Travelling during Ramadan

Muslim boys celebrate Eid outside an Indian mosqueRamadan is a holy month for Muslims. In 2008 it’s expected to start on or around 2 September and is expected to end around 1 October.

You should be aware that levels of observance of Ramadan will vary in different countries and cultures but most Muslims will conform to some extent with the requirements of the fast - that they fast between dawn and sunset.

This means they can’t eat, drink, smoke or even chew gum during daylight hours. Muslims use this time of abstention for prayer, contemplation and charitable work.

Check our travel advice for more information on specific countries. You will also find information on website of the relevant British embassy.

Travelling to Muslim countries

If you’re travelling to a Muslim country during Ramadan you should be sensitive to the fast:

  • avoid eating, drinking or smoking in public – many people will understand that you aren’t under the same obligation to fast but will appreciate your awareness
  • in some Muslim countries it’s actually illegal to eat and drink in daylight during Ramadan
  • some restaurants will close or operate amended opening hours during Ramadan
  • restaurants that cater to tourists should open as usual but hotels will sometimes use screens to keep western diners sectioned off from Islamic guests
  • business hours may become shorter in the day

It’s not impossible to travel or do business in Islamic countries during Ramadan, but different rules do apply. Seek local advice on arrival either from your tour guide, hotel or business contacts.

Iftar – breaking the fast

Iftar is the time each day when the fast is broken and a meal is taken with family and friends. During iftar there is additional pressure on taxis and other public transport so it’s a good idea to time your movements around avoiding having to travel at this time.

Eid – the end of the fast

As the end of Ramadan approaches there is normally a lot of activity as people traditionally visit families to celebrate Eid, the three-day festival marking the end of the fast. You should plan accordingly if you’re planning to travel at this time.

This advice has been drawn up with the assistance of Lonely Planet