Friday, November 13, 2015

Holy Land Tour with Dubai: Itinerary, Budget and Planning



I am the family researcher on travel related stuff.
My parent’s dream vacation is to do a Holy Land Tour. 
That means I am assigned to do the research on this.

During the first quarter of this year, I started researching about group tours that offer this. Now I am not fond of group tours. I am used to doing the planning all by myself. I like having control over my time. BUT, this is not my trip. This is for my parents. So, a pilgrimage tour it is.

Group Souvenir Photo

I restrain myself to taking crossing-timezone trips to once a year. After all, I am not fond of jet lag. AND, crossing time-zones means the airfare will be expensive.

I scouted for packages from travel agencies in Manila, and read Tripadvisor recommendations. My parents made the decision to go with Tourworld Corporation (tourworld@tourworldph.com).

Here’s their package:

Package Tour (26-30 pax)
$  2,879.00
Ticket Taxes
$    185.00
Departure Tax at Jordan
$       30.00
Dubai Tourism Fee
$         6.00
Border Taxes
$       55.00
Gratuities
$     170.00
Subtotal, USD
$ 3,325.00
Subtotal, PHP
  152,950.00
Travel Insurance
      1,500.00
Total Tour Package, PHP
 ₱154,450.00
Note: A non-refundable deposit of $400 is required upon reservation. Read the terms and conditions of the agency beforehand.


Itinerary:


Day 1. DEPART MANILA

Check in at Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Flight leaves 12:20AM in Day 2.
Day 2 AMMAN
Arrival Amman. Meet with guide and driver. Drive to Mt. Nebo. Transfer to hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 3 PETRA
Drive south to Petra. Visit Petra. Overnight in Amman.
Day 4 NAZARETH
Visit Al Maghtas. Cross border into Israel.
Visit: Nazareth, Church of Annunciation, Joseph’s workshop.  
Proceed to hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 5 TIBERIAS

Cruise from Tiberias to Nof Ginosar.
Capernaum
Tabgha and visit the Church of the Primacy of St. Peter or the Church
Mt. of Beatitudes
Banias Nature reserve
Return to hotel for dinner and overnight at hotel in Tiberias.
Day 6 CANA-MT. TABOR-HAIFA

Cana
Church of Transfiguration in Mt. Tabor.
Visit Haifa and Stella Maris.
Dinner and overnight at hotel.
Day 7 JERUSALEM

Jericho
Mt. of Temptation.
Dead Sea
Qumran
Bethlehem, Rachel’s tomb and the Shepherd’s field.
Church of Nativity and St. Catherine’s Church
Milk Grotto and Ein Karem
Visitation Church or Church of the Magnificat,
Proceed to Jerusalem for dinner and overnight
Day 8 JERUSALEM

Procession: Palm Sunday Road all the way to Dominus Flevit
Continue to the Garden of Gethsemane and the Church of All Nations
Mt.of Olives
Church of Ascension and the PATER NOSTER
Pool of Bethesda
Church of St. Anne
Dome of the Rock and the Wailing Wall
Stations of the Cross in VIA DOLOROSA, from the Chapel of Flagellation to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher
Dinner and Overnight.
Day 9 JERUSALEM

Mt. Zion and visit the tomb of David and the Dormition Abbey
Room of the Last Supper where the Holy Spirit descended among the Apostles.
Church of St. Peter of Gallicantu
Departure Thanksgiving Mass.
Dinner and overnight at hotel.
Day10 DUBAI

Border crossing to Amman to take flight to Dubai.
Actual: flight was cancelled due to sandstorm and rescheduled the next day
Day 11 DUBAI
Gold Souk. Desert Safari until dinner. Overnight at hotel
Day 12 DUBAI

Dubai City tour
Shopping tour with Dubai Fountain show.
Dinner at local restaurant.
Transfer to the airport for the flight at 03:55am in Day 13
Day 13 Arrive in MANILA
HOME SWEET HOME


Package Tour inclusions:
  • Roundtrip airfare on Emirates Airlines (30kg baggageallowance)
  • 2 nights Amman, Jordan in Geneva hotel or similar
  • Petra day tour
  • 6 nights Israel (3 nights Jerusalem in Ramada or similar and 3 nights Tiberias in Royal Plaza hotel or similar)
  • 3 nights Dubai, City Max Hotel or similar
  • Buffet breakfast and dinner throughout
  • Meet and transfer assistance at airports
  • With Chaplain and Filipino escort (Jordan & Israel only)
  • Porterage in hotels
  • Extensive tours
  • Modern A/C motoroach


JOD
ILS
AED
USD

72.00
12.40
13.00
46.00
Jordan




     Food
50.60
              -  
          -  
        44.00
     Miscellaneous
          8.50
     -  
           -  
                1.00
Israel




     Food
 1.00
      184.00
           -  
              99.00
     Miscellaneous
          0.40
         32.00
       -  
             2.00
Dubai




     Food
 5.24
              -  
   10.00
6.00
     Miscellaneous
          2.70
              -  
          -  
                    -  
TOTAL
 68.44
216.00
   10.00
            152.00
PHP
 ₱ 4,927.68
   2,678.40
    130.00
       6,992.00



Tour Package



     154,450.00
TOTAL, PHP



     169,178.08

Food: We had our cheapest meal at $9 and most expensive at $22. It depends where you'll be eating. All the restaurants accept dollars. Includes bottled water.
Miscellaneous: toilet fees, mass offerings, Wi-fi (wi-fi is not free in some hotels),  

I have no tips to share in choosing a travel agency. We went with Tourworld and we were happy with that choice. Online search will yield you to a lot of agencies. Referrals from friends and relatives can direct you a reputable tour agency.

On the Budget
I didn't have any say on the timing nor destination of the trip. I had to join to accompany my parents. I had to manage my budget. Since this plan became real during the first quarter, I only had a couple of months to save and prepare. I knew that a big trip was coming up too (I did LA, Peru and Bolivia). I tightened the belt further and cut all the other crap that drains my wallet (there's always the extra fat, I tell you). Cutting out the crap prevented additional junk from entering my room and my life. It also helped that my budget for the US-LA trip fell below the planned amount and I was able to score some sideline accounting work (Mwahahaha!). That helped me fund the trip a bit. In the end, my parents shouldered the 1) downpayment and 2) the meals during the trip. Hehehehe!

On Tour Groups
Tour groups barely have free time. I say barely because I am used to not having a time limit per place. I also don’t implement wake-up calls (alarms are just suggestions). That said, tour groups are great for maximizing your time in a place. If you want to be in charge of your itinerary, I say skip the tour group. Or book tours as you go along, don’t book the entire thing.

Mingle with others! Enjoy the company of other people. I think one of the main advantages of being with a tour group is that you get to meet a lot of new people. In our case, we were a happy bunch.

But I didn’t just join a group tour, I joined a pilgrimage group tour! That means we had a priest with us, and most of the facts and stories shared along the way were based on the Catholic belief.



While the pilgrimage tour was very informative, given the chance, I would do a Jordan and Israel historical tour the next time. The tour was heavy on the facts on the Catholic beliefs but I would like to know the stories from the other religions as well. There were other pilgrims in the sites and I believe that each have their own belief on why they made the journey.

Visas
  • For Jordan – Filipinos visiting Jordan need a visa. Since we were joining a travel agency, they helped us out with this.
  • For Israel – visa is not required for Filipinos
  • For Dubai – visa is required. The travel agency helped us out with this one too.

Pre-Departure and Travel Thoughts & Tips
  • Be physically fit. Prepare yourself of kilometers and hours of walking.
  • If you are joining a pilgrimage tour, it would help if you learn the prayers. I had 3 years of Catholic education in my elementary years and we got to mass every Sunday but I already forgot the mysteries of the rosary. Do note that there were some changes made in the Our Father and The Apostles Creed. It would also be best to be ready to do a confession.
  • If you have written prayer requests and devotions, bring them along with you. I would suggest bringing those with you all the time as the itinerary may change and you would like those handy when you visit the place where you’ll be laying those prayers (we placed ours in the Garden of Getsemony.
  • Know your itinerary. Know the location of your hotels. If you want to meet a friend or relative, you’ll know beforehand when you can meet them and where you can meet.
  • The itinerary is always subject to changes/adjustments depending on the traffic and weather. In our case, changes were made but all for the better. 

It rained pretty hard during our bus ride in Israel

  • Prepare small bills and coins of US Dollars or Euros. Change is handy for tips and toilet fees. I had to unearth my Euro coins before the trip.
  • You will survive will dollars alone. While lunch is not included in the package, the local tour operator will suggest a restaurant (yes a restaurant, no street food) where you can all sit down and eat. While this limits your option, it is the most convenient option since the restaurants accept dollars and they have decent toilets.
  • I still withdrew local currencies using my ATM card. Having a local currency works well when you buy souvenirs. Though souvenirs are also priced at dollars. Just be quick and nifty in your conversion when you haggle.
  • Shopping: I plan to create a shopping post for each of the country (but that’s probably be ages from now). You will be stopping at a shopping place every day – though this is not reflected in the itinerary. These are required stops. These shopping places are based on the choice of the local tour company so I think the agency won’t know this beforehand (you can always check for yourself). This is part of the itinerary of the local tour agency and I think all tour groups have that. You don’t have to buy. Really, you don’t. But it is up to you to resist temptation.
Lots of shopping opportunities

  • Generally, don’t buy at the first shop you’ll be brought to if that is your first day in the city. Also, don’t buy from the first local who offers you his goods. Remember, shopping is everyday. While some goods may be cheaper in the next stop, some of the items are unique. As to whether that item is unique or not, I learned from experience. ;P If you think you’ll regret not buying the item, then go get it. If you see the same item at a different shop, it may have a higher or lower value. You’ll get whiplashed with your emotions. Just set a shopping budget and deal with it. Keep in mind your luggage limit as well
  • Prepare to pay for laundry or do your laundry.
  • Always check your email for advice from your travel agency
One of the nicest things about this trip is that I got to sleep in nice hotels during the trip!



This series will take a while to complete. That’s all for now!

5 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing! I look forward to reading more! :) (I'm choco_loka from GT) :) Happy 2016 and wishing you more happy travels! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks sis! I hope this is enough of a start. Baka matagalan pa before I post (if I post) the entire Holy Land series.

      Delete
  2. Hi, where do you get your travel insurance for Europe etc? Thanks :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For this Holy Land trip, our Travel agent processed it.
      For my past Europe trips, I got them from Blue Cross.

      Delete
  3. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post . It is important and very useful, and the articles are nice to share everyone.
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