Ramadan is the most important month on the Islamic calendar. It's the month in which the first verses of the Quran were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. During Ramadan, Muslims around the world fast from sunrise to sunset.
Because Muslims follows a lunar calendar, the date of Ramadan changes every year. This year, Ramadan started on 22 March. It lasts for 30 days, ending on 21 April with the celebration of Eid al-Fitr.
Ramadan is a time of abstinence and reflection for Muslims. However, every country that observes Ramadan does so a little differently. If you're visiting a Muslim country during Ramadan, research your destination before you arrive to learn what to expect.
Be respectful of local sensitivities, rules and customs
It's important to be respectful of local culture and customs when you're travelling. When you arrive in your destination, seek local advice about appropriate behaviour. Follow the lead of non-fasting locals.
Food and drink
Non-Muslims aren't expected to fast during Ramadan, but you should still be aware of the local laws and customs around food and drink.
In some countries, it's illegal to eat or drink in public during Ramadan, even if you're not fasting. Tourists have been deported in the past for eating in public during fasting hours. In places where it's legal, it could still be considered offensive or insensitive, regardless of the law. In some places, even chewing gum and smoking in public are considered taboo during fasting hours.
Restaurants may be closed during the day. If open, you could be asked to eat behind a curtain or in a private room. If tipping is standard in your destination, consider tipping more generously. Staff are preparing your food while fasting themselves.
In countries where food is hard to find during the day, talk to your hotel about providing packed lunches or plan ahead and buy food you can prepare in your own accommodation.
Alcohol can be hard to find. In many countries, businesses that sell alcohol will close for the duration of Ramadan.
Clothing and behaviour
It's respectful to dress more conservatively during Ramadan, even as a tourist. Wear clothes that cover your arms, legs and shoulders. If you're a woman, consider covering your hair.
Avoid public displays of affection. These are usually discouraged in Muslim countries but are particularly taboo during Ramadan.
Avoid playing loud music in public during fasting hours, even in a car.
How Ramadan can affect your trip
Travelling in a Muslim country during Ramadan can be a rewarding cultural experience. But be prepared for changes to normal daily life. Don't assume everything you want to do will be available. Because locals are fasting during the day, Ramadan can affect when services and businesses operate. This can include tourist destinations as well as essential services such as transportation. They may
- open later in the day for fewer hours
- open very early then close during the day, reopening after fast has broken and staying open late into the night
- operate with less staff.
Confirm opening hours when planning your trip, and book ahead of time as much as possible.
- Read more about travel during Ramadan.
- See our advice about travelling during a major event.