Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Umrah-on-a-budget: Part 2

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
Basic necessities
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!


  1. Asalam Alikum Sister,
    JazakAllah Khair for sharing your experience and advice. I myself am planning to perform Umrah next month and I found your posts quite helpful and informative. I am student and as such I have limited budget, so I am trying to find ways to save money where possible. Really what I am hoping from this experience is to come closer to my Creator, inshAllah. So I want to avoid the luxuries and just have enough to fulfil my basic needs.

    Now, I am a male student and am planning on performing Umrah on my own for the most part, so I am very flexible. I will be meeting up with a friend there during the trip and inshAllah we will be performing Umrah and also going to Madina together as well, but before and after that I will be mostly on my own. I was thinking of skipping the hotel bookings all together. I would rather spend most of time in Masjid al Haram when I am in Makkah and in Masjid al Nabwi when I am in Madina, inshAllah. I was thinking if its possible then I would simply sleep there. Thus, I would first and foremost spend more time in the mosques and come closer to Allah, but I will also save money and keep the cost under budget, inshAllah. Of course, I am going to find out if first of all if it is even permissible to sleep in the mosques. After all I am going there with the intention of coming closer to Allah and I don't want to be doing something that is displeasing. What are your thoughts about this?

    Also I was there about two years ago, and I remember seeing lockers near Masjid al Haram where people can store their baggage. This would be great for me if I can have a secure place to keep my belongings too. Since you were there recently, do you know if these lockers still exist?

    JazakAllah khair for your post and may Allah accept our Umrah, inshAllah. I look forward to your response =)


    1. Salam Brother,
      Alhamdulillah I'm very happy to know that you find my entry on Umrah helpful. Yes indeed being young and of the male gender will not be much of a problem in terms of sleeping arrangements. Although I'm not quite sure whether you are allowed to spend the night in the Masjid itself (though I found people napping here and there during the day). However there were many people sleeping outside the Masjid under the stars! You may need to bring a sleeping bag. And as for the lockers, Alhamdulillah, they were still there only I just can't remember the pay by the hour and the lockers come in many sizes. Anyway all the best for your journey Brother and may Allah accept our Ibadah!

  2. The food is looking lovely and hotel is also good from where you have find this cheap umrah packages is it along with flight or you find it separately?

    1. As explained in this entry and the one before it, we booked everything ourselves without going through an umrah package..

  3. Need help with islam facts for school?
    i need to know what Umrah, Water purification systems, Yarhamuk - Ullah, and Zakaat are/mean. It would also be a big help if you could post a link too.

    the water purification systems have to do something with islam

    Umrah packages 2013

  4. Salam, saya dah lama cari info psl pergi umrah tanpa travel agent smlm dibincangkan isu ni di group backpackers, dan ada org post link blog ni di sini...Terima kasih atas info yg sgt berguna ini...insyaAllah kalo ada rezeki, saya pun nak cuba kaedah ni...cuma tang mahram tu yg susah sket skang ni... =)

    1. Alhamdulillah saya bersyukur jika entry saya ini boleh membantu orang lain untuk mengerjakan umrah..cuma satu yang suami saya minta beritahu iaitu pergi tanpa package amat sukar dalam bulan Ramadhan sebab kita kena ambil visa melalui agency dan mereka tidak mahu ambil risiko visa itu di salahgunakan oleh orang yang pergi sendirian. Pihak berkuasa Mekah akan blacklist agency yang di dapati mengeluarkan visa kepada orang yang mengambil kesempatan tinggal di Mekah selepas Ramadhan. Allahualam

  5. Great post! Thanks for sharing. Really very informative and very useful post about Umrah on Budget. I like it. Thanks a lot for sharing.
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  6. Amazing blog to read. Thanks a lot for sharing.

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