Hajj & Umrah Planner
  • Travelling Within the Kingdom

    Hajj

    During Hajj, travel within Saudi Arabia is highly restricted and the transport you are permitted to use will be restricted. You will for the most part, if not the entire duration of the trip, be using Mutawwif (government) buses to travel between cities and during the five days of Hajj. You will need to use your travel coupons that you received at the airport to use these buses.

    You can also travel from Jeddah to Madinah by plane, although it’s only advisable to travel via this mode of transport if it has been arranged by your travel agent. Using a different form of transport as opposed to what has already been arranged may prove difficult due to the fact that you won’t be in possession of your passport.

    Umrah

    If you’re performing Umrah, you will be in possession of your passport and free to choose any suitable mode of transport, if your transport hasn’t already been arranged by your agent. If transportation is not included in your package and you’re making your own arrangements, there are a few options available to you.

    Jeddah to Makkah

    The distance between Jeddah and Makkah is about 72 kilometres (45 miles) and the journey should take roughly an hour. However, during the Hajj season, the duration of this journey will inevitably be longer and it can be a few hours until you actually reach your hotel in Makkah.

    At this point, you should already be in the state of Ihram. If your original intention was to travel to Madinah first, but for whatever reason you were unable to go and have to go to Makkah first, enter into the state of Ihram immediately. You won’t be due a penalty for crossing the Miqat without Ihram as the circumstances were not in your control.

    If you’re performing Hajj, you will use the Mutawwif bus. If you’re performing Umrah out of the Hajj season, you can take a taxi or use a private company.

    Mutawwif Bus

    Buses outside the Hajj Terminal
    Buses outside the Hajj Terminal

    The Mutawwif (government) bus will be used to escort Hajj pilgrims to Makkah. Please note, if you’re performing Hajj, no other form of transport can be used if you’re travelling from Jeddah to Makkah. Once the bus has been filled to its capacity and the final passport checks have been completed, the bus will make its way to Makkah. You will need to use one of your travel coupons for this journey.

    On the way to Makkah, the bus will make its first stop at the Pilgrim Grouping Centre. Here, the bus driver and your representatives will complete the necessary formalities and further checks will be carried out. Be prepared to wait at the centre. Prayer and washing facilities are available so you will be able to refresh your Wudhu and perform your Salah here if you need to. A member of the office will then board the bus with your passports and you will be driven to the office in Makkah.

    At the Mutawwif office, your passport will be handed in. Make sure the bus driver is accompanied by a representative of your group when this takes place. Once your passport has been handed in, you will be provided with an ID card. You will need to provide a passport-sized photo to be placed on the card so ensure you are carrying spare photos. If you’re not provided with the ID card immediately, your representative may need to return to the office at a later stage to pick them up.

    Make sure you keep this card as safe you would keep your passport. You will need the card to get your passport back upon departure as well as for identification purposes when exchanging money.

    You will also be provided with a bracelet / wristband which contains information about the Mutawwif office (including names, addresses and phone numbers) in case you get lost. It also shows where your passport is located. More recently, e-bracelets have been released, which stores information electronically.

    Thereafter, you will be taken to your accommodation in Makkah where you can rest if you need to, or if you have the energy, you can proceed to perform Umrah.

    Taxi

    For pilgrims performing Umrah whose transport hasn’t been arranged by their travel agent, the best form of transport from Jeddah airport to Makkah would be by taxi. Taxis are readily available outside the Hajj Terminal and should cost between 200 and 300 Riyals. You should be able to get a cheaper rate if you negotiate with the taxi driver. If you are travelling with a number of people and require a bigger vehicle, the fare may be slightly more expensive.

    It will take about an hour reach Makkah via taxi, or less if you arrive in the evening and there isn’t a great deal of traffic on the way to Makkah.  It is advisable to use a licensed taxi driver located in the taxi rank instead of an unlicensed taxi driver. Although licensed taxi drivers are more expensive, they are generally safer.

    Private Company

    Alternatively, you can use a private transport company who would be able to provide you with a driver according to your requirements.  Again, negotiate with them in order to get the best rates.

    Madinah to Makkah

    The distance between Makkah and Madinah is about 450 kilometres (280 miles).

    If you’re performing Hajj, you will use the Mutawwif bus (which most Hajj pilgrims use) or take a flight, if it has been included in your package and you’re travelling with your group. If you’re performing Umrah out of the Hajj season, you can take a flight, travel via a SAPTCO bus (recommended), a taxi or use a private company.

    Before your journey to Makkah, you should prepare yourself to enter the state of Ihram i.e. take a shower, trim your nails etc. and wear your Ihram garments at the hotel. However, don’t make your intention to enter into the state of Ihram until you reach the Miqat at Dhul Hulayfah (also known as Abyar Ali).

    The Miqat is at Masjid al-Shajarah in Dhul Hulayfah which is situated about 7 kilometres (4.5 miles) outside Madinah. At the Masjid, you may renew your Wudhu, offer 2 Rakats of Salah al-Ihram, make your Niyyah (intention) and recite Talbiyah.

    If by this stage you’re not in your Ihram attire, make sure you wear it and enter into the state of Ihram. Ensure you take what is only essential into the Masjid as there have been cases of pilgrims losing their valuables whilst changing into their Ihram clothing in the Masjid. Leave the rest of your valuables on the bus and have someone keep an eye on them.

    Before you depart, use the toilet and washing facilities if you need to and have something to eat and drink, as the journey could possibly take over 12 hours during Hajj season.

    Mutawwif Bus

    Buses at a checkpoint
    Buses at a checkpoint

    If you’re performing Hajj, the Mutawwif (government) bus will be used to escort you to Makkah after your stay in Madinah. Your representative will prepare your passport at the Mutawwif office and advise you of the departure time and location a day or two before you’re due to leave.  You will stop at the Dhul Hulayfah Miqat and designated checkpoints during your journey to Makkah i.e. the Pilgrim Grouping Centre and the Mutawwif office, as previously described. You will need to use one of your travel coupons for this journey.

    Plane

    Prince Mohammad Bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah
    International Airport in Madinah

    There is no airport in Makkah so you will have to travel from Madinah to Makkah via Jeddah. If you’re performing Hajj and travelling by plane, make sure you’re travelling with your group and ensure arrangements have been made for your passport to be present at Madinah Airport on the day of your departure.

    The flight from Madinah to Jeddah lasts about 45 minutes and generally costs between 250 and 350 Riyals. On the day of departure, make sure you arrive at Madinah Airport early, go through the procedures and pick up your boarding pass. You will be identified by your passport which should be at the airport by this point.

    You will disembark at the Jeddah South (Domestic) Terminal where you need to collect your luggage and locate the office where your passport has been transferred to. The officials from this office will arrange your transport to the Hajj Terminal, which may take some time. Upon arriving at the Hajj Terminal, go to the area where pilgrims who share the same nationality as you are waiting. From there, you will be put on a Mutawwif bus to Makkah.

    If you’re performing Umrah out of Hajj season, after disembarking at the domestic terminal, you can collect your luggage, leave the terminal and take a taxi to Makkah.

    SAPTCO Bus

    SAPTCO VIP buses
    SAPTCO VIP buses

    SAPTCO (Saudi Public Transport Company) is a bus service that operates between Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah. It is a cheap and convenient mode of transport for travelling between the cities and is perhaps the best option for those performing Umrah.

    Tickets can be purchased at SAPTCO bus stations or your hotel receptionist may be able to arrange this for you. Alternatively, you can reserve your tickets online on the SAPTCO website.

    There are two types of bus service that SAPTCO operates – a regular service and a VIP service. It is advisable to use the VIP service as the journey takes less time than the regular service and it’s more comfortable.

    Regular Bus Service
    • Fairly basic and has limited leg room.
    • No food or drink served, so you are advised to bring your own.
    • The price of a ticket is 65 Riyals.
    • Buses run every hour.
    • There are stops during the journey.
    • The journey from Makkah (Al Haram Bus Station) to Madinah (Bus Station) takes about 6 hours.
    • The journey from Madinah (Bus Station) to Makkah (Al Haram Bus Station) takes about 8 hours and includes a stopover at the Dhul Hulayfah Miqat.
    VIP Bus Service
    • Considerably more comfortable than the regular buses and provides better leg room.
    • Refreshments are provided during the journey.
    • The price of a ticket is between 110 and 120 Riyals, depending on the day and time of year.
    • There are four daily VIP bus journeys.
    • Journeys are direct and take about 5 hours.
    • VIP tickets need to be booked in advance.

    The schedules and pricing are subject to change so you are advised to check these at the local SAPTCO ticket office or on the SAPTCO website prior to travelling.

    Bus Stations

    Makkah

    Both regular and VIP buses arrive and depart from the SAPTCO Al-Haram bus station, which is just under a mile away from the Haram in Makkah.

    Madinah

    Regular buses arrive and depart from the Madinah bus station, which is just under a mile away from the Haram in Madinah.


    VIP buses arrive and depart at the Crown Plaza Hotel, close to the Haram.

    Taxi

    A taxi can be used to travel between Madinah and Makkah although it’s perhaps the riskiest option from a safety perspective due to the amount of drivers that routinely speed on the motorway. However, if you do wish to take a taxi, it would generally cost between 400 and 500 Riyals. You should be able to arrange the taxi through your hotel receptionist. The advantage of taking a taxi is that it can pick you up from your hotel in Madinah and take you directly to your hotel in Makkah. The duration of the journey via taxi is about 4 hours.

    Jeddah to Madinah

    The distance between Jeddah and Madinah is about 443 kilometres (275 miles).

    If you’re performing Hajj, you will use the Mutawwif bus (which most Hajj pilgrims use) or take a flight, if it has been included in your package and you’re travelling with your group. If you’re performing Umrah out of Hajj season, you can take a flight, travel via a SAPTCO bus, a taxi or use a private company.

    Mutawwif Bus

    The Mutawwif (government) bus will be used to escort Hajj pilgrims to Madinah. If you’re performing Hajj, no other form of transport can be used if you’re travelling from Jeddah to Madinah, other than via plane. Once the bus has been filled to its capacity and the final passport checks have been completed, the bus will make its way to Madinah. You will need to use one of your travel coupons for this journey. The journey can take between 4 and 12 hours, or even longer during Hajj season.

    Make sure you have adequate food and drink as the journey to Madinah is a long one, although there will be stops on the way for food, rest and Salah. The bus driver may well disappear for a short while to rest.

    Just before you reach Madinah, your passport will be handed into the designated office. You won’t be provided with an ID card at this stage, as would be the case if you were travelling from Jeddah to Makkah. You may be issued with a temporary card, with the ID card being issued later from the office in Makkah. The card should have details of your Mutawwif office (including names, addresses and phone numbers) and indicate where your passport will be kept. If you aren’t provided with these details, make sure you find these out.

    You will then be taken to your hotel in Madinah.

    Plane

    If you’re performing Hajj and travelling by plane, make sure you’re travelling with your group and ensure arrangements have been made by your group leader beforehand.

    The flight from Jeddah to Madinah lasts about 45 minutes and generally costs between 250 and 350 Riyals. In order to travel to Madinah via plane, you will need to seek out the Saudi Airlines counter in the Hajj Terminal after you have gone through the procedures in Jeddah airport. If arrangements were made prior to this point, your ticket should already have been issued to you and you will need to obtain your boarding pass. If it’s peak season, you may be in the queue for quite a while.

    Once you have received your boarding pass, you will depart for Madinah from the domestic departures lounge. Once you have arrived in Madinah, you will be redirected to the Hajj terminal where you may or may not have to go through immigration and customs again. Once you have completed the formalities, you will be met by a Mutawwif official who will retain your passport and issue you with a card carrying the contact details of the Mutawwif office where your passport will be kept. Keep this card safe.

    If you are in an organised group of 40 to 50 pilgrims, a coach will be organised for you by the authorities to transport you to your hotel in Madinah. If you’re going to be performing Hajj, taxis or other vehicles won’t be able to transport you to your accommodation.

    The process of travelling between Jeddah and Madinah by air may take just as long, if not longer, than travelling between the cities via taxi or another form of ground transport. Although the flight itself is short, the formalities that need to be carried out before and after the flight, particularly if you’re performing Hajj, prolongs the overall journey. It shouldn’t take as long to travel by air if you’re performing Umrah outside of Hajj season.

    SAPTCO Bus

    There are no SAPTCO bus stations at Jeddah airport so you will need to take a taxi to downtown Jeddah.

    Regular Bus Service

    If you’re taking a regular bus, you will need to take a taxi to the Jeddah SAPTCO bus station which is about 24 kilometres (15 miles) away from the airport. Buses run every hour and it costs 65 Riyals for a ticket. The duration of the journey is 6 hours.

    VIP Bus Service

    If you’re taking a VIP bus, you will need to take a taxi to the Jeddah VIP bus station located outside Avail Hotel just 11 kilometres (7 miles) from the airport. There are four buses on a daily basis at a price of 120 Riyals per ticket. The duration of the journey is 5 hours.


    The schedules and pricing are subject to change so you are advised to check these at the local SAPTCO ticket office or on the SAPTCO website prior to travelling.

    Taxi

    A taxi can be used to travel between Jeddah and Madinah at a cost of 400 to 500 Riyals. The journey should take about 3.5 to 4 hours.

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