I'm going to Malaysia in October this year - on the 7th I want to rent a car and drive from KL stopping by Cameron Highlands / Ipoh for 2 days and getting to Penang by the 9th.

I've just realized that it is Hari Raya on the 5th and 6th October (http://publicholidays.com.my/hari-raya-haji/).

Just wondering what kind of holiday is that? Will things be open? I was thinking of hiring a car when I get there, should I book everything beforehand then in case the car hire places are closed?

Also what will the roads be like on the day AFTER the holiday when I need to drive from KL? Will the traffic still be really hectic?

  • 4
    Those dates are for Hari Raya Haji, which is not the same as Hari Raya Puasa (aka Eid al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan)! Hari Raya Haji is a minor holiday with very little impact; Hari Raya Puasa is a major festival that paralyzes the country. Hari Raya is basically Malay for "holiday". – lambshaanxy Sep 17 '14 at 6:34
  • @jpatokal : yeah???? so nothing to worry about?? i'm relieved! – Mr Pizzzzzza Sep 17 '14 at 6:36
  • Yup. But please revise your question to ask about either Hari Raya Haji or Hari Raya Puasa, and I'll be happy to write a more detailed answer. – lambshaanxy Sep 17 '14 at 6:37
  • @jpatokal : well it no longer affects me, so i can either delete it but if ur going to write up an answer, I will change it to Puasa as it seems more useful for other ppl – Mr Pizzzzzza Sep 17 '14 at 6:38

First, Hari Raya Puasa (aka Eid al-Fitr, the last day of Ramadan) was on 28 July in 2014. Hari Raya Haji (aka Eid al-Adha, the festival commemorating Abraham's sacrifice and the climax of the Hajj pilgrimage) is an entirely separate and much smaller festival. "Hari Raya" alone usually refers to the first of these.

So in short, traveling around Hari Raya Puasa/Aidilfitri in Malaysia is best approximated as like traveling around Christmas in the West.

The eve of Hari Raya, or "virtual Christmas Eve", most companies have a half-day and everybody who possibly can heads out will balik kampung ("return to village") to join their families, parents, etc. This means massive congestion on main thoroughfares including the North-South Highway (Singapore-KL-Ipoh-Penang) and border crossings (esp. those from Singapore). Public transport will be sold out, buses and flights packed, etc, and you will have a tough time finding a rental car as well. Not a good time at all to travel if you can possibly avoid it.

Hari Raya itself is like virtual Christmas Day: most companies, attractions, restaurants, etc will be closed. However, hotels and core services (airports etc) of course stay open, as do some businesses that are owned by/cater to the Chinese and Indian communities. Also, unlike most strictly family-centric Western Christmas traditions, it's common for Malays to have open houses in the evening, where friends and acquaintances are invited to join the feast.

After the Hari Raya holiday (and any attached weekend) ends, the migration reverses, and the same roads etc are jammed again, only in the opposite direction.

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