In the last few years, we’ve seen the rise of Muslim-friendly travel destinations around the world. Halal tourism, or tourism that’s in accordance with Islamic rules, is a burgeoning global trend, addressing the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims who are looking for products and services that match their values and beliefs.
Just last month, Mastercard and CrescentRating released its Global Muslim Travel Index 2019, which highlighted some of the top Muslim-friendly travel destinations in Asia and around the world.
To take the stress out of family travel planning, the team at Brand Expedia has put together a quick guide of 10 Muslim-friendly places to travel, complete with halal food options, accommodation and sightseeing recommendations to make your next vacation a truly special one.
Muslim-Friendly Travel Guide For 2019
Did you know that Singapore has once again retained its position as the top non-Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) destination for Muslim travellers globally? Being bestowed this title for the fourth-year-running is indeed an honour. With the plethora of Muslim-friendly attractions – ranging from the UNESCO-minted heritage site Singapore Botanic Gardens to the iconic Gardens By The Bay and Universal Studios Singapore, countless mosques and an amazing variety of halal food options, a stay in this beautiful garden city is bound to be a memorable experience.
- What to eat: For those who love the luxury of choice, head to the historic Kampong Glam district, an area known for its wide selection of affordable halal food. Check out Krave, a quaint café specialising in east-meets-west delights like arabiatta chicken pasta or visit Hjh Maimunah Restaurant for some delicious Nasi Padang and oxtail soup. If you’re visiting Singapore Botanic Gardens, head to The Halia, a hidden gem which has risen to fame as a popular spot for halal dining.
- Where to stay: Check out Royal Plaza on Scotts located at the heart of Orchard Road, or Marina Mandarin – both Muslim-friendly hotels with good facilities and prayer spaces that make great staycation destinations!
The Land of Smiles is a great destination for many, as it boasts a rich culture, friendly locals, bustling markets and good food! To make your trip to Thailand as seamless as possible, the Tourism Authority of Thailand has launched a Thailand Muslim-Friendly Destination application to take you through the extensive range of Muslim-friendly activities, attractions, eateries and hotels. So why not make a trip to the nearby Bangkok for your next family vacay?
- What to eat: Drop by Al-Sana restaurant, one of the oldest halal restaurants in Pratunam, located right beside Baiyoke Sky Hotel for their famous Mutton Briyani or you can experience life like the locals by having halal street food along Phetchaburi Soi 7.
- Where to stay: Check out Amari Watergate Bangkok, a great central nesting place where Muslims can enjoy halal buffet breakfast with the Darul Aman Mosque located just a short walk away. Or go for Banyan Tree Bangkok, a hotel with superb spa and pool facilities along with restaurants that serve up a great selection of halal dishes.
- Getting there: It’s easy to get to Bangkok from Singapore, with a wide range of full-service and budget options to make the 2.5-hour trip to the Land of Smiles. AirAsia, Scoot, Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways all operate daily flights to Bangkok.
3. United Kingdom
Known for its rich history as well as its unique traditions and customs, a visit to the United Kingdom is a must if you have never visited the continent of Europe. With a vast array of activities to do, including visiting Buckingham Palace, London Bridge, museums, shopping, sightseeing and more, it’s easy to spend more than a week exploring just the key spots within Central London! The best part is the United Kingdom is also home to a large population of Muslims. This means that you can travel with ease without worrying about the lack of prayer facilities and halal food.
- What to eat: What is a trip to London without trying the classic fish and chips? Visit Poppies at Hansbury Street, an award-winning establishment that serves up delicious fish and chips free of alcohol. Or visit The Meat Co, which serves up fantastic steaks and has separate halal seating and cooking areas to cater to Muslims.
- Where to stay: Check out Hilton London Metropole, a centrally-located hotel that is within walking distance away from a wide range of halal eateries. Or opt for Dukes London, located in the heart of Mayfair, which is a great hotel that is popular with Muslim travellers.
- Getting there: With a variety of non-stop flights to London, take your pick from the wide range of flight timings on British Airways, Qantas or Singapore Airlines.
Where to Stay
Where to Stay during your Trip
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Of course, one of the most sought-after travel destinations by Singaporeans, Japan also made the list of top Muslim-friendly travel destinations. Beneath its ‘Insta-worthy’ landscape, rich culture and amazing food lies the government’s efforts to make the Land of the Rising Sun a friendlier destination for Muslim tourists. This means that besides enjoying the beautiful sights of Mount Fuji, Tokyo Tower, and shopping till you drop at Ginza, Shibuya and Harajuku, you will also find Muslim-friendly facilities and halal food options readily available within the city of Tokyo!
- What to eat: For a satisfying meal of yakiniku, head over to Gyumon in Shibuya, a halal restaurant that serves up delicious barbequed beef. If raw fish is your thing, visit Asakusa Sushi Ken in Asakusa. Here you can find large varieties of sushi at affordable prices.
- Where to stay: Check out Shinjuku Prince Hotel, located in the heart of Shinjuku and within a stone’s throw away from the hyperconnected Shinjuku Station. A prayer mat and a compass is provided for visitors at this hotel, and food options are readily available all around. Alternatively, opt for Park Hyatt, Shinjuku, a luxurious five-star hotel that offers a customised menu to meet halal dietary needs, which is also a short walk away from the nearby masjid.
- Getting there: All Nippon Airways, Delta Airlines, Japan Airlines and Singapore Airlines offer the fastest flights to Tokyo.
For a more relaxed holiday, head over to Taipei, a laid-back city in Taiwan with a vibrant culture and friendly locals. With plenty to see, eat, shop and do within the city itself, a trip to Taipei can be very relaxed, but never boring! In recent years, the Taiwan Tourism Bureau has also been placing greater emphasis on Muslim-friendly facilities for travellers. Every major city now has a mosque, while visa-free travel privileges have been extended to several Muslim majority nations around the world.
- What to eat: Indulge in some slurping good beef noodles at Chang’s Beef Noodle Shop located at Yanping South Road. If you prefer something more elaborate, head over to the Muslim-friendly restaurant Silks Palace at the National Palace Museum for their mouthwatering dishes!
- Where to stay: A five-star Muslim-friendly hotel, The Grand Hotel has a halal-certified kitchen, prayer and sanitary facilities. Alternatively, opt for Amba Taipei Ximending, located right in the heart of the bustling Ximending district. Not only are the food options halal, but the prayer and sanitary facilities are Muslim-friendly too.
- Getting there: With plenty of direct flight options to Taipei from Cathay Pacific, Eva Air, Jetstar Asia, Scoot and Singapore Airlines, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
6. South Africa
With its breath-taking scenery, South Africa should really be put on your bucket list as your next wanderlust destination. If you’re game enough to take the plunge, make a trip to Cape Town, as you will not be disappointed with the oldest town in South Africa known for its harbour, natural setting in the Cape Floristic Region, and beautiful landmarks such as Table Mountain and Cape Point. Cape Town also has a rich Muslim heritage, with Muslims accounting for a quarter of the city’s population and South Africa’s oldest mosque located within the Mother City.
- What to eat: Visit Bo-Kaap Kombuis, a halal-certified family-run restaurant located in the Malay Quarter of Cape Town for its amazing Masala Steak sandwiches and spectacular views of Table Mountain. If you are exploring the city centre, visit Batavia, a quaint cafe that serves up local Malay cuisine and coffee.
- Where to stay: Check out Hilton Cape Town City Centre, which comes with halal food options, prayer spaces and Muslim-friendly washrooms. For breath-taking views of the city, opt for The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa – you’ll be so impressed with the magnificent views that you won’t want to leave the facility.
- Getting there: Choose from Ethiopian Airlines, Qatar Airways or Singapore Airlines, which operate flights to Cape Town.
Where to Stay
Where to Stay during your Trip
7. Hong Kong
The bustling metropolis is a classic melting pot where the east meets the west! You will be impressed by what Hong Kong has to offer to satisfy the traveller in you. The 426-square mile city hosts a myriad of activities that ranges from family-friendly attractions to non-stop shopping, mouth-watering halal food plus a Disneyland and an Ocean Park to boot!
- What to eat: Start your day with the traditional pineapple bun and a cup of milk tea at Chrisly Café located at Connaught Road Central. With a halal-certified bakery, this place is bound to satisfy all your local pastry cravings! No trip to Hong Kong is complete without having dim sum – so hop over to the Islamic Centre Canteen at Wan Chai next to get your halal dim sum fix.
- Where to stay: Check out Harbour Grand Hong Kong located near the Victoria Harbour, which has a halal-certified kitchen. If you prefer the bustling Tsim Sha Tsui district, go for Hyatt Regency Tsim Sha Tsui, a stone’s throw away from the Kowloon Mosque and Islamic Centre.
- Getting there: With a plethora of flight options from AirAsia, Cathay Pacific, Jetstar Asia and Singapore Airlines, taking a spontaneous trip to Hong Kong can be easily arranged without the fuss.
Where to Stay
Where to Stay during your Trip
8. South Korea
A trip to the land of K-pop and K-dramas is surely on the bucket list of many Muslim travellers. Seoul, the capital of South Korea, is also a unique city where the old meets the new. Home to authentic Korean cuisine, several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, spectacular night views and amazing attractions, there is definitely something for everyone to enjoy. Plus, with about 100,000 Muslims living in the country, halal food and facilities are easily available everywhere you go.
- What to eat: Run by Korean Muslims, the famous Eid Halal Korean Food is the place to go to for authentic Korean food. If walking through the beautiful Gyeongbokgung Palace makes you hungry, make a pit-stop at Halal Kitchen to indulge in some tteokbokki, dakgalbi or bulgogi.
- Where to stay: Check out Hamilton Hotel, located conveniently near Itaewon Station and a short walk away from halal eateries and a mosque. Alternatively, opt for Lotte Hotel Seoul, located near the Myeongdong shopping district which has halal-certified restaurants.
- Getting there: With Asiana Airlines, Korean Air and Singapore Airlines all operating direct flights, there are plenty of options for your next trip to Seoul!
Where to Stay
Where to Stay during your Trip
Visiting France is akin to a dream come true for most travellers. And no trip is complete without making a stop in Paris – the city of lights and love – and checking out the famed Eiffel Tower! With so much more to offer than just lights and romance, you will be spoilt for choice by the myriad of food and attraction options all around the city. With approximately five million Muslims living in France, the city is also Muslim-friendly in terms of the availability of prayer spaces, halal food and facilities.
- What to eat: To savour authentic French dishes, start off with Le Confidentiel, a halal restaurant located a short walk away from the Paris Golden Triangle of Montaigne, George V and Champs-Elysées Avenues. You can also check out Le Crystal Restaurant, known as the best halal restaurant in Paris, for an enjoyable French fine dining experience.
- Where to stay: Check out the five-star Hotel Barrière Le Fouquet’s, which is well-equipped with prayer mats, Qur‘an in room and halal food on demand for a comfortable stay. Or opt for Hotel Lancaster, which offers five-star services and halal food on request.
- Getting there: Taking Air France or Singapore Airlines will be your best bet for the quickest way to Paris.
The bright and sunny country of Spain is not just known for its world-leading football clubs, it’s also renowned for its beautiful landscape, history, culture and food. Taking a trip to Madrid, the capital of Spain, is bound to be a memorable experience, as the laid-back city tends to bring out the spontaneity in you as you get into its groove alongside the locals. When you’re there, don’t forget to visit the Royal Palace of Madrid, Prado Museum and The Santiago Bernabéu Stadium – home of Real Madrid FC.
- What to eat: Head to La Alhambra, known for serving one of the best halal food in Madrid, for delicious Arabic dishes and Moroccan food. For variety, check out Bombay Place for delicious Indian food, where the majority of its dishes are halal.
- Where to stay: Check out Hesperia Madrid, a beautiful place to stay for Muslim travellers, or opt for the luxurious Gran Melia Fenix, which is just a short walk away from Colon metro station.
- Getting there: While there aren’t direct flights to Madrid, you can still take KLM, Etihad Airways or Emirates with a connecting flight to reach the city.