Solo travel is the most liberating feeling I ever experienced. People have asked me to describe how it is liberating, but what solo travel is for me, cannot be described in words. I have travelled solo in Europe & Asia till date. Even in India as a solo female traveller, I have had some of the amazing experiences & adventures. Some parts of the world are favourable than the other – like Asia – for solo female travel. So, I decided to compile a list of the best places for solo travel in Asia with personal anecdotes from my fellow bloggers.
best places for solo travel in Asia
1. Best solo travel destinations – Singapore
Singapore is one of the best countries to visit in Asia if you are a solo traveller. Singapore has plenty to offer any traveller including warm weather year round, a beautiful skyline, great food and interesting and unique attractions (many of them free).
Some of the best things to do in Singapore include walking on the waterfront promenade while enjoying the skyline, watching the free sound and light show at the futuristic Supertree Grove and the water and light show at the Marina Bay Sands, and exploring the beautiful and large Singapore Botanic Gardens.
Foodies will especially love Singapore’s diverse cuisine. Make sure to try some of the tasty street food at one of its many inexpensive hawker centres and head to one of Singapore’s ethnic neighbourhoods like Chinatown and Little India.
In addition to its numerous free attractions and places to eat cheap street food, Singapore has many things that would appeal to solo travellers. Singapore is one of the safest countries in the world and crime is very rare – I always felt safe walking around alone even at night. Singapore has an efficient metro system making it easy to get around using public transportation while on a budget. All of these things make Singapore one of the best places for solo travel in Asia.
2. Best solo travel destinations – Laos
Laos is often overlooked by its more popular neighbours, Thailand and Cambodia. However, skipping over this friendly, land-locked nation would be a mistake. As a solo traveller, Laos feels extremely safe and welcoming. Start your trip in Vientiane. This bustling city hosts a 44-meter high golden stupa, Pha That Luang that can’t be missed. Wat Si Saket or the temple of a thousand Buddhas will wow you with its ornate architecture and incredible Buddha statues.
For beautiful architecture, culture and stunning natural scenery, spend time wandering the streets of Luang Prabang. The entire town is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Rent a bike and travel to many temples. Be sure to take a cooking class with Tamarind to learn how to whip up some delicious Laotian dishes. If you love wildlife, visit the Mandalao Elephant Sanctuary to hike and bath with these fantastic creatures (don’t worry, this is an ethical elephant sanctuary, no sticks, no tricks and no rides). No trip to Luang Prabang is complete with a stop at the Kuang Si Falls.
If you enjoy a good party, then boogy on over to Vang Vieng where you can float down a lazy river and drink till the break of dawn. Overall, I found Laos to be priced well for solo travellers and very safe. I met serval fellow flashpackers and backpackers to share rides and have meals with. This country offers incredible beauty, culture, and food. It’s a worthy destination on any solo traveller’s list for the best places to travel alone in Asia!
– Meg Atteberry, Fox in the Forest
3. Best solo travel destinations – Philippines
If you’re looking for a safe and stunning country for solo travel, I recommend you head to the Philippines. The nation is made up of over seven thousand islands, and many of them are small enough that you can fully explore them by foot on a single trip. The gemstone blue water and endless activities of White Beach have made Boracay Island one of the top tourist spots in Asia, and the sunsets there are absolutely gorgeous.
Bohol Island contains one of the most unique geological formations in the Philippines–the Chocolate Hills. These 120-meter tall mounds look like giant pieces of chocolate candy and provide a stunning backdrop for any Instagram selfie. You can hike to an electric blue lake inside a volcano crater on Luzon Island, or head to Palawan to find the most beautiful beaches in the world. Island hopping in the Philippines is one of the top tourist activities, so you will find no shortage of boats and companies offering affordable transport between the most popular island locations. Food is also inexpensive. Most meals in the Philippines cost just 2 to 5 US dollars and give you the chance to experience authentic Filipino dishes. Skewered chicken is one of the most popular street foods that you must try. Spicy Paa is also incredibly delicious. It’s a flame-grilled chicken thigh that comes with a side of rice, soy sauce, chilli, and a small citrus fruit called a kalamansi.
The Philippines is full of solo female travellers, and the locals are incredibly kind, so it’s easy to feel relaxed and comfortable when you’re on your own. So, plan your next solo travel in Asia and choose the Philippines this time.
– Jillian Michelle, Adventure Dragon
4. Best solo travel destinations – Vietnam
One of the safest, most affordable and tourist-friendly countries in Asia, Vietnam is a perfect choice for solo travellers.
A popular route is to travel by train from the capital, Hanoi, in the north to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in the south (or vice versa). The Reunification Express runs down Vietnam’s coastline and is a great way to experience the country, stopping off along the way at beaches, national parks, and historical cities.
Having lived in Vietnam for a year, I got to explore many of the top attractions and lesser-known spots. In the north, Sapa is known for its village homestays and trekking, Ninh Binh for its limestone karsts, and Phong Nha for its caves. More intrepid travellers will be interested in off-the-beaten-track nature spots such as Ha Giang, Da Bac and Pu Luong. Culture and history buffs will love Vietnam’s colonial buildings. Dalat in the Central Highlands has some of the best examples of French architecture in the country. Hanoi Old Quarter, Hoi An’s historical town centre, and the incredible Imperial Palace complex in Hue in Central Vietnam shouldn’t be missed.
Decent hostels and affordable Airbnb rentals make Vietnam affordable for solo travellers, while a plentiful array of street food (such as banh mi, bun cha and of course, pho) make mealtimes a breeze. On top of that, more than half the population speaks English, which makes it easy to get around and meet locals. Started as an underdog, Vietnam has picked up on top places for solo travel in Asia.
– Emily Lush, Wander-Lush
5. Best solo travel destinations – Japan
Japan is one of the safest nations in the world. So safe that children start going to school by themselves at the age of 6. Imagine that! With an incredibly low crime rate, tourists can have a peace of mind even when travelling solo. Japanese people are also incredibly kind and polite. If you ever ask for directions on the street, people will try their best to help you, despite language barriers. They may even walk you to your destination. I’ve had nice strangers who did this for me several times. When you lose a personal item in Japan like your phone or wallet (been there done that), you can almost always find it back at the lost and found, dropped off by someone anonymous. The honesty in Japan is truly amazing.
Lastly, you will fall in love with the efficiency and convenience in Japan as a solo traveller. People queue in an orderly fashion, the trains come on time, and food in 7/11 are perfectly packaged for a one person meal. It’s so comforting that you may never want to leave this wonderful country. Japan is truly one of the best places for solo travel in Asia!
– Viola Wang, The Blessing Bucket
6. Best solo travel destinations – Bhutan
In a world that’s running behind Gross Domestic Product, there’s a tiny country in Asia, sandwiched between two of the most populous countries in the world that chimed in the importance of “gross domestic happiness”. That country is Bhutan, the only carbon negative country in the world, a picturesque country in the cradle of the Himalayas. I read all this before I embarked on our all-girls trip to Bhutan, 5 years back, yet, the country didn’t fail to awe me. Something a lot of women complain, or just observe about the Indian subcontinent are the stares. Well, you wouldn’t find it here. People are friendly and helpful and live a very simple lifestyle. It’s advised to begin your day early morning and complete your trips by 5 pm, simply because of the hilly terrains. You can still walk alone in the city, bargain at local shops and taste the local food. A typical Bhutanese meal would consist of rice (red and white), seasonal veggies cooked with cheese and chilli and meat (pork/chicken/beef). However, there are great local options for vegans also, the lip-smacking Momos!
In Bhutan you will feast your eyes on some of the stunning landscapes and valley views you can never forget, you will breathe fresh air and see the clear azure sky that we miss in our polluted cities and be mesmerised by the architectural grandeur of Dzongs. Dochula Pass, Chelala Pass, Thimpu Chorten, Ringpung Dzong and the Tiger’s Nest are places that cannot be missed.
Best way to go around Bhutan is by hiring a car and preferably a local expert driver. Remember that this is a Himalayan country, and the Hilly roads can be as precarious as beautiful. I wouldn’t recommend self-drive here unless you are a real pro. In our 6-day Bhutan trip, we stayed in 3 cities- 2 nights in Paro, 1 night in Punakha and 2 nights in Thimpu. There are various options of stay available at reasonable prices in all these cities. Head to this carbon negative country for amazing solo travel in Asia.
– Sinjana, Backpack & Explore
7. Best solo travel destinations – Malaysia
Malaysia is an incredible destination for solo travellers. It’s a diverse country, with a unique mix of cultural influences that shows up in the incredible architecture, food and way of life. Known for beaches and rainforests, Malaysia is also home to quirky cities with charming period buildings and cool street art scenes. It’s also a really easy destination to navigate if you speak English.
Your first stop in Malaysia will probably be the busy capital of Kuala Lumpur, which has world-famous food markets and glamorous rooftop bars (I recommend the Heli Lounge Bar for amazing views of the Petronas Towers). For beaches, the island of Langkawi is a must. And for quaint old-town charm and Malaysian heritage food and architecture, check out Penang and Malacca. If you visit, you must try Nyonya cuisine, which is a mix of Chinese and Malay cooking. Finally, the huge island of Borneo is renowned for its beaches, rainforest and wildlife, including orangutans.
A few people I met in Malaysia were surprised and curious that I was travelling alone as a solo female traveller. But in general, it was an incredibly friendly and enjoyable place to travel solo, and I met so many lovely people there!
– Marie, Temples and Treehouses
8. Best solo travel destinations – Nepal
Located at the foot of the imposing Himalayan Range, Nepal is a small country but with a very diverse heritage. Travelling in Nepal, one has the chance to experience medieval Newari towns with wooden pagoda temples and royal palaces, as well as treks in a breathtaking scenery. Kathmandu and Pokhara are the two main tourist towns of Nepal, but there’s also the colourful Patan or medieval Bhaktapur which are worth a visit for curious travellers.
Dal Bhat (steamed rice with lentil soup and spicy sauce) is the traditional dish in Nepal and you will find it everywhere, in each eatery or restaurant featuring Nepali food. However, momos (steamed dumplings stuffed with spicy vegetables or chicken) are also popular. If you prefer something less spicy, then chowimen (Nepalese spaghetti with vegetables and chicken meat) might be the best choice for you (and it was for me).
In terms of accommodation, you can book single rooms on Booking, Agoda, and Expedia. Budget hotels are cheap in Nepal (approximately 10 $/night single room with bathroom) and the prices might drop even more if you go directly at the hotel’s reception and bargain. Besides hotels, there are community projects which involve locals in tourism development. For example, you can find authentic homestays in Panauti and Dhulikhel. On the flip side, lodges and tea-houses along the treks are very basic and the prices might drop to even a few dollars per night.
I travelled in Nepal for two months in the autumn of 2016. It was a fair amount of time that allowed me to head to the mountains and trek in the Himalayas, but I also immersed in the jungle from the south of Nepal and explored Hindu temples or Buddhist stupas. I even took part in a 10-day Buddhism course in Kopan Monastery nearby Kathmandu. Eventually, I’d say that you can have a wide range of experiences while travelling to Nepal.
– Iuliana, Authentic Travels
9. Best solo travel destinations – Thailand
If you are looking for a safe, easy to navigate and beautiful country to solo travel in Asia, Thailand should be top of your list! Frequented by many young and solo travellers every year, the country is well trodden by backpackers. There are countless buses and trains going from place to place which are extremely safe and you will often find other travellers you can make friends with on the journey.
Prices are cheap, with street food and meals costing as little as $1. Food in Thailand is world famous, and you really get the best flavours and authentic cuisine from the cheap roadside stalls. Bangkok is full of attractions so be sure to spend a few days here visiting famous temples. For those who enjoy the beach, head to any of Thailand’s beautiful islands, where you can bag a beach cabin for as little as $5 a night. If you’re after a more authentic Thai experience, then head to the North of the country and base yourself in beautiful Chiang Mai. A small city full of friendly locals, you can rent a bicycle and explore the surrounding areas with ease.
10. Best solo travel destinations – MYANMAR
Myanmar is a country that will always put a smile on my face. In no other country had I ever felt so welcome, safe, and simply just happy to be in. No matter where I went I was greeted by locals with a smile, willing to share their food with me in the bus, wanting to pose for a photo or even take a photo with me, or simply help us fix our scooters without asking for anything in return.
From the busier cities of Yangon and Mandalay to smaller villages higher in the mountains such as Kalaw or Hsipaw, there is something for everyone’s liking and visiting Myanmar will be a true adventure. If there is one thing you cannot leave out of your itinerary it would be to see the sun rise in Bagan. You can climb up some of the pagoda’s to see the sun rise, coloring the sky a golden orange and yellow, over a field filled with hundreds of pagodas and stupas, it was undeniably one of the most stunning sun rises I had ever seen in my life. And when your feet are getting tired of walking around the pagodas be sure to grab some lunch and try the tea leaf salad, known as laphet thoke, one of the delicious local snacks. You can wander around the stupas and pagodas in Bagan for days but be sure to visit other places in Myanmar as its diversity is one of the many reasons you will fall in love with Myanmar.
11. Best solo travel destinations – India
Lastly, I am biased and placing India in the best places for solo travel in Asia, because of my own personal experiences. I felt incredibly humbled, welcomed in various parts of the country that it’s difficult not to add India to this list.
I travel solo not only to different states but also in Delhi and I have felt nothing but warmth in my own city. People have smiled at me, asked me if they can click a picture for me and what not. Whenever I asked someone for directions, or simply for more information, I was usually overwhelmed with their answers. If you have heard a lot of negativity & rude people in India, I would recommend heading to South India. Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Pondicherry are some of the amazing places to visit in India. If you like mountains, I recommend heading to Kashmir or Himachal Pradesh for the Himalayas with a great cultural vibe.
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