A growing number of non-Muslim countries are paving the way for halal tourists seeking destinations that offer everything needed for a faith-aligned holiday...
Before winning the rights to host the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020, Japan had already garnered a reputation for being a halal-friendly destination and that's only set to grow as the country tries to attract more Muslim tourists. Food is a major draw. As well as having the highest number of Michelin-starred restaurants in the world, Japan also has a growing number of halal-certified places to dine. Restaurants across Tokyo and Kyoto serve up some of the best halal ramen, bento and yakiniko in the world and www.halalgourmet.jp lists them all. Tokyo Camii in Tokyo is the largest mosque in the country and well worth a visit, and Muslim travellers keen on donning the traditional kimono can also rent wagara hijabs to complete the traditional look.
2. South Africa
As one of the most visited countries on the African continent, South Africa is a rapidly developing halal destination. The largest Muslim population can be found in Cape Town, where there's a growing number of halal-friendly restaurants and hotels, such as the Hilton Cape Town City Centre, which offers Muslim-friendly rooms and meals prepared in a strict no-alcohol, no-pork kitchen. Halal travellers should visit the Cape Malay Muslim community in the Bo-Kaap: the colourful district sheds light on the country's first Muslim settlers and is home to the oldest mosque in the country. Prayer facilities are easily accessible across South Africa, from Cape Town and Johannesburg to Durban and as far afield as the wilds of the Karoo.
This is another rising star when it comes to halal travel. Madrid Airport is served by two mosques and the lounge serves a variety of halal food, while many other airports in the country offer multi-faith prayer rooms and ablution facilities. As well as a growing number of halal-certified restaurants, the Spanish Mediterranean diet is typically rich in seafood and vegetables, so halal food is never far away. There are more than 250 mosques across the country and several of Spain's prominent landmarks stem from Muslim roots, such as the eighth-century medieval Mezquita-Catedral in Cordoba, the Moorish Alhambra Fort in Granada and the excavated remains of the 13th-Century Arab baths in Ronda.
The world-renowned Taj Mahal in Agra is one of the most famous landmarks of Islamic architecture and the building has been called a jewel of Muslim art. Meanwhile, travelling in India is more Muslim-friendly. Alongside easily sourced halal restaurants and street food vendors, there are many mosques that are well worth a visit, such as Kerala's Cheraman Juma Mosque, believed to be the oldest in the country, the Jama Masjid in New Delhi and the stunning Makkah Mosque in Hyderabad. Alternatively, go off the beaten track in Udaipur, where you can stay at the Taj Lake Palace, a former royal residence that has Muslim-friendly rooms complete with alcohol-free mini bars and prayer mats.
Thailand has more than 3,500 halal-certified restaurants, according to data from the Halal Science Centre, meaning delicious food is accessible for travellers in nearly every part of the country. Consistently ranked in the top non-Muslim halal-friendly countries by Crescent Rating, Thailand is a growing hub for those of Islamic faith, with hotels such as Bangkok's Nouvo City Hotel well-known for its Muslim-friendly facilities and alcohol-free rooms. Many of Thailand's provinces are home to Malay Muslim communities, which means visitors headed to Ranong, Phuket, Songkhla and Phang-Nga can expect plenty of established halal-friendly amenities. Make sure you download the Thailand Muslim Friendly app, which is accredited by the Thai authorities, to find nearby mosques, hotels and certified-halal restaurants.