There are four long weekends occurring in 2019 and it is never too early to make full use of any extended time off for a well-deserved vacation. You don’t have to travel far to have an enjoyable time and a peace of mind with those whom you love. These 10 Muslim-friendly destinations are great if you’re looking for a short break without breaking your bank. Get ready to apply for leave because you’re going on holiday!
1 . Melaka/Malacca
Often overlooked, Melaka actually has a lot to offer travellers with its unique history and architecture. You can pop over to Jonker Street which is the city’s version of Chinatown, known for its red-coloured buildings and strong Chinese influence. Families with young children might want to head over to A’ Famosa Resort, a resort with a safari, golf course water park and other fun-filled activities for the whole family.
Shopaholics need not worry as the outlet mall in Melaka has the best deals and bargains. Feel the sweltering heat getting to you? Indulge in good ol’ chendol, a local dessert made from shaved ice, green rice flour jelly, coconut milk and palm sugar syrup.
Another beautiful gem in Malaysia? Penang! Charming shophouses, colonial buildings around George Town and elegant mosques such as the Kapitan Keling Mosque await you. Delve into the rich Peranakan history and culture when you visit the Peranakan Museum.
Ready for your very own photo shoot? Get ‘gram worthy shots at their many artistic murals sprawled across the city. Of course, you can’t leave Penang without uncovering their local delights such as their take of the beloved roti canai and hawker favourites like char kway teow and mee curry.
3. Tioman Island
You can expect soft, pearly-white sand between your toes and salt in your hair when diving in the waters of Tioman Island. Although smaller than its famous counterpart Langkawi, Tioman has so much to offer its visitors with countless water activities and lazy days by the beach.
Hop on a boat for an island tour where you will be treated to one of the best snorkel experiences in Southeast Asia. Marine Park, Coral Island, Malang Rocks and Monkey Bay are just some of the islands where you can get up close with fishes and explore the beautiful corals.
Located on the island of Borneo and in the state of Sarawak, Kuching brims with gorgeous natural landscapes and modern skyscrapers. Your first introduction to Kuching should begin with a ride on a sampan where you will be able to take in the sights like the local kampung houses, a golden-domed mosque, Chinese shophouses, a wooden palace and even a Victorian fort.
As the translation of Kuching (cat in Malay) suggests, visit the quirky cat museum which is solely dedicated to cats. Nature lovers should head to Bako National Park for a scenic hike. Alternatively, witness the diverse flora and fauna at Semenggoh Wildlife Reserve.
It might be the Philippines’ second city but Cebu is increasingly becoming a must-visit destination in Southeast Asia among Muslim travellers. Take a historic tour of Cebu to explore its Spanish legacy at Fort San Pedro. Maybe even ascend the Tops Lookout for a panoramic view of the city.
Alternatively, head straight to the beautiful beaches like Malapascua and Bantayan where you could frolic along the white powdery beaches. Camotes Island is ideal for those wanting some peace as you explore the more secluded waterfalls and beaches. Although Cebu does not have a lot of Muslim-friendly eateries, you can always opt for seafood dishes for your meals.
As the capital of West Sumatra in Indonesia, Padang is surrounded by gorgeous blue waters and picturesque views. Explore Bukittinggi, home of the Minangkabau people, where you can appreciate the traditional houses. Adityawarman Museum is a reflection of Padang culture with exhibits covering the lifestyle and architecture of Minangkabau.
Jump into the water for a quick swim with mountain views and legendary stone sculptures at Air Manis Beach. Or you can dive into the crater lake of Lake Maninjau. Maybe even head over to Pasumpahan, an island where you can find white sandy beaches and coral reefs.
You will never be bored when you’re in Lombok. Gili Islands are home to reefs, perfect for diving and snorkelling. You can even interact with adorable turtles at the sea turtle hatchery. At the south of Lombok, you can lay by the beach or catch the perfect wave since it is a perfect surfing spot.
Raring for something more adventurous? Mount Rinjani is an active volcano and also one of the highest in Indonesia, topped with a crater lake. This is a popular trek among adrenaline junkies. You can linger around Senggigi beach in West Lombok and uncover large groups of monkeys at the Monkey Forest in Pusuk Village.
8. Halong Bay
Along the bay, you will uncover a wide range of biodiversity amongst 1,600 towering limestone islands and endless emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. Also a UNESCO World Heritage site, Halong Bay has drawn Muslim travellers who particularly enjoy boarding traditional Vietnamese junk boats and cruise along the floating villages.
The boats mainly sail around Ha Long, Bai Tu Long and La Han Bay. Explore the Ca Ba Island, also known as Jurassic Park Island, where you will find hidden white sandy beaches and luscious greenery.
9. Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon is a bustling Vietnamese city with a rich history and plenty of delicious pho to slurp. Start your historical tour of this city when you visit the War Remnant Museum and the Reunification Palace for a glimpse of life during the Vietnam War.
Experience local culture when you watch a water puppet show at the theatre on Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street. Thereafter, head up Saigon Skydeck for a bird’s eye view of the whole city before getting your shopping done at Ben Thanh Market. You might start feeling peckish as you cruise around on the motorbike taxi in search of delicious Halal Vietnamese cuisines such as the banh mi. Have an un-pho-gettable time in Ho Chi Minh city!
10. Siem Reap
Siem Reap is also a Southeast Asian city brimming with history as it is the gateway to the ruins of Angkor Wat. This famous UNESCO site attracts Muslim travellers from all over thanks to its rustic charm and grandeur.
Catch the sunrise as you begin your exploration from surrounding temples Ta Phrom and Bayon. Enrich yourself further as you tour War Museum and Angkor National Museum where you will learn the beginnings of the Angkor civilization. You might find Halal or Muslim-friendly local delicacies around the An Neakmah Mosque.
Don’t waste an opportunity to travel when you have a long weekend in 2019! Holidays are a great way to relax and unwind with loved ones even if they are just short ones.
Also read: 19 Muslim-Friendly Cities to Visit in 2019