I get a lot of curious questions whenever I tell people that I’m going on holiday alone. Solo travel has many negative connotations, and unfairly so — people immediately assume that I have no friends, or that my trip is but a cover for an illicit rendezvous. But really, I enjoy traveling solo simply because it enables me to re-center and reconnect with myself. Plus, discovering, exploring and relishing things on your own unlocks a sense of fulfillment quite unlike anything else.
Tempted to embark on your own solo trip soon? Here are six destinations in Asia that you might want to check out:
Culture-rich Bali is a great destination for travelers seeking out a relaxed environment and a mystical atmosphere, with hospitable locals to boot. Book a one-bedroom villa and hire a driver to take you around as you explore the island. Particular places of note: Uluwatu (stay for the kecak fire dance), Padang-Padang Bay, Jimbaran (for great seafood and amazing sunset views), Gunung Kawi Temple, and Rock Bar at Ayana Resort and Spa.
Also read: 5 days in Bali: What to see and do
Mention Hong Kong and what usually comes to mind is a city that’s throbbing with activity. But if you’re a lone wanderer looking for some peace and quiet, the laid-back fishing village of Sai Kung functions as a reprieve from all that frenzy. Head to the floating seafood market to watch locals haggling over the day’s catch, laze by the waters of pristine Sai Wan Beach or check out Sheung Luk Stream for some cliff-jumping excitement. Plus, it’s easy to get to Sai Kung — simply take the MTR to Choi Hung station, before hopping on green minibus A1 or KMB 92 to reach your destination.
Also read: 9 unique experiences to try in Hong Kong
Taipei has much to offer the intrepid solo traveler, from bustling food markets to invigorating hot springs. But topping the list is Jiufen, a quaint town perched on top of a mountain that’s just a 40-minute drive away from the city. Jiufen’s narrow streets are lined with well-preserved houses, originally built during the Qing dynasty, that have since been repurposed into quaint little shops and cafés — perfect for wandering around solo. And if you’re a fan of Hayao Miyazaki’s work, the iconic A Mei Tea House served as his inspiration for the witch Yubaba’s bath house in Spirited Away.
This surfing hotspot north of Manila is often frequented by lone travelers, thanks to its laid-back, bohemian vibe. Filipinos are known for their warm hospitality, and the locals here — a mix of provincial folk and youngsters tired of the big city — will definitely make you feel at home. And besides the big waves and friendly denizens, there’s plenty of great coffee to be had, too, thanks to excellent cafés like El Union.
Singapore is the ideal destination for solo trippers looking for a city break, thanks to its efficient transport infrastructure and low crime rate. Up for some adventure? Universal Studios on Sentosa Island promises an afternoon of thrills and spills. Care for a coffee crawl? The island is bursting at the seams with great cafés. Or if you simply want to hit the shops, Orchard Road is a retail paradise, with sleek, shiny malls housing local labels alongside international luxury brands.
Also read: 8 of the best new cafés in Singapore
A four-hour drive north of Kuala Lumpur, Penang’s side-street eateries and graffiti-clad alleys make it the place to be for food and art lovers. While away lazy afternoons exploring the narrow streets and camping out in cafés with a riveting book. Central Penang’s small size also makes it easy to navigate, with famous landmarks located within minutes of each other — you can easily rent a bicycle or hop on a trishaw to traverse the city center.