Be inspired to plan your next solo trip with this list of the best places to travel alone in Asia
Do you want to take your first trip alone but are unsure where to go? Given that there are so many options and considerations, choosing your solo travel destination can be a tough task.
So what is the perfect solo travel destination?
There is no magic formula and determining your perfect place to travel alone should take into account a carefully balanced recipe of the following ingredients:
- Safety – e.g. crime, terrorism threat
- Opportunities to meet other people as a solo traveller
- Convenience – e.g.travel infrastructure, visa requirements
- Preferred activities – city or country, recharge or adventure?
- Preferred climate
Consequently, choosing the ideal place to visit as a solo traveller can be tricky.
I argue that there’s no such thing as a definitive list of perfect solo travel destinations but, as with many other life decisions, it boils down to balancing competing priorities. That said, it’s good to have a few ideas and inspiration for starters.
To help you make this sometimes tough choice, we’ll consider why Asia is a great choice for solo travellers and list some of the best places to travel alone in Asia.
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Travelling alone in Asia
Asia is a fabulous solo travel destination.
It’s relatively safe, easy to travel around and offers a vast choice of cultures and cuisine.
That said, there are places in Asia that are more suited to solo travel than others. Public transport and infrastructure are better in some destinations, and other places offer a particularly vibrant and friendly local culture. If your travel budget is a consideration, the cost of living is lower in some countries than others.
With this in mind, and with the help of fellow travel writers, I have put together a list of the best places to travel alone in Asia. From travelling by train in Japan to quality beach time on one of Thailand’s idyllic islands, I have you covered.
Best places to travel alone in Asia
By Stephanie of History Fangirl
While Cambodia’s dark past is recent, there’s so much to experience and learn during a visit to the country that you will leave here enriched and with new perspectives on the world. From seeing ancient ruins left by the powerful Khmer Empire to the twentieth-century horrors of the Khmer Rouge, every day in Cambodia is full of nuance and growth.
Cambodia might seem daunting for a solo traveller, but if you take normal, common-sense safety measures the country is one of the best places in Asia to travel alone.
Reasons to visit Cambodia as a solo traveller
- Many of the best activities are perfect for day trips on organized tours
- It’s easier to process challenging material when you are alone
- Easy to get between major destinations alone
- Inexpensive accommodations and transportation eliminate the “solo tax”
- You can spend as much (or as little) time in Angkor as you want
Top tips for visiting Cambodia as a solo traveller
- Try to arrive in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap during the day time to maximise safety.
- Buy a Cambodian SIM card on arrival to allow you to more easily communicate with hosts (have your accommodation’s contact information available ahead of time).
- Use rideshare apps to arrange taxis in Phnom Penh to get a competitive rate.
- For photography opportunities when travelling in Angkor alone, ask your tuk-tuk driver. He or she will be used to taking photos of tourists; just tip accordingly for the extra service.
By Carly and Agung of We Are Sumatra
With 17,000 islands, 6,000 of which are inhabited, Indonesia has no shortage of choices for solo travellers.
Although the small island of Bali is the most famous destination, there is so much more to discover. The variety of cultures and landscapes within this country is astounding; every island, from Sumatra and Java to Sulawesi and Flores, provides a different experience.
As the largest island in Indonesia, Sumatra rewards intrepid travellers with a little bit of everything.
Hike active volcanoes, explore the rainforest in search of wild orangutans and elephants, laze on deserted beaches, dive among pristine coral reefs, or discover an island set in the largest volcanic lake in the world – Lake Toba. In Sumatra alone, there’s an astounding array of cultures, cuisines, landscapes, and languages to lose yourself in.
The best time to visit Sumatra (and elsewhere in Indonesia) is during the peak of the dry season, during June, July, and August. This is high season for tourists, but the joy of visiting lesser-known areas such as Sumatra is that you’ll seldom run into crowds.
Reasons to visit Sumatra/Indonesia as a solo traveller
- Friendly, welcoming locals who treat you like family
- Affordable accommodation – even solo you can afford a private room
- Safe – low crime rate against tourists
Top tip for visiting Sumatra/Indonesia as a solo traveller
Learn at least a few key words and phrases in Indonesian!. Outside of the tourist hotspots, English may not be spoken.
Indonesian is super easy to learn, and the ability to communicate makes your life easier and helps you have a more authentic local experience.
By Linn of Brainy Backpackers
Iran is an incredibly diverse country with vast desert areas, jungle, canyons, impressive islands, and is home to the highest mountain in the Middle East, Mount Damavand at 5,610 meters. Furthermore, the architecture is beyond beautiful. It’s hard to imagine if you don’t see it for yourself.
There are endless things to add to your Iran itinerary with astounding mosques and shrines found in every city and you can follow the ancient Silk Road through old caravanserais and bazaars.
Reasons to visit Iran as a solo traveller
- Extremely safe to travel as a solo female
- Locals are super friendly and will help you with anything you need. Friendly locals also mean that it’s easy to get a good connection to people when you travel solo and you can expect to be invited for dinner or to other fun activities with locals – a true cultural immersion.
- Easy to travel around by bus or to get a private driver
- Very cheap accommodation, which means you don’t spend a fortune travelling solo
Top tip for visiting Iran as a solo traveller
A translation app between English and Farsi is helpful when travelling to Iran as you’ll meet people who don’t speak English. However, the people are so friendly and you get a long way with sign language and smiles.
Make sure that you are open to connecting with people and you’ll have the time of your life.
By Bridget of The Flashpacker
If I was pushed to make a choice, I would name Japan as my favourite country to visit.
It offers an intoxicating mix of the ancient and the modern, retaining its rich culture and historical heritage whilst innovating and embracing technological advances. Japan is also home to some of the best food on the planet, from okonomiyaki in Osaka to Fukuoka’s legendary Hakata ramen.
Recent solo travel surveys point to Japan as an ideal destination for first-time solo travellers. And as a solo traveller, you won’t be viewed with suspicion or pity because you are travelling alone.
Reasons to visit Japan as a solo traveller
- Japan is very safe
- The country has a superb and efficient travel infrastructure.
- Eating out alone is a cultural norm
- Japan is home to some of the tastiest food on the planet
- For its specular landscapes and bubbling onsens
Top tip for visiting Japan as a solo traveller
The Japan Rail Pass can be one of the world’s great travel bargains. Check out how much money a JR Pass could save you when you are planning your trip.
By Bridget of The Flashpacker
Malaysia is a criminally underrated solo travel destination that offers a diversity of cultures and landscapes and has a rich historical heritage.
Peninsular Malaysia is more developed, and more touristed, and includes the capital, Kuala Lumpur, along with other popular destinations, including Melaka and Penang.
By contrast, Eastern Malaysia is quieter and may appeal to those with a more adventurous nature. This side of the country features white sand-fringed islands that offer sensational diving and the jungles of Borneo.
Reasons to visit Malaysia as a solo traveller
- Malaysia is a relatively safe country
- It is home to some of the best, and cheapest, food in Asia. We’re talking hawker stall heaven here.
- It’s relatively cheap
- There’s a great travel infrastructure
- Malaysia offers a diversity of experiences, cultures and climates that is hard to rival.
Top tips for visiting Malaysia as a solo traveller
Malaysia is a vast county; don’t try to do too much. Unless you have a lot of time available, choose between Eastern Malaysia or Western (peninsular) Malaysia.
The weather pattern favour east and west at different times of the year. The best time of year to visit Western (Peninsular) Malaysia is in the dry season between November and February. To escape the monsoon season, you should travel to Eastern Malaysia between March and September.
By Wendy of The Nomadic Vegan
If you’re looking to escape from human civilization and reconnect with nature in wide-open spaces, there’s no better place than Mongolia.
The country offers diverse landscapes, including stark deserts, majestic mountains, and impossibly blue lakes.
Summer is the best time to visit Mongolia, as the weather can be unbearably cold at other times of the year. Luckily, Mongolia is pretty far off the beaten track, so you don’t have to worry about crowds at Mongolia’s attractions even in the high season.
In such a large and sparsely populated country, there is very little public transport, and often no real roads to speak of. To explore the country, most visitors end up joining a budget tour in the capital, Ulaanbaatar. These are usually made up of five to eight tourists, and transport is by minivan or old Soviet off-road vans.
Reasons to visit Mongolia as a solo traveller
- The whole country is very safe
- Easy to make friends in guesthouses and ger camps
- Can easily join with other travellers to create a small tour group
Top tip for visiting Mongolia as a solo traveller
Bring a sense of adventure! Accommodation is usually in gers (Mongolian yurts), either in ger camps specially built for tourists or in a nomadic family’s extra ger.
If it’s the latter, the facilities will be very basic. Expect to use squat toilets and go without showering for a few days. Even in the tourist camps, there aren’t many luxuries. Mongolia is best suited to budget travellers who don’t require many creature comforts.
By Jiayi of The Diary of a Nomad
If you’re someone who enjoys nature, history, architecture and culture, Pakistan is one of the best places to travel alone in Asia.
This country has something to offer to every kind of traveller. If you’re seeking adventure, go for a hike in the northern part of the country, such as in the Hunza Valley in Gilgit. The views of the mountains there are absolutely incredible.
For delicious local cuisine and majestic architecture, make sure to spend a few days in Lahore, the cultural and food capital of the country.
One of the best places to visit in Lahore is Badshahi Mosque, an amazing jewel of the Mughal Empire. You’ll not only be amazed by the stunning architecture of the mosque, but can also enjoy exquisite local dishes at the famous Fort Road Food Street nearby.
Reasons to visit Pakistan as a solo traveller
- It’s a very safe country (contrary to what the media may feed you)
- The locals are super friendly, kind, and welcoming
- You won’t see crowds of tourists around and will have an authentic experience
- It’s a beautiful country with remarkable natural and architecture wonders
Top tip for visiting Pakistan as a solo traveller
Hire a local guide or go around with a local friend if you want to visit Lahore. It can be a big hassle to get around this city on your own, as the tourism sector there isn’t developed at all!
By Aurelia of Daily Travel Pill
South Korea is a country of contrasts.
The traditional temples and houses blend together with tall skyscrapers and office buildings. A trip to Hongdae, Seoul or the famous Haedong Yonggungsa Temple in Busan is everything you need to discover the rich culture and friendly people of South Korea.
Reasons to visit South Korea as a solo traveller
- South Korea is one of the safest countries in Asia to visit as a solo traveller. The crime rate is very low.
- The locals are super-friendly
- The country has a well-developed infrastructure of trains, buses, and subway systems
- Most of the younger generation in big cities speak English so you shouldn’t have any problems asking for information or directions. However, in more remote destinations you’ll find fewer people speaking English.
Top tip for visiting South Korea as a solo traveller
By Cazzy of Dream Big, Travel Far
Sri Lanka is one of the gems of Asia. An island paradise bursting with beauty on every corner, a trip to Sri Lanka will satisfy all types of solo travellers.
There is so much to see and do, from pristine beaches with lots of snorkelling opportunities, and ethical safari experiences, to ancient temples, buddhas, and many World Heritage sites.
Sri Lanka is also a diverse country in regards to climate.
There are two monsoon seasons that occur on each side of the island and, right in the middle, the weather is cooler in “Little England” where the tea fields flourish and the waterfalls and mountains rise. Sri Lanka is a great place to visit from August to October, but every month of the year has its benefits.
Reasons to visit Sri Lanka as a solo traveller
- Its size: Sri Lanka is relatively small which means you can explore everywhere safely
- Friendly locals: Everyone is Sri Lanka is happy to help, and they don’t want anything in return
- Strong backpacker vibe: You’ll have lots of opportunities to meet fellow travellers on the road as there are strong backpacker vibes in areas such as Ella, and Arugam Bay
- It’s safe: Most trips to Sri Lanka are hassle-free and you’ll feel safe
Top tip for visiting Sri Lanka as a solo traveller
Sri Lanka is one of the rare places that you can rent a tuk tuk and self drive around the country. This is an awesome way to get around and you’ll get to interact with locals, see sights that are off the beaten track, and be surrounded by beauty.
By Erica of Travels with Erica
Taiwan is one of the best places to travel alone in Asia as a first-time solo traveller. It has all the quintessential Asian experiences without being as overwhelming and busy as many other Asian countries.
As Taiwan is a small island, it is quick and easy to travel between cities. I highly recommend visiting Taipei and Kaohsiung. If you have extra time, Hualien is the perfect city to visit if you enjoy hiking and exploring nature.
October and November are the best months to visit Taiwan. It isn’t as unbearably hot as the summer months and doesn’t rain very often. However, it is still quite hot during those months, so you’ll still get to enjoy the heat and humidity Taiwan is known for.
Reasons to visit Taiwan as a solo traveller
- Very safe
- A great public transportation system
- English is widely spoken
- Locals are incredibly kind
Top tips for visiting Taiwan as a solo traveller
- Eat dinner at the night markets. Taiwan is a foodie’s paradise and has some of the best night markets in the world.
- Be careful where you sit on public transportation. There are designated seats on buses and trains for elderly people. Don’t sit in them even if the bus or train is half-empty.
By Cass of Cassie the hag
Thailand is a great country for first-time solo travellers of any age, though experienced travellers can still get a kick out of it’s established digital nomad scene in cities such as Chiang Mai or by adventuring off-the-beaten-track.
Whether you want to take in the serenity of Khao Sok National Park, scooter around the hills and waterfalls in Pai or go diving in Koh Lanta, both the hidden gems and established tourist track of Thailand have something to offer.
Reasons to visit Thailand as a solo traveller
- Easy transport options which are cost-effective for solo travellers
- Generally safe. Just avoid getting too drunk as spiking is common. Stay with other backpackers and friends and don’t venture out to the beach alone when drinking. Also, watch out for theft on night buses.
- Established tourist scene
- A huge variety of cultural and natural attractions in one country
- Great hostel scene with cheap private rooms too
Top tips for visiting Thailand as a solo traveller
Aside from the above, Thailand also has an amazing food scene, even for vegan travellers, great hiking opportunities and ample historical temples for you to marvel at.
I was initially put off Thailand by the stereotype of drunk backpackers and a worn-out tourist trail. However, the country won me over. It is so much more than that. There is something for everyone in Thailand, and at a low budget too.
By Ellis of Backpack Adventures
Uzbekistan is an up and coming destination since it introduced a visa-free entry a couple of years ago. This is no surprise as this country is rich in history and culture and there are lots of things to see and do.
Weather-wise, spring and autumn are the best times to visit.
Uzbekistan was once an important part of the Silk Road. The ancient cities of Samarkand, Khiva and Bukhara retain their beautiful Islamic architecture and bazaars. It’s not hard to imagine camel caravans passing through when you walk through the scenic alleyways of these cities. People are still welcoming of visitors and will greet you with a smile.
Reasons to visit Uzbekistan as a solo traveller
- Uzbekistan is one of the safest countries in Asia
- New high-speed trains make it easy to travel in between cities
- Hostels are opening up throughout the country so it is easy to meet other travellers
- Uzbekistan is still relatively cheap.
Top tips for visiting Uzbekistan as a solo traveller
Try not to skip Tashkent. The capital might lack the ancient Silk Road architecture, but is a great city to learn more about modern Uzbek culture. It is one of the best places to try Uzbek food.
Other worthwhile off the beaten path destinations include the Fergana valley, with its traditional handicrafts, and the ancient desert castles of Khorezm.
By Marya of The BeauTraveler
Vietnam is one of the most well-known travel destinations in Southeast Asia for so many reasons. It offers rich culture, as well as history. If that’s not enough to lure you into visiting the country, Vietnam is also one of the most budget-friendly destinations in the world.
Reasons to visit Vietnam as a solo traveller
- You can go far in Vietnam on a tight budget as the country is known as one of the cheapest places to travel. You can even book a luxurious accommodation in a relatively affordable price range.
- It’s relatively safe
- It has an excellent infrastructure with many ways to travel around the country. Some travellers buy a cheap motorbike or scooter to move around, while bus and flight options are also available.
Top tips for visiting Vietnam as a solo traveller
Many travel destinations in Vietnam are worth visiting for so many different reasons.
If you’re the kind of traveller who’s after vibrant local culture, stop by Hoi An. Or why not have a luxury experience by booking a cruise trip around Ha Long Bay?
Sa Pa or An Giang Province are recommended if you’re seeking natural beauty. And if you’re into history, don’t miss the capital city Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
Best solo travel destinations in Asia: Final thoughts
I hope that these recommendations inspired you to plan a future trip to Asia and to narrow down the list of choices.
Asia is one of the easiest continents to visit as a solo traveller and one that reaps rewards many times over.
If you are not sure whether you are ready to explore Asia independently, why not join a group tour?
As well as being a relatively hassle-free way of travelling, there are many other benefits of a group tour as a solo traveller. There are lots of group travel companies out there but two companies that I have used and can recommend are Exodus Travels and Explore Worldwide!
You’ll have an expertly curated itinerary and you often gain valuable insights into the country, the people and culture. Generally, there’s safety in numbers. Finally, if you fear solo travel loneliness, there’s the reassurance of ready-made travel companions.
I hope you get a chance to enjoy the places on this list and make lots of new travel friends in the process. If you have any other suggestions, I’d love to hear them! Please leave them in the comments below.