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  • Here's 7 Wallet-Friendly Attractions in Liverpool for Every Budget Traveller

    Travelling. It is almost a myth to travel without burning a whole in the pocket. But One advice from a wise traveller is to always try to find free activities in the city to learn way more than what money can give you. Places such as the museums or the parks give you a little insight on what the city can offer. Tour the city like a local and simply indulge in their culture and have a blast at your own benefit during your travel. Liverpool has definitely so much more to offer than just football and the Fab Four. We're about to spill some tea on how to make your travel in Liverpool so much more memorable without having to spend a penny.  5 Halal Restaurants in Liverpool 1. Get to know the History of Liverpool Museum of Liverpool Picture Credit: www.precisionlighting.co.uk Opened in 2011, the Museum of Liverpool showcases the city's unique geography, history and culture. This stunning building is the United Kingdom's largest newly-built museum after over a century. The Museum of Liverpool is filled with interactive exhibitions for both kids and adults. Address: Liverpool Waterfront, Pier Head, Liverpool L3 1DG, UKOpening Hours: 10AM to 5PM (Everyday)Contact: +44 151 478 4545Website: www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk Facebook | YouTube | Instagram Merseyside Maritime Museum & International Slavery Museum Picture Credit: www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk Two museums under one roof. Housed in the same building, the Merseyside Maritime Museum and International Slavery Museum tell the whole story of Liverpool's rise to being one of the wealthiest cities in the world - which it was as recently as 100 years ago. Visit Liverpool Tourist Guide website for their daily visiting time in this link The Merseyside and International Slavery Museum. Address: Merseyside Maritime Museum, Albert Dock, Liverpool L3 4AX, United Kingdom              3rd Floor (International Slavery Museum)Opening Hours: 10AM to 5PM (Everyday)Contact: +44 151 478 4499Website: www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk Facebook | YouTube  The Blue Coat Picture Credit: www.liverpool-one.com This beautiful arts centre hosts exhibitions, gigs, talks, and classes for all ages. It's an oasis of creativity and a quiet calm courtyard, slap bang in the middle of Liverpool's bustling shopping district. After London, Liverpool has the most public sculptures of any city in the UK. The most famous are the Superlambanana plus its 125 replicas dotted all around the city. While Anthony Gormleys' Another Place is on Crosby Beach, just up the coast, 100 cast iron life-size figures stare out to sea along the 3km coastline. Address: School Lane, Liverpool L1 3BXOpening Hours: 9AM to 6PM (Mondays - Saturdays)                          11AM to 6PM (Sundays)Contact: 0151 702 5324Website: www.thebluecoat.org.uk   Tate Liverpool  Picture Credit: www.visitliverpool.com When the modern art gallery opened in the Albert Dock nearly 30 years ago, it jump-started the city centre's revival. This former warehouse is complete with beautiful surroundings and great collection of Roy Linchtenstein's pop art. Tate Liverpool is the place to go if you are looking forward to discovering Liverpool's art scene like a local. You might even want to take home a creative souvenir from Tate Liverpool’s shop such as the art-inspired gift ideas or choose from an extensive array of books. Address: Albert Dock, Liverpool Waterfront, Liverpool L3 4BBOpening Hours: 10AM to 5.50PM (Everyday)Contact: +44 (0)151 702 7400Website: www.tate.org.uk Facebook | YouTube | Instagram World Museum  Picture Credit: www.confidentials.com The World Museum is always filled with on going exhibitions both fun and educational for visitors of all ages. While some may require an admission fee, there are still many other exhibitions that offers free entry for the public. Check out their floor plan before your visit to plan your itinerary for the day. You might even want to squeeze in a picnic during the day at the St Johns Gardens located just opposite of the museum. Prayer rooms are available at the Community Base on Level 4 upon request. Refer to their facilities page for more information. Address: William Brown St, Liverpool L3 8EN, UKOpening Hours: 10AM to 5PM (Everyday)Contact: +44 151 478 4393Website: www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk Facebook | YouTube | Instagram 2. Discover the Beatles Picture Credit: www.beatlesstory.com That's right, the legacy of the Fab Four still looms large over Liverpool. Take your time and explore The Beatles' Story, an exhibition solely on the lives and times of the Fab Four. Tickets can be are priced at £16.95 for adults, £12.50 for students and seniors, and £10 for children. While The Beatles' Story requires paid entry, you can visit Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields in Beaconsfield Road for free. Go on an adventure and see what it feels like to be in a Beatles' music video! You can also go online to book a tour to John Lennon's childhood home, also known as Mendips. Located at 251 Menlove Avenue, the only way to get into the home is through a paid tour run by the National Trust. Otherwise, visitors are only allowed to out of the premises. Mendips Address: 251 Menlove Avenue, Liverpool L25 7SA, England (Mendips)Contact: 08448 004 791Email: thebeatleshomes@nationaltrust.org.ukWebsite: www.nationaltrust.org.uk The Beatles' Story Address: Britannia Vaults, Albert Dock, Liverpool L3 4AD, UKOpening Hours: 9AM to 6PM (Everyday)Contact: +44 151 709 1963Website: www.beatlesstory.com Facebook | YouTube | Instagram 3. Roam around Liverpool's parks Picture Credit: www.liverpoolecho.co.uk Protected by the English Heritage, Sefton Park hosts many of the area's festival and has a boating lake. The Sefton Park has also recently refurbished the Grade II-Listed Victorian Palm House which is a domed conservatory. Sandwhiched between Liverpool and Everton's stadia, Anfield and Goodison Park, the Stanley Park is an auspicious place to kick a ball about. Although, the Everton FC might be moving to a new stadium in the Bramley Moore Dock soon. Sefton Park Address: Mossley Hill Dr, Liverpool L17 1AJ, UK   Stanley Park Address: Walton Ln, Liverpool L4 2SL, UK 4. The Beaches of Merseyside Picture Credit: www.liverpoolecho.co.uk The Formby, West Kirby and Southport beaches have all got lots to offer but New Brighton is definitely worth a visit. The New Brighton Beach has recently undergone a redevelopment. Be sure to catch the Mermaid Trail along the coast. The Mermaid Trail collection of sculptures of a mermaid on a rock places at different parts of the coast. New Brighton Beach Address: Wallasey CH45 2JU, UK 5. Otterspool Promenade The promenade is an ideal place for a bike ride - not just because it's free of traffic and has glorious views across the Mersey. More important that that, it's flat, so round up the kids and get your cycle on. Address: Otterspool Dr, Liverpool L17 5AL, UK 6. Waking Tours Around the City Picture Credit: www.bqlive.co.uk Self guided walking tours of Liverpool are made easy thanks to the Liverpool Maps and Walks google's apps. Take your time and cruise down the streets of Liverpool. Make sure you wander past the Royal Liver Building at the centre which was one of the world's major ports and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Royal Liver Building Address: Royal Liver Building, Liverpool Waterfront, Liverpool L3 1 HUContact: 0151 236 4859 Website:www.royalliverbuilding.com 7. Chinatown Liverpool Picture Credit: www.liverpoolecho.co.uk Liverpool is home to the oldest Chinese community in Europe and second largest Chinatown in the world after San Francisco. Come to see the 15m-high arch to the neighbourhood that is decorated with 200 dragons on a wooden and marble structure - and is the largest Chines arch outside of China. Don't forget to shop there also and take tons of photos. Address: Nelson Street, Liverpool L1 2OH, England Liverpool is a beautiful city for travellers of all ages. Take your time and indulge in the history, culture and lifestyle here.  Go on a HalalTrip with us! Find Mosques and Prayer places Near You in Liverpool...

  • Top 4 Things to See and Do in the UK in Spring

    After a long cold winter with heavy winds and several snow storms around the UK these past few months, finally the long overdue spring is around the corner! The temperatures start rising, and birds chirping can be gradually heard in every corner. It is now time for spring cleaning, and to start packing for the long-waited spring holiday to enjoy the warm weather and the refreshing, clean air. It is certainly the best time for all fellow global travellers to visit the UK in its most glorious season. Check out the London Muslim Lifestyle Show 2018 Find a Halal Restaurant near you in the UK Find a Halal Hotel near you in the UK   There are indeed a lot of things that we can do and visit in the UK this spring holiday, whether you're travelling solo, or taking a journey with friends and family, which will ensure that you come back from your holiday with a refreshed mind and newfound energy. The following is a list of several activities that you can do this spring in the UK:   1. Adventure in the Wild Picture Credit - Lili Lengkana, instagram.com/moonsilvershine/ Spring is a brilliant time to explore the natural beauty of the UK countryside. The nature holiday adventure is suitable for every traveller, and the bonus part is that it will rejuvenate your mind and body when you are back to your normal day routine. You have to be prepared for physical activities though, from walking, hiking, trekking, biking, camping, fishing or just merely embarking on a nature walk. You can choose any activity which suits you best. Picture Credit - Lili Lengkana, instagram.com/moonsilvershine/ One way to enjoy spring in Britain by enjoying the blooming wild flowers that can be found in almost every corner of British countryside. Particularly, daffodils and bluebells are everyone’s favourite flowers this season; it is really exciting to see them in full bloom. For Daffodils, the best time to watch their magnificent beauty is in mid-March to April, whilst Bluebells show best their splendour in late April to early May. One interesting fact that might not be known by many: half of the world’s Bluebells grow here in the UK and, not just in the woods! The best spots to watch the beautiful blooming Bluebells are in the Lake District area, Bristol, Dartmoor and Gloucestershire. Click this link to find where to spot them! Apart from wild flowers, watching and spotting wild animals in spring is also a relaxing and enjoyable holiday. This time around you will have a chance to see the Seabirds nesting. Around eight million Seabirds fly to the shores of Britain in Spring. It is indeed one of the greatest wildlife gatherings that you can watch on Britain’s shores; moreover, you get to spot whales and dolphins too if you're lucky, especially up north, in Scotland. Check the Britain’s nature news link if you want to do wild animal spotting. If you prefer, animal spotting can also be done on land, where you can encounter many species of birds in the wild and also the tech-savvy Badgers. Have you ever seen Badgers in the wild? Badgers begin to come out of their hibernating holes in spring, so you could go to Devon in particular for a unique experience in spotting these cute and smart animals.   2. Flower Farm Visit Picture Credit - Lili Lengkana, instagram.com/moonsilvershine/ Another nature activity that you can enjoy in the glorious British spring is to visit the many flowers farm sprawling all over Britain. One such farms, and also the most well-known type of flower farms, is the Lavender farm. There are several Lavender farms not far from London that you can visit from around June, up to August. The closest to London, yet highly recommended is the Mayfield Lavender Farm. Their 25 acre lavender farm with café and shop is located in Banstead (Woodmansterne), Surrey – approximately 15 miles from Central London. I suggest that you read their visit information carefully on how, when and where to go there. Click here to know their information for visitors. If you can't wait until June, there is another famous Lavender farm worth visiting this Spring time, the Somerset Lavender Farm. Click here to find out where and how to go there. They will open the field this May to September, In shaa Allaah. Apart from Lavender, the Rapeseed and Yellow Mustard flower will also be blooming all over the UK. Their farmers grow these flowers in such a way that they can even be seen to the left and right of motorways. So if you do intercity travel by car, bus or train you can see beautiful, lush yellow carpet-like flowers on either side of the roads or railway tracks, and the scenery is magnificent. However, you must be quick if you want to see these pretty views, as the best time to spot them are from early April to the end of May.   3. Royal Wedding at Windsor Castle in May 2018 The love-hate relationship between the public and the UK Royal Family has always been a topic for the tabloids. Nevertheless, even though the Royal Family’s popularity may not be the same nowadays compared to the past, their news and activities still capture the attention of so many people around the world. Especially now in 2018: the next big event that will happen to the Royal Family is the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on 19 May 2018 at Windsor Castle. In celebrating this event, the Royal Family invites the public to attend this special day, and the Windsor local council and Windsor residents have been preparing their city for the visitors who will come there. Now, if you fancy a fairytale-like wedding, this may be your once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend a world-class Royal Wedding festivity. You will surely enjoy your visit to Windsor as well, since this city is one of the most beautiful cities in the UK. You can experience the grand history of England by visiting the Windsor Castle, which is one of three Royal Residences of Queen Elizabeth II (the other two being the Buckingham Palace in London and the Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh,) which are still being used, up till now. Note that admissions are charged in this castle. You can watch the famous Changing of the Guard daily routine at 11:00 here, up close. Apart from Windsor Castle, you can do punting and cruising the river around the city centre, and the whole family will love Legoland Windsor, too. Now, if you want to experience this special royal event, you should book your travel and prepare everything promptly, since all hotels will be booked by visitors all over the world. Avoid booking one on the day itself. Click here to know more about it.   4. Outdoor Adrenaline Picture Credit - Lili Lengkana, instagram.com/moonsilvershine/ Love the outdoors? Spring time is the best time for camping, climbing, hiking, trekking, mountain biking, kayaking, surfing and more in the United Kingdom. There are many places here to do these outdoor activities, but one place stands out from the others as you can do all these activities we mentioned in that one place. Can you guess where it is? ...   It's Wales. Wales, the ultimate place for all you outdoor junkies out there! It has beautiful green scenery, towering mountains, as well as both sandy and rocky coastlines, so you can do all your outdoor activities there. In this site, you'll find the right place to do all the outdoor activities. Click here for their site - you'll see, they have it all! One of the world-famous outdoor activities there is “coasteering”. Ever heard of coasteering? If you're an outdoor junkie, you'll love this one. Coasteering is a sport, the activity of exploring rocky coastlines by climbing the rocky cliff, jumping off into the sea, and swimming along the coastline. This outdoor activity has attracted many visitors to Wales. Indeed, Wales is in fact, the birth place of this new outdoor activity. Picture Credit - Lili Lengkana, instagram.com/moonsilvershine/ The rocky coastlines in Wales make this one of the perfect activities there. One of the operators in Pembrokeshire, Wales is the pioneering entrepreneur behind this outdoor activity, and they have been instrumental in spreading this activity to other parts of the world such as Australia, Hong Kong and many other places that have the ideal coastal environment for coasteering. You can find out more about coasteering in Wales from the Wales Tourism Board website, click here.   Solath - A Reminder to Muslim Travellers Picture Credit - instagram.com/placesyoullpray A holiday is a fun and enjoyable time for the whole family, but as Muslims, we also strive to fulfill our duty to Allah and remember Him, and that includes praying (salah) to Him, every day. If you're travelling to big cities in the UK such as London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Edinburgh, or other cities, you can surely find Masjid(s) there. Most airports, hospitals and universities in the UK also have prayer places, so finding a prayer space shouldn't be a problem. However, if you're travelling in small towns or countryside, then this noble hadith above surely gives us useful guidance to fulfil our obligations: It was reported by the Abu Sa’eed Al-Khudri (may Allah be pleased with him), 'The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The entire Earth has been made a place of prayer except for the graveyards and the toilet.”' (Sunah At-Tirmidhi, Hadith No. 317 – Sahih). What this noble hadith informs us, is that Allah has made it easy for us to fulfil this duty by making the whole earth as a Masjid for us. We can offer our salah anywhere on the earth, even if there is no Masjid or specified prayer place/prayer room.  You can pray in your hotel, the parking lot, airport, train station, mountain, beach, park or any other places, as long as it's clean, and not places such as toilets (that is, when and where people answer the call of nature,) and graveyards. So, my tip to be able to offer prayers are: (1) make sure that you have a bottle of water for ablution (wudhu’), a small prayer mat and a prayer compass app in your mobile app with you at all times; (2) find a clean, quiet and secluded place in any place (forest/woods, parking lot, corner of the building, hidden spot in the park, etc) to offer your prayer. Moreover, there are concessions for us as a traveller that will make it easier for us to offer our salah during our journey, as long as we can fulfil the condition of a traveller in fiqh. For more on the fiqh of travel, we recommend that you consult a reliable scholar in your locality who will be able to teach you the fine details of travel fiqh according to the madhhab of your region.    Read our UK city guides Find Attractions near you in the UK Go on a Halal Trip with us!...

  • A Guide to Getting your English Breakfast Fix in London

    Have you ever tried an authentic English Breakfast in its country of origin? You’ve probably tried to make one yourself using halal ingredients. While it's true that it used to be quite difficult to find a halal one in Britain, today there's no reason for us as Muslims to try an authentic English Breakfast in non-halal restaurants any more, since it's now easy to find a halal one, Alhamdulillaah. Why isn't a regular English Breakfast halal? Actually, only the bacon rashers and sausages (usually made from bacon, or non-halal slaughtered meat) in the dish aren't halal. The rest of it is halal, inshaa Allaah, such as sunny-side eggs, french toast, hash browns (potato fries), baked beans, baked tomatoes and sautéed mushrooms. However, the problem is that they are all served in the same plate with the meat products, so it's not halal. Khalas!! Yet, fret not my friends. If you are roaming London, you can now try this pride of Britain in the places that are Halal-Friendly for Muslims, Alhamdulillaah. Today there are many sites providing information on halal food establishments that've been set up to assist Muslims coming to or residing in many cities in Britain, but this time we'll be focusing on London.  Find a Mosque near you in London Find a Halal Restaurant near you in London   via GIPHY The following are the top 5 places to try this national dish, based on halal website reviews, that you could visit in London.   1. Grounded Coffee Company, London Picture Credit - steakandteeth.com One popular place with high reviews is the Grounded Coffee Company at 9 Whitechapel Road, London E1. They open every day from 8am - 10pm, which is indeed an ideal opening time in the morning to try English Breakfast. All ingredients that they use are halal and they are not serving alcohol on the premise, Inshaa Allaah Address: 9 Whitechapel Road, London, United KingdomOpening hours: 7AM to 8PM (Mon-Fri)                         7.30AM to 8PM (Sat-Sun)Contact:+44 20 7377 1703 Facebook 2. Moral Cafe, London Picture Credit - halalfoodguy.co.uk The Halal Food Guy website awarded a 4 star review to this restaurant. Even though it is a Turkish Restaurant, their Halal English Breakfast stays true to the original one.  Address:  313 High Road, Ilford IG1 1NR, London.Opening Hours: 7am to 5pm   3. MEDS, London Picture Credit - hijablicious.com When you jump into your search engine and type Halal Breakfast in London, among the top results that come up is a restaurant called MEDS. This restaurant earned its position due to their generous portions served at a reasonable price.  Address: 37 Burdett Rd, London E3 4TN, UKOpening Hours: 8am to 5pmContact: +44 20 8980 4088 Facebook   4. Drunch, London Picture credit - instagram.com/drunch Drunch received a 5 star ratings from The Netizen. Furthermore, this restaurant was even ranked at number 6 among all the restaurants in London which is very impressive. Alhamdulillah, they serve halal English Breakfast in their menu. They are located near the most famous street of London for shopping, i.e. Oxford Street. Mon - Fri 11:00 - 23:30, Sat - Sun 12:00 - 23:30. Address: 1 Woodstock St, Mayfair, London W1C 2AA, UKOpening Hours: Mon to Fri - 11am to 12am, Sat 12pm - 12am, Sun: 12pm to 11pmContact: 020 7495 2020Website: drunch.co.uk Facebook | Instagram   5. Farmacy Kitchen Picture credit - instagram.com/farmacyuk Last but not least, why not try a halal and healthy Vegan English Breakfast at Farmacy in Westbourne Grove, London, my personal top of the list. They substitute the meat produce with fresh avocados and big sauteed mushrooms, and the taste is delicious and yummy, too. However, take a note of their opening time since they have a break every afternoon. Address: 74 Westbourne Grove, London W2 5SH, UKOpening Hours: Mon to Fri - 9am to 5pm, 6pm to 10pm / Sat 9am to 4pm, 6pm to 10pm / Sunday 9am to 4pm, 6pm to 9.30pmContact: +44 20 7221 0705Website: http://farmacylondon.com/ Facebook | Instagram   via GIPHY   Find things to do in London Find a Halal Hotel near you in London...

  • Cappadocia Balloon Rides in Turkey [Travel Destination]

    Picture Credit - instagram.com/moonsilvershine Cappadocia or Kappadokya is one of the most visited regions in Turkey. It is the only one place in the world where tourists can experience a breathtaking hot air balloon ride throughout the year; this attraction is only closed in the event of adverse weather conditions, which rarely happens. The year-long availability cannot be experienced in other balloon rides around the world, which gives tourists here flexibility and convenience for their travel schedule. via GIPHY Visit Cappadocia with us Book a Cave Hotel with us To reach Cappadocia from Istanbul, you can take either land or air transportation. If you choose land transportation, you can either rent a car and drive there yourself, or you can go by tour bus, widely available from tour operators, or from Main Otogar (main bus terminal) in Istanbul. You can check these with your hotel or, by visiting tour operators' offices all over the city centre. However, if you choose land transportation to Cappadocia, be prepared for a long journey; the journey from Istanbul to Goreme in Cappadocia region takes somewhere between 7-9 hours via Ankara, the capital of Turkey. Furthermore, if you plan to rent a car to drive to Cappadocia from Istanbul, you have to be prepare for the fuel costs, as the petrol cost in Turkey is among the most expensive in the world. The alternative is to travel by air. From Istanbul you can find local flights to Kayseri from Sabiha Gokcen Airport, then continue from Kayseri by taxi to Goreme, or if you book the flight from tour operators in Istanbul, they will offer a pick up service in Kayseri Airport. If you have booked your hotel in Goreme in advance, they will also provide an airport pick-up service from Kayseri Airport. By the way, this flight will take only one hour. Flying to Kayseri is not necessarily more expensive than land transport if you can find offers on local Turkish air carriers. Therefore, planning ahead of your journey is highly recommended. Once you arrive in Kayseri Airport, or in Goreme, you can choose from many hot air balloon operators there, as hot air ballooning is available from Goreme. Alternatively, you can book it in advance from one of the travel operators in Istanbul, but the price difference will be much higher. You will find better deals if you book it directly yourself. This is also true for the other bookings in your travel, such as transportation (land and air), and hotels. Thus, the most efficient way is by booking everything with one of the halal tour agents, and they will get everything arranged for you ahead of your travel. Why has Cappadocia become famous in the world for hot air balloon experiences? The main reason is the beautiful landscape of Cappadocia - it has a rocky landscape with the world-famous Fairy Chimney rock formations all over the large swathe it occupies. Cappadocia with its Mesa Verde mountain-mixed-with-a-valley resembles the scenery in a fairytale kingdom. Picture Credit - instagram.com/moonsilvershine The fairy chimney structures are formed by an ancient volcanic eruption approximately 9 to 3 million years ago, and then shaped by erosion that formed hundreds of magnificent chimneys, pillars and minaret-like forms. When you are up in the sky in your balloon basket, you will be mesmerised with the scenic view and also with the view of hundreds other balloons flying together into the blasting sunrise, prompting your heart to be filled with total amazement and gratitude to Allah, the Lord of the Universe, by this magnificent experience. Picture Credit - instagram.com/moonsilvershine Furthermore, the hot air balloon ride will also enable you to view beautiful small villages with, the towering minarets of their local Masjids at the centre of each village, river valleys and wondrous cliffs. It is indeed a wonderful and unique experience in comparison to other hot air balloon attractions in other parts of the world where you can only view the usual mountains, greenery, rivers or farms. Picture Credit - instagram.com/moonsilvershine There are several points to note if you want to experience hot air ballooning in Cappadocia. Firstly, you have to stay at least one night in Goreme since hot air balloons usually take off very early in the morning, at about 5:00-5:30 am just before dawn, depending on the season. This means that you must wake up, wash up, get dressed and be ready to be picked up by the hot air balloon operators from your place accommodation before dawn. This early start is a must, since the wind conditions are best around sunrise. Not to worry though, the hotel staff will assist you with a wake up call, and the balloon operators of your choice will pick you up at your hotel to go to their office, where you will be provided with refreshments, coffee and tea before you head down to the take-off site with other passengers. With regard to the length of your stay, since hot air balloon rides are weather-dependent, it would be better if you can spend a few days in Goreme in case the weather changes unfavourably and your balloon ride is cancelled. In case this happens, the balloon operators will offer you a full refund or a rescheduling, which is why spending a few days in Goreme will enable to you to reschedule to a different day. Secondly, for the weather, you have to be prepared with suitable clothing. Wear a windproof jacket as the early morning temperature in the valley can be quite cold and windy. The balloon ride operators will brief you on the safety procedure, and the do's and don'ts of the balloon ride in their office and at the take-off site prior to take off. Be sure to also wear comfortable shoes, as you'll be on your feet for the duration of the ride. Thirdly, in regard to flight duration, a balloon ride in Cappadocia can last anywhere between 45 minutes to 1.5 hours depending on the tour operators and the flight option that you choose, whether it's a standard or deluxe flight. A standard flight will take you up in the air for about 45-65 minutes, and with more passengers in the basket. On the other hand, a deluxe flight normally lasts about 1.5-2 hours, and with less passengers in the basket. Again, the exact duration and number of passengers will depend on each balloon operators, so you have to choose wisely. If you don't like turbulence in your air flight, the good news is that the balloon flights are usually very smooth and turbulence-free, so you won't have to worry about this at all. Moreover, regardless of the balloon operator that you choose, they will usually treat you upon landing with fizzy drinks and a slice of cakes, where you can opt for the non-alcoholic sparkling apple juice. Afterward, they will hand you with a certificate to commemorate the event. All of them also offer you the option of purchasing the DVD that they recorded during your flights, which they will deliver to your hotel shortly after. They will then take care of your transportation back to your hotel after your ride so you needn't worry about this. Your hotel will usually provide you with delicious Turkish breakfast buffet after you are back at the hotel, however it's best to check with your hotel whether this is the case. The hot air balloon in Cappadocia is a truly, once-in-a-life-time experience, and it is guaranteed to be one of the best times of your life. Another plus if you stay in Goreme, is that you can experience the unique sensations of staying in a cave hotel, where you will stay in the hotel where the rooms are the former houses carved inside the above-mentioned fairy chimneys of Cappadocia. A long time ago, the people settling in Cappadocia carved the rocky hills and fairy chimneys and built their houses inside there. Many of these ancient houses have now been changed into hotels small and large, so you'll have many options of which hotel to stay in. The unique features of these cave hotels are that the temperature of the cave adapts to the surrounding environment in such a way that when the temperature is cold outside the cave, the temperature inside the cave is quite warm, while if it's hot outside, the cave inside will have a cool temperature. This is due to the natural physics of the stone cave. When you have time to do trekking and hiking activities in Cappadocia, also one of the prominent tourist activities there, you'll also find lots of abandoned cave houses that you could explore during your journey. Besides hot air ballooning and trekking/hiking, you can also explore Cappadocia's underground city. What does it mean? With its unique rocky structures, Cappadocia also has a secret network of underground tunnels, so you can also experience a thrilling adventure of exploring the underground cave tunnel of Cappadocia. Another fun activity whilst you are in Cappadocia is a clay pottery class trial and clay pottery exhibition. You can learn how to make a handmade clay piece of pottery with an expert, and afterward purchase many handmade clay souvenirs there, ranging from artistic pieces to household clay ceramics with a reasonable price. You could also visit many Turkish carpet manufacturers in Cappadocia, but be prepared to face the prices - the Turkish carpets made here are very expensive due to their high quality and beautiful design. A tip for the souvenir collectors: if you are looking for must-have small souvenirs from Cappadocia such as souvenir plates, fridge magnets, keychains, t-shirts, snowglobes or ceramic ornaments, you can find these at bargain prices sold by street vendors in small markets near tourist attractions. If you shop for these at the clay pottery workshops or carpet manufacturers, expect to pay more. All in all, a Cappadocian adventure is surely not one to be missed from your travel bucket list! via GIPHY Find a Halal Restaurant near you in Goreme Find a Mosque near you in Goreme...

  • 5 Beautiful Villages in Britain

    What are your favourite attractions when you visit the UK? Football Stadium Tours, the Premier League, Shakespeare, Castles, Museums, Fish & Chips, or shopping? Well, I bet there are many things that you can do and see as a tourist in Britain. However, have you ever visited a village in Britain? In the UK, Britons love travelling to other parts of the country to visit these many old, yet beautiful villages. Captivating views, preserved traditional British stone houses, tea houses, tales of yore, local food, and many charming things attract Britons to visit old villages in Britain. Nowadays, many tourists from around the world have started to come visit these hidden gems of Britain to appreciate their magnificent presence. Find a Mosque near you in the UK Find a Halal Restaurant near you in the UK The following is my personal list of 5 Beautiful Villages in Britain for you to consider, the next time you visit: 1. Bibury Village Bibury Village is widely regarded as the most beautiful and charming village in England; it is one of the six places in the United Kingdom featured in the Mini-Europe miniature park in Brussels, Belgium. This village is located in the district of Cotswold, at the Gloucestershire County. To get there you can take a train from any big city in the UK to Kemble, which is the nearest railway station to Bibury, and continue thereafter by taxi, which will cost about £25. Alternatively, you can rent a car and drive to this village by using the postcode GL7 5NJ in your GPS. You can park your car opposite the Bibury Trout Farm, or alongside the River Coln, and explore the village on foot. One thing to note though: if you were planning to go there by car, it is advisable to come in the morning because the parking space opposite the Trout Farm has only about a 10-car capacity, and the nearby parking spaces alongside the river Coln are also limited. Due to the popularity of this village, these parking spaces are expected to be full before lunch time, and it would be quite difficult to find another car park near the village centre. The best time to visit this village is during spring, summer and autumn. What will you find in Bibury Village? Arlington Row Picture Credit - © Lili Lengkana @moonsilvershine The most famous attraction in Bibury is the iconic Arlington Row, which is a nationally notable architectural conservation area depicted on the inside cover of all United Kingdom passports. Being one of the most photographed scenes in Cotswold, the cottages in Arlington Row were originally built in 1380 as a monastic wool store before it was converted into a row of cottages for weavers in the seventeenth century, and they are amazingly, still in a very good condition today. These identical cottages are lined in rows and indeed look stunning with their low doors and roofs. Furthermore, the surprising part is that all these cottages are still inhabited today. Even though many tourists flock in and take pictures in front of their houses every day, the residents seem undisturbed; they have become used to all this attention as they are very much aware of the significance of their dwellings as a major tourist attraction in Britain. Bibury Trout Farm Picture Credit - © Lili Lengkana @moonsilvershine Bibury Trout Farm. This Trout Farm was founded in 1902 by Arthur Severn, a famous naturalist, with supply from the river Coln which surrounds Bibury Village. This trout farm is located very close to Arlington Row and it is worth visiting too. If you come with your family, a family entry ticket would yield significant savings. Inside the farm, you can fish, and then barbecue the catch by yourself. The trout farm provides all the equipment, and the picnic sites for you to cook the fish. It would be a very exciting experience! They also have their own restaurant inside when you don't have time to do all the things above. Just choose from the fish menu, which mainly consists of trout that should be safe for Muslims, Inshaa Allaah. Swan Hotel Swan Hotel. This 4-star classic British country-style hotel has been featured in many TV shows, especially in local and international paranormal TV series, since it's very famous for being haunted. Nevertheless, guests are still flocking in to stay in this hotel, either for that special reason, or because of the sight's beauty and charm. (Note: this is not a promotion of the hotel; the hotel itself is one of the main attractions/landmark in Bibury Village).   2. Bourton-on-the Water Village Picture Credit - © Lili Lengkana @moonsilvershine There is a reason why this Cotswold village has such a name. This pretty village is located on a flat vale surrounded by the River Windrush, which bordered by long, wide greens, runs through the village's picturesque High Street. Since River Windrush water is shallow in the summer, many children are playing and swimming in the river, trying to catch fish or collecting pebbles. Many small shops and restaurants can be found along the river, which is crossed by several low, arched stone bridges and lined by many willow trees on the greens. It is indeed a very cosy environment which earned this village the nickname “Venice of the Cotswolds”. In winter it turns into a fairy-tale picturesque village, and a very tempting destination for landscape picture hunters. This village also offers an attraction that you will not find in any other villages in Britain: a miniature model village. While it may sound similar to Madurodam in the Netherlands or Mini-Europe in Brussels, the unique bit is that the miniature Bourton village is solely based on their own village, i.e. this entire village is transformed into a one-ninth the scale miniature stone replica of the original. I do find this is very interesting and unique, and took tons of pictures whilst visiting there. An ideal holiday for the family, this village also has a Birdland and Garden park that has over 500 birds in its sanctuary. Modest admission fees are charged for entry into all these attractions.   3. Castle Combe Village Castle Combe is located in Wiltshire County, yet it is still part of the Cotswold District. You may notice that many of the villages on my list are located in Cotswold. This is because Cotswolds, which falls into several counties, is famous in England for pretty honey-coloured stone villages and its magnificent countryside, so it has been designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Castle Combe has been challenging Bibury for the title of 'prettiest village in England.' You can also find medieval style cottage architecture, akin to Arlington Row, across the bridge from Main Street alongside the Bybrook River. This is due to its history as a weaving town at the heart of the Cotswolds wool trade, hence many of these weavers’ cottages were built. Beside architecture, you can also find old water pumps in the Market Cross. This small village is a popular filming location for many TV Series and movies, most notably in Doctor Doolitle (1967), Agatha Christie: Poirot (1989), and Steven Spielberg's Oscar-Nominated War Horse. Besides this historic heritage, if you love racing cars, you can visit Castle Combe Motor-Racing Circuit nearby.   4. Ambleside, Lake District, Cumbria Picture Credit - © Lili Lengkana @moonsilvershine Ambleside is located in Cumbria County, Northwest of England. This village has many watermills with water flowing from River Rothay, along with little shops and cafes, so it is a very nice place for walking and window shopping. A short distance from the Ambleside centre, you can find Stock Ghyll Force, behind the Salutation Hotel, a magnificent 70 foot waterfall. Nevertheless, the major attraction of this village is the surroundings of the Lake District. Visitors can enjoy the grand view of the lake, take a cruise to Windermere, Bowness and Lakeside, and even hike and bike in the hills around the lake. Summer time is ideal to visit, but be prepared to deal with the crowd. Picture Credit - © Lili Lengkana @moonsilvershine Personally, I prefer to visit this place in early autumn due to fewer tourists. Don't forget to try the fish & chips here! It is very delicious, but you have to watch out for the beer-battered fish & chips since it isn't permissible for Muslims. Please make sure to ask around before ordering, since there are places which provide regular fish & chips.   5. Edensor Village Picture Credit - © Lili Lengkana @moonsilvershine Pronouced as 'Ensor', this small estate village is one of my favourites in the list. It is a hidden treasure; this village is not very well known to tourists - and that is what makes it even better in my book! It is located in Derbyshire, in one of the most beautiful locations in the country. With a total population of only 145 in the 2011 census, you can find a very peaceful and pristine village with charming houses. Every house in this village has been renovated, the doors and fences painted in the same, emerald colour. It is indeed, very cute and pretty. Picture Credit - © Lili Lengkana @moonsilvershine In the village, you can find residents selling home-made produce in front of their houses from bread, pastries, pies, cookies, jams and even potted plants. However, the unique part is that they display their products without manning them: they just put the price list on a piece of paper next to a money jar on the table near the products, and trust that the buyers will honestly pay for it themselves. In other words, they have complete trust that passers-by who take their produce, will pay for it. What a wonderful community! This village is located just five minutes from one of the most famous, stately homes in the United Kingdom: Chatsworth House, the seat of the Duke of Devonshire. So, you could visit this magnificent castle after visiting Edensor but there is an admission charge for it. Well, that concludes my personal opinion about five of the most beautiful villages in Britain. An important thing to note is that no admission ticket is needed to visit all these villages, and you can read up online on how to get to these villages, as in my description of Bibury Village. Another plus point for us as Muslims is in every villages or small town in the United Kingdom, you can find a traditional tea room: Picture Credit - © Lili Lengkana @moonsilvershine Picture Credit - © Lili Lengkana @moonsilvershine Picture Credit - © Lili Lengkana @moonsilvershine The tea rooms are a nice place to have a tea break in a quiet, subdued atmosphere, with delicious British pastries and cookies (ask the staff for non-alcoholic and non-meat ingredients pastries) that you can enjoy. However, please check for the tea room opening hours, which are usually listed online in the village guide, for they have specific times opening for high tea time. It will be a wonderful experience to have traditional tea in the traditional tea rooms there during tea time, and the fact that most of these establishments are alcohol-free and family friendly, means that they are suitable for us perfectly. Go on a Halal Trip with us...

  • 6 Reasons to have a Muslim-Friendly Family Beach Holiday at Lombok

    Picture Credit - Lili Lengkana   Indonesia is globally famous for Bali Island, but did you know that there are other beautiful islands just like Bali? Lombok is just next to Bali; it has equally beautiful, sandy beaches all over the island and picturesque lakes, waterfalls, cliffs and mountains, yet it's less congested with tourists.  With several direct flights from Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Bali, Jakarta and other cities in Java Island, this island has attracted both local and international tourists, though it's still not as famous as its neighbour, Bali. This article will highlight why Lombok is worth visiting, especially by Muslim travellers. Despite its close proximity to Bali, it is interesting to know that the vast majority of the population in Lombok is Muslim. In fact, in Indonesia it's known as The Island with a Thousand Mosques (or "Pulau dengan seribu Masjid" in Bahasa Indonesia). This is because you will find Mosques, big and small, every 100 meters or so in Lombok, so you will hear the Adhan (Islamic call to prayer) synchronously when it is prayer time, just like in the old city parts of Istanbul, Turkey Lombok's Traditional Culture Furthermore, the following six reasons can be proposed as to why Lombok is the perfect place for a Muslim-friendly beach holiday. Picture Credit - Lili Lengkana   1. Less  Crowds Lombok is still not as congested with tourists as Bali, meaning that the beaches are relatively less crowded. This is better for us if we want to have a peaceful beach holiday. We can comfortably wear a burkini (swimsuit for Muslimah) or be donning a full hijaab and abaya and go swimming freely. We will surely have a wonderful time with our family there. Picture Credit - Lili Lengkana   2. The Beaches The sand in Lombok beaches come in many magnificent shapes and colours. In the beaches in the northern and western parts of Lombok, such as Senggigi Beach, you will find darker sand colour, ranging from greyish to black with smooth textures and gravel. In the southern and eastern parts, you will find beaches with white or lighter-coloured sands, and....... pink sand! Yes, pink sand! Can you imagine that? You will be amazed if you come to this majestic pink beach in Eastern Lombok called Tangsi Beach. Slightly before noon is the best time to see the pink sand colour, clearly accentuated by the sun. The crystal clear blue water of the beach completes the experience. We also recommend that you visit Southern Lombok, where equally beautiful beaches can be reached by only a 30-45 minute taxi ride from the Lombok International Airport. Here you will find light and gravel-textured sand in Mandalika/ Kuta Beach in the Pujut area. Don't confuse this with Kuta Beach in Bali though, for the difference is like the sun and moon! On the other hand, a powdery white sandy beach awaits you at Seger beach, which is very close to Mandalika/ Kuta Beach. These beaches in Southern Lombok are known for their big waves, so it is ideal for those who love to go surfing. Not far from many beaches in Lombok, you will find many little islands called Gili in the local language. There are many activities that you can do in these Gilis, such as snorkelling from one Gili to another, diving, boating and other water activities. Gilis in Lombok are very famous since they all boast a variety of fish and coral, so it is surely a heaven for divers. If you have not done snorkelling, but are tempted to try, you can surely do it here. You can rent a private motorised boat for the whole family or group, with the driver and guide. They will provide you with all the snorkelling equipment, and the step-by-step guidance you need. The best part is that it comes at a reasonable price, and will be a great and wonderful experience to try there. The famous Gili to explore is the Gili Trawangan at the northern part of Lombok. However, due to its fame, there are often many tourists visiting there as well; the less crowded yet very beatiful Gili is the Gili Petelu at the eastern part of Lombok. You can reach Gili Trawangan from Senggigi Beach and Gili Petelu from Tangsi Beach (the one with the pink sand). Picture Credit - Lili Lengkana   3. The Luxurious, Affordable Hotels You will be pleased to find that there are many luxurious hotels in Lombok with very reasonable rates compared to other resort Islands, with many of them located at the beach or very near to the beach. The rates you pay are usually nett rates, which includes tax, service charges and halal buffet breakfast, although for the latter it is better for you to always double check with the hotel when making reservation. Most of the 3-star hotels and above provide a mixture of Indonesian, Continental and American buffet breakfasts. If you come as a family or want privacy, some 4 and 5-star hotels also provide an option to rent a bungalow or chalet, which for many of them include private swimming pools for your privacy. Fear not if you are on a tight budget, because Lombok also has many hostels, B&Bs, holiday houses or villas to rent too, where breakfast may or may not be provided. When you make a reservation, don't forget to check for Wi-Fi access. Most, if not all 3-star and above hotels provide free Wi-Fi access to their guests but there are some who require guests to pay small daily fees for Wi-Fi access. As previously mentioned, in terms of location, hotels in southern part of Lombok near Pujut or Mandalika area are the closest to Lombok International Airport,(about 30-45 minutes drive) . On the other hand, hotels around Senggigi Beach are about 1 - 1.5 hours drive from the airport. However, you do not have to worry about this if you stay in 4 stars and above hotels, because they usually offer airport pick-up and drop-off services. Even if you are planning to stay in smaller hotels, you can rely on the taxi service in the airport from Blue Bird group. Picture Credit - Lili Lengkana   4. The Halal Food Abound For Muslim travellers, visiting Lombok is very convenient as we never have to worry about finding halal food. You can safely eat in all kinds of eateries, from small food stalls (or "warung" in Indonesian) to restaurants. However, in same rare cases there are also non-halal restaurants too, so if in doubt it is always better and safer to double check on this. This can be done by either checking the restaurant signboard or menu for any non-halal items, or you can ask the staff directly. A word of caution though: don't be surprised that many halal restaurants in Lombok serve alcoholic beverages. This is because they want to cater to tourists who come from all over the world so they are not really strict about alcoholic beverages option, even though their foods are halal. Alhamdulillaah that there are warungs and restaurants that comply to the halal rulings now. The authentic / traditional dishes from Lombok that you should try are Plecing Kangkung (Morning Glory Plant in English), Ayam Taliwang, Giant Crab with sambal plecing (fried/fresh chili crushed) and many more. They use a lot of chili in their ingredients, so be very cautious if you are not used to hot and spicy food. Their signature dishes are very hot and their chili is very famous as the hottest chili in Indonesia. It is even reflected in the name of this island; the name "Lombok" means "cabai" in Indonesian or "chili" in English, so yup Lombok Island literally means "the island of Chili". Picture Credit - Lili Lengkana   5. The Chauffeur Services You can easily rent a car, plus the driver as your guide, if you want to explore Lombok. Let's say for example, if you want to visit Lombok beaches from western to eastern parts of Lombok, the daily rental rate for a seven seater car is about IDR 700, 000.00 (approximately USD 53.00) for car only or about IDR 1,200,000 (approximately USD 90.00) for car with a driver/guide. These rates exclude petrol, meals and tips for the driver, so you have to fill up the petrol for your trip and buy meals for the driver. It is customary to tip the driver at the end of your trip and the amount is at your own discretion. Picture Credit - CLAUDIUS, autonetmagz.net 6. The Hiking and Trekking Trails More than just a beach paradise, Lombok is also known for its hiking and trekking scene. In this regard, Mount Rinjani is the favourite spot for trekkers due to its magnificent scenery. Mount Rinjani is the second highest volacano in Indonesia, standing tall at 3,726 meters high. Mountain climbing and trekking activities are usually undertaken at Rinjani National Park, where you can hike to reach the crater rim overlooking a beautiful crater-lake called Segara Anak in the caldera of Mount Rinjani. The pristine blue water in this lake resembles the sea. You can camp for a few days in the crater rim overlooking this lake and experience the magical sunrise and sunset over the mountain and the lake. The more adventurous trekkers can even make the more challenging climb to the highest point. You can try all these activities by using one of many registered hiking operators who can can provide you with an experienced guide and all the equipment you need for trekking and camping. The package is usually full board. Note: To avoid any problems, do not try to hire the unregistered operators just because of low prices.   Always plan ahead by researching the best place to visit in Lombok. Thererafter you can ask your hotel concierge about the places that you want to visit, or about trustworthy local tourist operators that can help you in your trip. Alternatively, the easiest and most convenient way for you is by booking your trip with a Halal Trip Travel Agent, who will manage all bookings, activities and oversee the trip so that you don't have to be worry about all these. All you have to do is relax and enjoy the wonderful experience in Lombok with your family or friends. Just take your luggage and go...   Read our Lombok city guide A Muslim's Guide to Lombok Island...

  • A Muslim traveler's guide to Japanese Onsens

    It is indeed fascinating that Muslim traveller nowadays can have so many conveniences when travelling to Japan. There are many facilities that are catered toward Muslim travellers offered by Japan National Tourism Organization and by Japan local businesses, ranging from prayer locations, Halal food, to even secure and convenient Muslim-friendly accommodation spawling all over Japan. As a result, Japan has become one of the major destinations for Muslim travellers in the last couple of years. Picture Credit - stbooking.co    Japanese festivals, culture and traditions have also become magnets to attract tourism to Japan. One of the Japanese traditions focused herein is the Japanese hot spring bath. As an island nation endowed with many volcanoes, Japan has many hot springs all over the country and this has spurred the hot spring bath tradition since hundreds of years ago.    The Top 10 of Japanese hot spring (or "onsen" in local language) are Kusatsu Onsen Gunma, Hakone Onsen Kanagawa, Yufui Onsen Oita, Kurokawa Onsen Kumamoto, Beppu Onsen Oita, Gero Onsen Gifu, Noboribetsu Onsen Hokkaido, Kinosaki Onsen Hyogo, Ibusaki Onsen Kagoshima and Dogo Onsen Ehime.   Taking a bath in the onsen said to be one of the reasons why many Japanese have excellent health and long life. Taking baths in a small tub is already a daily routine in Japanese homes. However, the difference between this and bathing in the onsen is that the onsen contains rich natural minerals that are beneficial for health, and also in regard to the customary tradition in taking an onsen bath.   Regrettably, many Muslim tourists visiting Japan tend to overlook the opportunity to try this interesting Japanese tradition. This is especially due to the traditional custom of hot spring bath in Japan that is perceived to be somewhat unique; it is a customary in Japan to partake in the onsen bath together with other people, even with strangers, without any bathing suit whatsoever. Indeed, this is the biggest challenge to us Muslim. Taking a communal bath in the nude is not our normal custom; moreover, it is not permissible according to Islamic law.   Nevertheless, as a Muslim, it is actually possible for us to try the sensation of Japanese hot spring bath. So how can we do that?   Some well-known onsens in Japan actually provide separate rooms to enjoy a private onsen bath experience. Since these private onsen cabins are separated from the main public one, visitors can enjoy a nice onsen bath experience without mixing with other patrons and away from prying eyes.    In these private onsen facilities, the hot spring is usually contained in a large bathtub hence the shortcoming is that the private onsen rooms usually do not look quite natural, as they are indoors though there are exceptions to this. For most private onsens,  private rooms can be booked by a family with a maximum of 3 family members, and children under the age of 10 years old. However, if the available hot spring tub is larger then more than 3 family members may be admitted.   Furthermore, there are two ways to try hot spring baths at a Japanese onsen. You can stay at a Ryokan (Japanese traditional hotel) that provides onsen on site. Alternatively, you can come in as a walk-in customer, but you need to make sure beforehand whether the Onsen operators will accept walk-in guests.   Here are some of my personal experiences in Kinosaki Onsen and Hakone Onsen enjoying onsen bath as a Muslim traveller.   KINOSAKI ONSEN. Another picture by Lili Lengkana at Kinosaki Onsen during Sakura Season   Kinosaki-shi is a favourite place for Japanese people and also visiting tourists to enjoy this healthy onsen bath. I had a chance to visit it with my son to try the onsen experience. Since we were based in Kyoto during our Japan travel adventure whilst Kinosaki is located in the northwest of Tokyo, so we had to take a train to reach there.   There are two onsens in Kinosaki that have private onsen facilities, which is Ichino-yu and Jizou-you. My son and I eventually chose Ichino-yu to try this experience. In this regard, I would like to remind you that it is actually better if you can make an appointment and book your onsen session one day in advance since you might not be able to try the private onsen if they were fully booked, especially in the holiday season.   Even though my son is my mahram, he was almost 9 years old at that time and the awrah of a Muslimah have to be covered, so I decided to use a Muslimah bathing suit when I use the onsen tub. As the rules of onsen mention that clothing is not allowed in the tub so please do so at your own discretion. The onsen is closed and private for us during our session so we did not have to worry about being bothered by the onsen staff.  Do make sure, however, to wash first before you soak into the onsen tub.    HAKONE ONSEN View at daytime at one of Ryokan at Hakone Onsen area that I stayed   The onsens in Hakone have a very beautiful scenery as the onsens there are located in the ryokans encircling Lake Hakone with Mount Fuji in the background. Most of the ryokans here have private onsen facilities, with many of them located outdoor on the roof of the hotel.    During our trip, My family and I stayed at one of the ryokans on the hill that has private onsen tub outdoor on the roof, yet the ryokan is secluded enough so that these private onsen tubs are still be protected from public view. The advantage of having the private onsen on the roof is obviously the scenery. Whilst soaking in the onsen tub we can enjoy a spectacular view of Lake Hakone and Mount Fuji, which is an unforgettable experience. In the night time, you can enjoy the romantic view of the moon and stars.    Even though the private onsen is located outdoor, you won't have to worry about the privacy as these ryokans have designed their private onsen in such a way that they will still be hidden from the view of the public. If you willing to spend more money, you can try booking a Ryokan with private onsens inside your room so you can enjoy the bath experience with the whole family freely.   You can also do an online search of all ryokans that have private onsen facility. It will be a big miss if we travel to Japan without experiencing the sensation of Japanese onsen bath.     Viet at night time from my Onsen bath point of view with a Fuji Yama and Lake Hakone as a back drop.   You can also do an online search of all ryokans that have private onsen facility. It will be a big miss if we travel to Japan without experiencing the sensation of Japanese onsen bath.   Important things to note:   It is advisable to bring your own towel if you are a walk-in guest to the onsen. Otherwise, you will be charged to rent a towel, which can go for JPY 300 on top of the onsen ticket price.   The rate for 40-minute private onsen session in Ichino-yu is JPY 3,000 for a maximum of 3 persons.   If you are trying natural onsen for the first time, you have to be very careful as the average temperature for natural onsen is 59 degrees Celcius, which is very hot for most of us. Therefore, please refrain from jumping straight into the tub; you can also ask the onsen staff to add cold water to the tub to cool down the temperature. We advise a temperature of 49 degrees Celcius for those trying natural onsen for the first time. Though your body has to be adapted to the temperature of the water; when you have soaked in it for a couple of minutes you will get a wonderful and unforgettable feeling.   Make sure you clean yourself (and your bathing suit) properly (by taking a full complete bath) before soaking into the onsen tub (and after your session obviously). Don't worry about bringing the soap and shampoo; they are already provided to you free of charge.   It is not advisable for Muslimah to go into the Ladies only public onsen as wearing clothing ( bathing suits included) is not allowed in most onsens. Hence booking private onsens could prove to be the better option.   You can travel by local train or by JR Line all over Japan to go to your onsen destination. You can buy tourist 1 day, 5 days or monthly ticket that either includes Shinkansen (bullet train) or normal JR Line train.    Lastly,  be sure to check which train would take to your destination, the train schedules and even which station track you will be using.   ...

  • A Muslim Traveler's Guide to Birmingham City, UK

    As the second biggest city in the UK, Birmingham has been attracting many tourists to visit every year. In 2016, 39 million tourists visited Birmingham, which is the highest number of visitors to date - an increase of 2.5% from that in 2015 (Birmingham Mail). With its many attractions, which many can be classed as hidden gems, and a host of many international sports events such as All England badminton tournament and International cricket tournament, Birmingham can expect the number of its visitor to continue rising year on year.   As one of the most culturally-diverse cities in the UK, many visitors, domestic and international, came to visit their families who live here permanently or study in many internationally-recognized universities in and around Birmingham, such as University of Birmingham, Aston University, University of Warwick, etc. Apart from these, the number of visitors that come purely for Birmingham and West Midlands tourist attractions have also increased. Especially for Muslim visitors, as Birmingham provides many excellent facilities and conveniences catered to Muslim visitors. Indeed, Birmingham is actively inviting tourists from Muslim countries to visit, too.   So what do you need to prepare before you visit Birmingham to ensure you have a Muslim-friendly travel experience?     Credit - Giphy.com 1. Your Travel Documentation   Picture Credit - http://visitbirmingham.com   Besides passport with at least six-month validity, you may check with the UK embassy in your country whether you may require a visa to visit the UK. UK tourist visas are required for passport holders of some countries. In this regard, some Commonwealth countries like Singapore or Malaysia have the convenience of being able to visit the UK without requiring a tourist visa, while other Commonwealth countries may need a visa, as well as other southeast Asian countries apart from the two abovementioned countries. Should you need one, the UK tourist visa will need to be applied at a local office of the international agency appointed by the UK government, VFS Global, which handles all visa application to the UK. Check their website for all the documents required for application; you may need to book your return flight to the UK and show proof of funds as part of the document required. Make sure you apply for the UK tourist visa well ahead of your planned visit, to allow for the visa processing time, which can take about 10-15 working days.   2. Itinerary You can opt to arrange your tour itineraries yourself or you can save time by arranging your itineraries via a travel agency near you that provide halal tour packages. Halal Trip Tour Travel is the best choice in this case as they arrange your trip to make it a satisfying halal trip experience, i.e. in preparing which place/attraction to visit, mosques along the way and recommended halal food establishments.   In this regard, it will be beneficial for you to plan your trip 3-5 months ahead as this will help you get the best deal on airfare and accommodation rate. Many airlines offer cheap airfare packages for a trip well ahead in the future so this will help you with getting the most out of your budget. Similarly, you can make substantial savings in accommodation costs if you book well ahead. You could choose to stay at a hotel, apartment, B&B from trusted websites, where many of them offer no cancellation fee until one day before check-in date. This is also an important part to get your UK visa as you will have to provide accommodation evidence.   3. Tips for choosing your accommodation:   Choose a place to stay that is located near to the train station or in the city centre to ensure easy access to all parts of the city. The city centre area also provides an easy access to halal food restaurants, supermarkets and place to pray.   Search for the reputable 3 or 4-star hotel chains that provide you with vegetarian breakfast. It will help you to start your day in the morning since most halal food stalls or restaurants are only open after 10 am in the morning. Most of the B&Bs here do not provide vegetarian breakfast, so it's better for you to stay in the hotel that provides one. Or if you stay in one of the B&B or rent an apartment to stay in buying your halal supplies from a big chain supermarket. Find World Food alley and you'll find lots of Halal brands there.   Check whether they provide wi-fi access in the hotel; specifically, whether they provide-room wi-fi access or just in common area (as some UK B&Bs are only provide one in the common area) and whether it is paid or free (many UK hotels charge about £3 per day). This is very important during your travel here to make your communication easier.   Again, Halal Trip can assist you in this essential preparation so you'll have less to worry about.   4. Local Currency   Buy and bring necessary Poundsterling before you go. Always check for the best rate prior to travel. If you have better conversion rate in your country then it is more beneficial to buy more Poundsterling prior to travelling rather than exchange your money it in the UK. However, you have to be extra careful if you bring more cash. Alternatively, you can buy Poundsterling traveller's cheque in your country instead.   Additionally, bring your credit card with you. If you shop at most big stores in the UK, you can claim Value Added Tax (VAT) refund at the airport or at several tax refund counters. They will ask you to fill the tax refund form with your credit card details. Some large department stores and shopping centres have their own dedicated tax refund counters to process this form and refund the money to you instantly provided that you return the form duly stamped in the airport tax refund counters later on, whilst some will only prepare the form. In the latter, you have to return the form in tax refund counters in the airport and they will credit the tax refund to your credit card later in a week or more. Therefore, it is important to check with the stores' customer service which tax refund process that they do. The latter process takes more time though so make sure to arrive early before your departure time to process this.   5. Tourist Attraction Guides in Birmingham   Picture Credit - dayoutwiththekids.co.uk   From museums, shopping places, castles, theme parks, British botanical gardens, science centre to football stadiums, Birmingham and its suburbs have all these attractive places for you to visit. Therefore, plan your holiday wisely so you can visit all that interest you. Information about these places is provided in this link.   However, as a local, I recommend you to also visit a beautiful English little town named Stratford-upon-Avon. It is the birthplace of the famous writers, Shakespeare, and it is only 30 minutes drive or by train from Birmingham. Another place that will amaze you is Warwick Castle in Warwick. This is also 30 minutes drive or by train from Birmingham.    6. Halal Restaurants or Foodstalls around Birmingham   You can explore many websites which provide you with information about this. For example Halal Food In Birmingham UK or here. Print all the information or save them on your mobile or laptop/tablet.   7. Check the Salath Timetable for Birmingham during Your Stay   Picture Credit- Birminghammail.co.uk   You can get this from Birmingham Local Masjid website which provides this info on their website. Check this link for the Masjid info and Salath timetable.   8. Transportation In Birmingham. a. Birmingham Airport - City Centre and return by bus, taxi and train   - Taxi. Outside the arrival gate, you will find a taxi stand. Just pushed your luggage trolley there and ask the taxi driver to take you to your hotel. The taxis that queue there are a London taxi type (classic taxi type) so it is big enough to bring you and your luggage to your hotel or whatever the place that you're planning to stay in. The fare from/to Birmingham Airport - City Centre is around £25-30 (one way)   - Bus. You can catch bus no X1 at bus shelter J directly outside Terminal 1. T his Bus will take you to the Birmingham City Centre in about 30 minutes and the fare is £2.40 per person or £8 for a group of five. Then you can take a taxi to your hotel, or walk if your hotel is close enough to the city centre.   - Train. You can take a train from Birmingham International train station which is connected to the airport, The train takes about 15 minutes to Birmingham New Street station at the city centre for about £6 per person. Then you can get a taxi to your hotel or walk if your hotel is within walking distance from the station.   b. Transportation in and around Birmingham.   Picture Credit - birminghammail.co.uk   - Rent a car. If you have a credit card and driver license you can rent a car while here. In the UK, you can use your valid driver license from any country for one year. It's easy to rent a car here, just browse one of the rental car websites and follow the instruction therein. You can pick up and later drop the car back at the airport. You'll need your credit card for the deposit (which is usually £300). Do not forget to ask for a GPS for your car, which you can get for an additional fee. You'll need it most of the time during your drive here.   - Public Transport Bus & Train: This link provides you with all the information you need about using Public Bus and Train during your stay in Birmingham / around the UK.   If you want to avoid a headache going through all the troubles in preparing the itinerary, you can arrange your trip via Halal Trip Website. They will help you to arrange everything mentioned above so you'll only have to prepare your passport, baggage and fund for this trip. You'll be sure to have a memorable trip, in shaa Allaah.   ...

  • A Muslim Tourist's Guide to Shopping in Birmingham, UK

    Winter is a perfect time to visit the UK, especially to Birmingham for Muslim travellers. Be prepared to shop and try a variety of good foods during this time of a year. Make sure you book your flight well before year-end holiday season since airfares during this season can be very high. The best time for you to visit is in November. So hurry, grab your passport and book your trip to Birmingham and make sure to bring your warm clothes. But don't bring too many because you will find good & trendy warm clothes that you can buy during your window shopping here. credit - giphy.org   Birmingham German Market Festival Picture Credit - bbc.com There are many festivities during winter time in Birmingham. Birmingham will be draped in light from end of year Birmingham German Market Festival at the city centre (will be opened on 16th November - 24th December 2017), to which visitors will flock from all over the UK and abroad. In German Market Festival you'll find many sellers of genuine German products from knick-knacks to food, but only small varieties of food that Muslim can buy, such as bakery/pastries (asked the stall staff for vegetarian or seafood ones) and the rest should be avoided. You can find plenty of souvenirs or fashion for yourself there.   Bullring Shopping Mall Picture Credit - smartbusinesslist.com The Bullring Shopping Mall in the heart of city centre is famous for shopping, with big department stores such as John Lewis, Selfridges, Debenhams and others are within short walking distance to each other. The opening hours for Birmingham shopping centres are mostly 10 am - 8 pm, with the exception of restaurants and food stalls which open for longer. Look for their halal sign in their window or wall. You can find many Middle Eastern, Asian, Southeast Asian, or western cuisines in Birmingham.   ASDA or Tesco Picture Credit - localtraders.com You'll be amazed at what you can find, from food to fashion, in UK big supermarket chains like ASDA or Tesco. You will find therein a world food section with halal products and halal butcher corners.Additionally, they also sell fashion from baby clothes to adult and their design and price would not disappoint either.   Grand Central Birmingham Picture Credit - www.keytothecity.co.uk One of the latest shopping places at the city centre is in Grand Central Birmingham. It has a praying room located on the ground floor near the main entrance. You'll find one halal Japanese restaurant there too, i.e. Yakinori.   The Birmingham Rag Market Picture Credit - www.ragmarket.com The Birmingham Rag Market is also a very interesting place to explore, you can buy therein anything from clothes, household items, foods, and souvenirs with bargain price compared to the modern mall next door. They are also located in the city centre near Bullring shopping mall. The Birmingham City Centre is indeed a very convenient place for shopping and halal culinary trips, where they are within a short walking distance from each other.   Coventry Road Picture Credit - flikr.com Ladies, not to worry. You can find places to buy Muslimah clothes while you stay in Birmingham. Set aside time to go to Coventry Road, Small Heath area, which is 5 minutes taxi ride or 15 minutes public bus ride from city centre (bus number 17, 57, 58 and 60). When you arrive there, you'll find on the left and right side of the road many small shops selling items from Islamic books, groceries, foods to Muslim fashion. This one-stop could make your trip unforgettable. This area is a Muslim-majority area and you'll have a peaceful and safe time there for sure Insha Allaah. There are also plenty of Mosques in Small Heath to perform prayers; just ask one of the shop staff and they will tell you which one is nearest.   Resorts World Birmingham Picture Credit - https://www.gentinghotel.co.uk Resorts World Birmingham is a brand new shopping location, a one-stop place for shopping, dining and entertainment resort (note: only Cinema that is suitable for Muslim). You can find plenty of trendy UK branded outlet stores there as well.   The Mailbox Picture Credit - imagesofbirmingham.co.uk For world and UK high-end shopping, the place to go is The Mailbox at the city centre. Located adjacent to trendy apartment complexes and the beautiful Birmingham canal, this shopping mall offers you high quality branded products and boasts a scenic spot at its ground floor near the canal for a relaxing coffee and tea.  Now you have more reasons to make a trip to the UK, and do check out more of our travel guides! ...

  • 5 Reasons To Visit Birmingham This November

    When you think of the United Kingdom, London is the first city that comes to the mind. Of course as a tourist the first destination you would want visit would be London. Did you know that the second biggest city in the United Kingdom is Birmingham?   Well, Manchester and Liverpool are the second favourite cities to visit after London. Yes, football and The Beatles are the main attractions but Birmingham has a lot to offer too. It is easy to find mosques and Halal food in Birmingham as a Muslim traveler since the city is very diverse.   What more can Birmingham offer you as a reason to drop by; these are 5 reasons to visit Birmingham this November:   1. Birmingham has more canals than Venice. Picture Credit - www.canalrivertrust.org.uk   There are 35 miles (56 km) of canals within the city, of which most are navigable. Birmingham is often described as having more miles of canal than Venice. A picturesque site for you to visit is the canal in the city centre of Birmingham - Brindley Place. Its surrounding area is lovely with unique boats along the canal and many cafes for you to enjoy your coffee. After the sun goes down you will be amazed at how beautiful The Brindley Place Canals are with the night lights and it is also a romantic site to take a stroll around.   2. The Modern Birmingham Grand Central Station Picture Credit - www.cityscape-bliss.com As a new train station building, the Grand Central has a very important role as the centre for railway transport in Birmingham, from all over the UK. Whether you came from Edinburgh or London, Birmingham Grand Central is a place you can stop at for a short visit because it's a one-stop destination to get anything from food to fashion. You can even find a prayer room to perform Salath on the ground floor near the main entrance. You'll be spoiled by the many cafes with lots of Halal pastries (by asking the staff about the ingredients). Yakinori is a Japanese restaurant that serves Halal dishes. The staff have stated that all their beef and chicken are Halal and they also have Halal Soyu that you enjoy (request the staff for Halal Soyu). The architectural design outside and inside of this building is very unique. Just this alone makes it a place that you should not miss out on your trip to Birmingham.   3. Recommended Halal food in Birmingham from a resident. The variety of Halal food in Birmingham will leave you spoilt for choice. Listed below are a few must-try spots:   Damascena Picture Credit - www.birminghammail.co.uk   This Syrian restaurant garnered good reviews from the local media for their authentic Turkish cardamom coffee, their special signature drink - Fresh Mint Black Tea and their best falafel dish. Not only are their main dishes fantastic but their restaurant design interior is very aesthetically pleasing. Last, but certainly not least, is that their dishes are all affordable.   Shiraz - Taste of Persia Picture Credit - www.yell.com If there is a price to be paid and food to be tasted, that is Shiraz. The restaurant is widely recognised for serving Persian food in Birmingham, such as Chelo Kabab Koobideh with Rice. Chelow kabab, a national dish of Iran, is prepared with steamed, saffron basmati or Persian rice and kabab, of which there are several distinct Persian varieties. This dish is served throughout Iran today but was traditionally associated with the northern part of the country.   Edwardian Tearooms What's a trip to the UK without having tasted tea? There are many tea rooms across Birmingham and the one that stands out is the Edwardian Tearooms. Located inside the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in City Centre of Birmingham, this Victorian-style tearoom is hard to resist. Their vegetarian soup is available for Muslims to consume. They also serve vegetarian breakfasts, salads and fish dishes. But most important is their variety of tea/coffee and sweets pastries which is safe to consume (accept their Tiramisu and pudding). After having tea you can visit the museum for free. What a treat!   4. Black Country Living Museum The finest and the largest open-air museum in the United Kingdom and one of Birmingham's pride, this museum is a must. You can experience the lifestyle of an industrial worker of the 1830s. You can interact with the staff wearing the 1830 outfits, and you can enter the real mining tunnel that will make your heart race by listening to their stories in the original and dark mining tunnel environment.   5. Two additional places to visit in Birmingham Winterbourne House and Garden. A unique Edwardian house heritage attraction together with Birmingham Botanical Garden with over 6000 different plant species.   Library of Birmingham. When you visit this city and want to find a peaceful place to read and know more about the history of Birmingham City, do visit this library. It has incredibly unique architectural design inside and out. Here's a tip: visit their Secret Garden on the top of the library and you will see the whole of Birmingham city from above. Do not forget to take lots of pictures there!   There you go, these are the reasons why you should visit Birmingham City, the next time you visit the United Kingdom.   P.S. With 162 Mosques around Birmingham, surely your holiday trip will have a deep meaning without missing your Salath.    ...