Best Solo Travel Des­ti­na­tions in Asia

Trav­el­ing alone is the sin­gle best gift you can give to your­self. Come to think of it, it could pre­sent some chal­lenges, but at the end, it makes you as a stronger per­son.

Maxx-M - - COVER STORY - Text by Priscilla Pi­cauly | Pho­tos courtesy of Priscilla Pi­cauly, Ma­cao Tourism, Hanoi Travel

Some­times you need to see the world from a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive to ap­pre­ci­ate life. The same goes for trav­el­ing; you need to get out of your com­fort zone and try some­thing new, like trav­el­ing alone. The Asian con­ti­nent of­fers a unique, ex­otic and rarely seen des­ti­na­tions that are worth ex­plor­ing. We se­lected five best and safe places in Asia that are per­fect for trav­el­ing alone. Yo­gyakarta Yo­gyakarta (of­ten called “Jogja”) is a city on the In­done­sian is­land of Java known for its tra­di­tional arts and cul­tural her­itage. There are sev­eral cities in Indonesia that are nice for trav­el­ing alone, and Yo­gyakarta is on top of the list. It’s very easy to reach the city; you can travel by plane, train or bus from within Indonesia. The ticket prices are eco­nom­i­cal, de­pend­ing on what sea­son of the year you plan to visit. There are many rea­sons why Yo­gyakarta is a part of our list. First, it is a low budget desti­na­tion. There is a wide se­lec­tion of good and af­ford­able ac­com­mo­da­tions for solo trav­el­ers. There are many and a va­ri­ety of street food spots within the city and many unique cafes and restau­rants that serve tra­di­tional as well as international foods and menus. Among the many places to see are the Ker­a­ton Ngayo­gyakarta Ha­din­ingrat, Ta­man Sari, Ben­teng Vre­de­burg and Pasar Ber­ing­harjo, all lo­cated near the down­town, a walk­ing dis­tance if you stay around Malioboro street, which is the most popular street in the city. Some of the tem­ples out­side the cen­ter area could be reached by Trans Jogja (lo­cal bus) or rented mo­tor­cy­cles if you can drive one. The Borobudur Tem­ple in Mage­lang is an­other spot most tourists to Jogja visit. It is about an hour and a half mini­van ride from the city cen­ter. Yo­gyakarta is an artis­tic and his­tor­i­cal city. Walk­ing around the city presents an am­bi­ent learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. It’s very safe to walk in Jogja by one­self while­hunt­ing­pho­to­sor­culi­naryfromthestreets.You can also join Jogja Walk­ing Tour (@jog­goodguide), which is a free walk­ing tour pro­gram with lo­cal guides that al­lows one to visit and ab­sorb more about the cul­ture and ever in­ter­est­ing sto­ries about Yo­gyakarta. The other op­tion is to join a bi­cy­cle tour (http://dis­cov­ery­ourindone­sia.com/jogja-cy­cling­tour/), it’s fun, af­ford­able, and dares you to ex­plore the city from an­other an­gle. For more in­for­ma­tion about Yo­gyakarta, please visit www.yo­gyes.com.

Sin­ga­pore For In­done­sians, Sin­ga­pore is a very near and a friendly desti­na­tion. Yes, it could be medium to high budget, in terms of cost of liv­ing, but Sin­ga­pore has a high standard of ac­com­mo­da­tion, trans­porta­tion, and at­trac­tion. As one of lead­ing coun­tries in Asia, it has many lists of international ho­tels chains. For solo trav­el­ers, it could be a safety op­tion to stay in rec­om­mended ho­tels. But for a low budget trav­eler, don’t worry. The City-state also has a wide se­lec­tion of hostels and dor­mi­to­ries that are spread out in the tourist hotspots such as Chi­na­town, Bugis Street, and Lit­tle In­dia. Now about trans­porta­tion. The MRT trans­porta­tion sys­tem is very help­ful for trav­el­ers. It’s quite eco­nom­i­cal and eases reach to and from the main at­trac­tions. The MRT op­er­ates from early in the morn­ing un­til mid­night. If you love to walk, Sin­ga­pore is also a clean and safe city to walk around in just to fig­ure out the looks, am­biances, and the vibes. As a small city, it’s not that hard to ex­plore through and through. There are plenty of things to do when trav­el­ing alone in Sin­ga­pore. The first is to visit the mu­se­ums, which I have al­ways found amaz­ing each time. Many of them dis­play very artis­tic and cre­ative art­works, good fa­cil­i­ties and in­for­ma­tion about the col­lec­tions. A lit­tle bit pricey, but to­tally worth the visit. An­other idea is to visit the parks and many of the pub­lic ar­eas Sin­ga­pore teems with. These open spa­ces of­fer re­lax­ing environment to sit, re­lax, and con­tem­plate. Ify­ouneed­morethanjus­tanor­di­nary­park,avisit to Sin­ga­pore Botanic Gar­den and Gar­den by the Bay is an ex­cel­lent idea, be­cause a walk through these en­clo­sures re­veals won­der­ful, unique, and in­no­va­tive gar­den con­cepts. If Mu­se­ums, parks, and gar­dens aren’t your thing, sim­ply head to the one and only Or­chard Road to shop un­til you drop. For more in­for­ma­tion about Sin­ga­pore, please visit www.vis­itsin­ga­pore.com.

Pe­nang I have vis­ited Pe­nang twice, and it never gets bor­ing. The city mes­mer­ized me through its am­biance and vin­tage nu­ances. For sure this city is highly rec­om­mended for solo trav­el­ers. You can en­joy the main at­trac­tions, culi­nary, and all of the other fas­ci­na­tions by your­self. The city can ac­com­mo­date all types of trav­el­ers. Pe­nang has an international air­port that con­nects to sev­eral di­rect flights from Jakarta, Sin­ga­pore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. It is also ac­ces­si­ble by train from Sin­ga­pore, Malaysia, and Thai­land. Pe­nang fa­mously known spot is its UN­ESCO rec­og­nized World Her­itage Site, the “Ge­orge Town,” an au­then­tic town si­t­u­ated in the heart of Pe­nang. A di­rect bus from the air­port will take you straight to this vin­tage area. The best way to ex­plore Ge­orge Town is by rent­ing a bi­cy­cle from are sev­eral Bike Rental shops around the town. Some ho­tels also pro­vide these ser­vices. It only costs ap­prox­i­mately 10 Malaysia Ring­git (about 70 cents (U.S.)) for a whole day. Ask for a map that comes handy to help you find the trade­mark build­ings and sites; some of which are Cheong Fatt Tze Man­sion, Kap­i­tan Kel­ing Mosque, Kuan Yin Tem­ple, Pe­nang Per­anakan Man­sion, St. Ge­orge’s Church, and many more. The other thing that makes Pe­nang fas­ci­nat­ing is its street art. Thanks to Ernest Zachare­vic, a Lithua­nian artist, who left his mark with a beau­ti­ful paint­ing in the town. His art­works are funny, fas­ci­nat­ing and grab the at­ten­tion of many vis­i­tors. Af­ter ex­plor­ing some sites of in­ter­est in Ge­orge Town, you don’t want to miss the street art that spreads out in sev­eral lo­ca­tions. The fa­mous one is the “Lit­tle Chil­dren on a Bi­cy­cle” that is si­t­u­ated in Ar­me­nian Street and also, the “Boy on a Bike” mu­ral on Ah Quee Street. You can eas­ily get a map from your ho­tel or just down­load it from the in­ter­net. More in­for­ma­tion about Pe­nang, please visit www.vis­it­penang.gov.my.

Hanoi Some peo­ple arestill a bit hes­i­tant about Viet­nam cit­ing safety con­cerns. Is the country safe enough for one to travel alone there? Of course, it is safe and also fun. In gen­eral, Viet­nam is a won­der­ful country. I found that the peo­ple are ex­cep­tion­ally friendly.For­solofe­male­trav­el­ers,there­are­plenty of ar­eas where women can ex­plore, in­dulge and re­lax through­out the country. So, noth­ing should stop you from vis­it­ing Viet­nam be­cause most of the con­cerns are mis­un­der­stand­ings hinged on wrong as­sump­tions. Among the fa­vorite cities to visit in Viet­nam, Hanoi re­mains tops. It is the cap­i­tal city of Viet­nam and is quite laid-back com­pared to the hus­tle and bus­tle of Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC). It is safe to say that Hanoi gets these cred­its be­cause of the am­biance and nu­ance it of­fers. You can re­lax and turn down the in­ten­sity in Hanoi un­like HCMC, where every­thing seems to be in a rush. For solo trav­el­ers, Hanoi of­fers many ac­tiv­i­ties that in­clude history, art, and shop­ping. I spent a cou­ple of days in Hanoi and truly en­joyed my­self. Sit­ting on any of the benches along the Hoan Kim Lake is es­pe­cially re­ju­ve­nat­ing. It could eas­ily be one of the most peace­ful spots in town. You can fully en­joy spend­ing time there while read­ing your fa­vorite book or just sit and en­joy ev­ery­day things that go on around you. Af­ter hav­ing some ‘me’ time, you can visit the Jade Moun­tai Tem­ple, lo­cated near the lake or go straight to the week­end night mar­ket in the Old Quar­ters area. About the Old Quar­ters, the area is like a maze, be­cause too many streets and al­leys that gets one con­fused and lost. But this is con­sid­ered Hanoi’s gem. You can lit­er­ally find every­thing in this area. Ab­so­lutely, it is the best place for buy­ing sou­venirs, beau­ti­ful scarfs, ex­plor­ing a bunch of food stalls, restau­rants and bars. Oh, this is a heaven for tourists. I spent a half day walk­ing around the Old Quar­ters. I got the itin­er­ary and di­rec­tion from the in­ter­net. You can also dis­cover churches, tem­ples, pago­das, and other his­tor­i­cal build­ings around the Old Quar­ters. For a bet­ter ex­pe­ri­ence, you may take a walk­ing tour; there are sev­eral op­tions that easy to find on the in­ter­net. For more in­for­ma­tion about Hanoi, please visit www.viet­nam­tourism.com.

Ma­cao The last but not least is Ma­cao. This city kinda draws less at­ten­tion be­cause most of the tourists pre­fer ex­plor­ing Hong Kong. Dis­ney­land and a myr­iad of shop­ping at­trac­tions are more ap­peal­ing to hol­i­day mak­ers and solo trav­el­ers than ex­plor­ing a city fa­mous for casi­nos and fa­mously dubbed the “Ve­gas of China.” How­ever, one thing you must know about Ma­cao is that it one of the cities in Asia that has spe­cific vibes and nu­ances from the con­flu­ence of western and east­ern cul­tures. That fu­sion of Por­tu­gal and China is what makes Ma­cao one-of-a-kind city in Asia, and it is an ab­so­lutely per­fect desti­na­tion for those look­ing to travel abroad with no com­pany. Ma­cao was ad­min­is­tered by the Por­tuguese em­pire and its in­her­i­tor states from the mid 16th cen­tury un­til late 1999 when it was handed over to China. The Ma­cao Penin­sula holds the old city cen­ter, where colo­nial ru­ins sit next to arty new bou­tiques. Fur­ther south are the con­joined islands of Taipa (has glo­ri­ously pre­served Ma­canese ar­chi­tec­ture), Co­tai (a home to the new mega-casi­nos) and Coloane (is lined with colo­nial vil­lages and pretty beaches). Ma­cao has very in­ter­est­ing history to ex­plore. I found it safe for a first-time solo trav­eler. It has a wellestab­lished pub­lic trans­port net­work. The bus guides, sched­ules, and routes are vis­i­bly posted at the bus stops, and they are very easy to un­der­stand. As a history ad­mirer, I spent a good time in Ma­cao. This ter­ri­tory has plenty of his­tor­i­cal ar­eas and build­ings, the chief of which is Taipa area. I was mes­mer­ized by the so many vin­tage and beau­ti­ful build­ings and artis­tic de­tails in the Old Town. You can choose between walk­ing along the streets and rent­ing a bi­cy­cle. This area would be a lit­tle heaven for pho­tog­ra­phy en­thu­si­asts be­cause there are so many spots to cap­ture there. More in­for­ma­tion about Ma­cao, please visit www.macao­tourism.gov.mo.

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