If you are very sure that you want to do your Umrah, Alhamdulillah, for Allah has opened your heart and this is Allah’s way of inviting you to His Blessed Place. As you will be aware, performing Umrah or Hajj is not like an ordinary holiday. It is a journey to attain Allah’s pleasure as we aim towards self-improvement.
Presently, there are numerous Umrah packages offered by various agencies. How do you know that the package you are paying for is value for your money? How do you decide on a package that suits your needs?
We believe there are three crucial factors to consider before deciding on the package offered by a tour agency:
Before comparing the price and number of days of the Umrah package, you should look at the flight that the package offers. A direct flight from Singapore to Jeddah is 8 hours long and non-direct flights transit at a particular country for a few hours or even a whole day. Doing so may reduce your time in Makkah or Madinah.
However, more importantly, we recommend going for the Full-Service Carrier instead of a Low-Cost Carrier. This ensures that you are served with enough food and that you feel comfortable throughout the journey and well-rested at the start of your Umrah.
Pro-tip: You’ll be surprised at how affordable an upgrade to business class is on Saudi Airlines. Stay tuned for our upcoming post about our experience aboard. 😉
If this is your first time going to Makkah and Madinah, it is wise to find out about the hotels you will be staying at and how far the walk to the Masjid is.
There may be many 5-star hotels around the Masjid and they could look near on Google Maps but because of the ongoing construction and other infrastructure, you may find that it is a long walk from these hotels to the Masjid.
Pro-tip: Dallah Taibah Hotel in Madinah is a short walk of approximately 3-minutes to Masjid Nabawi. Once you step out of the Hotel, you can already see the entrance of the mosque. Furthermore, the gate leads right to the ladies’ section.
In Makkah, apart from Abraj Al Bait (famously known as the ‘clock tower’ and its chain of hotels) or Hilton Towers being situated right at the doorstep of Masjidil Haram, you’ll have little to no trouble finding your way back as the buildings are nearly impossible to miss.
It is also worth considering to go on full board (daily breakfast, lunch and dinner at the hotel) because of its convenience so that you can perform your religious obligations with a peace of mind.
3) Get to know your guide
No matter how big or small your budget is, you would probably be spending a sizeable amount for this trip. You may even have everything down to the last detail but the one thing we truly seek is an umrah mabrur.
It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Prophet (ﷺ) said: “From one ‘Umrah to another is an expiation for the sins that came in between them, and Hajj Mabrur (an accepted Hajj) brings no less a reward than Paradise.” So let’s make it count by ensuring that every step of your ibadah is performed correctly.
If this is your first-time performing Umrah, it is advisable that you do it with a guide who can lead you from the point of miqat to Tawaf and Sa’i. In most cases, tour agencies would have already organised umrah courses held by an Ustaz or Ustazah who would be following and guiding the group as well. Take this opportunity to get to know them and ask questions as you prepare yourself mentally weeks in advance. In fact, you may still join a class even if you have not signed up for an umrah package or only intend to travel in the near future because these courses are often open to the public and free of charge.
That said, a good time to travel is usually in the beginning or end of the year due to the cool weather. Although the number of days is entirely up to you (or your annual leave), travellers often spend 5 days in Madinah and at least a week in Makkah for a peaceful and comfortable experience. Do take note that umrah packages are unavailable during the hajj period (a month before and after Eid al-Adha) and give yourself ample time of at least 2 months to apply for your visa and to ensure a good seat.