The month of Ramadan is a special time of year for the Islamic community. During this month, Muslims all over the world undergo a period of fasting and abstinence. If you’re planning to travel to a Muslim country, you should be aware and respectful of the local and religious customs observed during this month. You should also be aware of how day-to-day living in a Muslim country changes during Ramadan.
During Ramadan, shops, restaurants and tourist attractions are generally closed during daytime, or have shorter opening hours. Train and bus timetables may also be affected. Of course, if you’re staying in a tourist hotspot like Turkey or Marrakech, some establishments will continue to cater to tourists. But you should still expect to work around a schedule, usually for meals and prayers. It would be advisable to make a special arrangement for activities and meals that will work around Ramadan’s limitations for foreigners.
You should also expect service to be slower and less efficient than usual. After all, people who are fasting will be tired and won’t have a lot of energy. You might also want to consider that people get testier and more irritable when they’re hungry, thus, try to be always patient and courteous. While there is no law prohibiting non-Muslims to eat, drink or smoke during the day, it is still best if you refrain from doing so in public. Avoid smoking and drinking in public as well. Most probably though, alcohol will not be available at all during the month of Ramadan. Dress conservatively, and avoid any public displays of affection, such as holding hands or kissing.
Ramadan can be fun too. The country comes alive at night, with parties and celebrations often going on till sunrise. People usually get together and crowd the streets with live music and traditional dancing. Many big hotels and restaurants serve food and drinks (except alcohol) all night, with some even setting up shishas (tobacco smoked in a water pipe). There’s a lot of free food available as well. Because celebrations primarily take place at home, most Muslims become even more hospitable to strangers during this holy month, and usually invite them to join the family. And of course, with the coming of Eid al-Fitr and the ending of the fasting, Muslims celebrate even more joyously than usual.