In today's entry I would like to share with my dear readers how we managed to go for umrah without joining any group packages and thus were able to cut down on expenses. However this may only be relevant to Malaysians as I'll be quoting airline prices from and to Malaysia. In our country group packages for umrah cost on average from RM4000 - RM6000 per person (about USD1290 - USD1935: I'm roughly estimating USD1=RM3.1). Usually the length of stay is between 10 to 14 days. We spent 10 days altogether ( 3 in Medinah and 7 in Makkah).
Of course there are advantages and disadvantages for going on your own and going with a package. If you are the adventurous type and ready to face challenges along the way (and don't want to spend a lot of money..) then you may be interested in making the journey on your own but if you don't like the hassle of booking things online and having to handle problematic people and situations (and sleeping on cold hard airport floors!) then you are better off going with a package.
Okey dokey, I'll start with the basic rule of planning your journey, and that is to book your flights way in advance. For our trip in April, the hubby had booked our flights 7 months earlier ie in September 2011! You need to go online and check relevant airline websites for the best deal. And the best deal is almost always NOT a direct flight from KL to Jeddah.. The best deal for us then was taking a flight to Colombo, Sri Lanka from KL and then only to Jeddah. The first leg was with Air Asia (RM500 - for both of us) and for the rest of the journey was with Saudia. Saudi Arabian Airline is a good deal really but curiously, if we start the journey with the airline from KL, it would become considerably expensive.. Anyway, we spent USD1150 for tickets (for both of us) on journeys: Collombo - Jeddah - Cairo - KL. If you're not going to Cairo, then it would be a bit less: USD820 = RM2542. We also took a flight on Air Asia from Kuala Terengganu to KL which cost us RM240 which I'm not going to add to the expenses because you may not be travelling from there. Okey then, when we reached Jeddah we travelled to Medinah on Saudi Arabian also and ticket price was SR280 (converting it into RM where the rate of exchange was SR1=RM0.85) or RM238. Therefore the amount we spent on airplane tickets altogether = RM3280. Now, remember this is for 2 persons..
For this blog-entry, I intend to write about expenses on transportation only; dealing with accommodation and food on my next entry. Now, let see..from Medinah airport we got a taxi paying SR50 = RM42.50 to our hotel. When we came out of the airport a taxi driver offered to take us for SR100 but the hubby decided to ask around and found a taxi driver who needed passengers for a return journey. From Medinah we travelled to Makkah by bus (SAPTCO) and tikets for 2 cost SR110 = RM93.50. And from the bus station in Makkah to our hotel: SR20 = RM17
Okey, after a week in Makkah, we went back to Jeddah to catch our flight to Cairo. Fom Makkah we decided to go by bus (SAPTCO again), a cheaper means of transport but comfortable nevertheless and bus tickets were SR30 = RM25.50. Now, on arriving at the bus station in Jeddah we hadn't a clue as to how much it would cost us to take a taxi to the airport. But luckily for us (Alhamdulillah, Allah made things easy for us), the bus driver was Indonesian and we met another Indonesian gentleman at the bus station who informed us that the usual fare is SR50 (armed with little Arabic you can still get by over here because there are many Indonesians working in SA and most are willing to help, MasyAllah) So, we got us a taxi to the airport for SR50 = RM42.50. Now we add up all the green-highlighted numbers = RM221. Add this to the blue-highlighted numbers and we get... RM3501. Thus, this is how much we spent on transportation only, for 2 people.
While we were in Makkah we did umrah a number of times and that meant travelling to the nearest place outside Haram territory which is Taneim. Vans cost range: SR6 - SR10 to and fro. (battered-looking vans cost less...lol) Buses were cheaper: SR4 both ways (but slower because they pick and drop people along the way). Let say you'd like to do umrah 4 times (after the one which you'd done on entering Makkah for the first time) and taking the average cost of transportation to be SR7, that means you'll spent SR28 and times 2 (persons) would be SR56 = RM47.60. However, this is just extra information as the extra umrah you do with or without a package you pay yourselves...
Here are some pics of interest:
|At Bandaranaike International Airport, Colombo|
|The mosque in Taneim where we went to, at the start of all our 'extra' umrahs|
|Saudi Arabian International Airport (the Airline has its own airport)|
|The friendly check-in officer at SA International Airport who was delighted to know we are Malaysians as he is half-Malaysian himself and proud to be able to speak our language and was most helpful..Alhamdulillah!|
|Boarding the airplane bound for Cairo..|
In my next entry I will write about accommodations and food..insyAllah.