Some tourists are planning to visit Iran during August this year which is coinciding with the holy month of Ramadan. Ramadan 1432 (lunar year) starts on the first day of August 2011 but despite some limitation on eating and drinking, the religious conventions seem interesting to many tourists.
Is it really a good time to visit Iran? What are the do’s and don’ts during the travel? Are there so many strict limitations? You might ask such questions before planning your trip. Here is a brief explanation which tries to address your concerns.
One obvious limitation is certainly the closure of shops selling food and drinks. Almost all restaurants and Café are closed from dawn to dusk. (Approximately from 5:00 to 20:00) Still you can eat inside the hotels and hotel restaurants. As travelers are not expected to be fasting, the restaurants are open in bus stations, train stations and airports, so you can freely eat and drink in such places. What’s more, it seems the society is more lenient about eating in recent years. It is generally against the Islamic law to eat or drink on the street or in public. These days both government and people seem a little more lenient on this as you can find some shops open before end of fasting time. I personally noticed some shop selling stuff and people buying and drinking near a shrine. This was not tolerated some years ago. But remember it is an Islamic country and still most people seem to follow the rules.
Hence, in order to respect the Islamic culture and conventions of the country and to avoid causing unwanted misunderstandings, follow these tips:
- Eat inside the hotel or in the restaurants
- Avoid eating in public during the day and avoid attracting attention
- Take some mineral water or soft drink with and sip in a corner
- Avoid going to shrines and working mosques at the time of prayers
- Eat inside your van or bus if you are in a tour.
- Eat while on the road as the meal is served in trains, VIP buses and of course on planes
Besides, for your own convenience, go sightseeing in the morning and later in the evening to avoid summer heat. Furthermore, use light fabric especially for women and plan to travel to cities in the north and north-west of Iran which have a mild climate during summer.
Despite some limitation to a visit in Ramadan, there are some unique features to experience in Iran during this month. Undoubtedly, one is the food. A well-known example is a delicious sweet called Zulbia Bamiye which is available only during Ramadan. You can find it in every confectionary but ask locals for the best place.
Keeping the aforementioned points in mind helps you enjoy your Iran travel during Ramadan.