The holy month of Ramadan is the time when Muslims practice fasting from dawn to dusk and refrain from eating or drinking throughout the day. Most Muslims choose not to travel during Ramadan. However, recently, there has been an increase in the number of Muslim travellers around the world, who love to travel to other countries and experience how different cultures celebrate Ramadan in their own unique way. We have listed down 11 best places to travel to, during the month of Ramadan, and have also highlighted how you can have the ultimate Ramadan experience.
Samarkand is a city that is famous for its Islamic history. One of the famous monuments there is the memorial complex of Imam-Al Bukhari. Imam Bukhari is an important figure as he was a famous theologian and the author of hadith collections. His hadith is followed by the majority of the Muslims.
There are many other places that you can visit during your stay in Samarkand such as Ulugh Beg Madrasah, Registan Square and Bibi-Khanym Mosque. You can socialise with the locals in the mosque when breaking fast and try out the famous Uzbekistani dishes such as Shurpa(Meat Soup) and Plov(rice).
The Muslim population in Norway has been increasing rapidly in recent years and is now the largest minority religion there. In Oslo itself, you can spot at least two big mosques around the city centre. World Islamic Mission Mosque, which is also known as Jam-e Central Mosque, is the biggest mosque in Oslo. There, you can experience Ramadan with the Norwegian Muslims. The unique thing about Norway is that you will have to fast for more than 10 hours a day and it is really a challenge for someone who is not used to it.
During summer, Norway experiences its Subuh at around 2:20 am and Maghrib starts at 10:43 pm. It is a challenge since it tests your Iman to perform fasting for longer hours, the duration being around 21 hours. Oslo is definitely the place to go to if you want to experience Ramadan differently.
Fasting in Canada is also a challenge for the Muslim community. Subuh is as early as 2:50 am and you won’t be able to break fast before 8 pm. However, since Islam is the 2nd largest religion in Canada, you can find your basic necessities, such as Muslim food and prayer halls, with ease. In Toronto itself, there are as many as 400 halal restaurants around the city. Therefore, finding a good dish to eat would not be a problem. You can also join the Muslim community to perform taraweeh prayers which end around 12 am.
Muslims in Kazakhstan fast for as long as 17 hours a day, during Ramadan. Almaty is known for its natural beauty and is also the location of one of the biggest mosques in Kazakhstan, the Almaty Central Mosque. During the month of Ramadan, the mosque holds many activities for the locals. Muslim travellers too, can participate in these activities.
Do not forget to visit the other major attractions in Almaty, such as the Almaty Lake, the Museum and the Green Bazaar. Also, there are several halal food outlets in Almaty. You can always ask the locals around the area for directions as most of them are Muslims.
Islam is growing rapidly in Russia and it is currently the second most widely followed religion in Russia. Moscow is home to the new renovated Moscow Jum’ah Mosque, better known as the Moscow Cathedral Mosque. The gorgeous mosque is able to hold tens of thousands of worshippers during any big event such as tarawih, Friday Prayers and others.
As a Muslim, you can learn about the current issues of the Russian Muslim community and the challenges that they face in their country. You will also get to know about many other interesting things such as their culture and the activities that they take part in, during Ramadan.
China is one of the best places to travel to during Ramadan. Not only can you learn about its Islamic heritage, but you can also take part in many activities that are held during Ramadan.
In Xi’an, you can pay a visit to the Great Xi’an Mosque and learn more about their culture and history. When in Xi’an, it is also a must to visit Huimin Street. The place is famous for its wide variety of halal foods and delicacies. Especially during Ramadan, you can see the locals selling cakes, roujiamo (marinated beef inside a freshly baked bun), yangrou paomo (pita bread in lamb soup), candies and many more delicacies.
Itaewon district, in Seoul, is where the famous Seoul Central Mosque is located. Itaewon has many halal eateries, offering a variety of international halal cuisines as well as halal Korean dishes. In Ramadan, Muslims from different nations offer prayers and have their meals together, contributing to the festive atmosphere. Non-Muslim locals and foreigners are also welcomed in the mosque and they get to see how Muslims break their fast and offer their prayers.
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Ramadan has a great significance in the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo. Devotees who come to listen to the recitation of the Quran before the morning twilight, fill the Begova Mosque. Just before sunset, people crowd into the famous Bascarsija Market to break fast.
During those hours, you can hardly ever find any empty table in the restaurants, as they are mostly full. However, you can buy takeaway Bosnian food, such as Burek (fried filled pastries made of a thin flaky dough) and Ćevapi (grilled dish of minced meat), which is similar to Kebab. Furthermore, your trip to Sarajevo will remain incomplete without a visit to the famous landmarks and historical places in the city.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Malaysia is one of the best places for Muslim tourists to be, during Ramadan. The mood is both joyful and spiritual during the season. There are plenty of places to break fast, including iftar buffets that are held at restaurants and hotels. Muslim tourists can also visit the Bazaar Ramadan which is organised only during the season.
In Kuala Lumpur, there are a few popular Bazaars that are worth going to, such as Jalan Masjid India and Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman Ramadan Bazaar among many others. Here, you can find delicious Malay dishes such as Ayam Percik, Murtabak, Laksa, etcetera. You can also find varieties of Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine in the Bazaars. This year onwards, Ramadan is being held during the school holidays. Therefore, expect every bazaar to be crowded with locals and tourists alike.
Similar to Malaysia, Ramadan will be held in Singapore, on June this year, during the school holidays. Most of the restaurants as well as buffets, in the hotels serving breakfast and Iftars, will be fully booked during this month. During Ramadan, many activities will be held in the local mosques such as food package distribution for the Muslim and non-Muslim travellers and breaking fast together. Non-Muslim travellers will also be invited to learn about Islam.
The most famous Geylang Bazaar attracts thousands of visitors every year including non-Muslims and foreign travellers. The famous Geylang Serai Ramadan Bazaar, which is one of the biggest and the best pasar malam in Singapore, will be organised from 26 May (Fri) to 24 June (Sun). With over 1,000 stalls being set up in Geylang, you can expect many Hari Raya goodies, such as Kuih Lapis, Kuih tart and instagrammable food like fried ice cream, candyfloss burritos and many such food items.
Makkah is absolutely the best place to go to during Ramadan. Millions of people will perform their Umrah as well as taraweeh at night, after Isyak. The best time to visit the Holy City of Mecca is during the last ten days of Ramadan. You will get the surreal experience of performing Qiamullail prayers which start before sahur. The Masjidil Haram will be packed with people, especially on the 27th night, even before Maghrib. Worshippers would not want to miss the opportunity to pray there, during the Laylatul Qadr which many believe is on the 27th night of Ramadan. Muslims believe that on that night, their sins are forgiven and duas are accepted.
Travelling during the Ramadan gives the experience of learning on how they are done in other countries. We hope these destinations will give you the motivation to travel at least once to get you feel the cultures and also the activities that are done abroad.