Bali Swiss Villa

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Travel During Ramadan

Travel during Ramadan in Asia is actually enjoyable, interesting, and different. No, you probably won't go hungry! Read on to learn how Ramadan travel may affect your trip in Asia.

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the Islamic holy month when all capable Muslims are expected to refrain from eating, drinking, and smoking until sundown. Ramadan lasts for 29 to 30 days, depending on the sighting of the new moon.
Although energy levels during the day may be low, Ramadan is actually a festive time with night bizarres, family gatherings, and special foods. Rather than avoiding travel during Ramadan, take advantage of being on the road during a special time.

What to Expect During Ramadan Travel

Depending on where you are traveling, you may not even notice that Ramadan is in progress! Travelers in countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, and other countries home to large Muslim populations will be affected the most. Bali in Indonesia is predominantly Hindu and is barely affected by Ramadan.
Many Muslims travel home to be with their families during Ramadan; some shops and restaurants may be closed until sundown. Long-haul transportation may run on an erratic or modified schedule. Accommodation is rarely affected, and Chinese eateries are always open for a daytime meal.
As the sun lowers, large groups of Muslims meet to break the day's fast with a festive meal known as iftar. Special desserts, performances, and public gatherings can be enjoyed by both travelers and locals. Discounted prices on gifts and souvenirs can be found in Ramadan bizarre.

Will I Go Hungry During Ramadan?

Non-Muslims are not expected to fast, however, many shops, street carts, and restaurants may be closed throughout the day. In places such as Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Penang where a large Chinese population exists, food is never hard to find.

Finding breakfast or lunch in remote villages may be a different story; fruit and instant noodles can go a long way when in a pinch.

How to Behave During Ramadan Travel

Ramadan is more than just fasting. Muslims are expected to purify their thoughts, and focus more on their religion. Travelers who do not cover up after leaving the beach or wear slinky outfits will not make life any easier on locals.
Make an extra effort to be considerate of others while traveling during Ramadan.
  • Avoid eating, drinking, and smoking on the street in public during the daytime.
  • Cover your shoulders and legs whenever possible.
  • Never photograph people during prayers or performing their ablutions before prayer.
  • Mosques -- normally open to visitors -- may be closed to the public during Ramadan.
  • Be patient; you wouldn't move too quickly either without food or water in Southeast Asia's heat.

When is Ramadan?

The dates for Ramadan are based on the Islamic lunar calendar and depend on the traditional sighting of the crescent moon by eye. Predicting the dates for Ramadan is impossible in advance; sometimes the dates even vary between Islamic countries.
Ramadan in 2013 is expected to begin on or around July 8th, and will continue until August 7th.