Tired of following the pack all the time? We know how that feels, and how liberating it is to explore a new place on your own terms. From the graffiti-filled streets of Melbourne to the lush forests of Bali, there’s no better time to hit the road solo than now, what with the abundance of digital resources available online. Whichever place you choose, we wish you happy solo travels!
With beautiful beaches and a dynamic city life, it’s easy to see why Melbourne is a hot spot for solo travellers. Known as ground zero for the independent coffee scene this part of the world, you’ll be hard pressed finding a single Starbucks in the entire city. Instead, small cafes can seen at every corner serving excellent brews at cheap prices. Similarly, music and the arts is an integral part of Melbourne’s blood, and live performances are a regular occurrence every day of the week. It’s easy to walk or bike practically anywhere, and you can take day trips out to see the Great Ocean Road, Great Barrier Reef, or the Daintree Rainforest.
Great for: Cafes, indie music, hipster culture
We can’t stress enough how much we love Bangkok, or Thailand in general. Amazing for solo travellers – the Buddhist mindset (the majority of the population are Buddhists) promotes equality among the sexes – this sprawling city is chock full of heritage and authenticity, offering up temples, floating markets, darn affordable clothes, and enough nightlife to keep you busy for days and weeks. Plus, the locals are especially hospitable and won’t hesitate to show you to the city’s best offerings. And the food. Don’t forget the food.
Great for: Nightlife, chatuchak, cheap shopping, budget tailors
Check our other articles on Thailand here.
Forget busy Ho Chi Minh and head to Northern Vietnam’s Haiphong, a calm city with unhurried atmosphere, deep heritage, and picturesque tree-lined boulevards. As an incentive, this place is closer to the ever-popular Ha Long Bay than anywhere else, the iconic islands only a ferry ride away. Much of Haiphong is dominated by cafes, perfect for caffeine aficionados, people-watching, and general relaxation. Don’t miss out on the beauty of the 300-year-old Du Hang Pagoda, one of Vietnam’s greatest symbol of local culture.
Great for: Cat Ba Island, coffee, Vietnam’s first ever casino
Arguably the safest country on this list, natural wonders are king in Iceland, from glacier-carved fjords and snow-capped mountains to some of the most rugged terrain on earth. Also, whales – need we say more? Base yourself from the capital city of Reykjavik as you make excursions to ride handsome Icelandic horses across glorious landscapes, swim outdoors at the Blue Lagoon, and visit the Golden Circle. If you’re have a week or longer, you can consider doing the whole Ring Road trip around the country.
Great for: Majestic icebergs, whales, horse-riding
Bali is practically teeming with solo travellers – most of them backpackers – so much that it’s considered an essential starting point for beginners due to its ease of life and cheap cost of living. Combine that with some of the world’s friendliest people and a vibrant visual culture, and you’ve got backpacking nirvana. Small enough to properly explore in a week, you’ll find the island full of spas, beaches, organic eateries, and markets. And don’t forget to visit the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud – if you aren’t afraid of the little rascals, that is.
Great for: idyllic retreats, spiritual pilgrimages, yoga, beaches
One of the most compact and crowded cities in Asia, Hong Kong is full of life and character. Don’t let the ‘fierce’ attitudes by locals scare you – they’re just speaking Cantonese. While rubbing shoulders with strangers is an everyday affair, the city has its zen moments too, from beautiful gardens to morning calisthenic classes in local parks. Here, you can shop Asian fashion, indulge in baskets of dim sum, drink milk tea, and visit the night markets. And don’t worry about the language; due to its British colonial past, most residents in central Hong Kong speak a passable amount of English.
Great for: cart noodles, dim sum, neon signs
Check out our other articles on Hong Kong here.
South Island, New Zealand
From bungee jumping and whitewater rafting to skydiving and even zorbing, New Zealand’s beautiful South Island is a haven for adventure tourists, many of them solo travellers. Known for its safety, it’s easy to meet and join other visitors in this giant outdoor playground, which will make your adventures a lot more fun. With jaw-dropping scenery around every corner – think lakes, glaciers, and mountains – it’s no wonder The Lord of the Rings was filmed here.
Great for: Water sports, hiking & climbing, spectacular scenery
Check out our other articles on New Zealand here.
New York City
Ah, the Big Apple and Empire State. Once you get past the blinding lights and hip crowds, you’ll find a vibrant modern city full of iconic landmarks, museums, and avant-garde art galleries. Make a trip to Times Square, take a walk in Central Park, watch a show at Broadway, or browse a flea market or gourmet market in Brooklyn. This is where dreams are made, and you’re just the person to witness it all. The only problem: food portion sizes in New York appear to be larger than in other states. Then again, that might not be a problem.
Great for: Skyscrapers, theatres, Mount Marcy, Niagara Falls
Johannesburg, South Africa
Johannesburg is the world’s largest city that is not built on a coastline. That fact alone makes it a fantastic destination to explore solo, let alone the ample nature and wildlife (lions!) in and around the megacity. Although it’s known as the city built on gold, this place is also home to the dark shadow of apartheid, maintaining its charming traditions of the past while opening its doors to an exciting future. Jo’burg is often compared to Los Angeles in terms of roads and freeways, so you shouldn’t face any problems getting around.
Great for: Motor tourists, Apartheid Museum, wildlife, thunderstorm photography
A warm Mediterranean climate all year round makes the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’ a favourite among solo tourists – plus points if they’re fans of 15th-century history or Game of Thrones. It’s hard to believe that Dubrovnik is an actual tangible place rather than a fairytale city, boasting spellbinding blue coastlines, massive city walls and a labyrinth of alleys hiding quaint cafes. Visitors are aplenty in this charming city, and locals are usually adept at receiving strangers, but once you tire of the crowd, head out for day trips to Montenegro or Herzegovina.
Great for: Medieval architecture, Dalmatian coastline, Game of Thrones fans
General tips for solo travellers:
Travelling alone for the first time? Here are some tips to help you along:
- Look up community groups and online meet-ups to find like-minded travellers who might be able to help you out when you’re in a pinch
- No matter your destination, take necessary precautions as you are still alone in a foreign country
- Trust everyone and no one
- Be as inconspicuous as possible to avoid drawing unwanted attention
- Tell your friends or family where you are going
- Trust your instincts
- When in Rome, do as the Romans do
Top Image: Melbourne, photo courtesy of Angela Rutherford