Today begins the Islamic holiday of Ramadan, a month long period of prayer and reflection, fasting and sacrifice, as well as feasting and acts of charity and kindness.
Travelers should exercise extra patience and flexibility this month where Ramadan is celebrated, but enjoy the special atmosphere and festivities.
If traveling in a Muslim country during August, expect closures, a slower pace, and shorter tempers during the day, but lively iftar meals and celebrations at night.
Here in the largely secular city of Istanbul, foreigners and tourists won’t encounter many problems, most restaurants and attractions will be open and travelers aren’t expected to observe the fast, though it’s polite to refrain from eating or drinking in public (read about last year’s Ramadan in Istanbul here and in Cairo).
In the US, Whole Foods has become the first nationwide chain to offer promotions and special content for Ramadan. The grocery store’s blog will share recipes and sponsor giveaways all month for the nearly 2 million American Muslims.
The TSA has just posted on their blog about what to expect in airports during Ramadan, though most of their tips are general for any time of year (you may encounter Muslims performing ablutions in airport bathrooms or hear prayers whispered) or information about what not to expect (i.e. eating or smoking).
Ramadan will end on August 29 this year, followed by a week of celebration when many Muslims travel to visit family or pilgrimage to Mecca
Read more Gadling travel tips for Ramadan here. Traveling in the Muslim world this month? Share your experiences with us in the comments below.
[Photo courtesy balavenise, Wikimedia Commons]