli stamp in your passport may get your visa application denied.