Travelling in Jordan during Ramadan is nothing to panic about. In fact, experiencing Ramadan in Jordan turned out to be a wonderful experience, and much easier than I was expecting. Read on for tips and advice for travelling in Jordan during Ramadan.
It wasn’t until after we had booked our flights to Jordan that I realised Ramadan was starting the day before we were to arrive in Amman! After researching the topic online, I was confident that the religious month wouldn’t negatively affect our trip, but I thought it would be more inconvenient than it actually was.
I thought we would only be able to eat in 5 star hotels and restaurants right beside tourist attractions. What I discovered was there were plenty of places to grab a bite everywhere we were in Jordan, and Ramadan is actually a great time to travel in Jordan.
Ramadan takes place during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It falls on a different date each year, and starts about 10-11 days earlier each year. It is during this month the Quran is said to have been revealed to Mohammad.
Ramadan lasts for around 29-30 days, and starts when there is a new moon.
Ramadan 2017 began on May 27, and will end on June 25.
During Ramadan, people fast from sunrise to sunset. This means no food or water passes their lips during this time. People also abstain from smoking and sex. Muslims also practice charity during the month and study the Quran.
Once the sun has set, people traditionally break the fast by eating dates and then having a big meal, Iftar. When Ramadan takes place in summer, the time between sunrise and sunset is longer, and so the fast is more challenging. Children, pregnant women, the sick and the elderly are exempt from taking part in Ramadan.
In Jordan, it is illegal for shops and some restaurants to sell alcohol during Ramadan. Fancy hotels can still serve booze, so head there if you fancy a drink.
Ramadan ends with Eid Al Fitr, which falls on June 25 this year. Eid is one of the biggest holidays in Islam, and is somewhat similar to Christmas for Christians. If you are in a country practicing Ramadan, the Eid celebrations are definitely not to be missed. During the four days of Eid, hotel prices may go up, and more things will be closed than during Ramadan so bear that in mind.
TIPS FOR TOURISTS TRAVELLING IN JORDAN DURING RAMADAN
Stay somewhere with breakfast included. This way, you don’t have to worry about finding somewhere to eat first thing in the morning, and you can fill up on breakfast so you don’t get hungry for a while.
Note the nearest supermarket or shop where you can buy water and snacks during the day. We stayed off Rainbow Street in Amman and there was a small supermarket up the road. Downtown Amman has lots of juice bars open during the day if you are in need of some hydration. If your accommodation has a fridge, you can have a supply of drinks and snacks ready in case you get hungry and don’t want to hunt down a restaurant.
There are plenty of places serving food during the day! In Amman, there are a good few places that serve food throughout the day. I used this 2016 guide as a resource.
Here are some places that were open during Ramadan near where we stayed in Amman:
Books@Cafe – A bookshop, restaurant, bar and shisha bar all in one. Books@Cafe is filled with people looking to eat during the day. I wasn’t expecting it to serve alcohol too. The terrace offers great views of the sunset, and the bookshop is filled with great books. It’s the perfect place to find really interesting and topical books by Middle Eastern writers.
Omar Bin al Khatab St, Off Rainbow Street
Waffle House – Waffles and American-style food
1st Circle, off Rainbow St
Wild Jordan Cafe – healthy, eco-friendly cafe serving lunch and dinner – with great views!
Othman Bin Affan St, 1st Circle, Jamal Amman
In Wadi Musa, where Petra is, we were surprised to find all of the restaurants outside Petra were serving food during the day, as well as the (rip-off) ones inside the gates of Petra. We ate at Red Cave, Mystic Pizza and a couple of others.
There are lots of little supermarkets on the street where you can buy drinks and snacks.
As I didn’t travel anywhere else in Jordan, I can’t vouch for other areas.
Try not to eat or drink in public. As a mark of respect, try not to drink or eat on the streets of Jordan. It’s unfair on those who are observing Ramadan. As tourists, nothing will happen to you if you do drink on the streets, but it’s not very nice. Same goes for smoking. Although we saw people doing all of the above during our time in Jordan, try not to be that tourist! You can eat and drink in restaurants that are open, and in your own hotel.
Be prepared for the pre-sunset rush hour. In the lead up to sunset, the streets of Amman can get pretty hectic as people rush home to break the fast with their loved ones. The sounds of car horns fill the air and traffic is really heavy. It’s best to avoid travelling by taxi at this time, as there is a lot of demand for them, plus drivers may be heading home themselves.
Crazy traffic in downtown Amman before sunset
Unusual opening hours. During Iftar, many restaurants and shops close between about 6.30-8.30 pm so that people can eat. This can actually be a blessing. Downtown Amman is a busy, buzzing area, but after sunset, the streets were so quiet and calm. People gathered outside their businesses to share a large meal together, and many called for us to join them. We wandered around taking it all in before the area went back to being packed with people soon after.
If you are holding off on eating until the sun sets, bear in mind that it may actually be more difficult to find food at this time due to everyone eating with their families at Iftar. It may be better to eat before sunset if you find a place open, or wait until 8.30-9pm.
Some businesses and offices change their opening hours during Ramadan too. The Citadel, for example, usually opens until 7pm, but when we arrived there at about 6:30 pm, it had already closed.
The Jordan Tourism Board has Ramadan closing hours listed on its website.
At night, Ramadan makes for a great party atmosphere. The streets of Amman were packed with people out socialising and munching on tasty street food. It was a wonderful experience.
Travelling in Jordan during Ramadan : The Verdict
Travelling in Jordan during Ramadan is nothing to worry about, and won’t ruin any of your plans.
The best part about travelling in Jordan during Ramadan is the atmosphere once the fast has broken, the insight into another culture, the relative quiet on the streets during the day and just after fast is broken, and all the lights that are put up in restaurants, outside homes and on the streets.
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