This month 1.6 billion people around the world are observing Ramadan, including more than half the population of Malaysia. Today we’re talking about what that means for travellers and how travel to Malaysia during Ramadan can lead to some truly unique experiences that you won’t find anywhere else, at any other time.
The underlying worry in the question “Can I travel to Malaysia during Ramadan?” probably has to do with food and where to find it when half the country is abstaining. This might be a particular worry for a country like Malaysia, to which people often travel exclusively for its vibrant and distinct food culture.
Restaurants will be closed during the day (some for the whole month) and travellers should be aware of eating in public, but what food is available is worth a little extra forethought and planning.
“In Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Street is the place to be”
One of the many joys of travelling in Malaysia is experiencing the mix of so many distinct cultures in one place. So, while most Malaysian and Indian restaurants won’t open their doors until long after sun down, Ramadan is a perfect excuse for focusing your taste buds on all the delicious Chinese food in Malaysia. In Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Street is the place to be and has some fantastic and kitschy shopping to enjoy too.
“As soon as the light fades the only place to be is at a Ramadan Bazaar”
As soon as the light fades though the only place to be during Ramadan, apart from being invited into a local’s home for a feast, is at a Ramadan Bazaar.
Food and communal eating are ingrained in Malaysian identity and this is especially apparent after a day of fasting. During Ramadan the festival atmosphere is kept up nightly with these pop-up markets and it is here that you will really understand that this time of year is not a somber and hungry one. It is a month of devotion and community and food!
Central Bukit Bintang and the giant TTDI market are two of the best, but any evening street market you stumble upon is guaranteed to be delicious.
“Malaysia’s largest mosques are open to foreigners and some even offer free tours”
The most important place to soak in the Ramadan atmosphere though is at a mosque. Many of Malaysia’s largest mosques are open to foreigners and some even offer free tours, like at KL’s National Mosque.
Mosques are the perfect place to learn about this holy month, and Islam in general, directly from the locals. While devoted Muslims pray 5 times a day or more throughout the year, they make an extra effort to do so communally at mosque during Ramadan. Even if you have no religious affiliation, it is always incredible to witness devotion on such a grand scale. Of course, be sure to dress and act appropriately when visiting any holy place.
““Ramadan kareem” wishes someone a generous Ramadan”
With so many people fasting for almost 14 hours a day, travel to Malaysia during Ramadan will make a big impact on your interactions with locals. Because of this, having some extra sympathy and patience for people is just as important as being respectful of how you act in public.
If you want to go the extra mile in being polite and respectful to Muslims during Ramadan why not offer them a Ramadan greeting? “Ramadan kareem” wishes someone a generous Ramadan and is sure to bring a smile to a thirsty tour guide or hungry restaurant owner.
Of course, Ramadan is not complete without its final day celebrations and you can read all about Hari Raya, the uniquely Malaysian Eid festival, on our blog.
Have you visited Malaysia during Ramadan, or any other Muslim country for that matter? Let us know your experiences in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.