Ramadan is considered to be a special time for the Muslim community. It serves as a time for reflection, prayer and renewal of faith. Muslims worldwide fast from dawn to sunset, abstaining totally from food, drink, smoking and other sensual pleasures to complete one of the five pillars of Islam and to achieve greater self-discipline, self-purification, and compassion for those less fortunate.
Ramadan in Malaysia presents a unique conundrum for many tourists, unsure about visiting a Muslim-majority country during the fasting month. Fortunately, for a first-time visitor, Ramadan in Malaysia is a great time to witness the unique way locals observes the rite. The atmosphere is very much different from the Middle East and it’s more or less business as usual, especially when it comes to tourism and daily life. In fact, visiting Malaysia during Ramadan provides tourists with a unique opportunity to experience the seasonal sights, sounds, and more importantly, cuisine of the holy month.
Ramadan bazaars are known for their unique and vast variety of local delicacies. Even to locals, these bazaars are a goldmine to indulge in some of the rarer Malay dishes. These bazaars are commonly found in high-density areas, a few of which clustered in Kuala Lumpur, with the most popular bazaar being the TTDI Ramadan Bazaar.
Most bazaars open by 4:00pm and stay open until the breaking of fast, which typically occurs by 7:40pm. It is recommended to visit the bazaars shortly after they open to avoid large crowds. However, if you turn up just before closing time, you are likely to find snacks on the cheap, with stall owners eager to clear the remaining food.
While the Ramadan month presents Muslims with a host of challenges, it also culminates in Eid al-Fitr, or Hari Raya to the locals. In light of the impending celebration, most retail outlets and shopping malls offer large discounts.
Be sure to take full advantage and indulge in a little retail therapy when visiting Malaysia during Ramadan!
Getting around during Ramadan
It is important to note that Malaysia is a multicultural country, meaning the nation carries on as usual during this month. During Ramadan, there are only experiences to gain, and none to lose. Just make sure you keep off the roads in the evening, with most Muslims travelling to their fast-breaking appointments.
And if you’re doing a bit of visiting during this time or are invited to a break fast dinner at a friend’s home, be sure to bring some sweet kuihs along as a post meal nibble.
Another not-to-be-missed experience during the fasting month are the plethora of Ramadan buffets, typically available in high-end hotels. These buffets offer stunning variety and are reasonably priced throughout the month. Be warned though, simply strolling into a hotel for their Ramadan buffet is not a wise thing to do. Make sure you make a reservation in advance in order to curb potential disappointment.