While many people resort to long hours of sleep to avoid hunger pangs and sweltering summer heat during the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan, others decide to travel.
But where can go you when delights such as food tasting is off the cards during daylight hours?
- Although visitors to multicultural Kuala Lumpur might not think it’s a Muslim-majority metropolis, Ramadan is widely observed in Malaysia. The first day of the holy month actually happens to be an official public holiday in the states of Melaka, Johor and Kedah.To celebrate Ramadan in Malaysia, special bazaars to mark the occasion can be found at almost every corner across the country. A visit to the bazaars is a feast for the senses as a variety of mouth-watering delicacies is put on display for when you break your fast.
The Ramadan bazaars of Malaysia typically set up by 3 p.m., regardless of when dusk arrives (in July and August the sun sets – and the day’s fasting ends – by 7:30 p.m. in Kuala Lumpur. That gives hawkers plenty of time to cook up for the queues. But it is the unique Malaysian tradition of making and distributing the widely popular creamy rice porridge “bubur lambuk” that makes Ramadan tasty in the Southeast Asian country. The porridge is made of meat pieces, coconut milk, spices and flavorful condiments and is distributed by locals. Malaysian to this day take the “open house” tradition – a long-standing tradition of literally keeping your residence “open” to all guests regardless of race, religion or social status – seriously.
Typically, the festive atmosphere of Ramadan reaches its peak on the first day of Eid al-Fitr, the three-day feast that marks the ending of the month. Joyous local Eid songs can be heard playing on radio everywhere, people would be dressed in fine traditional clothes, and houses are decorated with twinkling fairy lights.
- Turkey is especially attractive to Muslim travelers during Ramadan, or “Ramazan” in Turkish, simply because it is home to multiple spiritual sites and beautiful mosques.
A particularly popular place for Muslims to break their fast would be Sultanahmet Square – Istanbul’s famous Hippodrome of Constantinople. Tourist flock the square to get a feel of the traditional Ramadan festivities which include recitations from the Quran, Sufi music concerts and performances after Tarawih prayers, and speeches from prominent national figures. Not to forget of course, the wide array of Turkish food served on Iftar at the bazaars as they set up at the square. There are also be vendors throughout the square selling traditional foods such as kestane (roasted chestnuts), misir (corn on the cob), kumpir (stuffed baked potato) and delicious drinks such as salep and boza. Gozleme (stuffed flatbread) and macun, a sort of cold taffy, is also be available for anyone looking for classic Turkish tastes.
The Blue Mosque is just mesmerizing. You should try walking along Bosphorous just before the sun sets, then stop at a street side Turkish restaurant to enjoy their delicious food. The old town of Sultanahmet is where all the action is during this special month in Turkey, so check that city out as well.
Since Turkey is both in Europe and Asia you can find good flight prices with low cost airlines. Although May and June is peak season to travel there, you can still find hotels at very reasonable prices. You could also enjoy the Turkish Ramadan weather with a trip to coastal Turkey in one of their Halal resorts.
Muslim travelers looking for a luxurious Ramadan experience opt for the UAE – and more specifically Dubai for its abundance in almost everything. Iftar is a celebratory occasion in Dubai as grand Iftar tents set up all across the city. And if a nine-course meal at the At.mosphere restaurant – located at the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building – doesn’t tempt you, their special Ramadan menu definitely will. While the high temperature could be a deterrent to going to the beach, it is a good time to visit the indoor ski center and the air-conditioned shopping malls. The city’s shopping malls also celebrate the fasting month with wide-spread promotions and sales.
One of the many joys of travelling to the UAE is being immersed in different and distinct cultures, all in one place. From Dubai to Abu Dhabi, the UAE is a great spot to holiday during Ramadan. There are hundreds of places to go to where you can break your fast in style. Experience Iftars set up in Bedouin-like mega-tents. The sounding of cannons announces Iftar and Suhoor where you can have a taste of Emirati and other Middle Eastern food including Lebanese, Egyptian and Turkish cuisines.
Monastiraki is the anti-Ermou Street. The Monastiraki Flea Market, sprawled out before Monastiraki Square is one of the more colourful districts in Athens. Much of the flea market’s attraction comes from the eccentric characters hawking their wares. You can purchase nearly anything imaginable in the market, however it’s particularly notable as a great place to buy music and movies. Sunday is the flea market’s busiest day, but even on a mid-week afternoon you can have a fascinating shopping adventure around and through a variety of idiosyncratic little bazaar-style shops carrying designer fashion, local crafts or just downright junk, with all sorts of odd bits and pieces in between.