Here is an easy guide on how to do a DIY Umrah on your own. Do-it-Yourself Umrah is becoming extremely popular. There are so many ways you plan and save when planning an Umrah on your own.
Especially now with the Saudi tourist visa, which also allows people to perform their own DIY Umrah.
For the past seven years, I have helped over a million readers go for Umrah by assisting them in understanding the Umrah visa fees and procedure.
The planning and organising of an Umrah and how to find the best deals to make it so much more cost-efficient Umrah package.
Things have changed so much since seven years ago because now it is much more cost-effective and easier to plan and perform your own Umrah.
I have performed Umrah the first time I did Umrah on my own for under £300 in 2013. In 2015 we did an Umrah in the last 10 nights of Ramadan in the newly opened Hyatt Makkah in Saudi Arabia by issuing our own Umrah visas and booking business class flights. The total cost of the trip was £2,000 for two people with a total saving of £18,0000 approximately.
So when I talk about how to plan the most amazing DIY Umrah, I have a trick or two up my sleeve. No wonder they call me the “Umrah girl”.
Misconceptions about DIY Umrah
Many people are still not sure how they can perform Umrah on their own. Umrah agents are not forthcoming with the information because it costs them lost customers.
Of course, not everyone can or wants the hassle of planning their own DIY Umrah, so of course, agents are not redundant and are very much needed in those circumstances.
However, since 2019, Saudi Arabia has opened its borders. You can now issue your OWN Saudi tourist visa online, allowing you to explore Saudi and perform Umrah.
This is on par with their Saudi 2030 vision. They want to have 30million pilgrims visiting the country and establish a tourism industry.
Until 2019 Saudi was closed for tourists. You would only visit Makkah, Medinah, and Jeddah on Umrah visas issued by agents.
So this is a game-changer.
This Ultimate Umrah guide is here to help you prepare for what to expect in every aspect of the Umrah procedure. But in short, you can plan and book your own Umrah visa, book your own Umrah hotels and create your own package.
Please note: The winners of the Saudi tourist visa are a much larger group of people, and you can find all eligible countries in the article below. Still, for those from Group B, which is everyone else, it is much easier to apply for a visa in the embassy and shows all documentation. We have had many readers succeed with this.
Below are some articles you can read: Saudi Tourist visa
Preparing for Your DIY Umrah Trip
If you are new to this site, you should know that every year I always do a travel strategy that helps me maximise my spending and saving to achieve my travel goals, whether it is an exotic destination or an Umrah.
Here are the most important questions to ask yourself when planning Umrah on your own.
Decide you want to go for Umrah: Deciding you want to go for Umrah and starting to plan the whole Umrah process well in advance can save you hundreds if not thousands in pounds. Many people leave it until the last minute.
Then they wonder whether a DIY Umrah package will be cheaper or just booking with an Umrah agent because they don’t have the time to plan it.
If you are planning on going for Umrah, start saving at least six months in advance. Look out for the best promotions on flights and hotels. Hotels and airlines offer discounts up to 40% every 3-4 months. Check this article for more on this.
What is your budget: Many people don’t start with a budget in mind, they have an idea of what it might cost them, but that’s it. Or they come to me and ask me for a five star luxury with a two-star budget.
I can do miracles, but we need time, so when you decide you want to go for Umrah, start thinking about your budget.
On average, my readers save 25% to 40% doing a DIY Umrah package than booking with an Umrah agent or planning in advance.
How many people are you travelling with and their ages: It is essential to know the people you will be travelling with and their requirements. For example, how many children do you have? Their ages and their mobility. The same applies to elderly parents who might not be able to walk far to get to Haram. So you might have to think about upping your hotel budget for convenience for them.
We will discuss hotels further below, but many hotels nowadays will accommodate up to 4 or 5 people in a room, so this is especially good for families. Note that there will be a surcharge in most cases, but it will be cheaper than standard Umrah packages, plus when splitting the cost, it will be less.
Are you going to be visiting Medina: It is important to know whether you will be visiting Medinah and Mekkah when doing Umrah. Sometimes especially during busy periods, it is better to actually fly into Medina.
Medinah airport is smaller and closer to Masjid Al Nabawi; it usually takes less than 30min to get from the airport to the Masjid, making it a more accessible destination to arrive at first.
With the new train connecting Mecca and Medinah, it is also easier to travel with kids and the elderly as it takes less than three hours in total.
When are you going for Umrah: It is vital to know when you will be going for Umrah. Umrah during school holidays is much more expensive. Also, Umrah during Ramadan and especially the last 10 nights can be 20x more than going during the off-peak season.
Now, let’s be clear. Saudi Arabia received 7 million pilgrims last year for Umrah, so there is not much of an off-peak season unless you can go for Umrah when it’s closed for most countries. This only happens after Hajj. The tourist visa doesn’t forbid you from going then.
Note: You cannot do Hajj on a tourist visa
Personally, I have found that the cheapest time to go is between big Western holidays like school holidays, Christmas, and Easter break.
Do you have loyalty miles or points: Loyalty programs transformed the way I travel. They have given me experiences like the five-star Makkah hotel in the last 10 nights of Ramadan that I could never dream of.
If you want to find out how to collect miles and points for Umrah, then check out the link here.
All international hotel chains are located in Makkah and Medinah. You can earn points throughout the year and redeem them when on Umrah. This is my strategy, and it saves me thousands every time.
This, of course, is the same for international airlines since pretty much every airline flies into Jeddah airport for Umrah. You can have a look at my course on DIY Umrah and how to maximise those tips here.
Here are some more articles you can read:
- Best Airport for Arrival and Departure During Umrah
- The Best Practical Tips You will Need When Travelling for Umrah or Hajj with Kids!
- American Express Gold Card: Why I still believe it is the best card for Muslims who want to travel
Umrah Visa Requirements
With the introduction of the Saudi tourist visa, which also allows you to perform a DIY Umrah, pilgrims have much more flexibility and freedom to explore Saudi.
The process is very straightforward, and you don’t need agents to issue the visa for you. You can just submit an electronic visa which gives you 90 days stay in the Kingdon of Saudi Arabia within a year.
You can read all about the Saudi Tourist visa here.
Please note that the Saudi tourist visa is different from the Umrah visa. The regulations and rules are also different.
You don’t need to have an agent, and the price of the visa is about £100, which is great for planning your own DIY Umrah.
The tourist visa also allows you to explore other cities such as Riyadh, which was previously permitted on an Umrah visa.
Very few countries now cannot issue Saudi tourist visas; many fall under the standard rules or those of category B, which can provide documentation and issue the visa in the embassy.
The majority of our readers are from Western countries, so this is a simple online process for them.
DIY Umrah and Women travelling alone
Under the Saudi tourist visa, women can visit the Kingdom alone. They can travel and perform Umrah on their own without a mahram.
This is much different than before. With an Umrah visa, you needed to have a mahram to travel to the Kingdom.
Now single women can issue their tourist visas and travel alone for a Do-it-Yourself Umrah without any issues.
Accommodation and Flights for Umrah
How to Find the Best Deals on Flights and Hotels when doing a DIY Umrah
Finding flights and hotels for Umrah has become much easier during those last few years. We have so many more new hotels opened and others opening very soon. Every major international chain is in Makkah and Medinah either with one or more brands.
Finding the best flights for Umrah
Every major international airline flies to Jeddah, and some fly to Medinah as well. If you are looking for prices from London to Jeddah, they are about £500 direct, and you can find them cheaper if you take a stopover for around £350.
Flights from the US for Umrah have also significantly decreased, and I have seen options to fly for less than $800 return trip to Jeddah.
Here are my favourite options for getting cheap flights.
Booking flights during sales: Airlines have about 3-4 deals per year where you can find cheaper options even by 40% from anywhere in the world. One big mistake people make is booking flights when they think they have to instead of looking at the time period.
For example, deciding to go for Umrah in April, people will start booking flights in February or March. Had they decided to go in April, they could have booked over the Christmas sale and saved some cash on them.
These sales usually occur during December, April, June, September. They have validity for up to one year of travel in some cases, making it easy to plan your trips around the cheapest dates.
I always find flights with Skyscanner as I love their monthly view and their yearly cheap flight option.
Know when to book your flights: If you have missed the sale period (oops!) you can still find a decent deal by monitoring your flights with Google Flights. I love this as I can see how volatile the flight prices are and how much they fluctuate.
I have found some good deals for four to six weeks for international travel and even two weeks before travel. This, of course, is harder if you are not a risk-taker as prices can increase.
People will usually book flights two months before travel, so you will start looking at routes at the same time as thousands of others, making the prices go up. If you wait for the surge in traffic and you monitor via Google Flights, you can avoid this.
Use low-cost airlines and split tickets: Sometimes, not booking the entire ticket for Jeddah can save you money. If you are going during peak time, flights can be expensive from London to Jeddah.
Look for options to book an open-jaw ticket to Medina and return from Jeddah. Many times this will save you money and hassle.
Other times, I love using low-cost airlines that have become very handy. You can easily combine a holiday with them.
We do have a low-cost guide that you can check with all the airlines and their routes here. For example, a flight from London to Jeddah with Pegasus airlines can be cheaper split in half (London-Istanbul, Istanbul – Jeddah) than booking into one flight. This is because of demand and supply.
My all-time favourite tip is taking advantage of WizzAir cheap flights from Europe to Dubai and then from Dubai to Jeddah and Medinah with any of the many airlines. This way, I have saved hundreds, and also I have combined a post-Umrah holiday along the way.
Loyalty Programs: If you collect miles, you can definitely use them for flights to Makkah and Medinah from anywhere in the world. Personally, I prefer to use cash if I am not redeeming for business class. Still, you could also upgrade your travel experience from economy to business.
My best tip for the cheapest option of redeeming especially if you have a large family, is to fly to a nearby country and then redeem for a business class to Jeddah. I love when I end up first out of the plane to immigration and finish before the crowd!
It is the small luxuries of loyalty programs I enjoy.
Best Hotel Options in Makkah and Medina
Makkah is opening so many new hotels that it makes me excited to just go and review them all. My poor husband was so lovely last time since we went for a week, and we changed three different hotels just so I could review them.
The five-star hotels closer to Haram are becoming cheaper with newcomers like Hilton Convention, Marriott, and Conrad.
Hotel competition is actually bringing the prices down so more people can enjoy comfort close to Haram. I am so happy about this!
One question I get asked a lot about is where should you stay in Makkah. Which side is better traffic-wise and for the elderly and children while on Umrah?
A few years back, the Clock Tower was the place to be; I personally never liked it as the traffic to the mall, and the hotels always made it very busy.
The lifts to the hotels took ages, and people outside selling things made it even harder to move. Plus, the Haram construction on that site didn’t help the situation.
However, if you want the best views of the Haram, this is the place to be!
The best hotels for me for young children and the elderly have to be the Intercontinental Dar Al Tawhid and the now Millennium Hotel and Towers (old Hilton Hotel and Towers). When we stayed in both properties, we were in the Haram in 5 minutes, and because it is in the courtyard, it is easy to move with a stroller or a wheelchair.
My other preference, which I will use with my family is the new Jabal Omar hotels such as the Conrad Makkah, Hyatt Makkah, and Hilton Convention Makkah. You do have to cross the road for them, but it’s not a big issue, and you still get to Haram in about 5-7 minutes.
I like these hotels because they are newer, so they offer the 4 start standard of European and American hotels. If you are paying money for convenience, you might as well pay for the comfort in a new hotel.
Also, many new hotels are further away but are an excellent value for money. Holiday Inn Azziziya is a new property; Ibis Makkah can be found for real cheap in Ramadan here and several others. Check out the post on budget hotels here.
These hotels can be found for as little as £40 per night! Yes, you do need to take their shuttle or order an Uber, but if you are on a budget and don’t mind the distance, you honestly can’t go wrong.
I like using International chains because I feel safer and that I have more rights as a customer.
If I go and my stay is not as expected (don’t make false complaints), I can contact their International office and make an official complaint.
How many times I have had people actually email me and say their Makkah and Medinah hotels were horrible or they lost money and nothing could be done.
Hotel Sales: Same as airlines, hotels have sales every few months. Make sure you check in advance (see above when planning) which hotel would like to stay in the sign up for their newsletter.
One hotel starts their sale; you can expect that every other one will follow in a week or so. Again competition in the travel industry is fierce.
Most of these sales have either non-refundable options or semi-flex so make sure you are happy with your dates before booking as you might not be able to cancel them.
During a sale, you can find hotels in Makkah and Medina for as little as £70 per night at Hilton and around £90 for Hyatt. The majority of their rooms can also accommodate families with children, up to 4-5 adults or kids.
The best advice on this is to actually call the hotel and make sure you ask them if they charge for children because sometimes the online system is rigid.
Loyalty points and free nights: Again, I rarely book via third party sites unless it is one stay in a place with a significant discount. This is because my travel strategy includes staying in hotel chains to receive points that I can redeem for expensive properties around the world.
Like Makkah during Ramadan. This is how we saved over £2000 per night during our Hyatt stay in the last 10 nights of Ramadan in 2015. I used all my points with Hyatt to stay there and save.
Yes, this strategy takes years sometimes, and persistence, but I prefer spending a little extra for benefits like complimentary breakfast, upgrades, lounge access than saving £20 a room. Because I know I can receive good value for my spend.
I always make sure my money goes further and return double of what I spent. I lived 8 months in hotels to earn points.
If you want to find out more about using points for hotel stays and saving, you can check my Umrah course here.
Cashback on Hotels:
If you don’t want to bother with points but still want to save money on your hotel stays I highly recommend using cashback websites like Topcashback to earn throughout the year and on your Makkah hotel of course.
Another option I LOVE for simplicity is the free night from Hotels.com, which is easy to use and understand. You stay 10 nights within a year and get a FREE night coupon with the average spend of your nights. So if all your stays were £100 per night, your voucher would be £100.
You can also use Topcashback for some extra money, but the % you earn if you want the free night is lower. Still better than nothing!
When to Book Your Hotels for Umrah
I usually book my hotels during the sale period with semi-flex terms even if it is more expensive. I like the flexibility. It can be about 8 months in advance.
If, for some reason, the rates go down and it’s closer to time the time of my Umrah, I will cancel them and rebook the cheaper rate.
I will finalise my Umrah hotels just before I submit my Umrah visa to my agent. This way, if they ask me for hotel confirmation, I will have them.
Many agents will ask for non-refundable hotel bookings to make sure you will stay where you say you will!
If you are booking on loyalty points, you are usually more flexible than booking non-refundable rates. So if you need to cancel, you can and you can still show them to the agent with no problem.
Overall I book my hotels for Umrah the same way I would book them for any other trip, just double checking the prices and cancellation terms before I apply for my Umrah visa.
For flights, I will book them when the best price appears, and in most cases, they are non-refundable, so they will be confirmed flights.
Here are some posts to read on the topic:
- Amex Gold: The Best card for Muslims to travel without interest
- Best Airport for Arrival and Departure During Umrah
- Oman Air Business Class Redemption with Etihad Miles Jeddah to Muscat, the best deal ever!
- The Best Hotels to Book In Makkah for Your Next Umrah
Transportation from Jeddah to Makkah and Medinah
I have an extensive Umrah transportation guide that can help you with the best options and prices available for every transport option for Umrah. But in short, I would like to also cover them here and make it easier for you.
Jeddah to Makkah: The best way for arriving in Makkah from Jeddah is to take a taxi from the airport. You can negotiate with a driver once you exit the airport, or you can order an Uber or Careem (the Middle Eastern version of Uber). As a techno girl, I prefer the later options. The cost is approximately £40.
Makkah to Medina: By far, the best option to travel between the Holy cities is to use the Haramain Train.
It is easy, convenient and comfortable plus it takes the least time. I really don’t enjoy Saudi driving, so I try to avoid it as much as possible. You can book the train online, and it costs £30 per person. Read more about it here.
Your other option is the SAPTCO bus which is a government bus that runs between the cities. Make sure you book these when you arrive in Makkah to get the time and date you want.
The VIP service is more comfortable and costs around £35 per person; it has a table, bigger sitting, and more space. You can read here the full review.
Taxi is another option, and there are plenty of choices of taxis outside the Conrad and Hyatt hotels. Personally, I don’t recommend this as drivers are tired, overworked and accidents happen.
Friends told me not to use them, and although I know these incidents are rare, I didn’t enjoy the drive the two times we did it. So I would rather not take a taxi, but the rate is about £50 for the trip. You can negotiate with them directly.
You can also negotiate with them for taking you to Ziara trips around Makkah and you can do an hourly rate as well. Start low and find a price you are comfortable with, but I think around £20-30 is good for a few hours. You can also get Uber for this as well.
In Medinah, they have a tour bus that can get you around to do Ziara, and it’s a hop on and off so you can get off and enjoy the sights before getting the next one. It is the same company that runs the ones in other cities around the world.
Medinah to Jeddah: If your flight departs from Jeddah, you can take the train to Jeddah instead of a taxi and then just get a taxi from Jeddah to the airport. The train doesn’t have a stop at the airport so you do need to transfer. This is faster than 5 hours driving.
Personally, I like arriving in Medinah and then departing from Jeddah. Medinah airport is smaller, so easier to get out of, and also, the train now makes it easy to reach Jeddah. On departure, Jeddah is closer and more convenient.
Locations for Trains and Buses in Makkah and Medinah:
- SAPTCO bus station: Jarwal, Mecca 24231, Saudi Arabia
- Haramain Train location in Makkah: Al Rasaifah, Ar Rusayfah, Makkah 24232, Saudi Arabia
- SAPTCO bus stop in Medinah: King Faisal Rd, Bani Khidrah, Crowne Plaza Hotel، Medina 42311, Saudi Arabia
- Haramain Train location in Medinah: Al Hadra, Medina 42368 8183, Saudi Arabia
Make sure you read our full Umrah transportation guide
Approximate costs of your DIY Umrah
Now, we have a comparison on agent packages as above and on DIY Umrah but let’s look at how much it would cost you to price your own Umrah.
As I have mentioned above, I price and plan Umrah now in a similar way as I do our other holidays.
I know the timing of when I have to send my Umrah visa (3-4 weeks in advance), and then I just book my hotels and flights when I find the best deals.
I would suggest an average price for a week-long DIY Umrah in total is about £800 per person in a 4 or 5-star hotel. Depending on your location and preferences.
You can see below some estimated costs but note these are at the time of writing, so for accuracy, please click the links for individual hotels.
Tourist visa fee cost: £100 / $150
Flights from New York to Jeddah for Umrah: $950 (one stopover in Istanbul)
Flights from London to Jeddah for Umrah: £550 (direct) £380 (one stopover in Istanbul)
Hotels in Makkah for 5 nights
Options for 4-5 star hotels with closest to Haram first
- Makkah Millennium Towers (0.3 miles) £600 / $780 for two people
- Hyatt Makkah Jabal Omar (0.4 miles) £600 / $780 for two people
- Hilton Convention hotel (0.4 miles) £530 / $650 for two people
- Sheraton Makkah Jabal Al Kaaba Hotel (0.5 miles) £330 / $430 for two people
- M Hotel Makkah by Millennium (1.6 miles) £190 / $250 for two people
Options for 3-star hotels with closest to Haram First
- Ibis Styles Makkah (1.9 miles) £116 / $150 for two people
- Holiday Inn Makkah Al Aziziah (2.3 miles) £185 / $240 for two people
- Four Points by Sheraton Makkah Al Naseem (4.2miles) £145 / $200 for two people
Hotels in Medinah for 5 nights
- Pullman Zamzam Madina (0.2 miles) £375 / $490
- Anwar Al Madinah Movenpick Hotel (0.3 miles) £600 / $780
- Millennium Taiba Hotel Madinah (0.3 miles) £410 / $540
- Crowne Plaza Madinah (0.3 miles) £334 / $ 420
- InterContinental Dar Al Hijra Madinah (0.5 miles) £355 / $460
Transportation from Jeddah to Makkah: £40 / $55 for two people on taxi or Uber
Transportation from Makkah to Medinah: £70 / $90 for two people on the Haramain train (add double for return if needed)
Ziara tours depend on you and if you would like them but around £50 / $65 for two people
Food also depends on your personal circumstances, we do spend about £10- £20 ($25) per day in the food court but I also buy from the supermarket and make sandwiches for afternoon snacks and fruits.
In total performing, a Do-it-Yourself Umrah comes much cheaper than buying an Umrah package as you can make it as expensive or inexpensive as you wish. Plus, if you use some of the tips above, it can be very cost-effective.
Here are some posts to read on the topic:
- Amazing Deals for Umrah in Ramadan 2019 on a Budget; Last 10 Nights
- Price Comparison (DIY) Do-It-Yourself Umrah VS Umrah Agent Packages
- Your 4-Star DIY Umrah Package in the Last Nights of Ramadan 2018 for £1,400 for 9 nights
Practical Umrah Tips
One of the frequent questions is about ZamZam water and how you can take it. Usually, ZamZam is not part of your allowance but extra. You have to buy it from the airport though, so it is sealed and packed ready for transportation.
I think it was about 20SAR for the 5little one, and you buy it from the kiosk outside next to departures at Jeddah airport.
Suppose you are staying longer in Saudi Arabia as a tourist. In that case, you can also buy Zam Zam water from major supermarkets in the country.
If you are on a split ticket, you will have to put the water into your suitcase, and it will be from your luggage allowance.
You can take a few bottles of ZamZam in your suitcase but make sure they don’t leak because they will be removed. So seal them properly. This will also count towards your baggage allowance.
With the new COVID rules and the apps required, you definitely need to have a sim card. If you don’t have International data for your phone, you can buy a local sim card; it costs £20 / $30 and comes with a local number and data.
They have tourist SIM cards valid for a few weeks. You will need your passport to get them, and the office in the Jabal Omar development had excellent customer service.
We used the Mobily network for this, but I know it works on all networks. There is also an office outside the Intercontinental hotel in Makkah.
Inside the Haram: Cameras are not allowed in Haram and your bags will be searched. You can have your mobile and take photos though.
Also, I would recommend you bring a bag for your shoes as well as a prayer mat.
For children and the elderly, there are free wheelchairs you can use to transport them around, so they don’t walk. You can also hire one of the guys to help with this, but I am unsure of the charge.
There are also electric scooters that you can rent in order to perform Safaa and Marwaa this way.
You can check this post here.
I love planning and organising my own Umrah package. It is easy and much cheaper. It gives me the flexibility to enjoy what I value most: prayer in the Haram without feeling pressure.
I hope this ultimate guide on how to do a DIY Umrah yourself will provide you with all the confidence to try it for yourself if you haven’t done it already.
If you have any more tips for Muslim pilgrims or you want to share your experiences, please do so below.
May Allah invite us to his house soon, because no matter how much planning, we can’t go if we don’t have the invitation.