One of the most important periods in the Islamic calendar, Ramadan is a month of fasting, purity, and reconnecting with faith. Muslims across the world observe Ramadan every year, and if you are planning to travel to a predominantly-Muslim part of the world, it’s well worth checking if your trip happens to fall during Ramadan.
The Islamic calendar follows the lunar cycle; as a result, the dates of Ramadan rotate by approximately ten days each year. This means that it’s more important than ever to double check the dates before you travel, as if your trip does happen to coincide with Ramadan, there are additional things you should make yourself aware of in order to ensure your getaway is as safe and enjoyable as possible.
While the fast may be the most tell-tale sign of Ramadan, it’s worth noting that Ramadan is an incredibly spiritual month. Muslims welcome the opportunity for increased prayer and study of the Holy Qur’an, understanding how its teachings and quotes can be applied during Ramadan and throughout the rest of the year. As a result, you will probably notice how quickly the streets empty when the call for prayer sounds – many travellers liken it to walking through a ghost town at these times of day!
If you are intending to keep to a strict itinerary on your travels, then it’s probably better to either relax your schedule or visit at a different time of year. Many shops, restaurants and attractions will either remain closed completely during the day or close earlier than usual – especially those furthest away from the most typical tourist areas. In addition, public transport may also have a revised timetable during Ramadan, operating with fewer hours and a skeleton staff, so it’s important to ensure you are prepared in case of disruption.
What to Pack
As many shops and restaurants are likely to be closed during the day, it’s important that you are fully prepared for the day ahead when you are out and about. As a result, make sure to pack plenty of bottled water and snacks to keep you going throughout the day – just in case. It’s always better to be overprepared than underprepared, so make sure to carry the essential supplies you need with you wherever you go.
Although how strict the rules around partaking in the Ramadan fast are will vary from country to country and region to region, it’s still important to be discreet if you are not planning to observe the fast. If you are eating or drinking, do so behind closed doors and out of sight of those who are fasting – if nothing else, it’s just common courtesy. It’s also worth remembering that the fast often extends to more than just food and drink – including things like smoking, chewing gum, and public displays of affection such as kissing, hugging, and even holding hands. Of course, this will not be the case for every Muslim country, but it’s important to be prepared, especially if you are travelling to a more conservative part of the world.
With all that being said, it’s also worth noting that travelling to Muslim countries during Ramadan can be a real eye-opening experience. After sunset, the streets come alive as people break their fast, enjoy a meal, and spend time with their loved ones. During the celebrations of Eid-ul-Fitr (the festival at the end of Ramadan) the festivities are often second to none, with feasts, fireworks and plenty of fun to be had.
If you do decide to plan your travels during Ramadan, make sure to follow the above tips and advice in order to make your trip as successful, memorable and positive as possible!