Smart budget tips for Hajj and Umrah

Whatever your financial position, it’s important to plan your budget for Hajj and Umrah carefully. Then you can enjoy the spiritual experience of visiting the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah without worrying about money issues.

The total cost of your pilgrimage depends on many choices. Check out our tips for a great Hajj or Umrah experience at a cost you can afford.

What Hajj or Umrah packages are available?

Hajj pilgrims must book a package including visas, accommodation and transport via an agency approved by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah. Umrah pilgrims are free to arrange their own accommodation and transport, but may wish to take advantage of special Umrah package deals. These range from basic to VIP, so take time to compare packages and find the best one for your budget.

Prices depend on your country of residence and you may be able to find a better deal by booking accommodation in Makkah and Madinah independently – especially if you wish to stay in a luxury hotel.

Can I travel at off-peak times?

Traveling during low season and outside of holiday periods offers a more relaxing Umrah experience. It also allows you to take advantage of lower flight costs and special hotel deals. If you must perform Umrah at a busy time of year, consider traveling on weekdays instead of weekends.

Most pilgrims stay in Saudi Arabia for 15–28 days. A shorter trip will save some money – but once you have paid for your flights and visas, you may as well make the most of your stay!

What are my travel costs in Saudi Arabia?

Taxis and private chauffeur transfers are the most comfortable travel options for pilgrims with large families and lots of luggage – but for the long journeys between Makkah and Madinah, they can add a lot to your budget. For up-to-date information and tips on travel options in Saudi Arabia, check out our blog articles on the best routes to travel to Makkah and how to get around Makkah once you’re in the city.

Alone or as a group?

Large families and groups traveling together can save money by sharing taxis and booking family suites in hotels. On the other hand, traveling with children or elderly relatives may mean you need to spend more on transport, shopping and meals.

What level of comfort do I need?

Don’t underestimate how strenuous Hajj and Umrah can be, especially at busy times and during hot weather. In Makkah, many pilgrims appreciate the comfort of staying in a 5-star hotel near Al Haram with reliable air conditioning and high-quality facilities. If you budget smartly, book well in advance and look out for special deals, you’ll be able to treat yourself to a higher level of comfort and enjoy your Hajj or Umrah experience even more.

What do I need to buy in Makkah?

Shopping for gifts for loved ones back home is a major aspect of Hajj or Umrah for many pilgrims. You may also need to include ihram clothing, sun protection and fragrance-free toiletries. Haircuts and shaving are other minor costs. You have a lot of flexibility in the “shopping” part of your budget – but careful, big shoppers may need to pay excess baggage fees on the flight home!

See our blogs on sensational Hajj gifts and souvenirs and the best places to shop in Makkah.

How much should I budget for food and drink?

Eating and drinking together should be one of the pleasures of a pilgrimage, so it’s worth budgeting a decent amount depending on the type of restaurants you enjoy. Hotel rates, particularly in more upscale hotels, often include a generous breakfast and you can also book half-board or even full-board package deals. Remember to include money for snacks and drinks, as the weather in Makkah is very hot and you will need to stay refueled and rehydrated while performing your rites.

How much does the sacrifice cost?

Unless it is included in your package, you must budget for one obligatory sacrifice while staying in Makkah. You can buy a sacrifice coupon in advance or in Makkah itself, with the cost depending on the type of animal you choose to be sacrificed. If you miss an obligatory rite, you’ll need to pay for another sacrifice to expiate for this.

What does WiFi and mobile internet cost in Saudi Arabia?

Calling, messaging and sending photos to friends and family back home – as well as keeping touch on social media – are part of the pleasure of a pilgrimage. Many good hotels now offer free WiFi and you can get great deals on prepaid SIM cards for your smartphone while traveling in Saudi Arabia.

How to prepare for a Hajj pilgrimage

Wondering how to get to Makkah and what to bring? Enjoy a smooth trip with essential Hajj tips to help with booking, packing and budgeting for your sacred pilgrimage.


From important rituals and spiritual preparation to package pitfalls and financial considerations, here’s what you need to know before setting off on your Makkah travels.

Overall Planning for a Pilgrimage to Makkah

Your once-in-a-lifetime journey requires physical, spiritual and practical preparation. While modern transportation makes Hajj accessible to pilgrims of all fitness levels, it can still be an arduous trip. Start a workout regimen that includes walking and strength-building exercises at least a month before you leave. Add more fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods to your diet. If necessary, consult your physician to get approval for travel. Your paperwork needs to be in order, so pay attention to visa requirements. It’s a good idea to make a will before you leave.

Spiritual preparation is equally important. To attain the needed state of purity, you must repent sins, redress wrongs and reconcile unsettled issues with people in your life. Practice patience, avoid conflict and refrain from sin as you strengthen your relationship with Allah. Learn your prayers by heart and study the Hajj rituals you will soon perform.

Booking a Trip to Makkah

Don’t trust just any Hajj organizer you find online. Book with an agency authorized by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah. For protection against fraud, pay with a credit card instead of a debit card or bank transfer. Get as many details as you can about the Hajj package, such as Makkah hotel names and the number of people who will share a room. Inquire about included meals, in-country transportation and the distances between locations on the itinerary. As Muzdalifah has limited facilities and can get crowded, it’s a good idea to get specifics about your night under the stars.

But booking Makkah travel isn’t just about logistics and physical comforts. Read online reviews to find agencies that can cater to your spiritual needs as well. Consider group dynamics to make sure your companions have like-minded spirits.

Packing for Your Muslim Pilgrimage

As you could be away from home for weeks, begin with a complete packing list. Three sets of Ihram clothing are advisable, as you’re almost guaranteed to get them dirty while outdoors. Bring two types of footwear — durable waterproof slippers for bathroom visits during the pilgrimage, and comfortable shoes for long walks. A pocket Quran will come in handy, as will a pocket prayer mat when you find yourself on the go at Salah time. Consider downloading the sacred text to your phone, along with a guide to Hajj rituals.

You’ll want a small backpack for incidentals on your trip to Mina. An umbrella will shade you from the desert sun. Remember that toiletries should be scent free. Search online for halal-friendly travel kits that include sunscreen, conditioning shampoo, unscented soap and lip balm.

Considering Hajj Costs

During the journey, pilgrims must be debt free with enough savings to provide for dependents at home. While the pilgrimage is affordable for most locals, those living outside of Saudi Arabia can expect the total cost to range from US$3,000 to US$10,000 per person. You will use cash for many of the day-to-day expenses. See if you can exchange money at home so you’ll have at least 500 Saudi riyals (US$130) when you arrive. To get cash while in the Kingdom, you’ll find an ample number of banks, currency exchanges and ATMs in and around Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah.

As Saudi Arabia can be an expensive country, make a budget and consider what costs you will incur. If your mobile plan doesn’t have international coverage, a local SIM card (about US$100) allows you to stay in touch while away from home. Does your Hajj package include dining at local restaurants? You will also want to budget money for sadaqah (charitable giving) and the Eid al-Adha ritual; the obligatory animal sacrifice costs between US$80 and US$150.

From upscale boutiques to bustling open-air markets, Saudi Arabia has some of the world’s most memorable shopping opportunities. Make a list of people you wish to buy Hajj souvenirs for, and plan how much you intend to spend on each.

But the best Hajj preparation tip is also the simplest: Open your heart to the wonders that await.

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