10 popular solo travel destinations and what to expect for first-timers

by Jermina

Ever since the pandemic, many of us have been making up for lost time and fulfilling our ever-growing bucket list. 

It’s with no surprise that solo travelling has gotten more popular nowadays, especially since the pandemic has given us a newfound appreciation for solitude. 

Afterall, life’s too short and solo travelling might just be what you need to embark on a self-discovery journey away from the hustle and bustle. 

Sure, there’s many things to consider: budget, accommodation, transport, and most importantly safety. 

Fret not, because we’ve compiled 10 popular solo travel destinations and what to expect for first timers. From far-flung destinations like Iceland to a quiet retreat in Hoi An or thrilling adventures in Kenya, the sky’s the limit!  

1. Koh Samui, Thailand

solo travel
Photo: @travel_dani_marcus/instagram

Whenever someone mentions taking a peaceful vacation, Thailand is one of the places that comes to mind simply because it harbours some of the most idyllic islands with spectacular views. 

Situated on the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Samui is literally paradise on earth with hidden waterfalls, pristine beaches, and mountainous rainforests. 

Photo: @garymarckahn/instagram

It isn’t highly commercialised unlike other popular islands but there’s still a fair bit to do during your solo travel. 

Think: wellness retreats like yoga, meditation, spa massages and more at Lamai and Bophut for a laid-back time. 

Alternatively, you’ll find a more dynamic nightlife at Lub d Chaweng — a popular budget-friendly hostel with a vibrant traveller community which makes it easy to socialise for my fellow introverts.

2. Taipei, Taiwan

solo travel
Photo: @leechenwai/instagram

If you’re someone who loves spending your weekends strolling down museums and browsing through exhibitions, Taipei, Taiwan might just be for you. 

With over thirty art museums including National Palace Museum, Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, and Taipei Fine Arts Museum, you’ll find a myriad of treasure troves reflecting the country’s rich culture and history. 

Photo: @siewamy/instagram

Accommodation can often be a tricky subject even more so when you’re travelling alone as safety becomes of utmost concern. 

Personally, I’d feel safe knowing that I’m situated in an active neighbourhood with a vibrant atmosphere. 

Having said that, Ximending is a bustling neighbourhood with lively street performances, fashion and cafes filled with locals and tourists alike.   

3. Auckland, New Zealand

solo travel
Photo: @skycityakl/instagram

On the flip side, you might seek a destination with more thrilling activities to satisfy your inner adrenaline junkie during your solo travel. 

Auckland, New Zealand is a gateway for fun-filled adventures like Rainbow’s End, a famous theme park with over twenty rides and attractions. Or “soar” down the Skyslide — an adrenaline-fuelled 360 degree virtual reality tour of the city’s skyline. 

Photo: Nikki De Renzy/google images

However, that’s nothing compared to bungee jumping off the Auckland Bridge or skydiving at Skydive Auckland, the highest tandem skydive in New Zealand. 

Save on your expenses by staying at hostels, specifically for solo travellers like The Attic Backpackers. There’s a range of room options from dormitory-style to private rooms alongside a social area where you can chill and find your next travel buddy. 

4. Tokyo, Japan

Photo: @ichiran_jp/instagram

Tokyo, Japan is no stranger to solo travellers as it is a generally safe city and boasts many capsule hotels and restaurants meant for solo diners. 

Embark on a solo foodie adventure at the ever-so-popular Ichiran Ramen and wallet-friendly sushi conveyor-belt chains like Kura Sushi or Akindo Sushiro

You won’t find a lack of entertainment here as Akihabara is a hub for anime, manga and gaming culture. So, if you’re looking to hunt for your next figurine collectible, you know where to go. 

solo travel
Photo: Takeshi Kawaguchi/google images

Otherwise, head down to Shimokitazawa which houses many vintage and retro stores including Toyo Garage Department jam-packed with a collection of handmade craft and trendy apparel. 

More importantly, there’s coin lockers scattered all over Japan’s train stations so you don’t have to lug your luggage or shopping hauls around the city alone.

5. Kenya, Africa

solo travel
Photo: Ritu Kumar Mishra/google images

Although Kenya, Africa is not somewhere that you’d think about when it comes to solo destinations, this calm oasis has its own unique charm boasting scenic landscapes and nature reserves dedicated to wildlife conservation.

Photo: Elephant Nursery/google images

This includes the Elephant Orphanage and Giraffe Center Tour at Nairobi National Park

Spend time at the nursery where you’ll get up close with adorable giraffes and baby elephants playing, feeding or taking a mud bath. 

If you’re an introvert and worried about the language barrier, you can be rest assured that the locals are friendly, hospitable, and English is widely spoken.

6. Byron Bay, Australia

solo travel
Photo: @terri_dawson_/instagram

What better way to spend your next vacay than basking in the sun at Byron Bay, Australia?

There’s a huge variety of water sports to do including snorkelling, scuba diving, kayaking with dolphins, whale watching and more (the best time to travel is in June when the first migration of the humpback whales starts)

Photo: @terri_dawson_/instagram

Here’s a pro tip: many tourists tend to flock to Main Beach but Tallow Beach is actually one of the more secluded areas to escape from the crowd. 

Located along the northern end of Tallow Beach is Cosy Corner where you’ll be welcomed by a vibrant surf community. Besides that, this hidden gem offers more than just surfing as you’ll find locals attending beach yoga classes, bird watching, and fishing. 

7. Hoi An, Vietnam

solo travel
Photo: @annalisadelfina/instagram

Here’s something that you don’t often see in Singapore. 

Just ten minutes away from Hoi An, Vietnam, Tra Que Vegetable Village lets you live as a farmer and enjoy the simplicity of countryside life. 

Nature lovers will certainly have a great time here as the locals show you firsthand how they sow, water and harvest vegetables like lettuce, spring onion, and lemon basil.

Photo: phượng nguyễn/google images

Don’t forget to visit Baby Mustard which uses the same harvested produce to prep the local fare or reward yourself with a relaxing foot bath service at the village. 

For those with a tighter budget, the Vietnam sleeper bus system is a good option for backpackers seeking to travel long in a comfortable and spacious environment. 

8. Reykjavik, Iceland

solo travel
Photo: @icelandicmoutainguides/instagram

If it’s an adventure you’re looking for, Reykjavik, Iceland is the place to be. 

There’s many adventure tours that you can partake in including seeing the Northern Lights or attending the Blue Ice Glacier Hike. Hike up Europe’s largest glacier to catch a glimpse of towering ice formations, jagged ridges, and crystal blue caves. 

Photo: @icelandicmoutainguides/instagram

It’s no secret that Iceland is one of the safest destinations with a low crime rate — perfect for solo adventurers, especially female travellers. 

That being said, it’s still advisable to choose guided group tours over single-activity trips as it’s more affordable. 

End off the trip at the Sky Lagoon to relax in the lagoon’s soothing waters and soak in stunning views. 

9. Vienna, Austria

Photo: Nikolaos Theodoros Papadopoulos/google images

I’ve always carried a huge misconception that Europe can be dangerous but Vienna, Austria is here to prove me wrong. 

If you didn’t already know, Vienna’s crime rate has consistently ranked low over the years, especially for such a large city. 

Photo: @enginhamarat/instagram

Vienna is known as the city of music where many famous musicians like Mozart and Beethoven performed and composed classical music. 

So, it’s without a doubt that you’ve to visit The Vienna State Opera House and Vienna Hofburg Orchestra to catch popular opera performances. 

As food can get pricey when you solo travel, head to Brunnenmarkt for a decent range of affordable local fare like rosti, schnitzel, and goulash.

10. Luang Prabang, Northern Laos

solo travel
Photo: Allan Tse/google images

Anyone that wants the best of both worlds (venturing into nature whilst being able to shop) should visit Luang Prabang, Northern Laos

Visit over thirty temples including Wat Xieng Thong AKA Golden City Monastery that has witnessed the crowning of numerous Laos kings over the years.  

Photo: @felixphotography.de/instagram

Head out at night to the markets like Luang Prabang Night Market or Vientiane Night Market where the locals flock together for street fare, retail therapy, and souvenirs. 

The cost of tuk tuks can hike up especially when you’re solo-travelling since it’s based on group pricing. It would actually be more affordable to just rent a motorbike or bicycle — plus you get to travel at your own pace.

Although it can be daunting to solo travel alone for the first time, the adventures and memories you make will eventually be worthwhile. 

It’s time to pack your bags and book a trip to your next solo travel destination! 

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