I received a lot of questions on D.I.Y. umrah. I try to answer all questions here in a more structured form.
Saudi Airlines and Egypt Air offer good online systems. If you were to book KL-Jeddah-KL, the system will quote you the price in US Dollars. It is more expensive than booking from travel agents. For Saudi Airlines, normal price is about RM2600 quoted by Adinas Travel (Saudi Airlines agent in Malaysia). I think it is about the same if using Egypt Air but I think you can choose to visit Cairo for a few days if you want to.
The cheaper choice – http://adiharriman.com/blog/?p=3983
Please make sure the Visa is available during the time you want to do the booking.
There are times when umrah visa is not available. Now(2011), no visa for umrah is issued after hajj until January and February. If you were to ask travel agent also they cannot tell the specific date when it will be available.
If you were to grab cheap tickets from online, please make sure the Visa is available during that time. A friend of mine booked a ticket for umrah in December and hope that his friend in Jeddah will help out in applying Tourist Visa, was unsuccessful.
You have to apply Visa a month before departure not earlier. The visa is valid for 30 days from the date of entrance.
You have to apply through travel agent – http://adiharriman.com/blog/?p=3927
Agents for umrah – http://www.hajinformation.com/umrah_agents.php?id=78
Update: For this year, umrah visa available from end of Dec 2012.
From Madinah Airport to Masjid Nabawi costs SR50 for Toyota Vios and SR100 for bigger car
Madinah – Makkah, we used Saptco. It runs every hour and takes about 6 hours to arrive. It costs SR55 one way and if you buy return, there is some discount. The bus is very nice and specious. It makes 2 stops. First at Bir Ali for Miqat and the second one about 2 hours before Makkah for food and prayers. You also can choose car or van like Toyota Innova, it cost around SR400 one way.
Makkah – Jeddah Airport, we took an unlicensed cab for SR140. Normal rice is SR150 – SR200. It took 2 hours to reach Jeddah Airport.
Makkah – Tanaim, for Umrah, the ride with van cost SR3. Some charged SR5. You have to be patient to for vans offering SR3.
Sapco Bus Station in Madinah
Inside the bus
The place the bus stop for us to eat
Where we get the transport to Tanaim
Inside the van to Tanaim.
No one seems to know English for chitchatting. They just know numbers. You have to use sign language a lot. Solution: Learn a little bit of Arabic.
Rooms are easy to find except during Ramadan as told by my friends. You are free to negotiate the price offered and check out the room first before deciding. Most of the room normally have 3 beds.
Accommodation – Madinah
Cheaper one is about SR100 and it normally has 3 beds. New hotels nearer to masjid are very expensive. Look for hotel a bit further and behind the masjid.
While I was there I managed to get 3 nights for only SR200 i.e SR67 per night.
Nice but cheap hotel and the one normally used by Tour Agents are normally around SR150 per night per room. It has 3 beds, fridge, towels and TV. The one we stayed was located at Ajyad Road, near Shohada Hotel. It is about 700m from masjid.
Cheap accommodations available at the south of masjid and look for old hotels. Click image below for larger view.
Foods are easy to find. Avoid buying right after prayers because all shops are full with people. The cheapest rice with 1/2 chicken is SR11 which is enough for 4 person. Vegetable is almost non-existence so we bought some cucumber to eat with our food
Tea is SR1 per paper cup. Tea with milk is SR2. What we did was; we bought a cattle and a tin of condensed milk and a pack of tea bags.
The biggest chained store in Saudi
After prayer, all shop that served food will be flooded with people
You can buy the containers and bring to masjid to fill up. Mostly 10 litres containers are used. You can fill up at zamzam water available outside the masjid and cannot bring your big containers inside the masjid. There were times when zamzam water ran out and you have to take from inside the masjid. I think the biggest bottle you can bring inside is 1.5 litre.
Or you can just buy from the hotel at SR20. The have some ready for their customers and it comes sealed with plastic bag.
I was thinking of buying a container and fill it up myself but the heat and carrying heavy load put off the idea.
You better buy at Dates Market in Madinah. A lot of choices and cheaper than Makkah. Ajwa is around SR60 per kg.
For Saudi Airlines, you can check in 40kg of luggage and 1 zamzam for free. Now they have new policies on number of bags. Better check with their website.
Budget (I will detail out when I got time)
For 10 days, 2 days in Madinah and 10 days in Makkah.
Roughly for twin sharing hotel room, food, transport – from my experience, RM1,000 per person is enough.
Pros and cons (Will update soon)
- Local cuisine. In tour package mostly you are served with Indonesian food.
- Create your own itinerary. For example: After prayer in the morning you can go to Tanaim for Umrah and you can complete your umrah early before it got hot. In tour package, after prayer, you have to go back to hotel for breakfast, then you can only start your umrah. The sun already rose.
- Cannot postpone or cancel
- Not for the first timers
- This guide is not for first timers. What you read in Umrah book is not as easy as actually performing umrah.
- This guide is mostly based my Umrah in April 2012
- Exchange rate at that time is RM100 = SR116
I’ll add more information from time to time.
Please post any question in the comment section. You can call but do not sms questions.