These five unique destinations are perfect for your year-end holiday

Travel
Disclaimer: Northern lights in Iceland.Getty Images/ansonmiao

Savitha Venugopal

 

The December holidays will be upon us soon, and if you are planning a year-end holiday, now is the time to start choosing your ideal destination, looking up hotels, and making your early-bird bookings.

The recent past has seen a host of new destinations adding more services and gaining prominence among Muslim travellers. Malaysia, Singapore, the UAE, Turkey, France and Spain are old favourites, and Japan, South Korea and Taiwan are relatively new entrants.

But if you’re looking for an exotic holiday this winter, have a look at our selection of unique, Instagram-worthy countries that are ideal for Muslim travellers.

ICELAND

Iceland_Northern Lights

 

Northern Lights, anyone? Iceland is one of the best places to enjoy the Aurora Borealis, one of the biggest bucket-list items for travel bugs. Besides this, the unsurpassed natural beauty, geysers, waterfalls, volcanos and thermal pools ensure that Iceland will make for a unique experience.

The best way to see this country is to drive, so rent yourself a car and take the scenic route. For food, Halal Trip recommends Ali Baba in Reykjavik: open late into the night, it is perfect for a late-night binge if you are staying up to catch the ethereal show. Throughout your road trip, you will find plenty of seafood and vegetarian options in Iceland’s towns.

UZBEKISTAN

Uzbekistan_Samarkand

Disclaimer: Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Getty Images / Jeremy Woodhouse

 

Rich in culture and history, Uzbekistan is perfect for a heritage architecture trail. You can even travel along the ancient Silk Route; Khiva, Samarkand and Bukhara were three major cities on this ancient trading route. Uzbekistan is a former Soviet Republic, which means that you will also get to see bits of classical Russian architecture.

About 80 per cent of the population is Muslim, so you will have no trouble finding halal food. The Halal Food Blog recommends trying sumalak, a sweet dish made from germinated wheat with no added sugar.

Getting to Uzbekistan from Singapore has also gotten a lot easier thanks to a direct flight from Changi to Uzbekistan’s capital, Tashkent.

CROATIA

Croatia_Old fortress at Dubrovnik Harbour

Disclaimer: Old Fortress in Dubrovnik Harbor, Croatia. Getty Images / Samantha T. Photography

 

A beautiful coastline, medieval towns, views of sloping roofs cascading down hillsides, picturesque island villages: Croatia is all this and more. Arguably the most exciting way to travel along the country is by water, sailing along the coast and exploring the network of islands. Starting at the marina at Split, you can visit towns and villages on the islands of Solta, Vis and Hvar, among others, home to beautiful beaches, fishing villages, vineyards and olive groves.

Croatia actively encourages halal travel, and over 46 producers in the country have received halal certification over the last few years. This number continues to grow, so halal food will be the last thing you’ll have to worry about during your trip. People from Malaysia and Brunei can travel visa-free.

BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

Bosnia and Herzegovina Sarajevo

Disclaimer: Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

 

Bosnia and Herzegovina is relatively new on the travel map, but the world has now woken up to it, and how! Its history is a mix of European and Ottoman, and its scenery is breathtaking. Ski slopes, river rafting, mountains, waterfalls and ancient castles should find their way on your itinerary. And you should sample all the food you can, from the thick traditional Bosnian coffee to kebabs to burek.

If yours is a budget trip, look no further: For all the delectable cuisine, comfortable accommodation and irresistible shopping, your money will run longer here than anywhere else.

GEORGIA

Georgia_Tbilisi city centre, Old Town and Narikala Fortress

Disclaimer: View of Tbilisi city center, Old Town and the Narikala Fortress. Shot during daytime. Getty Images / Maksim Ozerov

 

Mountain hikes and vineyard trails, ruined forts and ancient towns, monasteries and seaside resorts: charming Georgia stands at the edge of Europe, rich in history and culture. The capital city of Tbilisi, where ultra-modern buildings rub shoulders with classical European architecture, is a treat to anyone interested in architecture. A day trip away is Mtskheta, a 6th-century monastery and a cradle of history. Don’t miss the local markets selling fresh produce; even if you aren’t buying, they make for a fun experience and, of course, great Instagram photos!

“There is a huge interest in the unique culture and food in these places,” says Fazal Bahardeen, Founder and CEO of CrescentRating and Halal Trip. “They have lot to offer in terms of local experiences. Now that they are becoming more Muslim-friendly, they are also attracting more tourists.” To cater to this growing demand, Halal Trip is offering exclusive year-end packages for the region.

(Writing by Savitha Venugopal; Editing by Seban Scaria Seban.Scaria@refinitiv.com)

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