Before you book Hajj
Hotels and accommodation
When it comes to the hotels in Makkah and Madinah, there are a few considerations to be made when deciding whether the accommodation is suitable for you or not:
- Economy, 3-star or non-rated accommodation tend to have lower hygiene and service standards in comparison with budget UK hotels.
- 4-star and 5-star hotels can vary significantly. International branded hotels tend to stick to international standards of hygiene and service.
- Saudi-branded hotels vary in quality compared to international brands
- Madinah hotel standards vary in quality with some hotels enjoying more generous hotel ratings than Makkah hotels
- Makkah is a valley, which means you’ll find varying uphill and downhill inclines within a short walking distance. The heat of Makkah means this can become a laborious trek for the elderly and infirm.
Quad, Triple, Double Rooms
Hotel accommodation is typically shared with anywhere from 2-5+ people per room in both Makkah and Madinah.
|Quint+ Sharing||5+ people per room|
|Quad Sharing||4 people per room|
|Triple Sharing||3 people per room|
|Double Sharing||2 people per room|
If you’re travelling as a group of people, for example 4 people, you could ask the Hajj provider to place you all in the same room at the same price as a ‘Quad Package’.
If you are travelling as a couple or a family group of three, you can ask for a ‘Double or Triple Package’ which usually costs more than a quad room.
If you do not opt for this, you will be placed in quad sharing, where your group will be split up into gender-segregated rooms.
There are three types of tents available in Mina for pilgrims from the UK. Hajj providers refer to them as:
- European tents
- "VIP" European tents
- Jamarat tents (sometimes also called VIP tents)
The Saudi government designates specific areas in Mina to people from the same part of the world. Pilgrims from the UK will be in the European section. Most of your time during the days of Hajj is spent in and out of Mina, where the accommodation is basic. Mina tents are large, shared by everyone in the Hajj group with one tent for men and one for women. Stay is in close proximity to one another.
The European tents are roughly a 45 minute walk from the Jamarat (walking at a normal pace for a young healthy adult)
There can be a few additional perks with the so called ‘VIP European tents’ that some of the Hajj providers arrange during the Mina stay such as:
- Unlimited Cold drinks
- Air-conditioning rather than the typical air-cooler system
- Divided sofa beds with barriers either side for more privacy and separation
Air conditioning is not always an advantage and older people often complain of it becoming too cold at night.
The Jamarat tents are typically a similar standard to the European tents but they are closer to the Jamarat than the standard European tents. Only a few Hajj providers offer these tents as they cost more and are more scarce.
The Jamarat tents are roughly a 10-15 minute walk from the Jamarat. This can change as in the Hajj of 1440, when the walkway was changed making the walk easily over 25 minutes.
AC may not be offered in these tents and you would have to confirm with the Hajj provider beforehand.
Indirect flights can lead to more exhaustion which becomes exacerbated with the traditionally long wait at immigration in King Abdulaziz International (Jeddah Airport).
A direct flight would be more suited to elderly and infirm. A stop-over does however allow pilgrims to put Ihram on at the stop-over airport. Indirect flights are cheaper, meaning Hajj packages with indirect flights can be cheaper.
Shifting vs. Non-shifting
Shifting or non-shifting packages have their own advantages and disadvantages.
Shifting: Typically a few days before Hajj, pilgrims are moved from their hotel near Masjid Al Haram to accommodation closer to Mina. There they will have access to this accomodation during the days of Hajj. Usually pilgrims stay here for a few days after the days of Hajj as well.
These apartments are usually not far from the Jamarat, so pilgrims often pop in and out of their Aziziyah apartments during the days of Hajj. This can have advantages of being able to freshen up or take a nap on an actual bed!
Non-Shifting: This is where pilgrims stay checked in to their hotel near Masjid Al Haram even during the days of Hajj. Owing to the fact this is relatively far away from Mina, pilgrims usually will not use their hotel during the 5 days of Hajj.
Advantages of shifting
- Typically cheaper
- Potential access to Aziziyah apartment accommodation during Mina stay. Potential to rest and freshen up in Aziziyah when it is difficult in Mina to rest
- Opportunity to wind down away from the rush of Masjid Al Haram and focus on the upcoming rites of Hajj
Disadvantages of shifting
- For pilgrims wishing to visit Masjid Al Haram it is harder to get there on the days before and after the 5 days of Hajj
Length of time
The first consideration when booking Hajj is usually how much annual leave a pilgrim is able to get from work. Only once they know this can they start deciding which Hajj packages are suitable.
Packages of similar lengths can have significant variation in their dates. Some packages leave weeks before Hajj and return straight after Hajj, while others leave a few days before Hajj and come back later. Only book annual leave once the Hajj package is booked and confirmed. Booking annual leave shouldn’t be exact because Hajj providers can change the dates of travel by a day or two.
As a general rule, shorter duration packages (around two weeks) are more expensive, and longer duration packages (around three to four weeks) work out cheaper.
Pilgrims who perform Hajj on a two week package often complain of not having enough time for personal ibadah.
Journey to Makkah - 1 Day
Umrah - 1 Day
Jet lag rest - 1 Day
Travel to Madinah - 1 Day
Travel back home - 1 Day
Days of Hajj - 5 days
Hajj can be tiresome so having only 4 days floating can prove difficult, especially if you wish to perform Nafil (supererogatory) tawaaf or do Ziyarah (visit sites).
As with any high cost purchase, be vigilant and do your research. If anything sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you’re unsure about a provider or package being offered, we recommend you get in touch with us on Hujjaj.co to verify. We’re here to serve the hujjaj and ensure you make a good decision on one of the most important experiences of your life. This service along with all our services are free of charge.
While it's good to shop around and get a good deal with Hajj, price is not everything. At times paying 5-10% less can ruin your entire Hajj experience. This is because after this strenuous journey of Hajj you will need a good bed and food. In cheaper hotels bedding, showers and hygiene standard can suffer which leads to frustrated and non-rested pilgrims.
Qurbani / Udhiyah
Some packages include the cost of a qurbani/udhiyah into the price of their Hajj package. It costs roughly £100-150 per person to do udhiya, so if it is not included in the price of the Hajj package, you will have to pay this additionally. This can usually be arranged in advance with the provider.
Some Hajj providers offer an early-bird discount for booking around 7+ months before Hajj. Booking early carries the advantage of early-bird discounts.
Booking early does expose you to buy a package which lists unconfirmed hotels and flights. The flights and hotels will probably not have been purchased yet.
While the vast majority of Hajj agents serve pilgrims well, there are always horror stories every year. We’ve put together a checklist of things you should do to reduce your chances of getting scammed / mis-sold when booking Hajj, especially if you have not booked through hujjaj.co:
- Check hujjaj.co review section. Only legitimate reviews of agents are published.
- Check the company name and number online to confirm you’re dealing with a registered company
- Look for Google and Facebook reviews on the Hajj provider. This can be unreliable as fake reviews from family members is commonplace.
- Check that the agent is ATOL protected by taking their number and entering it on the ATOL website
- Check on the Ministry of Hajj and Umra website for the provider under their approved agents list
- Pick based on a trusted personal recommendation of someone who has been on Hajj with them
- Get all travel details and pricing confirmed in writing before agreeing to book and making a deposit
- The UK government recommends paying with a credit card
- The UK government recommends you take out travel insurance
- Take receipts for all payments you make to the provider
- Keep all correspondence with the provider
If you’re really not sure what you’re after, don’t worry. hujjaj.co is set up to help pilgrims make better, more informed decisions about one of the most important purchases of their life. Simply go to hujjaj.co, or get in touch with us:
Visas and deposits
Once booked, take all the details of travel from the Hajj provider. Most Hajj agents ask pilgrims to make their own way to the airport but some offer a coach service from their home city to the airport.
For international flights, it is recommended that you arrive at the airport 3 hours before the departure time. Hajj check-in can take longer than normal check-in so it can be worth getting there before the usual 3 hours.
Providers typically ask for a deposit of £1000-2500 per person at the point of booking, and usually expect the rest of the amount to be paid closer to Ramadan. Some providers also accept installment plans.
To be authorised to travel, you’ll need:
- A valid passport with at least 6 months till expiry
- Meningitis ACWY vaccination certificate
- Visa authorisation by the Saudi embassy
Meningitis ACWY vaccinations can be given by certain pharmacies and at GP surgeries. The Hajj provider will require the vaccination certificate as well as the passport of all those travelling in order to obtain a visa.
Proofs for Visa
A proof of conversion to Islam is required for converts to Islam. This can be issued by some local mosques and most central mosques.
Women sometimes may need to show their marriage certificate to prove the person travelling is their mahram.