Complete freedom. Independence. No compromises. Facing challenges. Pushing boundaries. Confidence boosting. Taking time out. Getting to know oneself. Cultural immersion. New people. New perspectives. New possibilities.
And the list goes on.
There’s an endless number of reasons why people choose to venture out on their own and explore other countries and cultures on solo trips. In fact, research suggests that the number of solo travellers, especially women, is on the rise with more and more people opting to go on holiday alone. Whether you’re 18 or 68, single or married, travelling on a shoestring or enjoying the jetsetter lifestyle – there’re all types of solo travellers, regardless of age, relationship status or budgets.
Are your feet itching to explore the world alone?
From the tropical shores of Thailand and the lush mountains of Vietnam to the bustling metropolis of Tokyo and the green city of Singapore – Asia offers travellers a fantastic diversity of cultures, landscapes and budget options. Here, we’ve rounded up a list of seven of the best places to travel solo in Asia, whether it’s your first time or you’re a seasoned solo wanderer.
The Indonesian island is definitely one of the best places to travel solo. Novels and films, such as Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love, have made Bali synonymous with spiritual travel, wellness and self-discovery. A notion that is not unjustified! Whether you want to delve into Buddhist traditions and receive an authentic temple blessing, join a rejuvenating yoga class, soak in a therapeutic hot spring or experience local life at a homestay, Bali offers solo travellers a plethora of opportunities to engage in holistic rituals and immersive cultural experiences. On the other hand, the island is also home to plenty of spots for night owls and party people to kick back with a drink and dance the night away.
What is more, the Indonesian island is blessed with staggeringly natural beauty and spectacular landscapes – ranging from cascading rice terraces, towering volcanoes, dreamy beaches and a stunning rugged coastline. For shutterbugs who are bored with their daily selfie, why not join one of Buffalo Tours’ Instagram tours and explore some of the island’s most photogenic spots with a professional photographer?
Often considered the gateway to Asia, Thailand is not only a safe and inexpensive destination but easily accessible from anywhere in the world – thanks to convenient flight connections to Bangkok. Travelling within the country is tried and tested and its vast array of scenery caters to a variety of interests. Besides tropical beaches, the Southeast Asian country spans lush rainforests, ancient temples and modern, pulsating cities.
In addition, there’re many activities that can easily be enjoyed alone; whether it’s diving into the world-famous Thai cuisine, indulging in a rejuvenating massage, learning kickboxing in a Muay Thai class or getting to know the friendly locals – there’s a reason why the Southeast Asian country makes most lists of best places to travel solo. For more inspiration, check out our essential guide to solo travel in Thailand.
An equally fantastic destination for solo travellers to Asia is Vietnam. Similar to Thailand, the dragon-shaped country ticks the boxes for safety, diversity and infrastructure and a well-established tourist trail sees most travellers journey from north to south (or vice versa). One trip through this long and narrow nation can include floating limestone cliffs, stunning rice terraces and picturesque towns as well as bustling cities, attractive beaches and luscious deltas.
Vietnamese food is one of the most popular cuisines worldwide and a trip to the country invites intrepid gourmands to not only eat their way through banh mi, pho and spring rolls, but go beyond the staples and get a taste of the real cuisine. Equally well-known, but for completely different reasons, is the country’s dark and unavoidable past. Thanks to museums and memorials, including the War Remnants Museum and the underground Cu Chi Tunnels network, history buffs have plenty of opportunities to travel back in time and learn about this tragic conflict.
Besides the ancient temples of Angkor, one of the world’s most impressive religious complexes and testament to the former glory of the Khmer Empire, there’re several other reasons why Cambodia is one of the best places to travel alone. One of them is its people. Despite having suffered a genocide as recently as 50 years ago, and widespread poverty across this small country, Cambodians are kind-hearted, humble and always quick to smile. At the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and Killing Fields, get insight into the country’s heartbreaking past and be astonished by the resilience and strength of the Cambodian people.
A fantastic way to connect with local people is by joining one of Buffalo Tours’ community-based tourism programs. Experience life in the rural countryside – from milling rice and riding oxcarts to making brooms and weaving baskets – whilst contributing to the sustainable development of the community. Getting to know the locals can be a truly rewarding and life-changing experience on your solo trip.
Whilst often overlooked among its neighbouring countries, the landlocked nation is an ideal destination for solo travellers to unwind, slow down and get away from it all. Let yourself be enchanted by Laos’ magical charm and immerse in the laid-back atmosphere, where time just ticks a little slower. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything to do; for splendid temples and magnificent colonial architecture, visit to the picturesque town of Luang Prabang in the country’s north. Nestled amidst stunning limestone mountains, it’s also a good base for nature lovers who want to explore the serene countryside, take a trip to the incredible Kuang Si waterfall or visit the religious Pak Ou Caves.
This laid-back vibe is reflected in the country’s approach to tourism. By embracing local traditions and culture and with a focus on sustainable travel, Laos offers visitors abundant opportunities to ‘get back to basics’. Whether you want to work on a buffalo dairy farm, grow organic rice and vegetables at the Living Land Farm, dive into the world of Laos textiles at the Living Crafts Centre or learn about the versatility of bamboo and its significance in local cultures, an immersive experience in Laos might just be the right ticket for your solo trip.
A paradise for solo travellers, the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ merges modernity with history and the amazing with the bizarre like no other nation. Not only has Japan a reputation for being super safe, it’s also known for its super-efficient transport system, boundless unique shops – check out Tokyo’s iconic pop cultures – and its vast foodie scene, ranging from sashimi and ramen to yakitori and peculiar snacks at vending machines. What is more, eating alone in Japan is quite common; in fact, many restaurants and ‘Izakaya’ (Japanese pubs) offer counter seats or even single booths for solo diners.
Whilst Japan can be overwhelming at first and its people can seem reserved, a good way to immerse yourself in the local culture, and meet other people, is by joining a tour. Get the chance to try on one of the precious kimonos in Tokyo or drink traditional green tea with a real-life Maiko (Geisha apprentice) in Kyoto.
Whilst staying at one of the famous capsule hotels might just be a perfect solution for solo travellers, those interested in pampering themselves should opt for a traditional ‘Ryokan’. These Japanese-style inns are usually found in hot spring towns, and what could be a better tonic on a solo trip than soaking in a soothing onsen?
Find more unique activities in our Japan guide.
The island city-state is a great destination for solo travellers to get their feet wet. Whilst being home to bustling markets and a vibrant food scene equivalent to other Southeast Asian countries, Singapore’s squeaky-clean streets, transport efficiency and uber-luxury shopping malls are rather unique in the region.
Safe and easy-to-get-around, solo travellers will have no problems touring some of the city’s highlights, including the iconic Marina Bay Sands and the colonial-style Raffles Hotel – the birthplace of the Singapore Sling. Despite its urban landscape, green areas weave throughout the entire metropolis, justifying its self-appointed title of the ‘Garden City’. From the Botanic Gardens, the world’s largest orchid garden, to the futuristic greenhouse and super trees at the famous Gardens by the Bay, the city-state offers plenty of spots to take a break between sightseeing and shopping.
What is more, one of the most fascinating aspects of Singapore is the diversity of cultures that coexist peacefully in this diminutive country. With influences from Malaysia, China, India and Europe, explore the city-state's fascinating, colourful heritage in different parts around town. For a deeper insight, join a walking tour through Chinatown and experience its unique culture.
We hope you will be inspired you to take some ‘me-time’ and venture out on your own to explore some of the best places to travel solo in Asia. If you’re interested in any of the tours mentioned above or need help organising your solo trip, reach out to Buffalo Tours and let our experts help craft your tailor-made journey so you can fully enjoy the benefits of travelling alone.