Main prayer hall in Istiqlal Mosque, Jakarta, Indonesia. Image © Getty Images.
As a nonbeliever visiting a mosque for the first time, I was a little nervous visiting the Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta, Indonesia, but as it turns out I had nothing to fear. Most mosques in Southeast Asia welcome visitors, as long as you show the proper respect for your surroundings. Don't wear shoes inside the sanctuary, listen respectfully to what the guide says, and don't take pictures if not allowed.
You'll be rewarded with more than just access: you get a glimpse into a beautiful religious and social tradition with a long history in these parts, encapsulated as well as the four walls of the mosque will allow (in the case of the Istiqlal Mosque, those four walls are plenty!).
Read our article on behavior while visiting these Islamic places of worship: Mosque Etiquette. And while you're at it, check out our articles on the following Southeast Asia mosques: Kampung Kling Mosque, Melaka, Malaysia; Sultan Salahuddin Mosque, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and Lanao Lake mosques, Philippines.