First things first, whereas most of us would like to book a really cheap umrah package, there is no way around a quality umrah service in the competitive market today. So, if someone offers you a really cheap package, you will pay in some other way when you arrive for umrah, so select your agent wisely and make a decision keeping in mind your time in Saudi. You might regret saving some money later.
Having said that, there are ways in which you can reduce your umrah package cost without compromising on quality. And it, not only depends on the price of your package but also on how well informed and well prepared you are and how you conduct your affairs while on Umrah. The following tips will not only save you from unnecessary expenses at Umrah but will also give you an idea of where to save and where to spend money.
Take a detailed note of your hotel’s location. Ask your agent for complete details, as to where and how far is the hotel located. It is better to book either a hotel that is close to Haram or one that has a shuttle service. This will save you from taxiing expenses for coming to Haram for prayers.
Speaking of shuttle service hotels, you are almost sure to bag a good bargain if you opt for a 4 star or 5-star hotel with a shuttle service. Not only will most of these shuttles drop you off, very close to Haram but you will also get a decent hotel in a much better price. Options like Maqarem Ummul Qura, Le Meridian Towers and Elaf Al Salam, Mona Ajyad etc are not that bad. Think out of the box and you will get a good stay.
In order to go to change into Ihram, every time you intend to perform a new umrah, don’t take a cab from the hotel. You can come to Haram and after Fajar, which is normally the best time to start, you can use one of the Saptco buses (these are available most of the day) that leave from behind Dar Al Tawheed intercontinental. These buses will take you to and bring you back from Masjid Aisha for SR2 per trip per person. This is fairly cheaper in comparison to taking a cab, especially from the hotel.
Book shared transfers instead of private transfers. Whereas, you will not get a great service with most shared transfers services, you can save some decent money if you opt for shared or bus transfers. The concept is to take passengers from multiple visa companies together on a bus and drop them off to convenient points. Please be aware that you may need to book a taxi to the hotel if you have not booked a complete sharing package.
If you are going in shape of a large group, opt for hotels with Suites of 8-12 guests instead of conventional smaller rooms. In Makkah, larger suites are available in Elaf Ajyad, Elaf Al Salam, Dar Al Eiman Andalous etc. In Medinah for example, you are sure to get a great price for Elaf Majeedi Suites, which is 0 meters from Masjid Nabwi. This will reduce your per person cost a lot. However, keep privacy concerns in mind and understand the structure of rooms clearly before booking.
There is no need to book breakfast or any other food with your room. If you are physically active and can walk a bit, you can find plenty of Pakistani food around Haramain. The food will be really cheap, approximately SR per person per meal should be your guess. In star hotels, this might be from SR25 per person per night. Just make sure you have some eateries close to your accommodation. During Ramadan specially abundant food is available at Sahour and Iftar, in and around Haramain. Please do consider your personal and family circumstances carefully before making a decision in that regard.
Combine Ziarats with Umrah. You might opt to book a taxi to take you to Ziyarats and then to Masjid Aisha and back to Haram. This will not only allow you to perform an extra umrah with ease but will also get you Ziarats as a bonus. This option is specially viable if due to some reason, you have to reply on taxi frequently to go to Masjid Aisha.
Check if your hotel has Wifi on all floors. Lobbies may be crowded in busy season and you can not reply on the wifi to make calls home. The best method to make calls home is using IMO. If you have a smart phone, IMO will save you a lot of cost calling back home and its video option will enable you to see them as well 🙂
Avoid going live on Facebook or watching a lot of videos while on data on your Saudi sim. Your data may exhaust quickly and you may need expensive recharges. Instead, you can record videos if you like and later upload them form your hotel wifi. Avoid excessive use anyways as making videos during ibadah is not nice anyways and hotel Wifi might be used for better purposes by other guests as well. Uploading videos does take precious bandwidth.
If you face any health problem during your stay, you can go to the health center in Makkah on Ibrahim Khaleel street or visit the hospital in Abraj Al Bait complex for emergencies, when in Makkah. In Medinah, there is a hospital towards the Jannat Al Baqee side. Do not use private clinics or look for some. You are entitled to free healthcare and medicine while on umrah.
These are the tips that we have gathered from recent umrah experiences of people. Should you have any to add, please feel free to call or email us, so that other pilgrims can benefit as well.