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Travel news Best places in the world to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr

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Best places in the world to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr

With the sighting of the new moon and a month-long Ramadan period coming to a close, Muslims across the world gather with their friends and family to attend Salat al-Eid, the early morning prayers on the day of Eid. Celebrated across three days in most places, Eid-ul-Fitr in Arabic means ‘breaking the fast’. People enjoy feasting over delicious food, wearing new clothes and meeting and greeting their relatives. To help you be a part of the festivities, Skyscanner has shortlisted some of the best destinations where Eid is celebrated in grand fashion.

Egypt

Declared as a public holiday for all schools and government offices, Eid-ul-Fitr is celebrated for 3 days in Egypt. As a tourist, you will find yourself in a country brightly lit up and well adorned with lanterns. Right from people dressed in their colourful new attires going for their morning prayers to street entertainers and storytellers engaging the crowd, especially the kids, the festive mood in the city is a sight to behold. Post prayers, during the royal feast, people visit friends and relatives to spend the evening together.

Unlike the regular meaty dishes, Eid delicacies in Egypt are quite ‘fishy’ where you’ll get an assortment of fish preparations. One of them is the samak mashwi, a typical Alexandrian dish where the fish is marinated and grilled to perfection. The other recommended dish you must try is fatta, an authentic Egyptian dish made on special occasions. It is a white vinegar and garlic-flavoured meat soup served with rice. For vegetarians, koshary is one of the most common dishes that you should try. This is a wholesome meal consisting of rice, spaghetti, macaroni, garlic, black lentils and chick peas with a garnishing of fried onions and a spicy tomato sauce. Before getting back home, get some packs of kahk, which are Egyptian cookies filled with nuts and coated with powdered sugar.

While in Egypt, you ought to visit some of their biggest attractions. The Pyramids of Giza, almost synonymous to Egypt and overlooking Cairo, are raised on a rocky plateau on the west bank of the Nile. Take a stroll along the sides of this 481-foot-tall man-made ancient structure to notice the grandeur of the pyramid. Another added charm here is the sandstone statue of the Sphinx situated along the Giza plateau.

Plan a day trip to Alexandria and specifically to Mamoura beach. Enjoy the waves in the Mediterranean Sea, take a dip in the cool waters or if you are a swimming champ, the sea is all yours. Visit the Montazah Palace Gardens, originally built by Khedive Abbas Hilmy, and click some snaps amidst the surrounding green gardens in the palace. Pick up a few accessories including bangles, beads and junk jewellery at Zinqat as-Sittat in the souq district of the city. Get to Selsela Café bang opposite the Bibliotheca Alexandrina and relish a cup of tea while listening to the waves.

If you like adventure, then add Hurghada to your itinerary. Its popularity is mainly because of the presence of mineral springs and options to go for camping, sailing or deep sea fishing in the pristine waters. You may also hop on to a glass-bottom boat to explore the coral reefs and some rare species of fish in the sea.

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A glimpse of the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt

United Arab Emirates

This year, come celebrate Eid the Emirati way in UAE. Festival time in Dubai is an experience worth cherishing. It is a perfect blend of the Islamic etiquette of sharing and famed Arabian hospitality. People gather in huge numbers in mosques and open spaces to perform their morning prayers. You’ll notice the excitement on the faces of children as they receive their ‘Eidiya’ from elders and go out to enjoy the fireworks, trade fairs and goodies. To have some ‘beachy’ fun, visit the open beach where the Beach Family Fair takes place along with numerous water games.

All the big malls and entertainment units are open throughout the day till almost 1am for people to enjoy non-stop shopping and eating. There are a string of events that are organised in these malls including face painting and performance by stilt walkers and clowns. The famous Dubai Mall usually sets up hospitality tents offering coffee and dates to passers-by. Ladies may also spend some time in getting henna designs on their palms.

A visit to the Dubai Dolphinarium is a good idea during Eid, especially if you are travelling with kids. Their popular show ‘Legend of the Mermaid’ entertains children as well as adults. Children also have the choice to take part in different quizzes and games, with great prizes on offer. The key landmark and the tallest building in Dubai – Burj Khalifa – is a must-visit for all tourists. You should also go for a camel ride on Jumeriah beach and set aside an evening for a boat ride on Dubai Creek.

To excite your taste buds, try some authentic Middle Eastern dishes such as ghuzi, which is lamb roasted and served on a bed of rice with some nuts and sautéed vegetables. Matchbous is another of the recommended dishes, where tomato, stew and rice accompany a few spicy and juicy lamb pieces. You might have had shawarmas at different outlets, but you should taste the shawarmas in Dubai – it doesn’t get more authentic than this! With a stuffing of chicken or lamb along with some vegetables and sauce, it qualifies for a good evening snack, more so when complemented with a strawberry plus banana flavoured-drink. For dessert, get a bite of esh asarya, a type of cheese cake with a topping of cream or mehalabiya, a rosewater-flavoured pudding garnished with pistachios.

Leave aside mementos; to gift a honeyed surprise to all your friends and relatives, just carry home some packets of baklava, the multi-layered nutty pastry garnished with honey.

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The famous baklava in Dubai

Malaysia

Eid-ul-Fitr, popularly referred to as Hari Raya Aidilfitri in Malaysia, is one of the most awaited festivals in this country. Clad in ethnic wear, people adorn their homes and the surroundings with pelita, which are oil lamps and wish ‘Salam Aidilfitri’ (Happy Eid) to each other. Most of them also have a tradition for ‘open house’ where they invite their friends and families to their homes and together enjoy a hearty meal and children get their pocket money from elders in the form of ‘duiyt raya’.

During your festive stay in Malaysia, you can treat yourself to some delectable Malaysian dishes. Have a serving of rendang, which is a spicy meat dish, where the meat is usually beef. It is delicately cooked in coconut milk and a mix of spices including ginger, garlic, turmeric, chilli and lemongrass. Rendang goes well with ketupat, a rice dumpling placed inside a woven palm leaf pouch. Lontong, a rice cake eaten with coconut gravy; serunding, a dried form of coconut fried with chilli; and satay, meat grilled on skewers are some of the other traditional dishes. End your meal with different kuih-muih which comprise traditional bite-size desserts or have some dodol– the taste is akin to toffees.

To get to know the country better, engage yourself in some sightseeing and when deciding where to go in Malaysia, Petronas Twin Towers at Kuala Lumpur often tops the list. Visit the 88-storey twin structure and go on a virtual tour of the tower through its interactive displays. Ensure you book your entry tickets online in advance. This place remains closed on Mondays and on the occasion of Hari Raya Aidilfitri; so make sure you opt for a different day of the week.

Plan a day trip to Genting Islands at Pahang, around an hour’s drive from Kuala Lumpur. This resort has casinos, a massive theme park for children with a variety of fun rides and some posh hotels, particularly the First World Hotel, where the tariffs are pretty reasonable. You’ll love to admire the scenic beauty of Kuala Lumpur from the top of the mountain. Window shopping at First World Plaza within Genting Islands is also a treat for the shopaholics.

If shopping is on your list, target the places known for bargain shopping rather than splurging at the swanky malls. Not only will you get good stuff at reasonable prices, you will also have a choice of some local-made goodies. Berjaya Times Square Shopping Mall in Kuala Lumpur is where you’ll find yourself surrounded with shoes, bags, earrings and other fashion stuff. There are also some fake leather products available that are very budget-friendly. If you head to Low Yat Plaza in Bukit Bintang, you can pick up electronic gadgets at low prices and yes, you get to bargain too! Most tourists want to return home with some memorabilia from the places they visit and to cater to your souvenir needs is the Central Market in Kuala Lumpur. Local handicrafts such as wau, songket, key chains and household decoration pieces are just some of the items on offer here.

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Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur

Turkey

Time to greet Bayramınız mübarek olsun (May your festival be blessed) to those who celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr in Turkey. A three-day holiday for government offices, universities and schools is declared in Turkey on the occasion of this festival. Men wearing their best clothes walk down to the mosques early on the festive morning to attend the special bayram prayer. Kids have a gala time wishing ‘Happy Bayram’ to everyone and getting candies, sweets or some pocket money in return.

For you to have the best time in Turkey, the country offers you a vast range of options. Indulging in authentic Turkish dishes is a good way to start exploring the country. Have a healthy breakfast with a bowl of corba, which is a tasty soup made of a base of your choice, ranging from tomato to lentil to black cabbage. If you are staying somewhere close to Ortakoy, get a bite of kumpir, which is an interesting form of baked potato with a crispy crust and a soft stuffing inside. How about trying out some street kebabs that Turkey boasts of? Testi (could have been called tasty itself!) kebabs, a mix of vegetables and meat cooked in a sealed clay pot, is a huge hit among most people. Go for their spicy adana kebab made of grilled minced meat; and if you still feel like experimenting some more, order a portion of iskender kebab. You’ll find yourself finishing a plate of pita bread topped with layers of succulent meat and accompanied with yogurt.

With so much to see and do, Turkey is a tourist’s paradise. If you are visualising a beach, come straight to Kabak Bay. This Mediterranean Coast of Turkey beckons tourists to spend time gazing at the turquoise crystalline water and lazing on tree houses. The best part is that this place isn’t commercial yet and hence is an ideal location for a holiday. To reach the destination, you’ll have to catch a bus from Oludeniz, which is just 16 kms away from the beach.

Make a trip to the Cappadocia area, which is an outcome of a volcanic eruption, comprising the provinces of Aksaray, Nigde, Kayseri, Kirsehir and Nevsehir cities. The most fascinating part of this trip will be a half an hour balloon tour. To enjoy a bird-like flying experience and to get an aerial view of the canyons and valleys, comfortable clothes and shoes are a must. However, avoid this sport if you suffer from acrophobia.

A trip to Turkey remains almost incomplete unless you have been to the legendary Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. Although it needs some renovation, it is an architectural marvel and was initially a church for 900 years, then a mosque for 482 years, and is currently a museum of the Turkish Republic. It attracts tourists from all over the world.

For shopaholics, Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is a paradise of goodies. Jewellery, clothes, embroidered decoration pieces, antiques – you name it and this bazaar stocks it. Hone your bargaining skills before you come and splurge here. If hours of shopping makes you weary, enter any of the cafes or restaurants located in the same area, refresh yourself with some Turkish tea and get back to haggling over the variety of items in store. The bazaar remains closed on Sundays, so factor in another day for Grand Bazaar.

To give a global touch to the spice stocks in your kitchen, visit the Egyptian Bazaar or the Spice Bazaar of Istanbul. Pick up some not-so-common Indian spices such as the Turkish saffron or go for some cheese, dry fruits and lokum(a Turkish delight).

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Balloon tour in Cappadocia, Turkey

Tunisia

Celebrated over a period of 4 days, Eid-ul-Fitr in Tunisia is welcomed as one of the most blissful Muslim occasions. New clothes, new toys, gifts and loads of food are definitely a part of the festival. Brightly lit up and well-decorated shops selling attractive merchandise and bakeries ready with their stock of special Eid sweets is something you’ll notice on every road.

Depending on the area you are residing in, you’ll get to taste a variety of delicacies. If you are put up at Sfax, chermoula is something you should look out for. It is fish marinated with onion and raisins and cooked to perfection to give a sweet and salty tinge to the dish. Brik – fried pastries stuffed with olive oil, egg and tuna – is one of the most common appetizers in Tunisia.

The origin of couscous was also in Tunisia and it continues to be a preferred dish among most people. Have a bowl of Tunisian couscous comprising fine grains cooked with lamb, pepper, chick peas, potatoes and carrots. Not only will you love the taste of it, but you’ll also feel satisfied with a light yet filling meal. Ojja, a stew made of cocktail sausages, egg, pepper, garlic and tomato, is another popular dish of this country.

Sightseeing in Tunisia comprises historic, fun-filled and entertaining attractions. Situated around 4 kms northwest of the city centre, Bardo Museum has an amazing Roman mosaic collection. The marvellous marble statues of gods and Roman emperors will take you back in time.

Plan a visit to Palmeraie, a huge area with more than 2,00,000 date palm trees and a number of fig and pomegranate plantations as well. You can hire a cycle and enjoy a ride exploring the vast land. You also have the option to go for a ride on a Calèche (horse-drawn carriage).

Unwind at the Boujaffar Beach in Sousse. Considered a popular landmark in the city, this beach sees a confluence of people from far and wide; some enjoy a swim in the Mediterranean Sea and beach activities while others consider it the ideal picnic spot.

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A bird's eye view of Tunisia

Apart from the messages of harmony, love and peace that Eid-ul-Fitr carries, it also brings out the fun quotient of travelling to new places, meeting different people, learning about various cultures and treading into the unknown. With just a few more days to go, its time you freeze on your destination soon and conveniently book accommodations of your choice. To ease your travel planning, use Skyscanner’s award winning app for booking flights and hotels, and for hiring cars. To everyone out there, Eid Mubarak from all of us at Skyscanner!