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Your 2019 Solo Travel Destination Playbook

By Travel Noire

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Solo travel, when done correctly, can offer a rewarding and enriching experience to all those who dare to wander alone. The notion of traveling alone is becoming more and more popular these days as many ditch their fears and finally embark on an epic eye-opening trip for one. If you’ve convinced yourself that the time away is all you’ll need to decompress and let lose, the next thing you’re going to need to do is to pick a destination to do so.

In this guide, we’ll uncover the latest and best countries to visit for solo travels, matched with all you need to know as far as what to do while there, cuisines to expect, and even the best times to visit throughout the year.

Yala & Galle, Sri Lanka

WHY WE LOVE IT:

Sri Lanka’s compact size (it’s a tiny bit bigger than Tasmania) makes it an attractive destination for solo travelers who don’t want to endure long-distance travel. The island nation is home to friendly people, eight World Heritage-listed sites including the Sinharaja Forest Reserve, Highland tea estates, and colonial architecture. Visitors may go looking for leopards in Yala National Park, relax on one of the palm-fringed beaches of the south or take the six-hour train journey between Kandy and the hill-country village of Ella – one of the world’s prettiest train rides.

WHEN YOU SHOULD GO:


December – March is the best time to visit the west and south coasts which April – September is preferable for the east coast.

Mauritius

WHY WE LOVE IT:

Heading off to an island in the middle of nowhere on your own may seem a little daunting at first, but Mauritius is home to friendly locals, delicious food, and incredible vistas. Traveling around the island is easy too as there’s a network of public buses which run along the coast and inland. When it comes to finding accommodation, avoid the luxury resorts (unless you want to be surrounded by honeymoon couples) and instead opt for a boutique hotel. While Mauritius is a lovely solo destination, you should still be smart when out and about – be extra cautious and keep your valuables hidden.

WHEN YOU SHOULD GO:

Mauritius enjoys hot temperatures all year round thanks to its tropical climate. However, October is usually the driest months.

Fiji

WHY WE LOVE IT:

While you might have initially dubbed Fiji as a honeymoon destination or a beach break for families with little ones, this incredible island country is actually the perfect destination for the solo traveler seeking solitude. If you’re looking to make friends avoid luxury hotels and head to hostels or hotels popular with backpackers (and make sure you sign up for group tours). Alternatively, if you’d like to escape it all and immerse yourself in nature then head to the Coral Coast for a little rest and relaxation. While Fiji is considered to be a safe destination, females should be exploring the island at night on their own and should always take a taxi from one destination to the next after dark.

WHEN YOU SHOULD GO:

Thanks to its tropical climate Fiji enjoys hot weather all year round! However, peak season runs from July to September, and the island can get busy and expensive, while the months of November to April can bring with them tropical storms.

Hawaii

WHY WE LOVE IT:

Hawaii isn’t just for honeymooners and picture-perfect families; it’s also for the intrepid solo adventurer! If you’ve always dreamt of dropping it all and joining a surf and yoga school then head to the island of Maui or if you’re ready to re-create jungle scenes from Jurassic Park, then head to Kauai. While this American island state is relatively safe, it’s always good to keep your valuables hidden and your money safe. Also, if you’re heading out hiking, make your accommodation aware of your route so they can raise awareness if you don’t return back from the jungle (a very, very, very, unlikely scenario)!

WHEN YOU SHOULD GO:

Head to Hawaii during the dry months of April – October and try to avoid wet season between November to March (unless the summer is too hot for you).

Phong Nha Ke Bang, Vietnam

WHY WE LOVE IT:

Everyone knows Vietnam is the perfect place for a solo trip to soak up a culture entirely different to your own, and to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. While most travelers make a beeline for Ha Long Bay, you should be heading for Phong Nha Ke Bhang; a well-preserved National Park found in northern Vietnam. Home to tropical rainforest, rolling mountains, and a vast network of caves this park is the perfect destination for those looking to immerse themselves in flora and fauna. We only recommend this destination for the well-seasoned traveler who has perhaps visited the country before.

WHEN YOU SHOULD GO:

The best time to visit the National Park, and Vietnam in general, is between February and April in the spring months, or during the autumn months of August to October. Outside of these, rainfall could be high.

Pai, Thailand

WHY WE LOVE IT:

The small town of Pai is an excellent destination for solo travelers looking to explore further north than Chang Mai. Located in a valley on the banks of the Pai River, the town and surrounding area are renowned for its hot springs, waterfalls, and forest. When you’re not wandering around the downtown district sampling local cuisine or shopping for handmade gifts, you’ll likely be exploring the surrounding wilderness and embarking on an epic adventure.

WHEN YOU SHOULD GO:

Try to avoid visiting between the months of June and October as this is when northern Thailand faces its heaviest rainfall.

Siem Reap, Cambodia

WHY WE LOVE IT:

Seam Reap is the ideal destination for the first-time solo traveler as this resort town offers a safe getaway to those who need gently dropping into the world of solo-travel! From your accommodation, in the town center, you can explore the surrounding ruins of Angkor, a vast complex of intricate buildings and temples that date back to the 9th century. There’s plenty of group tours to join, or visitors can enjoy private taxi transfers if they’d prefer to remain on their own. If you’re ready for a culture kick and a culinary awakening you simply can’t beat Cambodia. While Siem Reap is relatively safe, and geared towards tourists, you should always be wary of your money and valuables.

WHEN YOU SHOULD GO:

Cambodia’s dry season runs from November to April and temperatures can be around 25°C on cooler days. Note as Siem Reap is in the north it tends to be a little colder than the south.

Tioman Island, Malaysia

WHY WE LOVE IT:

If you’re ready to escape reality and retire to a soft sand beach with a good book with very few distractions, then we highly recommend Tioman Island in Malaysia. This remote island is covered with dense jungle, and its surrounding waters are popular with scuba divers – meaning you could learn a new skill if you fancied it! Transport around the island can be done by taxi and boat, and while it’s relatively safe, it’s always good to make your accommodation aware of your whereabouts and to be vigilant at all times.

WHEN YOU SHOULD GO:

The best time to visit Tioman is between March and October. The northeast monsoon transforms this tropical gem into a desolated place between the end of October and the beginning of March and you’ll find many resorts are closed during this period.

Gili Air, Indonesia

WHY WE LOVE IT:

The Gili Islands are a group of three remote islands found off the coast of northwest Lombok Island. Home to soft sand beaches and excellent scuba dive spots these islands are a great place for those looking to escape and learn a new skill. Yes, you might find a handful of couples enjoying a romantic holiday on the island, but you can easily find your spot fo beach to unwind on. Gili Air is the more developed of the three islands and is popular with solo travelers because of its variety of restaurants and bars. Getting here and leaving here is easy too, take a boat from Lombok!

WHEN YOU SHOULD GO:

The rain season falls between November and April but the rainfalls are lighter than those of Bali’s main islands. However, the absolute best time to visit the Gili Islands is between July and August and December and January when the weather is at its best.

Cape Town, South Africa

WHY WE LOVE IT:

Idyllic, vibrant, and bursting with life – Cape Town and the surrounding Winelands area are the ideal places for the savvy solo traveler. Get ready to sunbath and take surf lessons along the coast, admire art in the city center, and hike to the top of cable town; all while soaking up the local customs and culture. Cape Town is packed with boutique hotels and quirky hostels so if you’re up for meeting new people; you’re in for a great time. Be aware, petty theft can be a problem in the city, and you should always keep your valuables and large amounts of money somewhere safe. Also, do your research on neighborhoods before visiting as some are complete no-gos for foreign travelers.

WHEN YOU SHOULD GO:

If it’s the beach you’re pining for then the best time to visit Cape Town is between January and April. However, the city is enjoyable all year round!

Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

WHY WE LOVE IT:

For a real adventure, and we’re talking bucket-list here, you’re going to want to embark on a solo safari in the Serengeti! A safari is not only an eye-opening experience, but it’s a spectacular adventure that sees you soaking up some of the planets best wildlife. Tanzania is home to plenty of national parks and nature reserves, but if you want to do this right we recommend taking a guided group safari around the Serengeti! Not only will you spend time with like-minded people, but you’ll also be sharing the land with majestic beasts!

WHEN YOU SHOULD GO:

Safari’s in Tanzania are usually great all year round. However, if you want to witness the great wildebeest migration, then you need to visit in the months of November or December.

Marrakesh, Morocco

WHY WE LOVE IT:

Home to friendly locals, great hospitality, and a melting pot of cultures, Marrakesh is the ideal destination to enjoy a solo vacation. When you’re not browsing for bargains at the local bazaar, you could be taking part in a local pottery glass, or taking to the surrounding desert and mountains on a life-affirming group tour! The Old Town is a great place to stay as you’ll be centrally located and can explore the surrounding city fairly easily on foot. Before you book a holiday to Morocco, make sure you read up on the local customs and rules, so you don’t accidentally break them (i.e., non-Muslims are prohibited from entering Mosques). Also, beware of pocket thieves in the markets.

WHEN YOU SHOULD GO:

The months of March, April, and May are perfect for visiting Marrakech as the days are long and warm, while September, October, and November are a little cooler but just as inviting.

Zanzibar, Tanzania

WHY WE LOVE IT:

The island of Zanzibar which sits just off mainland Tanzania is home to a UNESCO World Heritage site, soft white sand beaches, and a melting pot of cultures. Solo travelers start their time on the island in the capital of Stone Town before taking a taxi down to the south of the island. While the island is somewhat progressive, you still need to take every precaution when traveling alone as pickpocketing and theft are known crimes in the area. Solo travelers looking to meet new people and make friends should consider heading to Kendwa on the north of the island where beach parties are the stuff of legend.

WHEN YOU SHOULD GO:

Dry season on the island lasts from June through to October with most days being dry, hot, and featuring blue skies. March, April, and May are the quieter months though they bring with them long rainfall.

Turin, Italy

WHY WE LOVE IT:

While many travelers dash of to the better-known cities of Rome, Milan, and Venice, the charming town of Turin is well worth your time. This unspoiled destination is home to magnificent architecture, countless museums, and grand piazzas where people watching is a favorite past time. The solo traveler can enjoy affordable cuisine, simple transportation (most exploring can be done on foot), and traditional Italian experiences. As the city lies close to the Swiss and French borders, it’s a popular destination for solo travelers backpacking across Europe too!

WHEN YOU SHOULD GO:

Turin is packed with tourists enjoying their summer holidays in the months of June, July and August so shoulder season may be a better time to visit for some quiet reflection.

Lisbon, Portugal

WHY WE LOVE IT:

Lisbon is one of Europe’s most affordable cities which makes it a popular destination with students, young couples, and solo travelers alike. There’s so much to see and do here your day can be packed with sightseeing, sunbathing, and exploring the city on foo!  Better yet, the locals are friendly, and the crime rates are low, so you can wander around without worry! The city is also a hub for hostels so if you’re looking to make friends on your travels; there are endless ways to do so. For a quieter escape, book an Airbnb and spend a month in a renovated building in the heart of the city.

WHEN YOU SHOULD GO:

Shoulder season in Lisbon is between March and May, and September and October. If you’re after the height of summer, visit in July or August.

Berlin, Germany

WHY WE LOVE IT:

If you’re ready for a history lesson like no other, then pack your bag and head to Berlin. This vibrant, ever-changing, city is packed to the brim with history, culture, and hostels. As the capital of electronic music and a hub for Turkish expats, this city is the perfect destination to lose yourself in a different world. Infrastructure here is modern, getting around the city is both quick and easy, and crime rates are relatively low. Better yet, the city is relatively cheap and eating out, and accommodation is somewhat affordable!

WHEN YOU SHOULD GO:

One of the best months to visit Berlin is May when the weather is warm and dry. However, this can be incredibly busy with tourists so September may be a better option – though wrap up warm!

Memphis, Tennesee (USA)

WHY WE LOVE IT:

If you’re a solo traveler with a penchant for music, or you’re hankering for a traditional American road trip, then you can’t go wrong with a trip to Memphis. The city is renowned for its blues, soul, and rock ’n’ roll music so if you’re happy to pull up a pew, take in the music, and get chatting to the locals then this is the destination for you. Those with extra time should explore the ‘triangle’ of America’s deep south which passes through Memphis, Nashville, and New Orleans. These destinations are perfect for the first time solo explorer who wants to test the waters closer to home before traveling alone further afield.

WHEN YOU SHOULD GO:

Summer in Memphis can become unbearable for some in the heat, so we suggest visiting either between April – May or October – November.

Yosemite National Park, California, (USA)

WHY WE LOVE IT:

If your idea of the perfect solo adventure is heading off into the wilderness and disconnecting from the real world for a day, week or month, then you might want to add Yosemite National Park to your to-do list. Though not far from home for those who live in the USA, Yosemite is another world and the vast expanse of wilderness is one of its biggest draws. Strap on your hiking boots, pack an adventure bag, and take to the mountains! Note, some routes in Yosemite are technical and are not advised for beginner climbers or solo travelers – in general, don’t attempt a climb that requires you to log-in and log-out with park rangers unless you’ve done this before. 

WHEN YOU SHOULD GO:

Spring and summer are popular times to visit the park when the flowers are in bloom. The earlier in spring that you go, the higher the chance of seeing cascading waterfalls in the park.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

WHY WE LOVE IT:

If you’re looking for that exotic fling with a beautiful local, or you’re ready to dance the night away and sip fine wine late into the evening at an outdoor bar, then Buenos Aires could be the solo travel destination for you. To be within walking distance of the Old City, make sure you stay in Micro-Centro – that way you don’t have to worry about transport. Should you need to travel further afield, there’s plenty of buses that run to the cities main attractions. The city is generally safe, but the main danger is the tourist districts where pick-pocketing and theft may occur.

WHEN YOU SHOULD GO:

The ideal time to visit Buenos Aires is between March and May or September and November (the autumn and spring) when temperatures are a little cooler than the heat of summer.

Sydney, Australia

WHY WE LOVE IT:

Sydney is the perfect city to explore as a solo travel thanks to its modern infrastructure, friendly and outgoing locals, and variety of sights and things to do. The number of expats living in the city alone should give you a good idea of how popular this cosmopolitan city is and there’s a whole host of neighborhoods to explore including nearby Bondi, Manly, and the affluent Surry Hills. Transport around the city is quick and easy and includes trains, buses, and boats!

WHEN YOU SHOULD GO:

The most affordable time to visit Sydney is between September – November, and March-May. The peak time, and hottest time, to visit this vibrant city is through the summer months of November – February, but you’ll likely be paying a premium to be here around Christmas and New Year.

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