Should I Travel During Ramadan?

What to expect when travelling during the Islamic Holy Month to Jordan or other Middle Eastern countries.


Most people do not specifically plan to travel during Ramadan. Many of them only realize after booking their holidays that they happen to fall on Ramadan.

travel during ramadan

Others only have limited time in a year to go on vacation so they want to know what to expect:

"Will the museums and tourist sites be open?"

"Is it possible to buy food during the day or are travellers also expected to fast?"

When Is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the 9th month in the Muslim lunar calendar. A year in the Islamic lunar calendar is 10-11 days shorter than a year in the Gregorian calendar so Ramadan falls on different dates each year.

In 2017 Ramadan begins on the 27th May and ends on or around 24th -25th June, according to the actual sight of the moon.

However, it is not only Ramadan that affects travelers but also the end-of-Ramadan celerations (Eid Al Fitr) that will last for another 4 days, until the end of the upcoming weekend.

Pros And Cons

Travelling during Ramadan has its advantages and disadvantages and only YOU can decide whether the benefits outweight the inconveniences for YOU or not.

Pros

Those who recommend traveling during the holy month usually empasize the spiritual experience:

Ramadan is a really special time of year for Muslims and people are usually very welcoming and happy to share food with you after sunset and during the nights. Tourists who are respectful of the fast often get invited by their guide or taxi driver to break the fast with his family.

Non-Muslim tourists are not expected to fast in Jordan. Jordanians in general are tolerant of tourists eating and drinking during Ramadan, but if you want to be respectful try not to do it publicly. This applies to smoking too.

In tourist areas and bigger cities you will find some restaurants and food stores open during the day.

Business is as usual during Ramadan. Goverment offices, banks and tourist places like museums, archaeological sites are open, although they might close earlier than usual to allow staff members to go home by sunset to break the fast. (* Note: Public sector employees usually have shortened working hours during Ramadan, they finish at 15.00h) During Eid Al Fitr businesses and government offices are closed for up to 3-4 days.

If you are ready to switch to a more night-oriented timeframe, you can have a great time during Ramadan. Many people are up all night, visiting friends, eating sweets and fruits.

The fast-breaking, called Iftar, is a joyous event. If you don't get invited to someone's home, you can still join the "party": most restaurants offer special Iftar Menus during Ramadan.

Another advantage is that hotel prices tend to be at their lowest of the year. (Except for Eid Al Fitr, when hotel prices are up again!)

Cons

It is true that the energy level of people who fast is getting quite low during the day, especially when Ramadan falls on summer - like in the years between 2010 and 2020. People tend to stop working early (around 3 PM) or not work at all if they can afford, and sleep a lot. You see, the weather is hot and the days are long. That will surely affect the performance of those who work in the travel industry as well: drivers, guides, etc.

Even though Ramadan is about peace, patience and forgiveness, the fasting and refraining from cigarettes can have a negative effect on some men's mood as most men in Jordan are heavy smokers and tea-addicts. This can cause tensions, especially in road traffic before sunset when everyone wants to get home quickly.

Resorts and holiday areas like Aqaba or the Dead Sea are getting packed with local tourists after the end of Ramadan. Booking your hotel room well in advance is a good idea.

So if you plan to travel during Ramadan, consider the above.

7 DOs And 5 DON'Ts During Ramadan

Should you decide to be in Jordan during Ramadan, here is a useful list of DOs And DON'Ts compiled by Youinjordan.com:

[DON'T]
  1. DON'T consume food or water – or smoke – in public places from sunrise to sunset. It is actually illegal to do so in Jordan, although foreigners will generally just get a slap on the wrist. Of course, it is also terribly bad manners to suck down a refreshing glass of water in front of people who are working all day in the summer heat. If you're hungry, there are restaurants around that are allowed to serve food during the day; including Books@cafe, Crumz, and Lenotre to name a few.

  2. DON'T go out drunk in public. While this is always a bad idea, it is particularly important during Ramadan. You will find that all the liquor stores are closed for the month and the only places to buy alcohol are upscale hotels and restaurants.

  3. DON'T try to get a taxi within the hour or two before iftar. You would be very lucky to find an empty one.

  4. DON'T wait until the last minute; there are a million people flooding the downtown and the shops before iftar…and they're hungry. And tired. It's best to get to where you're going a couple of hours early and just stay put.

  5. DON'T behave in a way you wouldn’t behave at your most conservative grandparent’s house. This means toning down the language and loud music for the month. Also, it’s good to dress a bit more conservatively than usual. While Ramadan is observed with varying degrees of devotion, some take the holy month very seriously. They may even give up listening to music or participating in any type of boisterous behavior. Conversely, while you’re being respectfully discreet, some of the locals around you may be going on with business-as-usual. Don’t be discouraged, though, your respectful efforts are appreciated.



[DO]
  1. DO wish everyone a happy Ramadan. You can say "Ramadan Mubarak" or "Ramadan Kareem".

  2. DO accept an invitation to iftar from a coworker or friend. There is delicious food available all over the city; whether homemade or at a restaurant. Don't miss the katayef; a delicious dessert made from a pancake folded around nuts or cheese and deep-fried, then covered in syrup. It's a Ramadan special.

  3. DO consider taking on the Ramadan fasting yourself. Outrageous? It's challenging, sure, particularly around 6:00pm with a bit over an hour to go. But it really does make you feel like you're a part of things. You can grumble in weary sympathy with the taxi driver or the people lining up in the shops and you can join them in enjoying that first date or cool sip of water.

  4. DO hang an ornament! It's a neat thing looking across the Amman skyline at night and seeing the quiet flickering of colorful Ramadan ornaments. There are some simple blinking lights, much like Christmas decorations, and then there are also some beautiful colored lanterns.

  5. DO participate in a charitable function. There are many of choices this time of year and you can easily find a fundraiser to attend or an iftar for orphans, for example.

  6. DO go out after iftar and check out the all-night celebration. Particularly when Ramadan falls in the warm summer months, you can see people out all night until sohoor (the morning meal before sunrise). Downtown Amman or Citadel Nights are both great places to walk around and people-watch.

  7. DO enjoy the holiday season!


Have You Ever Spent Ramadan in Jordan?

Do you have a great story, a nice or bad experience about traveling in Jordan during Ramadan? Share it!

What Other Visitors Have Said

Click below to see stories from other visitors.

Should I Go During Ramadan Or Eid Al Fitr? 
I have not been to Jordan but I have been to Muslim countries like Malaysia during Ramadan as well as the end of the fasting month. What I find is while …

Ramadan Adventures in Jordan and Jerusalem! 
This Ramadan, I'll be travelling in Jerusalem with Where There Be Dragons and around Jordan on my own. It's a celebration of the Muslim Holy Month, …

"I’ve never felt more secretive in my life" 
Andy and Caroline are expats living in Amman and they blog about their life in the Middle East. One of their recent blog posts is about the challenges …

Ramadan Restaurant Guide 2011 by AmmanSnob.com 
The Ramadan Restaurant Guide helps you to find the best Iftar & Suhoor deals in Amman during Ramadan 2011. The guide is updated daily and includes …

Ramadan Nights at DoubleTree by Hilton Aqaba 
Ramadan Nights Special at Infinity Pool: Ramadan Drinks, Desserts, Shisha (Hubbly-Bubbly, water Pipe) only 8.50 JD at DoubleTree by Hilton Aqaba. …

Iftar Buffet at Mövenpick Tala Bay 
Mövenpick Resort & Spa Tala Bay (Aqaba) invites you for an authentic Iftar Buffet. Al Najel restaurant offers you a large spread of international …

Never Seen Aqaba So Quiet 
I've been to Aqaba several times and one of our trips happened to fall on Ramadan. We were walking in the downtown in the afternoon and as the sun went …

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