The last entry was on transportation, so next on the budget are accommodation and food. Obviously you need to book your rooms in advance so that you won't be stranded in the streets in case all hotels were booked on your arrival. Especially if you happen to reach your destination at night. So you need to book online. Though I must say that not that many of the hundreds of hotels there are in Makkah and Medinah has websites for you to do your bookings. But you have to search and find a suitable one: one in Makkah and one in Medinah before you embark on your journey. By suitable, you also need to consider the distance from the hotel to the Mosque; no point booking a reasonably priced 'luxury' hotel only to find that it's 10 kilometers from the Mosque. And fortunately all you need is to book, you don't need to pay anything in advance. And another tip is you could book for 2 or 3 nights only even if you had planned to stay for more days because when you reach your destination, you could always search for another suitable accommodation. Well, we booked the Menaret El-Aqsa in Medinah for 2 nights. When we reached there around nearly midnight, there was no room for us! (you have to be ready with glitches like this) The hubby insisted (be assertive and hold your horses - we didn't make any advance payment after all!) that we had booked online and after waiting like half-an-hour we got our room, Alhamdulillah. For the third night there we moved into another hotel, a bit cheaper but okey. With accommodation, it's up to you really whether you want a 5-star hotel or a no-star one. But for us, as long as we have clean sheets and a clean bathroom. We're not going to spend most of our time in hotel rooms, are we? Anyway for accommodation in Medinah we spent SR900 altogether (RM765). Well, in Makkah we had booked the Mubarak which is slightly far from Masjidil Haram but shuttle coasters were provided (around 10-15 minutes journey). For the 7 nights we paid SR700 (RM595). Obviously hotels are more expensive in Medinah.. but you never know in the future: they're tearing down old hotels in Makkah and in the process of building new ones.. Anyway, with hotels in Makkah, the further away from the Mosque the cheaper are the rates. So now, adding the two numbers we have = RM1360.
Okey, now food. If you go with an agency, food will be provided but I think most people would also like to sample food sold outside (thus spending more on food). If you travel on your own you have to buy your own food and you can save quite a bit because food is reasonably cheap here. Of course you need to be less formal in your eating habits: for example; most shops don't provide seats, you have to find somewhere to sit to eat (Muslims are not encouraged to eat standing, right?). For Malaysians, you don't have to worry about not getting your staple food (rice); you can get all kinds - thanks to the great number of Indonesians and Bangladeshis working here... Alright, we spent about SR7 for breakfast (for 2 including tea), about SR15 for lunch and for dinner we don't have a heavy one just sandwiches maybe; so around SR10. Therefore on average for a day you might spend about SR32; throw in some juices, let's give it a round number = SR40. Which means you would spend SR400 for 10 days, which is equal to RM340.
Now, adding the two highlighted numbers, we have RM1700. Remember we spent RM3501 for transportation (last blog entry). And not to forget we also spent RM500 for visa which you would need to get through an agency 2-3 months before your journey. That makes the total expenses for our umrah = RM5701, which means per person it would come to RM2850.50. I didn't add the RM260 we spent on vaccinations for us both before our trip because with an agency you also have to pay your own for it. So, there you have it; only about half of what you would pay for an average umrah package! But of course it's not for everybody; if you aren't very healthy or don't want to bother dealing with problems met along the way, then go with a package. It's safer. But if you do decide to go on your own, don't go alone, though. It's safer to have a companion. Here are some more pictures of our umrah trip:
|Second hotel we stayed in Medinah|
|A hotel right at the 'doorstep' of Masjidil Haram - not in our price range!|
|Waiting for a room at Menaret El-Aqsa..|
|Food for breakfast..(These guys simply love to have their picture taken!)|
|We bought additional veggies because they didn't give much - balance diet ok?|
|I remember this meal as one of the tastiest but simply served. They always give the plastic sheet for easy tidying or for simply eating on. Don't bother with plates I'd say!|
|One meal for 2 people! Seriously, it's enough, MasyAllah.|
So, I hope this entry and the one before would be very helpful to those who want to have a bit more challenge - by going for umrah on your own! Good luck and all the best!