As a Muslim, travelling in comfort is a concern especially to Vietnam, a predominantly Buddhist country. The people who follow Islam in this country form a very small minority. Most of these Vietnamese Muslims belong to the Cham people, and there are around only 100,000 of the Cham in a nation of around 90 million people. As thus, finding a safe place to eat and pray can be tricky for Muslims, most especially when venturing outside Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. Nonetheless, it is not impossible to enjoy a holiday to Vietnam as a Muslim, particularly if you have a friendly guide that specializes in Muslim travel in Vietnam.
Finding halal food in Vietnam
Vietnam has a halal certification board, but not all food products and dining venues in Vietnam are halal-certified. Thus, you need to take extra care in finding a place to eat, even in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh.
In Hanoi, you’ll find a number of halal-certified restaurants in the Hoan Kiem District. Some of these restaurants serve local Vietnamese and international fare, but most serve mostly Indian food. Hanoi’s street food is famous for being cheap and tasty, but you’d be safer to avoid them altogether. None of the street food stalls is halal-certified, and you’ll never know if the food was cooked with lard or alcohol, even if they appear to be vegetarian.
In Ho Chi Minh City, the halal restaurants are clustered in District 8, as well as along Malaysian Street and Tran Hung Dao Street in District 1. The food served at these restaurants have more variety – aside from local Vietnamese and Indian, you can also find dining venues that serve Malaysian, Arabic and Singaporean food. Just like with Hanoi’s street food stalls, it’s better to avoid the street food in Ho Chi Minh City to stay on the safe side.
Finding halal food outside Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City is more challenging. You may fare better when you travel to the Mekong Delta, where a sizeable population of Cham Muslims lives. In other destinations, you can either bring your own food or stick to vegetarian fare. But no worries, we’ve prepared a few halal restaurants that you can try!
Finding a quiet place for prayer in Vietnam
If finding halal food in Vietnam is already a challenge, finding a quiet place for prayer is even trickier. Not all Muslims in Vietnam practice praying five times a day facing the direction of Mecca.
Hanoi has only one mosque, the Al Noor Mosque along Hang Luoc Street. According to census reports, 300 devotees regularly attend Friday services at the mosque, but only 55 of them are Vietnamese. The others are foreigners working at nearby embassies of Muslim countries.
Mosques and prayer spaces in Ho Chi Minh are a little more plentiful. There are twelve mosques in the city, among the most notable of which are Saigon Central Mosque in District 1 and Cholon Mosque near Chinatown in District 5. Some halal restaurants also offer secluded rooms where their patrons may pray.
If you find yourself nowhere near a mosque or a prayer facility in Vietnam during prayer time, the best thing to do is to find a quiet place and simply pray facing west towards Mecca. If you can’t find west on your own, you can use the compass app on your smartphone.
Check out Vietnam’s official website for any events. Better yet, make your Vietnam travel arrangements with a tour company experienced in facilitating Muslim travel to Vietnam. Book these travel arrangements today.