Alright, alright, I realize it’s Valentine’s Day, and at the risk of sounding like a love scrooge, I wanted to do a little something different this year…something for the single ladies. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely have a soft spot for romance and everything cheesy that goes along with it. But rather than do a post about the top romantic destinations or trips to take with your lover this year, I wanted to share my favorite places to travel to without a significant other, because — yes — you can travel alone, and yes — it can be awesome!
All the destinations below are locales that I spent time in by my lonesome in 2016, and guess what? It was freaking amazing. Whether you’re looking for your next solo adventure or are dipping your toes into the solo travel waters for the first time, consider giving one of these places a try.
Tokyo was the first place I ever traveled completely solo. I’ll be honest. I was initially super nervous because not only was it across the world in Asia, but I was terrified I’d have a difficult time communicating or navigating my way around on my own. Turns out, Japan was an amazing first solo destination for me. At the beginning, it was challenging figuring out the public transportation system — but a fun sort of challenge that has you on your toes rather than pulling out your hair. Once I got the hang of it, I found it super easy to zip around between Tokyo’s various neighborhoods, and I felt instantly more confident for doing it all on my own.
Tokyo is also endlessly entertaining. Between the bright lights, Harajuku girls, crazy desserts, insane fashion, beautiful temples and endless amounts of delicious food to eat, you honestly can’t get bored in this bustling metropolis. Another bonus: the city is super safe (and the locals are super polite!), so I never once felt uncomfortable as a solo female traveler here.
I had the best time exploring Cusco with one of my best girlfriends, but when she had to head home after our two weeks together, I was left alone to explore this mountain town solo for an additional week. The great thing about Cusco is that it’s the base for visiting many of Peru’s ancient Inca ruins, so unless you want to pay extra for a private guide, all of the sites are visited by hopping onto a tour with one of the many operators littered around the city.
When shopping around for the best tour company, it’s good to pop into different offices around Cusco and inquire about pricing and itineraries, but also make sure to ask about the size of the tour and the typical age demographic. This will give you an idea about your chances of meeting other travelers while exploring the amazing sites this region has to offer. Need an easy way to break the ice with a potential new friend? Just ask them to take a photo of you for an easy segue into conversation.
Hội An, Vietnam
Hội An can be quite a romantic city if you go with a lover, but it also caters to the solo backpacker nicely. There are loads of cheap hostels where you can meet other travelers, and there’s so much fun shopping in this town that you’d probably be better off going it alone than making your significant other wait while you “just pop in quickly” to yet another store. A few things I enjoyed by my lonesome in Hội An: tea tasting at a local shop, getting a (practically) entire new wardrobe tailored for me for a total of $50, and taking a traditional cooking class with Thuan Tinh cooking school.
Gili Trawangan, Indonesia
Gili Trawangan can have the reputation as a party island, but if you’re not the type to rock up to the bar solo, that’s ok. It’s easy to meet tons of people on Gili T during the plethora of daytime tours and activities offered out on (and under) the water.
One of the main reasons people visit here is to get their scuba diving certification, as it’s one of the cheapest places in the world to do so. You’ll find that many of the dive shops are like a little family, so don’t be surprised if you go from daytime dives to sharing a beer with your dive master at a reggae bar later that night. I recommend enrolling in any dive courses immediately upon your arrival, as the typically three-day commitment will allow you to mingle and make friends with your dive instructors and fellow classmates early on.
Sydney may not be the most affordable place to travel solo, but there’s so many free ways to enjoy the outdoors here that you can easily make up for it in the activities you choose to do. During my solo days in Sydney, I preferred to fill up my time along the coast, as it’s the most beautiful part of the city.
If you’re like me and are obsessed with stopping to take photos everywhere you go, doing this part of the city alone will ensure you never feel rushed by your travel buddy to keep the pace moving. Don’t miss the Bondi to Coogee walk, and make sure to give yourself extra time to enjoy Tamarama Beach and the plethora of rock pools that dot the coastline.
Hong Kong, China
I personally find that cities are great destinations to visit alone because there’s way more to occupy your time and pique your curiosity than at say, a beach town where the list of activities involves laying on the sand and reading a book. Hong Kong is an endless land of shops and restaurants waiting to be explored, and the city is super safe so there’s no need to stress about your belongings or personal safety.
Hong Kong also boasts a huge expat community, so it’s easy to find faces from all over the world if you’re interested in making new friends. Head to HK’s Soho neighborhood first if you want to dive into the local expat scene.
Check Out: 10 Ways Hong Kong Completely Surprised Me
If you’re looking for more of a recharging vacation that’s less social and more about inner exploration, head straight to Ubud, Bali where yoga, fresh juices and nourishing food are all a short scooter ride away. If daily downward dogs are on your itinerary, basing yourself near the Yoga Barn (Ubud’s most loved yoga studio) is a must — plus, they have an incredible cafe on site that’s perfect for refueling after you’ve gotten your sweat on in the intense Bali heat.
Have you traveled solo before? What are some of your favorite places to visit alone? Let me know in the comments below!