Many travelers think that Malaysia is less exciting during the month of Ramadhan. They think that in the day, the atmosphere may be more lulled when fewer people are out eating. Some restaurants choose to close during the day, especially in states like Kelantan and Terengganu. Others wonder if they may meet people who are grumpy during the first few days of fasting.
On the contrary, this holy month is one of the most interesting times to be in Malaysia! While there may be times when it can be quieter than usual, by evening the whole country bursts to life with a liveliness you don’t get to experience at other times of the year!
This month of Ramadhan is a wonderful chance for travelers to soak up the festive atmosphere, try all kinds of delicious food, and get once-in-a-lifetime experiences that truly show the spirit of Malaysia.
Without further ado, here are 6 best reasons to visit Malaysia during Ramadhan.
1. Bazaar Ramadhan
One of the most glorious things that occur during Ramadhan is the Bazaar Ramadhan, pop-up street food bazaars that turn evenings in Malaysia into delicious fiestas. Muslims come here to buy food for breaking fast, and non-Muslims join in the fun. After all, what better time to try popular Malay food like murtabak, roti john, laksa, ayam percik, fried chicken, and kuih-muih? Stalls usually open from around 4.30pm to 9.00pm. Not to be missed!
2. Buka Puasa Buffets
If street food isn’t your thing, you can check out the buffet spread offered by hotels in the city. Established hotels unleash their delectable buka puasa (breaking fast) menu throughout the month, with an expansive range of traditional and international dishes. Alternatively, local restaurants and cafes may whip up special dishes as part of the celebration.
3. Iftar in Kuala Lumpur
At this time every year, Kuala Lumpur holds a mass breaking fast event right in front of the magnificent Sultan Samad Building in Dataran Merdeka.
Held each weekend, people from all walks of life, regardless of religion, sit together on woven mats and wait for the call of prayer before tucking in. Everyone will be served a traditional meal, dates, bubur lambuk (spice rice porridge) and drinks. There are also food trucks along the street, and the field is open for people who want to have their own private picnic.
4. Sales, Sales, Sales
The next best thing without involving food – the mega sales that send everyone into a shopping frenzy. Mega sales take place in malls across cities, with the top sellers being clothes, shoes, home living items – everything and anything people can use in preparation for Raya.
Anyone who has been admiring intricate Malay traditional costumes can find a range of baju kurung, baju kebaya, songket and more along the night markets and in malls. One of the popular places in Kuala Lumpur for Raya wear is the area around Jakel Mall, close to Masjid Jamek Station.
5. Impressive Mall Decorations
During important festivals in Malaysia, shopping malls try to out-deco one another with extravagant centerpieces and thoughtful decorations to wow shoppers. In fact, some people visit different malls throughout the month just to see what the malls have done for the festivities.
6. Raya Open House
Finally, once the month of fasting is over, Malaysians embrace in the beloved tradition of Raya open house events. Malay families invite their family and friends into their home to feast and celebrate Raya. If you happen to be invited to one – it’s a good time to say yes!
Not only would you get to enjoy delectable delicacies, you can see for yourself how Malaysians from different backgrounds bond over their common love for food and mutual respect.
Don’t be put off by the word “Ramadhan”. While Malaysia has a large Muslim community who would be fasting during this time, most would not mind if a non-Muslim takes a bite in front of them. Many restaurants in the urban areas would still be open – and you could even beat the crowd in the day.
As with all cultures, it is good to be respectful of differing beliefs. Don’t make fun of this practise, and if you are taking part in a breaking fast event, wait for the call of prayer before eating together.
That aside, if you are planning to travel to Malaysia during Ramadhan, we say, bring it on!