Planning Umrah can be stressful. Though we have a variety of tips on DIY Umrah for many, it is easier to plan your own Umrah package with a “one-stop” provider that also comes ATOL protection.
Rihaala is an online travel booking agency which was launched by our friends at Serendipity Tailormade one of the first halal travel agencies in the UK. It started earlier this year to help pioneer the industry and make it easier for Muslim travellers to plan and book holidays without using ten different sites.
You also know for a fact that the rooms you will be booking are actually “Muslim-friendly” and offer halal options.
I have kept an eye on the site for the past few months as they iron issues that come up and since they have added a section on DIY Umrah, I decided to give it a go and see how easy it is to plan your own Umrah with Rihaala.
Currently, with our Umrah travel guide, you have to visit about 4 or 5 different sites to check prices and make bookings. This is totally fine and works, but I know many people rather visit one website to book as a package that is also ATOL protected in case something goes wrong.
Basically, they are the perfect option for those who are not confident booking 100% DIY but also don’t want to pay Umrah agent package fees.
Rihaala is pretty easy to use, and I like how intuitive it is. They have put some effort into making it user-friendly.
Booking an Umrah with Rihaala
I will be doing a How to on booking an Umrah with Rihaala and how to use their site, which in all honesty is pretty easy to do.
For the purpose of this post, I will be looking at stays in Makkah from the 12 of January to the 20 of January (8 nights).
I will also look to split the options and stay 5 days in Makkah and 3 days in Medinah. Just so I can compare options further down.
From there, you just need to enter your dates and the options you will receive include the cheapest flights plus the hotel recommendations.
Once your options are calculated, you can start customising your trip and checking out different flights.
For example, the flights recommended had an extended layover than I would like, so you can visit and change the flights, especially since they were the same price.
I like the top suggestion box on saving money. Make times people miss and overbook nights when travelling due to arrival and departure times.
In this case, however, I think booking a hotel room for the night is good since arrival was at 3 am.
The site provides you with hotel recommendations, and it includes the price of the hotel and the flight, just like a package holiday.
You can easily customise this as I did with searching only for 5-star properties.
The first cheapest option includes the M Millenium hotel in Makkah, which is a great new property but a little further away from the Haram. It is modern, clean and for the price, it is a bargain plus they do offer a shuttle bus.
The price for 8 nights in a standard room in total is £418 per person or around £740 per couple, including flights and hotel.
My favourite (and you know it if you are a regular reader is the Hilton Convention Makkah) their executive lounge has proper food options for Gold and Diamond members (or you can pay to upgrade to Executive room).
For us travelling with a little baby is very important to have some cooked food without standing in line for ages in the food court.
The price for 8 nights in a deluxe room comes to £750 per person or around £1,500 per couple including hotel and flights.
I just can’t believe when I type this. If you read some of our old posts, a few years ago the price for a 5-star Umrah package in Makkah was a minimum of £1,300 per person, and now with all these options, it is becoming easier and cheaper!
Of course like with anything you can customise and filter for the hotels you want to book. Also, one thing I like that usually doesn’t show up for some hotels on mainstream booking engines is the half board and full board options. They have this includes as I know for families with small kids these are important and many prefer to just have it included in their hotel price than having to visit the food court every time.
Once you have selected your hotels you can proceed to pay and you are ready. The next step will be your tourist visa and transport which we talk about further down.
Open Jaw Tickets – Arrival in Medinah for Umrah first
If you have read my previous post on the best airport for Umrah, you know I prefer to arrive in Medinah rather than Jeddah, this might change once the new airport is open though.
For now, Medinah airport is smaller, it offers faster service, it is closer to the masjid, and if travelling with children, it is better to rest than rush to perform Umrah straight away.
I always like to provide an option for Umrah with arrival in Medinah and departure from Jeddah just because it makes things so much more relaxing. Funny enough in recent years more and more agencies starting booking such packages, 5 years ago when I wrote about it the first time there weren’t.
Planning an Umrah in such a way on Rihaala is similar to searching for flights on other online provider but you will need to construct the package yourself as there is no functionality currently to request “open jaw tickets” (tickets that have different arrival and departure airports).
You will have to go to Destinations -> Choose Flights -> Multi-city option.
I liked that by picking up Pegasus the option to buy baggage came up, many times when booking low-cost airlines baggage fees are in the small print. This makes it easier to know how much you will actually spend.
Once you select your optional extras you will be taken to the page to choose your hotels in Medinah, once you have decided on your hotels, you will be taken to the same page to add any extras which will again be the hotel in Makkah.
It will be nice to see an option for an open-jaw ticket, but I am sure it is way more work than probably worth it for them on the back-end.
You can then select your Makkah hotel, which will be added to your total trip.
In the end, you will receive a review of your whole package which will have your open-jaw tickets, your hotels in Medinah and your hotels in Makkah.
The total price for a whole package in good 5-star hotels with flights comes to £1497 for two people.
This is also a fantastic price for an open-jaw Umrah trip with five-star hotels, it comes to around £750 per person. For the convenience of not going to Makkah and then Medinah and back to Jeddah, it is so worth it.
They currently don’t have the option for transfers from Jeddah, but if you follow our Ultimate Transportation Guide on Umrah, you will find everything you need there. It is much easier and cheaper this way.
With the Tourist Visa for Saudi now it is easier to visit the country and perform Umrah. You can read everything about it here.
Overall, I really like how intuitive the website is and how easy it makes it pick hotels and flights in one place.
I think my favourite feature of the Rihaala website is the open jaw feature where you can plan and book your Umrah on one website and receive one confirmation which is also ATOL protected which ads a layover of confidence.
For people who want to save money but are afraid of doing it totally themselves, this is the perfect place. It saves you a good amount of money that you would pay to agents but also provides you with a step-by-step option on booking everything under one site.
Currently, they are also offering £25 voucher for your first booking, which is excellent if you are looking to book an Umrah. Saving money is always my favourite part of finding a good travel deal.