Five Destinations To Explore This Ramadan
Many of us may hold reservations against traveling during the month of Ramadan in hopes to avoid inconveniencing or tiring one’s self in a foreign land where facilities, traditions and cultures may be unfamiliar or inaccessible to you. However, contrary to popular belief, traveling during this time is bound to open doors to explore, appreciate, and embrace several aspects of the Ramadan culture that you may be less accustomed to – or at all, if you travel at any other time of the year.
There are 50 Muslim-majority countries in our world and with a population of 1.8 billion, over 20% are Muslims. This figure alone indicates that there is much to be explored on the various ways Ramadan is embraced, experienced, and celebrated by our fellow brothers and sisters who live in different parts of the world. From marveling at astounding Islamic architecture that dates way back and to breaking fast like a local with unique foods, here are top five destinations to travel to during Ramadan.
Part Asia, part Europe – Turkey, a country with a prevalent Muslim population is one of the most unique countries in the world as it spans across two continents. Its vast culture, traditions and history lead to a Ramadan experience like no other.
During Eid, many flock to Istanbul to visit the city rich in Islamic architecture, checking-off the iconic Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia as it invigorates you mentally and spiritually as you find yourself immersed in the presence of a deity. The streets come alive with various street performances while the city radiates a carnival-like atmosphere, well-lit as mosques and restaurants are filled with visitors from near and far. Be sure to indulge in their well-known halal cuisines such as Simit, Sucuk, Lahmacun and many more, and find yourself waking up to the beat of drums as drummers go from street to street to wake the locals to prepare for Sahur.
While the streets of Dubai and many popular tourist attractions may be quiet or less busy during the Holy Month (making it an ideal time to plan a visit), the nights aren’t dull with brightly-lit street lamps by the night markets. Tourists no longer have to wait in long queues to visit the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa. Even more enchanting during the month of Ramadan, the tourist hotpots offers a range of events organised by the local government on educating the public of the importance of the Holy Month. Tents lined up along beaches set for iftar buffets should not be missed! Locals come together to break fast in these tents, while enjoying games.
Standing out as Africa’s most unique destination, the country’s splendid mix of heritage, traditions and tremendous landscapes is set to take your breath away – ready to be mind-blown with Morocco’s magnificent combination of Arab-African culture and bohemian history.
Join in the special Eid prayers and discover the largest mosque in Africa, Hassan II Mosque, while witnessing the spectacular underwater views of the Atlantic Ocean this Ramadan. Though food and beverage options may be limited during the day, non-Muslims will still be able to have meals provided by hotels. Treat yourself with the traditional Moroccan pastries and mint tea – a special delicacy during the Ramadan season.
Be amazed with the nightlife of Morocco, particularly the streets of Marrakesh that comes alive every night, with many other celebrations to look forward to such as street performances, live musicians, freshly cooked Moroccan cuisine for the locals as they gather to admire these performances along the beaches of Agadir and Essaouira. Looking for more adventure? Marrakesh offers a range of activities such as camel rides, buggy ride and for those looking to take up a challenge, could go mountain biking.
Ramadan in Egypt is celebrated with large decorations, prayers and cultural activities – giving it a particular taste of experience. Houses, restaurants, markets and streets are lit with colourful traditional Fanoos (Ramadan lantern) to commemorate the celebration of the Holy month.
On the contrary, the city never stops bursting with energy with the celebrations of jovial festivities and excessive portions of Egyptian cuisine. Socialise with locals at sidewalk cafes where tents are filled with families and friends relaxing while having a taamey, a meal combination of ful, garlic, onion and herbs. One can look forward to end their night with taking a stroll through El Moez Street, an open air museum of Islamic monuments. Join hands with locals this Ramadan as they donate to the needy, collect funds and provide food.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Ramadan in Malaysia is perceived differently and being a Muslim-majority country, the diversity of religious traditions and medley of cultures never fail to fascinate visitors as Malaysians embrace each other in unity.
Fasting in Malaysia can be challenging for some due to its’ humid weather, however even during the day the city never seems deserted with people strolling down the streets and mostly shopping for Hari Raya (Aidilfitri). “Buka puasa” (break fast) with the locals, get the taste of different varieties of local food and fill your belly with delicious Malaysian snacks at the Ramadan bazaar.