Updated: 02/03/2020 | February 3rd, 2020
This is a guest blog by Laura, one of our resident experts on solo female travel. Be sure to check out our comprehensive section on solo female travel for even more helpful advice!
Planning a solo trip as a woman can be intimidating. Sometimes it’s not always by choice; after all, it’s not easy to convince someone to jump ship with you and take an extended vacation.
However, solo travel can be exhilarating, insightful, and incredibly rewarding. As Matt has said, travel is a great tool for personal development — and solo travel especially so!
When it comes to finding a great destination for your first solo trip, I can’t think of a better place than Southeast Asia.
Southeast Asia is easy to navigate on a budget, there are plenty of other travelers around to meet, and it’s quite safe. Still not convinced? Here are X reasons why every girl should consider Southeast Asia for their next solo trip!
6 Reasons Girls Should Travel to Southeast Asia
1. It’s Budget-Friendly
One of the downfalls about solo travel is that it tends to be more expensive. You don’t have someone to share a hotel room with or to split a cab ride, for example. But compared to the Western world, Southeast Asia is cheap!
Depending on your travel style you should be able to live off of $20-30 USD per day. On my cheapest day in Southeast Asia, I spent just $7 USD for lodging and food in Laos.
Best of all, thanks to the sharing economy, if you plan to hang around a city for at least a month, you can rent an apartment at an extremely low rate.
2. It’s Easy to Get Around
You can take public transportation to pretty much any destination. Not only is it widely available, but I consider it fairly comfortable as well. Most buses are air-conditioned, and if you’re taking an overnight bus, there are sleeper buses available. Traveling in Southeast Asia can be done both easily and affordably.
I remember my first bus ride in Southeast Asia was from Siem Reap, Cambodia to Battambang in Cambodia. I bought my ticket at a travel agency around the corner from my hotel, and they said, “The bus company will pick you up at your hotel 30 minutes before departure.”
I was caught off guard and thought, “What? You mean I don’t have to grab a taxi or lug my bags to the bus station? I don’t have to worry about getting lost and finding the right bus to get on? This is great!”
Most of the time, you can book a bus that will pick you up at your hotel. If not, arranging transportation is incredibly easy. Your hostel or accommodation can help you with that, usually by ordering a taxi or tuk-tuk in advance.
3. Travelers Abound
Unless you really make an effort to get off the beaten path or venture into a town that’s unheard of, you will see tourists everywhere. I consider this a definite plus for a first-time solo trip. You shouldn’t have any problem meeting other travelers in guesthouses or around town.
Not only is it nice to make friends (after all, who wants to talk to a brick wall the entire time?) but you’re also likely to find other travelers to join you to go sightseeing or to grab dinner or a drink in the evening.
I think it’s also noteworthy to point out the stereotype of travelers you may meet in Southeast Asia. Everywhere I’ve traveled to, I find a different type of tourist. I find the travelers in Southeast Asia to be more social and have more of a “travel hard, party harder” attitude. Rarely will you find a guest in your hostel sitting around or sightseeing solo.
Yes, plenty of travelers go alone to Southeast Asia, but they want to and do meet others quickly. You just have to make sure you put yourself out there.
4. It’s Safe
While there is crime — as there is everywhere in the world — I feel extremely safe when I’m in Southeast Asia. I take standard precautions, but I’m not afraid to walk around by myself or take public transport. I go out in the evenings and don’t hesitate to interact with the locals.
As a female traveler, safety is key, and I feel just as safe here as I do back home. If you run into any sort of theft, I’d venture to say it’s most often by a fellow traveler in your guesthouse.
As long as you aren’t wandering drunk at 3am in the seedy area of Phuket, you will be all right. Yes, there are travel scams to be aware of. But if you take normal, common-sense precautions you should have nothing to worry about.
5. There are Friendly Locals & Unique Cultures
If you’re looking to really dive into a place that’s completely different, Southeast Asia will not disappoint. Mouthwatering street food and some of the friendliest locals in the world are probably my favorite things about this part of the world. It doesn’t matter if you come into contact with a local who knows zero English (as I did on a 10-hour train ride); they will generally still want to communicate with you.
While I was in a village in Laos, I told a restaurant owner that I wanted to participate in the alms ceremony for monks. She invited me to her home at 5:30 the next morning, made rice for me to give to the monks, and showed me proper etiquette for this Buddhist ceremony. Most locals in Southeast Asia treated me like a member of the family.
You won’t have to try hard here if your goal is to dive into the culture, and if you ask a local about some ceremony or event, you’ll most likely be invited to participate (even in weddings).
6. There’s Something for Everyone
Whether you’re looking for relaxing beach getaways, hectic cities full of delicious street food, world-class diving opportunities, all-night parties, or rich history, you’ll be able to find it in Southeast Asia — often all within the same country!
From the stunning ruins of Angkor Wat in Cambodia to the epic Full Moon Party in Thailand to the health and wellness mecca of Bali, Southeast Asia has something for every solo female traveler’s appetite. It’s just a matter of deciding what you want to see first!
If you are considering a solo trip for the first time, Southeast Asia is a great place to start. As a female backpacker, I like that I feel safe here, can get by on a budget, and meet other people. It’s a great combination when I can achieve all of these things, as well as discover amazing cultures.
Laura Walker ran the travel website, A Wandering Sole. She’s an avid traveler, former blogger, and entrepreneur.
Book Your Trip to Southeast Asia: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Use Skyscanner or Momondo to find a cheap flight. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned. Start with Skyscanner first though because they have the biggest reach!
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- World Nomads (for everyone below 70)
- Insure My Trip (for those over 70)
- Medjet (for additional repatriation coverage)
Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m on the road. They will save you money when you travel too.
Want More Information on Southeast Asia?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on Southeast Asia for even more planning tips!