In the first part of our series on Muslim travel in Taiwan, we looked at halal cuisine in Taiwan and how to keep your tummy happy. In today’s post, we cover something close to your hearts – observing prayer while travelling.
Before you confirm your hotel bookings, it’s worth calling up the places you’re considering to ask if they’re muslim friendly – there’s no point rejoicing in the free hotel breakfast if you can’t eat it! Thanks to the government’s push to encourage muslim travel, more hotels are getting their restaurants halal-certified and adding signs in their rooms pointing to Mecca. You won’t regret paying a little more if it means greater convenience and comfort during your stay.
In Taipei, the Regent and Landis are two of several hotels to offer halal menus, signs pointing towards Mecca and prayer schedules on their premises. If you’re planning to visit historic Tainan, the oldest city in Taiwan, the Tayih Landis there is also considered a muslim-friendly hotel. And for those looking for a more picturesque holiday in Taiwan’s beautiful countryside, the Shangrila Leisure Farm in Yilan County hosts about 1000 muslim tourists a year. This is by no means a comprehensive list, so check with your desired hotel beforehand.
Another easier option is to book your trip through a travel agent experienced with muslim tours. Such tours usually choose muslim-friendly accommodation, as well as taking halal meals and daily prayers into account as well.
Determining prayer direction when not marked
If your hotel doesn’t indicate prayer direction in its rooms, there are several ways you can check for yourself. Online tools like www.qib.la are great if you have an Internet connection, but there are some basic calculations you can do otherwise.
From Taiwan, Mecca is in the West, the direction of the setting sun. If you’re in the thick of the city and can’t see the sun, observe the shadows from buildings and people – they’ll always be cast opposite to where the sun is. If you’re praying in the morning, you’ll want to have the sun on your back with your shadow in front of you. If you’re praying in the afternoon or evening, you’ll want to face the sun with your shadow behind you.
Of course, if you have your handphone with you and a wifi/data line connection, you can also just use your compass app!
Daily prayers and mosques
There isn’t a centralized listing for prayer rooms in Taiwan, so if you plan to observe scheduled prayers, you’ll need to plan your day in advance. If you won’t be able to get back to your hotel in time, you can visit one of Taiwan’s mosques. These are more concentrated in Taipei itself, where you can find the Taipei Grand Mosque (62, Sec 2, Xinsheng S. Rd), the oldest and largest in Taiwan, as well as the Taipei Cultural Mosque (3, Lane 25, Xinhai Rd). There is also at least one in each of Taiwan’s major cities, including Tainan, Taichung, Kaohsiung and Zhongli.
A full list of mosques can also be found on the Chinese Muslim Association website, which is mainly in Chinese but has English in many of its menus. The Association also has headquarters in Taipei City that are worth a visit if you’d like to find out more about Islam in Taiwan, or get general help – they also have their own prayer facilities.