Mecca is a desert valley in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. For muslims, it is the most sacred city in the world because it hosts the house of Allah -- Ka'ba -- which is the part of Masjid Al-Haram. Every year, muslims from around the world visit Mecca to perform major or minor pilgrimages otherwise known as Hajj or Umrah.
Mecca also is the birthplace of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) and the religion itself which is why it houses many prominent historical Islamic landmarks such as Masjid-e-Qiba, Masjid-e-Qiblatien and more (discussed in detail later). If you'd like to read in more detail about the history of this city, I'd recommend that you check out the book "History of Makkah" by Darussalam.
What to pack?
If this is your first time that you're going to Mecca, you might be asking yourself what and what not to pack. Generally speaking, you should pack pretty much anything that you would pack going anywhere else but just a few things that you should keep in mind are:
- First and foremost, medicines are not cheap in Saudi Arabia so do pack some basic stuff like painkillers, aspirin and cough/flu medication. Although, do check related resources incase you're taking some special medication with you because they could potentially be considered as drugs without a proper prescription.
- Secondly, do not forget sunglasses! This is something that I was not told beforehand and I regretted it. When the weather is cloudy you should be fine but as soon as it gets sunny, the bright white floor tiles of Masjid Al-Haram's courtyard will make it difficult for you to see.
- Lastly, feel free to pack normal cloths like t-shirts, collar shirts, jeans and etc. Although you'll see that most people over there will be wearing Ihram or Juba but you won't be frowned upon for wearing any other type of decent clothing.
Where to stay?
Where you should stay in Mecca depends on a lot of factors. Since people from all the around the world visit Mecca, Mecca has all sorts of hotels from lavish 5 stars to frugal 1 star hotels which have been spread around the city.
Before you choose where to stay, you need to ask yourself that: When will you be visiting Mecca? What is your budget for the trip? What is the purpose of your trip? And, how many people will be sharing a room? In my recent trip, I visted Mecca for the reason of Umrah in an off-peak season. Since I was with my family, I wanted someplace to stay close to the Masjid Al-Haram so that we had to walk less. As for the budget, we wanted some mid-range hotel to stay which would have a decent service.
We choose to stay in Hilton Convention Hotel Makkah because we found a room at a decent per person cost and it was quite close to Masjid Al-Haram as well. Some of the other good options to stay in Mecca include:
- Jabal Omar Conrad
- Jabal Omar Marriott
I mostly use Booking.com for booking hotels whenever I'm travelling. You can use my referral link to get 15$ off when booking at Booking.com but if you plan on staying at Hilton or Conrad, trying using Hilton Honors instead since that would get you a discounted price.