Have you had enough of this everlasting winter? Perhaps you’ve already started looking for possible destinations for the ideal sun-filled holiday during the summer this year?
If you are headed to popular tourist destinations such as Egypt, Tunisia or Turkey, then you should be aware that the ninth and holiest month in the Islamic calendar is when Muslims observe Ramadan. Many Muslims insist on the local physical sighting of the moon to mark the beginning of this religious festival, but others use the calculated time of the new moon or the Saudi Arabian declaration to determine the start of the month.
However, you shouldn’t be put off from travelling to these countries during this time, but there are certain details that you should be aware of. During these weeks, Muslims around the world will be strictly fasting between sunrise and sunset – not eating or drinking anything – and instead will be using the time for prayer and contemplation.
So how will this affect your trip abroad?
Some restaurants may operate amended opening hours during Ramadan, or even close altogether.
Tourist restaurants are likely to stay open, but don’t be surprised if some hotels use screens to keep western diners out of sight of Muslim guests.
Business hours may be shorter in the day.
During Iftar – the time each day when the fast is broken – there can be increased traffic on the roads as people travel about to share meals with family and friends.
During Eid – the three-day celebration at the end of Ramadan – people tend to visit families, so there is also a lot of movement and activity as people move around.
Dos and Don’ts for a successful trip:
Try and avoid eating or drinking in public as a mark of respect towards people observing the fast. In some Muslim countries it’s actually illegal to eat or drink in daylight – so check travel advice for the country you are going to.
Time your movements so you are not travelling around during Iftar and plan ahead if you need to travel during Eid.
Make sure you get local advice on the area you are travelling to from your hotel, tour guide, or business contacts so that you can adapt your behaviour according to the customs.
Respect local traditions and laws and make sure you don’t offend any cultural or religious beliefs – what might be acceptable in the tourist resort areas may not be in other parts.
If you are planning a holiday to Egypt, then remember its society is rather conservative compared to the UK, and women should dress modestly. Men should keep their chests covered and public displays of affection should be avoided. Similarly, if you plan to go to Turkey, remember women should dress modestly if visiting a mosque or religious shrine.
Check out Thomas Cook’s great offers on a range of great destinations, from a relaxing Tunisia holiday or a visit to the modern Turkish resort town of Bodrum, to great offers on Sharm el-Sheikh holidays.
From sailing, windsurfing and diving, to swimming or just soaking up the rays on the abundant beaches, there is a water sport for everyone. Not to mention the culture! Visit historical cities and beautiful monuments, or just take it easy with the family and relax in a well-chosen resort where you’ll find bars and cafes to relax in. There are so many things to discover in these welcoming locations.
When is Ramadan*?
2013 9th July – 7th August
2014 28th June – 27th July
2015 18th June – 16th July
2016 6th June – 5th July
2017 27th May – 25th June
*Please not that there may be a 1 or 2 day difference.