One fact you need to know before heading to Indonesia is it’s a Muslim country. Yearly, it celebrates Ramadan, the Islamic holy month where the locals would fervently hold prayer sessions and readings of the Quran. There are more things that will happen during this period that may take place in the mid of May. So if you’re visiting Indonesia during Ramadan, you have to plan early. Lots of activities will be drastically affected by the local holiday but this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy.
Here are some reminders to keep in mind:
1. You’re going to feel the Ramadan vibe
For someone who had been here in a typical day, it’s easy to determine the “Ramadan vibe”. There’s a unique feel to it with all the mosques reading aloud verses from Quran. It can either be a good or bad thing depending on your choice of vacation.
It’s important to plan if you’re arriving during the Ramadan season. The staff hours could be limited and there could be lots of changes in the environment. Both unpleasant and fascinating. The best part here is you get the chance to witness a different face of the country during their biggest celebration each year.
2. Respect the people in fasting
During Ramadan, Muslim locals would be in fasting mode during the day. This means that most warungs are closed although there are some that still operate to serve the tourists and non-Muslim locals. Show your respect by avoiding eating, drinking, or smoking in public. Sure thing, you can eat in front of the fasting locals but be prepared to bear the eyeing.
Almost all restaurants will cover their windows with respect to those who are fasting. Tourists who are eating would also try to bring the food to their accommodation. Still, this one depends on the area, but my advice is for you to play it safe when visiting Indonesia during Ramadan.
3. Transportation gets really crowded
During this period, the locals are all doing an “exodus” to their hometowns to celebrate the Eid al-Fitr. This usually intensifies a week or a few days before the actual opening of the Ramadan. Such thing means that modes of transportation would be crowded and it would be difficult to get a ride if you don’t book tickets ahead.
Another thing is the traffic. It’s a fact that Asian streets are busy and always buzzing with motorcycles and cars. But expect it to be heavier at dusk when the locals would gather for Iftar, the meal after sunset. It’s the time of the day when they can eat so families flock to restaurants and malls together.
4. Great time for discounts
Aside from fasting, Ramadan is also the time when the locals are encouraged to dress at their best. This means large discounts on jewelry, clothes, makeup, furniture, and more items. Another reason for this is that the locals get their office bonuses at the same period. With that, it makes a good time to go shopping to get some souvenirs.
The only downside here is the crowd. Of course, discounted sales are hot to the locals’ eyes and everyone would want to buy for their own.
5. Book your accommodations and flights early
If you’re visiting Indonesia during Ramadan, I advise that you book your flights early. Airfare prices tend to shoot up during this time for international flights. When it comes to domestic terms, you should also book ahead of you’re planning to transfer from Java to Bali or other islands. Prices are high, and you also stand the chance of not getting any flights at all. Remember, many locals are traveling during this time, not just by land.
When it comes to hotel prices, there isn’t a big difference in the pricing but it’s always recommendable to be sure. You can even look for “Ramadan discounts” on some accommodations.
6. Pick the right location for your accommodation
Here’s the deal: if you’re a light sleeper, choose a hotel that’s far from a mosque. Locals would call out loud prayers on the speaker many times a day. There are also loud parades that are going to take place. Sometimes, the prayers from the mosques can take hours to finish. Another reminder is that the night before the Ramadan, there would be intense noise on the streets with all the fireworks, clattering, and blaring music to welcome the festivity.
At this point, I suggest that you spend the night in your hotel room.
7. Be patient if the people around are a bit “slow”
Ramadan is a period of fasting for Muslims. This means that they do not eat usual meals we used to consume a day. If the personnel at the airport or hotel is a bit slow to move and respond, be patient. This is reasonable since they don’t have the full energy they used to get during regular days. Keep this in mind and make sure that extend your patience. It’s something Westerners shouldn’t forget when visiting Indonesia during Ramadan.
8. No nightlife
Most likely, the government would ban the operation of nightclubs, bars, and other night lounges. Karaokes and other loud noise would be prohibited too during this period. Keep this in mind before going to the country so you can devise another way to spend the nights.
The good thing is that a few clubs are open in some places. They could operate after the evening prayer which is at 10 p.m. and before the Suhoor, or the meal before sunrise. However, it would need lots of searching before you find one.
Visiting Indonesia during Ramadan could be a good way to discover the country’s culture. Just keep in mind these tips and you’re going to skip most of the hassles during the trip. This time of the year is still enjoyable for tourists and the locals are more than willing to accommodate. Do you have thoughts about this? Let us know below and we’ll discuss it with you!