What they don’t tell you about traveling during Ramadhan
FROM NOW UNTIL June 15, 2018, Muslims around the world will observe Ramadhan, a holy month during which Muslims fast from dawn to dusk.
It’s truly a special time for Muslims but also travelers, as the month of fasting will give tourists traveling to a Muslim country an opportunity to observe unique sights, sounds, customs, and traditions.
If your travel plans coincide with Ramadhan, here are some tips to note and what you can expect:
What is Ramadhan
As aforementioned, Ramadhan, which falls on the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, will see Muslims fasting from dawn to dusk – they consume no food or drink.
They also abstain from smoking and engaging in sexual activity during fasting hours.
Though it may sound like a feat for non-Muslims, to believers, Ramadhan is a joyous month of spiritual growth.
It allows Muslims to get closer to Allah (God in Islam) by purifying themselves.
The month of fasting ends with a three-day festival called Eid al-Fitr.
Congestion on the roads
A Muslim’s day of fasting begins before sunrise with sahur and ends at sunset with iftar.
In most cases, companies would let their Muslim employees off work a little earlier to break fast.
As such, about an hour before iftar, the roads are the busiest as people will be rushing back home from work or to a restaurant.
To avoid getting stuck in the evening rush hour, check your local timings for iftar, keeping in mind that it may vary from country to country or state to state.
If you need to be somewhere, it’s best to opt for public transportation such as light rail or train during this time.
A sign of respect
As Muslims are observing Ramadhan, it’s best for travelers to be sensitive towards those who are fasting.
For example, some international hotels and shopping centers in the Middle East will provide screened-off areas where travelers can eat and drink during daylight hours without offending the Muslims.
The designated areas are specifically curtained off or located behind closed doors.
Also, travelers will be pleased to find many restaurants and shopping malls will extend their opening hours to accommodate those who have spent the day fasting.
However, most will do without loud music or live entertainment.
Dress well, dress decently
What’s an enriching travel experience if you forego local sensitivities?
While Muslims are expected to practice tolerance, traveling to a Muslim or a Muslim majority country during Ramadhan means you’ll have to pick your wardrobe well.
Although countries like Malaysia and Indonesia are more liberal when it comes to attire, anywhere else in the Middle East may observe this differently.
Show extra care when choosing what to wear, as Muslims are practicing purity in body, soul, and mind during this month.
Donning a suggestive outfit could cause more harm than intended.
The spread of delights
Now’s your chance to be part of the custom.
In countries like Malaysia, vendors will set up Ramadhan bazaars that are a food galore so turn up with an empty stomach.
To add on, many hotels will set up a special buffet spread for breaking fast each evening the entire month.
There really isn’t a better time for you to sample all the local delights including traditional dishes albeit halal.
Where else can you find the best local dishes all under one roof?
Just remember to reserve a table ahead as it’s one of the busiest times for hotels.