My top 3 choices for solo travel in Asia
The diversity, the cultures, the colours and the flavours of Asia can make you go insane before deciding "where in Asia do I go for #solotravel". So many blogs around the web discuss this topic, and most end up with "it depends". Like, we already knew that, right? Well, I'm not gonna do that and give you my personal top 3 choices, out of 17 countries in Asia that I've already visited, and explain why from a very personal perspective. Of course, you should not stop at 3 and explore as much as you can. But this list would be helpful for those of you who have been stuck for a long time deciding where to go solo. So here goes...
THAILAND, BECAUSE FOOD HERE ROCKS. Traveling solo is incomplete without exploring food. Fried chillies in southern China, weird embryo eggs in Vietnam, spicy lentils in India are all worth trying at least once. But as someone who prefers eating fresh vegetables over meat, I have struggled feel satisfied in most countries I've visited in Asia. Thailand is the exception. Due to both cultural and historical reasons, I was able to find near-vegetarian to fully vegetarian food in the remotest of towns. And genuinely there is a great diversity of food for rice eaters as much as for bread breakers, for seafood fans as much as for pork lovers. The local food vendors are exposed enough to foreign palates that they'll almost always ask you "spicy?" (fair warning: medium spicy in Thailand is extra spicy for most of us!).
SINGAPORE, BECAUSE IT'S SUPER SAFE. As a #solofemaletraveler I totally understand why many girls & women hesitate to go for solo travel. It's easy for others to say "don't worry about it" until they fall victim to street harassment by creepy men or online stalking from "surfers" with a "couch" (*cringes*). Been there, sister! As much as I've met kind, helpful strangers on the road, by far I was at peace most in Singapore. Boarding a crowded subway train, no violation of personal space. Enjoying the sea breeze in the dead of the night, free of concerns about my stuff getting stolen. In fact I'm writing for the #Solopacker blog here because it's in Singapore that I first heard about it, and liked the idea of finding locals or travelers with matching travel preferences exactly when I wanted (instead of getting spammed by men sending copy paste messages). I met a local polytechnic student Ken who had amazing knowledge about Singapore's history, and kindly accompanied me to their Asian Civilisation Museum one weekend.
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PHILIPPINES, BECAUSE OF ITS PEOPLE. I love striking up a conversation with the local taxi driver, snack stall owner or guesthouse staff when I'm traveling (without imposing on them to speak English). Because of this people assume I'm an extrovert. I'm really not, and that's part of the reason why I love solo travel - it gives me space and time to tune out and "hangout" with myself. But in the Philippines, specifically in Siargao and Palawan, I was not my introvert self. The locals there made me feel so at home, never once pushy or impatient, winning my trust at every interaction. If you haven't solo traveled yet, I fully understand your anxiety about being in a strange land. It's obviously not the land, but the people, that are unfamiliar. Believe me, the people of the Philippines break this myth right in its face. My theory is that it is their sense of contentment and gratefulness that makes them so approachable. Another theory is that living in a country made up of thousands of islands just makes you smiley and happy - I can buy that theory too. ;-)