There is beauty in the unknown. It manifests in the thrill of facing terrors, in the satisfaction of defying expectations, and in the courage of eluding the mainstream. Experiencing what’s foreign to you may induce crippling anxiety or self-doubt, may it be as mundane as introducing yourself to a crowd full of strangers or as life-changing as switching jobs mid-career, but the truth is, unexpected moments turn out to be the most fulfilling. In the fruition of what you think you can’t handle, you surpass your self-imposed limits, serving as cold, hard proof that you absolutely can do what you think you can’t, as long as you set your mind—and heart—to it.
This can mean a lot of things for women, who have been indoctrinated with radically suppressive standards on what should and shouldn’t be. Society in patriarchal communities, for instance, has shoved it down women’s throats that being alone means that they are lacking—but why accept this as the truth when each individual is entirely and utterly whole as they are? In completely being attuned to aloneness, there are simply no gaps to fill. And when it comes to traveling, flying solo upholds the celebration of self, allowing the explorer to unapologetically claim life as their own.
Solo female travelers, it’s high time to explore the largest continent of the world. Asia, in all its splendor, spirituality, and verve, has safe havens for you to shed your fear, learn about yourself, and spend some unadulterated ‘me-time’ with no ifs, buts, and what-ifs. Take that solitary getaway and fulfill your heart’s desires in any of these charming destinations.
For history buffs and those with an affinity for old-world charm, Hue is the ideal solo-friendly destination. Pronounced as ‘hway’, this charming city in northern Vietnam has a rich history that is often overlooked by most tourists. Once the capital of Vietnam, the city and its vicinity served as battlegrounds of the Vietnam War—today, its well-preserved surroundings reflect the nostalgia of imperial Vietnam. Bask in the Complex of Hué Monuments, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, spend an idyllic afternoon riding a boat at Perfume River, and join sightseeing walking tours to its many historical monuments. With its locals’ provincial warmth that makes you feel right at home, plus the convenience a typical modern city provides, Hue is a gem that's not-to-miss on your solo travel bucket list.
Nestled in the beautiful east coast of Bali, the seaside town of Sanur fits the bill of an ‘eat, pray, love’ getaway. Fit for surfers, yogis, or those in need of some headspace, it holds an impressive selection of beach activities and soulful retreats that makes it an idyllic tropical paradise. Boasting a charm akin to that of the Komodo Islands and the Nusa islands, it’s a less crowded destination for those seeking a more laid-back Bali experience. Get your culture on at the Le Mayeur Museum, admire the tranquility and contemplative atmosphere of the Pura Blanjong Temple, and enjoy the warm, sun-soaked climate of Sanur Beach.
Enjoy the bustle and verve of city life? The Zhongzheng District of Taiwan should be your next destination. Though Taiwan in its entirety is known to be safe for solo female travelers, the popular Zhongzheng District is a prime spot for city creatures and foodies as it has a bounty of leisure, culture, and food attractions. When you’re done exploring the National Museum of Taiwan and eating like a local at the Nanjichang Night Market, pay a visit to the inspiring Treasure Hill Village and the stylish Huashan 1914 Creative Park, peppered with shops, cafes, exhibitions, an independent cinema, and events.
When you want life to move more slowly, head over to the laidback capital of Vientiane, the largest city of Laos that juxtaposes tradition and modernity. Known for its relaxed ambiance, friendly locals, and affordable standard of living, the city offers a suburban feel amidst a major city. Explore centuries-old Buddhist temples like the Ho Phra Keo and the Wat Si Saket, witness the massive Patuxai Monument, and get a taste of authentic local cuisine at the Vientiane Night Market. With its spell-binding temples and sunset-perfect views of Mekong River, along with a plethora of cafes, restaurants, and bars, the capital is perfect for the solo traveler who relishes in leisurely wandering about.
A renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site, Malacca’s kaleidoscope of influences makes it an irresistible destination to the culture connoisseur. A breath of fresh air from cramped and bustling cities, it is well-known for its tranquil atmosphere and slow-moving lifestyle. Marvel at the Dutch Square’s striking terracotta-red buildings, and pay a visit to the colorful Jonker Street, the center street of the Chinatown district scattered with cafes, restaurants, and quaint shops where you can find antiques, local crafts, and vintage fashion pieces. Most attractions are within walking distance from each other, so explore by foot or hire one of their funky trishaws, their version of a pedicab that’s colorful and ornately designed.
If ‘nature lover’ and ‘bohemian soul’ are two descriptions that resonate with you, Pai in Thailand should be on your solo travel bucket list. A humble town sitting on the valley of Pai River’s banks, it offers a plethora of attractions for a place quite small. Hike the Pai Canyon, climb up the Big Buddha, or visit hot springs or waterfalls for a reinvigoratingly good time. Wander Pai Walking Street for great food, dance the night away at Sunset Bar, or meet like-minded female travelers on a yoga or meditation retreat. Ensconced in a charming bucolic setting, it serves as a well-loved oasis for the free-spirited. Don’t be surprised to leave behind a piece of your heart upon departure.
You’ll feel free and easy while exploring the exquisite island of Miyajima, considered Japan’s ‘Island of Gods’. Located an hour away from the more popular Hiroshima, the lesser-known yet nonetheless noteworthy destination offers beautiful nature scenery, delectable local cuisine, and a contemplative ambiance. Witness the iconic Itsukushima Shrine, a World Heritage Site with a famous ‘torii gate’ built over water. Gaze at lovable sea creatures at the Miyajima Public Aquarium, stroll along Omotesando Street peppered with cafes, restaurants, ice cream parlors, and souvenir shops, and surround yourself with lovely maple trees at Momijidani Park. Easily navigatable, it has English signs left and right so you won’t ever have to feel lost—or lonely, too, as the island is overrun with tame deer that peacefully live among locals.
Hongdae, South Korea
The hip, youthful, and artsy neighborhood of Hongdae is a favorite of solo female travelers for three things: safety, accessibility, and vivacity. Situated right in front of Hongik University, a highly esteemed university that offers Korea’s best arts program, it’s no wonder the locale is famous for its ever-burgeoning creative scene and underground culture. Self-expression here seems to be second nature, and you’ll know it the instant you stroll past its colorful streets speckled with cute concept cafes, book shops, art galleries, fashion boutiques, and pulsating clubs. Watch street performers at night, kick it old school by visiting the arcade, and satisfy your taste buds with the tastiest street food. Best of all, the cheapest airport transfer called the AREX has a Hongik University station right at the region’s heart, making it highly accessible to and from the airport and to Seoul’s major stops for when you want to explore further.
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