While you are still pulling enough courage to fill in your ‘courage bank,’ allow us to convince and introduce you to these ten places that will surely make your first-time solo travel adventure worth braving for.
1. New Zealand
With all the solace, wilderness, volcanic craters, and landscapes New Zealand has to offer to both locals and tourists. It will surely satisfy you with its unique beauty and character.
Be like the main cast of the Lord of the Rings and maximize your time well by visiting Otago, the first marine reserve in the country called Goat Island. Witness the unobstructed view of Auckland by trekking through Mount Eden, hop into the Bay of Islands, spend the day in Kaikoura by sperm whale-watching, and dive in the skyline of Lake Taupo, to name a few.
New Zealand is friendly enough for first-time solo travel warriors, has hop-on-hop-off buses to make your commute and to wander around hassle-free, and has a consistent rate of being one of the safest countries in the world.
Thailand won’t be the “Travel hub of Southeast Asia” for nothing. Its accommodation, food, and transportation costs are all relatively affordable if you opt to stay in hostels, eat local food, take coach buses, and live like a local in general. The Land of Smiles is also the best starting point to go about the Southeast Asia backpacking route that’s designed for both pro and first-time solo travel warriors. What's more, Thailand is a good place for digital nomads where you can find a co-working space, hostel, and coffee shop all housed under one roof like Casa Lapin.
With its amalgam of thrilling, exotic, and fun offerings, Thailand is sure to fuel the lust in your wander in this activities: Sight of reclining Buddha, motorbike through the scenic routes of Northern Thailand, pave the peak of Khao Yai National Park, enrol in cooking classes in Chiang Mai, have temple runs around Bangkok, celebrate the Full Moon Party like a true blue party animal, dive into the underwater world of Similan Island, nurture abused elephants at the Elephant Conservation Center, take a morning shopping at the floating market, and beach bum in Phuket, among others.
3. The Philippines
The Philippines paved its way to the international travel industry through the grandeurs of Palawan, Boracay, and Cebu, and a brighter spotlight is sure to hit the country in the coming years through Batanes. It is a small province located on the northernmost tip of the Philippines and is much closer to Taiwan. Though it is the catch basin of most storms in the country, its boulder beaches, vast terrains, green pastures, and unbelievably honest locals will make you live here for a week or a month. Batanes is so safe that you can leave your things, houses, and shops unmanned, and will be left untouched when you get back. While you’re in Batanes, be sure to go to the unmanned Honesty Store and serve yourself with some biscuits, coffee, and other souvenir items, Chawa Viewing Deck, Marlboro Country, Vunong Dinette for an authentic Ivatan cuisine, Valugan Boulder Beach, Blank Book Archive, Sabtang Island, and Itbayat Island.
Another point of interest to include in your Philippine tour is the mystic province of Siquijor where you can find locally made love potions, the Enchanted Balete Tree where you can fish-spa, the 4-layered Cambugahay Falls where you can Tarzan-jump, and different white sand beaches that you can experience all in a day.
Though hopping around the Philippines requires plane and ferry rides, stretching a mile or five won’t hurt as the views of the destinations it entail are rewarding enough to lay eyes on.
Cambodia is one of the countries in Southeast Asia like Thailand and the Philippines that could pass for your first-time solo travel adventure. Most parts of the country use USD, so there’s little to no need to have a currency exchange. Of course, the things and places you should not miss when in Cambodia are the nightlife, vast complex of Angkor Wat, the countryside of Battambang, the culture of Cambodia in Bamboo Island, and the idyllic beaches of Sihanoukville.
5. South America
Backpacking across South America is accessible, and affordable enough may you be a pro or a first-time solo travel warrior. And while it is not a secret how huge of a continent South America is, it also has different regions and cultures that come with their respective languages. So to avoid or minimize the language barriers along the way as you familiarize yourself with the sites it has to offer, why not exercise your skills in practicing different languages as well such as Spanish and Portuguese too? Conversing with the locals is definitely the fastest way to learn and practice a new language.
While you’re in South America, visit Uyuni Salt Flats, Rio de Janeiro, and Machu Picchu, eat empanadas and have an eye-opening trip down memory lane to the Incas.
If you want an all-out, grand trip to kick off your first-time solo travel adventure, go to Norway. It requires shelling a lot of money as Norway is not a destination for budget travellers. However, it is a destination for all things beautiful. Since it is a land of fjords, the no-brainer thing to do here is to definitely fjord hop in spots such as Nærøyfjord and Geirangerfjord. Other points of interests include the Northern Lights show, Jostedalsbreen National Park, Preacher’s Pulpit, Oslo, Vigeland Sculpture Park, Lofoten, and Stavanger Jazz Festival that happens every May.
Easily a usual option for solo travellers, Switzerland has scenic train rides, has snow-capped and green pastured mountains, nightlife, and museums, among others that keep the tourist come back for more. While you’re here, prep yourself up for some hiking and ski actions. Explore the beauty of Lake Geneva, be in awe with the four-century-old Chillon Castle, say a little prayer in the wooden chapel bridge in Lucerne, time-keep at the Zytglogge clock tower, chase Europe’s largest waterfall The Rhine Falls, and learn the roots of Switzerland in Zurich.
Japanese are naturally helpful, well-mannered, courteous, and safe to be with—and if these are not enough reasons to jump start your solo backpacking trip, we don’t know what else will. Solo travellers are a common thing in the country. Thus, you are welcome to be yourself while still following the rules in the country. Japan might also get crowded at times, but it rests assured clean and in order.
During your stay, be sure to lay eyes on the captivating cherry blossoms. Walk through the path of Kyoto’s Bamboo Forest and the red torii in Fushimi Inari Shrine. Experience traditional hot spring baths in the countryside, chew on some Dotonbori in Osaka, explore Kenrokuen Garden, and watch the sunset over the UNESCO World Heritage Site Miyajima Island.
9. South Korea
South Korea is always a good idea for traveling, may you be alone or with your family and friends. Its destinations are accessible enough to reach, and will instantly make you feel like a Korean artist with all the locations that would pass off as a K-drama setting. It’s best to visit Bukchon Hanok Village, Insadong, Gyeongbokgung Palace, Bukchon Hanok Village, Nami Island, N-Seoul Tower, and of course, shopping centres where you can finally fulfil your K-fashion dreams.
Australia or “The Land Down Under” is not new to the travel industry. It has hassle-free roads, chains of hostels, English speaking locals, and ideal for traveling alone. It entails scenic train trips to Daintree National Park, the Great Barrier Reef along Queensland coast, lots of surfing spot options like Bondi beach, not to mention eye-candy surfers. The Magnetic Island that would make you want to linger longer, the phlegmatic aura in Byron Bay, and some shopping and joining sporting events in Melbourne.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mikee Pascual is a Filipino travel and lifestyle writer who is gradually shifting from a sedentary life to a nomadic one. She dreams of traveling to all 81 provinces in the Philippines and having her own book, hostel and restaurant someday. Keep track of the world through her words at World in My Words.