Ramadan in Indonesia is the Islamic holy month when all capable Muslims are not eating, drinking, smoking, and having sex from dawn until sundown. They do this for 30 days before celebrating Idul Fitri or Eid al-Fitr or Eid Mubarak, the festival of breaking of the fast, which is done by traveling home to be with family, wearing the new clothes, visiting relatives and neighbors, and giving gifts to children. The dates are not fixed on the Gregorian calendar, because it depends on the month of the Islamic lunar calendar.
As a country with the Muslim majority, Indonesia has some major changes in different ways, which might impact your travel plan. Here are the things you can expect when traveling during Ramadan in Indonesia.
Some changes might happen in almost all regions in Indonesia unless in some non-Muslim-majority regions, like Bali, Papua, and North Sulawesi – they might be less affected and the Ramadan vibes are almost non-existent.
Indonesia has a mix of religions and ethnic groups, so you can still find some restaurants open during the day – though many shops and restaurants might be closed. For instance, in Bali, almost all restaurants are open, except for the Muslim owned restaurants and warungs. However, most of the eating places usually cover their windows with curtains to respect those who are fasting.
Restaurants usually offer free Takjil (sweets and small meals to break the fast) and special price or package for dinner; some hotels might organize the special Ramadan buffets and meals. You might also notice some pop-up markets on the roads selling various food and drinks to break the fast.
Most of the eating places are busier at night because, after sundown, people often meet in a group to break the fast and socialize together, which is also called "buka bersama" (sometimes abbreviated to “bukber”); therefore it might be better to plan ahead a bit for dinner.
Mosques become heavier than usual during Ramadan in Indonesia. People pray together at the mosques in the evening, and you can hear more prayers broadcast from the mosques compared to non-Ramadan.
In the morning, some people (usually young kids) go around the village with drums and chants to wake people up to have a pre-dawn meal (suhoor or sahur) before fasting till sundown. So you can prepare some earplugs if you are a light sleeper.
Transportation and traffic
During Ramadan in Indonesia, the traffic is usually busier nearly sundown, particularly on the way to the major restaurants and malls in town. On the contrary, it is almost empty during Idul Fitri as most of the people are spending time in the hometown or going on holiday.
Schedule for public transportation and distribution might slightly change, particularly a week before and after the Idul Fitri, due to fewer drivers and demands. Ticket prices might increase during these times as well.
Other stores and shops
Some small shops and restaurants might be closed until sundown or during Ramadan in Indonesia, while clubs, karaoke, and pubs are usually closed during Ramadan. On Idul Fitri, most independently owned shops are mostly closed for a week or more due to away for a holiday.
However, all the modern shopping channels are still open, such as department stores and shopping malls, and offering big sales and discounts with special events during Ramadan. Some communities, malls, or venues might organize bazaars that offer discounted prices for gifts, sweets, and souvenirs.
Etiquette during Ramadan in Indonesia
However, there are some things to keep in mind during Ramadan in Indonesia, such as:
- Do not eat, drink, or smoke in public places during the daytime. It is considered disrespectful, though it might not be the same in non-Muslim-majority regions, such as Bali.
- Wear conservative and loose clothing, which covers the shoulders and legs when possible.
- Don't play loud music or party near the mosques.
Finally, it is great to travel during Ramadan in Indonesia to really see and experience the local lives, including the street parades and traditions during and after Ramadan.