Travelling on your own can seem intimidating, especially for travel newbies with a million questions on their mind, but as Minka Guides says, solo travel can be such a liberating experience. It gives you full control of your itinerary and let’s face it – when was the last time you did whatever you want without having to consult with or report to anybody? Leaving behind my comfort zone and braving the unfamiliar, I’ve discovered some of the best solo travel destinations in Asia. So if you’re ready to take the plunge, here’s a little guide on five places that cater well to solo travel beginners.
Forget overcrowded Bali and visit the next island over, known as Lombok. Nothing short of enchanting, this tranquil island is off the beaten path and possibly more beautiful than its tourist-centric neighbour. With breathtaking views of mountains, waterfalls and beaches, Lombok is incredibly peaceful, allowing anyone that lives a fast-paced life to truly unwind. For activities like yoga and surfing, you’re better off staying in Kuta (the town in Lombok – not the infamous Bali hotspot of the same name), where you’ll also discover quaint cottages and cafes.
Another surfers’ paradise in Southeast Asia is the picture-perfect island, Siargao. It’s the surfing capital of the Philippines, but if you have no interest in watersports, no worries. There are plenty of other activities to do and natural wonders to see. With many smaller islands surrounding the main one, you can spend your days’ island hopping, swimming in lagoons and rock pools, hiring a motorbike and taking in the spectacular scenery.
With one of the lowest crime rates in the world, this island nation that is the perfect destination for solo travellers. With English as one of Singapore’s national languages, it’s also a dream come true for first-timers who aren’t used to being out of their comfort zone. While Singapore is one of the more expensive cities on this list, their public transport options (plus the ride-sharing app, Grab) make it that much more accessible for those on a budget. As for things to do, it’s often best to pre-book tickets as attractions tend to be a little pricey, but you’ll save plenty of money by dining at ‘hawker centres’ – open-air restaurants that offer the best of local and regional cuisines.
Whether you’re spending a week or a mere 24 hours in this city, there is something for everyone in Taipei’s urban oasis. The capital of Taiwan is spoilt with a beautiful cityscape and a gorgeous backdrop of natural landscapes. Taipei is the perfect mix of cultural and contemporary, with tons of museums, temples and national monuments to visit, as well as shopping malls, night markets and themed cafes. Taipei is easy to travel around, either on foot or public transit, and there’s much to see in this city, with friendly locals to help you find your way in case you get lost.
Afraid of looking silly when eating alone in a restaurant? No worries. Arguably the best food capital of the world, Tokyo has pretty much mastered the whole solo dining experience. From vending machines with ready-made food to ramen hotspots with menu kiosks to limit social interactions, the Tokyo food scene is an introvert’s dream. Not to mention, there’s tons of street food, conveyor belt sushi restaurants, omakase dining, tiny bars, food courts and more. You could literally base your entire trip on unique food experiences, taking you all over via the city’s extensive subway network so you can squeeze in nearby sights as well.
Now that I’ve covered the best solo travel destinations in Asia, let’s quickly cover some tips to make life a little easier for you.
Be prepared for long-haul flights. As Minka Guides suggests, always pack carry-ons appropriately, including things like clothes for warmth, accessories for comfort, pens in case of immigration forms, snacks, entertainment, among others. All those items help with starting your holiday off on the right foot.
Download the right apps. Make sure your phone is ready with all the city guides and translation apps you could need. Look for apps with downloadable offline maps, in case WiFi isn’t readily available or you decide not to get a local SIM card.
Bring some meds. Because you’ll be exposed to new cuisines that are drastically different from your usual diet, it’s best to bring meds for an upset stomach, heartburn and indigestion, along with painkillers and cold & flu meds.
Recently graduated from culinary school, Amanda Chang is travelling around the world to learn about lesser-known cuisines and cooking techniques. Currently contributing to food and travel blogs, she plans to start her own one day to share her adventures with loved ones back home.
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