While going for Umrah, everyone focuses on Ibadah and that is what is the main intention of this trip. However, you don’t go out with family as often, especially on foreign trips, so who would lose an opportunity to do some stopovers once they are finished with Umrah.
Most people in this regard try to keep the two countries separate. If you know what I mean. They would like to do Umrah in Saudi and then rush to go to UAE, Turkey or Jordan, lots of options, for a stopover. But hang on. Have you even thought of a gem in Saudi, you are allowed to stay, even on your umrah visa. Yes, you guessed it, Jeddah. So, what exactly is it that you can do in Jeddah?
While everyone can agree that most shopping malls in Makkah and Medinah are “pilgrim focused” and have mostly lower quality of goods for gifts to be taken home, Jeddah has malls that are “citizen-focused” and hence have better quality and variety. So hold on your spending horses and spend the money in Jeddah for more bang for the buck. Some of these malls are Red sea mall, Mall of Arabia and Al Salam Mall, to name a few. Cheaper options are Mojama’a Al Sharg, Mawakeb Al Ajer, Al Sawareekh and Souq Al Shate’e.
If you are looking for Gold shopping, you can try the Gold Souk, where you can buy gold, believe it or not, by weight.
Jeddah’s Al Balad, the old town is its main attraction. Full of Souks(markets), it is the ultimate experience to wander the streets of Al Balad and see people from around the world with their unique cultures. You can also see the Red sea in the boats available for a ride at Obhur North, Marina. If you are a Scuba diving fan, there is a lot for you in the uncorrupted reefs of the Jeddah Corniche. If you venture off about an hour in the red sea, you will find one of the best sites there.
Most of the hotels employ what is popularly called “water taxis”. These are the best way to go shopping and sightseeing, as they are locals with knowledge of Jeddah. Most in use in Jeddah, otherwise are the white limousines. Most are Toyota Camry’s, Hyundai Elantras and Hyundai Sonatas. Although, you can also occasionally spot high end “Limos”.
Although meters are installed in taxis, people rarely use them. So, it is best to bargain with the taxi driver to decide a fixed fare they will charge for the trip. It is normally quite cheap to get around in Jeddah, just like elsewhere in the Kingdom. The average is SR10-SR30 per ride. Remember the ones without taxi signs are illegal. So, don’t take the risk of being dropped off midway.
If you are familiar with Jeddah and have been there before, you can also try renting an Avis or Budget cars. As petrol is quite cheap in KSA, this can prove to be more bang for the buck. You may also try Uber, Careem and EasyTaxi, if you have access to the internet.
Buses are not commonly-used, but if you are someone like me, who likes to experience the local culture first hand, there is no better place than to take a bus ride. There are two types, the larger government buses, and the smaller private ones. Private ones are better as they are cleaner and move faster. However much fancy you would take in the bus ride, you obviously don’t want to spend the day in the bus itself.
Almost every imaginable cuisine is available for you to enjoy in Jeddah. From budget Al Baik to World-class restaurants, you can try almost everything. Again, local cuisine is what you should try. What better than to taste it from local hands. Rest of it all, you can get back home as well.
Choose a good reasonable place to stay in Jeddah and enjoy your stay. However, it is recommended that, as you will be in Ihram on your stay in Jeddah and your focus should be on Umrah, you should postpone the trip till you have completed your Umrah.