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I'm sure it has happened to many of us: You travel to a country with a different culture, and suddenly, you find yourself in front of closed restaurant/shop/museum/etc doors (or, alternatively, you can't even find standing room), because all the locals are busy eating turkey or celebrating some religious or commercial holiday.

Is there some place that curates "critical dates" for different places that tell you when holidays are, and what the locals tend to do then, and ideally, what impact this may have on travellers?

And if there isn't such a place, what search strategy should I use to find that information myself?

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2 Answers 2

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While there are many calendaring apps / services that show public holiday information, this in itself may not be enough information to judge whether it will affect your travel. Public services may be shut...but sometimes holidays themselves can be part of your trip because it's something unique to each country's culture. The best way to find out the impact of this is to read an actual (paper / digital guidebook) and / or Wikivoyage.

Having said that, there a couple of tips:

  • Many Asian 'traditional' calendars are based on lunar cycles as opposed to solar cycles. This means that holiday dates fall on different 'modern' calendar days each year. Guidebooks are unlikely to give you specific information about each year, so you'll need to check the specific dates for each year separarely. However, guidebooks will give you information on what date ranges a particular holiday falls on (usually, within a two-month period for events based on lunar calendars) and how that impacts services.
  • For much of Muslim majority countries of the world, the fasting month of Ramadan results in food establishments to be shut during daylight hours. This is a helpful tip because it's generic to many countries and it helps to be prepared for this! Usually though, unless you're in a small town, there will be restaurants or eateries that stay open just for the tourist market.
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Try one of the following sites:

  • TimeAndDate. pick up a country and a year, it will list all holidays for the chosen country. Very nice!
  • Holiday Calendar it gives you holidays in different countries.
  • Wikitravel provides holidays information for each country.
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