Ramadhan is set to start during the end of the month of June in 2014. Though most Muslims prefer to stay home during the annual month of fasting, travel experts expect to see a rise in the number of Muslim travellers during Ramadhan in 2014 since it falls during a traditionally busy time for travel.
With proper planning and preparing, travellers will find that travelling during Ramadhan can be a unique experience. Travellers will be given the opportunity to join the religious festivities and customs distinct to other parts of the world and sample the essence of Ramadhan around the world. Some destinations are capable of offering a truly delightful travel experience during Ramadhan.
The best destinations to visit during Ramadhan 2014 include Malaysia and Turkey. Travelling to these two destinations during Ramadhan will open up a wealth of new experiences for travellers. Though the daytime will be somewhat quiet, the evenings will bring about a wealth of markets and Iftar feasts in celebration of the spirit of the community.
Malaysia is one of the best destinations for Muslim travellers all year round. During Ramadhan, though the streets of some cities in the country are usually less vibrant during the daytime, travellers will not note much of a difference in bigger cities such as Kuala Lumpur and Georgetown. However in states such as Kelantan, Kedah and Kuala Terengganu, most shops are closed during the daytime and open only after noon. Restaurants and eateries in such areas serve food after sundown.
Most of the major hotels and restaurants in Malaysia offer special Ramadhan buffets with a wide array of enticing local fare. It is also quite common for travellers to be invited to local homes to join them for an intimate dinner, which is done as an act of friendliness. Ramadhan Bazaars are also open for locals and tourists in the evening. These bazaars spring up at around 4:30 p.m. and are open until around 7:30 p.m. in the evening. Travellers can expect to find a range of food, groceries, fruits and snacks – at very affordable prices. Travellers should keep an eye out for the sugar cane juice vendors and also sample some of the popular snacks such as colourful kuih lapis, ondeh ondeh, cucur, caramel jelly cakes and dodol.
Ramadhan in Turkey can be a unique experience too. Unlike some cities in Malaysia, most shops are open during the day, especially in major cities such as Ankara, Istanbul and Antalya. The use of drum rolls prior to dawn prayers is an important Ramadhan custom in Turkey. Travellers will be able to see drummer boys making their way around the neighbourhoods, waking people up for Sahor using loud drumming sounds. Mosques are then flooded by locals for morning prayers, following a morning meal.
As dusk sets and evening prevails, a festive mood takes over the streets of Turkey. Special Iftar menus are available at almost every restaurant in the neighbourhood and offer a range of savoury local dishes including freshly-baked flat breads, soups, mezez, kebabs, pilav and borek. It is custom for families to exchange food and pay respect to the elderly during gatherings. Travellers may also witness tents set up across the city, serving free food to the public.
Overall, travelling during Ramadhan can prove to be a delightful experience. Travellers will be able to note locals going out of their way to extend acts of small kindness and also get a chance to sample the culture and customs of Ramadhan in places around the world. Head out and experience the Ramadhan spirit around the world.