For most people, Bali is the first destination that comes to mind when you mention Indonesia. And while Bali is a spectacular halal holiday destination, there are other unique destinations in Indonesia that are lesser known, but equally stunning, while being less touristy as well as more suitable for Muslim travellers. The destinations listed below are among ten destinations that have been designated by the Indonesian Ministry of tourism as Muslim-friendly, with a focus to further develop them for Muslim visitors.
Rinjani mountain an active volcano which towers over the island of Lombok, is the second highest volcano in Indonesia.
Lombok ranks first in the Indonesia Muslim Travel Index (IMTI), a ranking of the 10 provinces designated by the Ministry of Tourism Indonesia for Halal tourism. (The ranking is developed by Crescentrating in partnership with MasterCard.) Lombok is known for its pristine beaches and water sports. Gili islands, which are off Lombok’s west coast are a great destination for diving and snorkelling. Dubbed as the land of one thousand mosques, Lombok has plenty of prayer facilities and a large number of halal certified restaurants as well as hotels with halal certified kitchens. The island won the “best halal tourism and halal honeymoon destination” in Abu Dhabi in 2016.
Baiturrahman Grand Mosque in Banda Aceh is a symbol of faith and a resilient spirit as it survived the 2004 Tsunami
Muslim-friendly Aceh is known as the province from which Islam first spread to the rest of Indonesia. It is currently the only province in Indonesia that implements shariah law. A less known fact, is that Aceh has some of the best beaches in the country as well as other natural beauty, including waterfalls and wildlife. It is also a great destination for adventure seeking travelers as it’s well known for its water sports, including snorkeling and diving. Its capital Banda Aceh is known for its museums and interesting architecture. In terms of culture and heritage, Aceh is famous for its Saman Dance which is on UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
- Riau and Riau Islands
Coral reefs off Riau Islands
Riau Islands is a chain of over 1,796 islands located in the western part of Indonesia, bordered by Singapore and Malaysia. One of the most popular islands is Batam, which is popular for its water sports, hiking, cycling, and golf. Another popular island: Bintan is popular for its beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters. It is also known for its world-class hotels. Riau islands have stunning coral reefs and exotic fish, and are renowned for their scuba diving sites which makes the islands a perfect fit for adventure solo travellers.
The Jakarta skyline at sunset.
The capital Jakarta is a lively bustling city. It’s known for its huge shopping malls and for entertainment. Kota tua, which means ‘old city’ is definitely worth visiting. In it you will find Dutch buildings dating back to the 17th century which was home to the Dutch East India Company that dealt in spice trade. A haven for foodies, Jakarta has an abundance of halal friendly restaurants. While its Thousand Islands is famous for its luxury resorts, snorkelling and water sports.
- West Sumatera
Parasailing in Puncak Lawang, a plateau in West Sumatra
West Sumatera is home to several Islamic heritage sites and cultural attractions. It has stunning diverse nature, from rainforests to beaches, to canyons, to waterfalls. It is a perfect destination for adventure lovers and Muslim couples as it offers opportunities for parasailing, hiking, cycling, and surfing. West Sumatra’s Mentawai Island is a world-famous surfing destination and was listed as one of the world’s 50 best surfing spots by Surfing Magazine.
- West Java
Green Canyon Cave in Pangandaran, West Java
A nature lover’s paradise, West Java encompasses a wide range of natural attractions, from volcanoes, to jungles, to mountains as well as extensive beaches. Its capital Bandung is known for its natural beauty, as well as for its creative industries, including fashion design, with unique clothing sold at factory outlets. Badung has a distinct colonial European-style atmosphere ever so muslim-friendly combined with captivating traditional arts.
Borobudur temple in Yogyakarta. Image source: Indonesia Ministry of Tourism website