Muslim-friendly travel destinations are so much more than a place with accessible halal food and mosques to perform prayers. It is also a destination that treats Muslim travellers with respect (forget the atrocious discrimination towards Muslims!) and caters to all sorts of needs of a Muslim traveller. In case you’re wondering what are the best places in Asia to visit this year, we’ve compiled our top 5 Muslim-friendly cities in Asia to visit during your next trip. Ready to pack your bags?!
1. Xi’an, China
There are more than 50,000 Muslims living in Xi’an which means finding mosques and halal food is a piece of cake in this part of China. In fact, Xi’an was the first Chinese city to be introduced to Islam thanks to the Silk Road passing through the city, and people have been allowed to practice Islam since 651 AD!
Stroll down the Muslim Quarter and you will be spoiled with an endless array of halal street food stalls and restaurants. You should try a bowl of Suan La Fen (hot sour rice noodles), Yangrou Paomo (flatbread in mutton soup), and Liangpi (cold noodles). They are all must-try dishes when you’re in Xi’an!
Afterwards, make a stop at the largest mosque in China, Great Mosque of Xi’an. It is both an active place of worship and a popular tourist site. Architectural buffs from all over the world flock here eager to see how traditional Chinese architecture embraces the Islamic elements and functionality, a truly unusual combo. Another place worth visiting whilst you’re in Xi’an is the Terracotta Warriors, a UNESCO World Heritage Site of a collection of terracotta sculptures portraying the armies of the First Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, and stunning Huashan mountain with 5 peaks.
Halal food checked, mosques checked, awesome attractions checked. These make Xi’an one of the best Muslim holiday destinations in China!
Best halal restaurant in Xi’an: Laosunjia Restaurant (map)
If you ever find yourself in Singapore, check out Kampong Glam district, a heritage-rich neighbourhood. It is known for its unique Malay-Singapore culture and history. Pay a visit to the Malay Heritage Center Museum to learn more about the vibrant and glamorous lifestyle of Muslim Singaporeans. There are also two beautiful mosques nearby, the Burhani Mosque and the Sultan Mosque. You can stop for prayers and a quick chat with locals.
Food fanatics need to head to Bussorah Street where you’ll be spoiled with halal food choices. Afterwards, stop at Orchard Road for shopping. You can shop for literally everything: from clothes to souvenirs at the numerous Orchard malls and complexes, but if you want something cheap and of good quality check out Serangoon Road (Little India) and Bugis Street Market.
With loads of Muslim and family-friendly attractions like Sentosa Island, Universal Studios, and Gardens By The Bay, to name a few, Singapore is totally worth your time and money.
3. Bangkok, Thailand
Muslims visiting Thailand will be surprised by how Muslim-friendly its capital city Bangkok is. There are many restaurants in the city serving authentic Halal Thai food such as Thai Milk Tea and Som Tum – Green Papaya Salad and great halal specialities from neighbouring countries such as Malaysia, India and China, as well as the Middle East.
During our trip to Bangkok, we always stop at Sukhumvit Soi Arab, a Muslim friendly alleyway with more than 40 halal Middle Eastern restaurants and shisha bars. It is totally worth visiting just to soak in the vibrant and energetic atmosphere of this cultural quarter!
Plenty of tourist attractions won’t let you feel bored. Plus good news for our backpackers’ friends: you’re going to love Bangkok as everything is reasonably priced here. In case you want to have some beach time, leave the buzzing city for Pattaya or lesser-known Hua Hin beach that is two and a half-hour car journey away from Bangkok. The latter beach has all sorts of exciting watersports that you’ll enjoy: surfing, snorkelling, bungee jumping, wakeboard and sailing.
4. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Located in a country where Islam is the dominant religion, Kuala Lumpur is basically halal holidays heaven for Muslim tourists. Home to attractions like Petronas Towers, Putrajaya, and Batu Caves – a limestone caves housing a Hindu temple, it is an unassuming city that has something for everybody.
Make sure you make a stop at Kampung Baru – this place offers a glimpse of old KL before the age of the skyscraper buildings. Walk around Raja Alang and Datuk Abdul Razak streets and pass by many of the old wooden houses (including the traditional Malay house built in 1921 known as Master Mat’s house) and rows of traditional shops. Kampung Baru is also a great place to taste traditional Malay dishes and snacks. Plus, there’s always night market and hawker stalls are open till late.
Next stroll down Bukit Bintang or Bangsar streets, areas known for their youthful ambience and popular amongst tourist, youths and locals. These are THE shopping and entertainment districts in Kuala Lumpur. If you are spending 3 days in KL, I suggest you look at the ‘essentials of KL’ itinerary where we grouped KL attractions according to a different culture: Malay, Chinese and Indian!
The best part of being in Kuala Lumpur is the fact that you can literally find halal food anytime around the clock. Yes, we mean it! Taste the wide range of scrumptious local dishes such as Nasi Lemak (a coconut rice dish with spicy sambal sauce) and Nasi Campur (a mixed rice dish with meats and vegetables) at both hawker stalls and restaurants. In-between your shopping sprees to either the malls or street markets, don’t forget to squeeze in some time to visit the most remarkable mosques in Kuala Lumpur such as the National Mosque, Putra Mosque, Federal Territory mosque and Jamek mosque.
Best halal restaurant in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Village Park Restaurant (map). Also, check out 10 Mouthwatering Halal Buffets in KL under RM 100.
5. New Delhi, India
Have you heard of Qutb Minar, Akshardham temples or Chandni Chowk street? If not, New Delhi will leave you in awe with its world-famous attractions! It is India’s capital city and has a crazy large population, consisting of Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists, leaving first-time visitors literally dizzy.
With Islam being the second practised religion in India, it is relatively easy to indulge in halal traditional dishes which can be found everywhere around the city. We recommend trying their paratha – plain bread which comes with a selection of fillings such as potatoes, eggs, cauliflower, spinach and masala, making this the perfect street food. Also whilst you’re in New Delhi, visit Quwattul Islam mosque and Jamek mosque to snap pictures of their incredible Indo-Islamic architecture. The friendly locals are always ready to help in case you need to locate any Muslim-friendly amenities.
Note that you will need to plan your journey carefully as New Delhi has an extreme climate. It can get really hot in summer (April to July) – up to 45℃ – and it can go down to 5℃ from December to January.
Best halal restaurant in New Delhi, India: Indian Accent restaurant (map).
Are you excited to explore these 5 Muslim friendly cities in Asia?
Now there is no need to fear the risk of not being able to find halal food, proper hotels and attractions that meet the Islamic requirements anymore as these countries are Muslim-friendly and cater to the Islamic requirements. All you need to do is simply pack your bags and visit these beautiful cities around Asia that are full of Islamic heritage, history and architecture.
If you’ve decided to visit any of these cities, check out 7 things you should know before travelling to a Muslim country! Additionally, we have put together a list of 12 most vibrant and colourful places in Asia!