Traveling alone can be an amazing way to see the world. Whether you’d like to be truly by yourself so that you can explore in peace, or if you’re looking to meet people as you travel, you can have experiences that are often impossible when travelling with a companion.
I’ve travelled through 48 countries, many of them solo, and have picked a few favorites for best solo countries…
Choosing a destination
A determined solo traveller can of course go pretty much anywhere (safety permitting). If you’re looking for adventure, simply aim for the horizon!
But if you’re looking for a rewarding solo holiday or solo backpacking trip, certain countries are better suited than others.
It’s nice if you can simply focus on enjoying your trip without also having to deal with safety issues, impenetrable language barriers, or a lack of tourist infrastructure — especially if you’re new to solo travel.
You’ll probably want to choose a country that:
- is well-travelled and has some known routes
- has a good level of safety
- and is budget friendly (to compensate for that dreaded single supplement)
While some solo travelers like to be solitary, others prefer a more social travel style, and all of the countries in this list work well either way. Whenever I travel solo I’m actually rarely ever alone, and certain destinations have an environment where this is especially easy to achieve.
If you’re looking to meet people, try staying in backpacker hostels, or choose B&Bs and guesthouses with a homely atmosphere (tip: sites like Booking.com let you filter by solo traveler rating, which almost always reveals some awesome places to stay).
Best places to travel solo
I feel like I’m starting this list with a cliché, but how could you not recommend Thailand? It is without doubt the best place to travel alone in Southeast Asia, and quite possibly the world. If you want to learn how to travel solo, then Thailand will teach you.
It may feel exotic and unfamiliar (and it is!), but travel logistics are relatively easy, the costs are low, and meeting other travellers is a breeze (if that’s what you’re after).
Cheap backpacker hostels make this an ideal choice for the young or young-at-heart, though with private rooms starting at about $20 a night it’s a great pick for any budget traveller.
- Excellent for first time solo backpackers
- A perfect starting point for a larger solo Southeast Asia trip
- Not a backpacker looking to meet people? Secluded islands like Koh Hai, Koh Raya, or Koh Kradan let you simply get away from it all
Reality shows set in the Costa del Sol (think Jersey Shore but in a Spanish setting) always made me think of Spain as only a beach-and-binge mass tourism destination. Boy, was I wrong! Spain also happens to be an amazing cultural destination with a ton of things to see and do.
Barcelona with its otherworldly architecture is the most popular city trip these days, but don’t miss the less assuming but oh-so-lovely Valencia.
Though my favorite region must be Andalucia in the south, as it is relatively inexpensive, has a compact circuit with many fascinating cities in close proximity (like Sevilla, Cordoba and Grenada), access to the Sierra Nevada mountains, beaches unblighted by mass tourism in Cadiz, and a great rail- and bus network. It’s very easy and great fun for solo travellers.
- Great city trips in Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia
- Fantastic city-hopping backpacker circuit in Andalucia
- Camino de Santiago trek is a top experience for solo walkers
Japan is a country you can just float around in, like Charlotte in Lost in Translation.
Cultural or language barriers can make even simple things an immersive experience, such as ordering ramen in a tiny ramen bar that only seats five people, trying to explain your destination to a taxi driver (and discovering Japan doesn’t have street addresses as we know it), or figuring out what any of those 20 buttons on your toilet do.
Watch the ebs and flows of people crossing Shibuya square, meander through cherry blossom parks in Kyoto, or climb to the top of Mt Fuji — travelling in Japan can be a meditative experience.
- My top pick for having an in-the-zone solo experience
- One of the safest countries in the world, so go anywhere anytime
- Expensive, but you can save money if needed by staying in hostels or those famed Japanese capsule hotels
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Peru may well be the best places to travel solo in South America. This is thanks to its well-oiled tourist infrastructure, a mostly headaches-free travel circuit south of Lima, and a plethora of top sights including Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley, Colca Canyon, the Amazon rainforest, and more.
The typical Peru itinerary often involves a number of group tour experiences that you can easily join locally. For example, hiking up to Machu Picchu takes several days and gives you a perfect opportunity to make friends with fellow travellers. Free walking tours can give you easy introductions to the cities, before you head off to explore by yourself.
- Easy to meet people in travel hubs like Lima, Arequipa and Cusco, especially if you’re backpacking and staying in hostels
- Many experiences (like Machu Picchu) involve group tours which can easily add a social element to your trip
If you’re looking for a European summer holiday break, you can’t go wrong with Croatia.
You can have a great time along the coast exploring historical towns, swimming along cascading waterfalls, and visiting the famed city of Dubrovnik. It does get rammed in the August peak season, so for the best experience you should aim for the shoulder seasons.
Want to give your trip an easy start? Then go to Split and book a week-long island hopping tour (boat trips are great for making friends!). These range from the civilised all the way to ‘Australian party boat experience’, so do pick the right boat operator depending on what you’re after.
- Nothing too adventurous here, but it’s a fun European summer holiday destination offering some history and culture as well
- Easy island hopping with countless boat tours leaving from Split
Whether you’re interested in the trekking or the Hindu and Buddhist culture, Nepal has got you covered. With India so huge and potentially overwhelming, and Sri Lanka reportedly more of a couples destination (even though that may be slowly changing), Nepal makes for an excellent introduction to south Asia for those flying solo.
Accommodation is very inexpensive, with Pokhara ranked as one of the world’s cheapest destinations. You can arrange guided trekking anywhere locally, and the popular Annapurna treks in the Himalayas will let you make many friends at all the tea houses along the way. Those seeking solitude can pick from countless off-the-beaten-track treks.
- A top destination for safe and affordable mountain trekking
7. Bali & the Gilis
For an amazing trip, simply go to Bali in Indonesia, rent a motorbike (this should cost no more than $5 a day), and then leave the city of Kuta immediately (it’s an overdeveloped hellhole – sorry!).
But once you’ve escaped the city, you’ll be free to enjoy shimmering rice terraces, visit ancient Hindu temples, browse local crafts in Ubud, or just relax on a quiet beach. There’s nothing quite like riding around on your scooter with warm tropical air blowing in your face and not having a care in the world.
The nearby Gili islands are easily combined with Bali and are a good spot for beaches and entertainment. Gili Trawangan attracts an odd mix of visitors but is mostly still known as a backpacker party place (and can be great fun). Go to Gili Air for more chilled out vibes with morning yoga, snorkelling, and bonfires on the beach.
- It may be known for cliched spiritual retreats to ‘find yourself’, but Bali is also simply a beautiful island to explore
- You’re on an island… so you’ll never get that lost
8. Southeast Mexico
Mexico has a well-worn travel trail running from Mexico City down to Oaxaca state and on to the Yucatan peninsula, making for a great solo trip if you have at least several weeks to spare.
With beautiful Carribean and Pacific coasts, dense jungles, epic canyons, ancient Mayan ruins, amazing food, and affordable tours and adventure activities (especially in the Yucatan), you can create a wonderfully varied trip.
Belize and Guatemala also combine well with Mexico as a larger trip. Guatemala does take a bit more care from a security point of view, but with some of the best sights in Central America it’s well worth extending a Mexico trip across the border.more about mexico »
One of the immediate advantages of Vietnam as a solo travel destination is its elongated shape, meaning there is really just one travel route going between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Since everyone is going the same way (heading either north or south), it’s easy to team up with other travellers and you never have to think that hard about where to go next.
The buzzing street life makes Vietnam amazing for people-watching and photography. It’s wonderful to just absorb the chaos of the cities, with seemingly infinite shoals of motorbikes flowing through the streets and food stands lining all the pavements. While tours to the Mekong Delta and Ha Long Bay can be a little cookie-cutter, they do offer easy sightseeing even if you’re on your own. And again, with essentially one travel route through Vietnam, it’s easy to make friends and team up with other travellers.
With a bowl of pho noodles costing as little as $1, and rooms starting at about $15, you can also travel Vietnam on practically any budget.
- Vietnam is the perfect place for an otherwordly Asian adventure
- Easy-to-follow routes takes much of the guess-work out of your itinerary
10. Costa Rica
The downside of Costa Rica is that it is expensive. It’s popular with American tourists and the national parks and local tour agencies know what they can get away with charging!
On the other hand, Costa Rica can give you a great taste of Central America. Since it’s known for its higher safety levels you’ll have fewer worries here. Famed for its ecotourism, it offers the chance to easily see a ton of wildlife including toucans, coati bears, sloths, iguanas and sea turtles.
Those on a budget might consider combining Costa Rica with neighboring Nicaragua, which is far cheaper and has much to offer as well.
- Quite touristy, but arguably the best place to travel solo in Central America
- A top choice for wildlife/nature experiences!
Longer solo trips
These are just 10 destinations that I would recommend to any solo traveller. But what if you want to cover a region instead of one country? Here are a few ideas:
- You simply can’t go wrong travelling through Southeast Asia. It has excellent solo travel countries throughout.
- In the West, a tour through Europe will make a tempting choice…
- … as would New Zealand and east coast Australia
- While a tad more adventurous, following the Pan-American Highway through Central America is simply amazing. Check out my route and country summaries for Central America.
Travelled solo before? Leave your suggested destinations in the comments!
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