Some travelers avoid Muslim-majority countries during Ramadan, the month-long fasting festival, but with the right approach traveling can still be enjoyable and enriching experience.
As Ramadan can vary greatly across cultures and countries, be sure to research local laws and customs prior to planning any travel during this period.
1. Be aware of local laws and customs
Ramadan is an important time of the year for Muslims and is observed worldwide in various ways. While Ramadan offers great opportunities to gain insight into Muslim culture and observe local customs, non-Muslim travellers should also be mindful of any regulations applicable during this time period.
Many restaurants, government agencies and businesses will reduce operating hours or close altogether during Ramadan, so make sure that trips, activities and tours are planned accordingly. Also avoid making too many commitments immediately prior to sunset as all work will cease until after iftar.
Prepare to hear Adhan, or the call to prayer, five times daily as it resonates through the streets. This beautiful experience will help you appreciate the spiritual significance of Ramadan in a whole new light.
2. Dress modestly
Traveling during Ramadan requires dressing modestly to show respect and avoid offending local Muslim communities. Women should wear long dresses, skirts or pants which cover both their legs and shoulders without exposing any cleavage, along with a pashmina or scarf to keep them protected from sun glare while remaining respectful to local culture.
One great choice is to bring along a versatile shawl, which can serve as both light jacket and light sweater, as well as cover-up when visiting temples or shrines. Long maxi dresses and skirts are also an ideal combination of comfort and style; they can easily serve as wraparound garments when visiting conservative areas while taking up less space in your luggage.
3. Don’t eat or drink in public
Many public restaurants and bars will be closed during the day, so it is best to eat in your hotel room or at home. If you do choose to dine out, keep in mind that even though they might be serving food, it would not be suitable to consume in front of people who are fasting.
After dark falls and Iftar (the evening meal that breaks the fast) begins, streets come alive with food and drink and an air of celebration that cannot be missed. If dining out during this time period, be sure to tip generously as staff members working while fasting will appreciate being thanked for their efforts in serving you.
4. Don’t smoke
Though it may seem strange for travelers to abstain from smoking during Ramadan, this practice shows respect to those fasting. Smoking, chewing gum and vaping are prohibited as particles could reach stomachs and break their fast.
Shisha and other smokeless tobacco products are prohibited during Ramadan due to being addictive substances, while incense and perfumes could potentially contain nicotine as well as other potentially hazardous chemicals.
5. Don’t drink alcohol
Alcohol can be hazardous for travellers with compromised immune systems, especially dehydrating. Furthermore, alcohol increases your chances of getting sick from contaminated food or beverages.
Muslim’s worldwide celebrate Ramadan as a time to come together and spend quality time with family and friends. At the end of Ramadan there is a 3-day festival called Eid al-Fitr that allows families to come together over large meals and exchange gifts with one another.
Many Muslims believe the first verses of the Qur’an were revealed to Prophet Muhammad during Ramadan, making this month a special time to donate money and perform good deeds – it is also when many car donations take place for charity purposes! With summer temperatures reaching their hottest, it is also wise to remain hydrated during Ramadan!
6. Don’t smoke in public
If you’re planning to travel during Ramadan, be aware that smoking in public is prohibited under Muslim tradition and fasting hours – starting at sunset – are considered fasting hours, and smoking or eating publicly are illegal acts which could incur fines or arrest. Public smoking also affects health negatively so be considerate and respect other’s rights by refraining from this activity; remember also that children, pregnant women and those sick should not fast while travelling as this would violate their rights as well as harm others who could potentially witness these behaviors.
7. Don’t drink alcohol in public
Alcohol consumption during Ramadan can be seen as both breaking religious law and an embarrassment to fasting individuals, so consuming alcoholic beverages in public should be avoided in order to not cause offence to Muslim travel companions and fellow travelers.
Ramadan began this year on 22 March and will conclude on 21 April. Muslims observe Ramadan by eating only light pre-dawn meals until sundown when they partake of large “iftar” feasts with family and friends – known as Laylatul-Qadr (Night of Power). This event commemorates when angel Jibril revealed some of the first verses from Qur’an to Prophet Muhammad at that time.