Hey, I know that going on your first solo trip can be nerve-wracking, from deciding to go, to planning, to actually going.
I was surprised to find, and I think this is a common experience, that the hardest part was making the decision to go. Once I was on the road, everything fell into place, I found my stride, and I enjoyed it so much that I laughed at how scared I’d previously been of the whole idea.
Traveling alone is a gift. You will be presented with daily opportunities to learn and grow, and you will become closer to yourself as a result.
Since it can be overwhelming deciding where to go first, I’ve compiled a list after 6 years of firsthand solo traveling experience with 3 destinations that I loved, and I know you will, too:
It should not come as a surprise that the Land of Smiles is first on the list – it’s the perfect spot to ‘test the water’. Thailand is affordable, easy to travel through, friendly, full of other travelers, and delicious. There are multiple daily flights from all over the world arriving in Bangkok, the country’s capital, sending new and seasoned backpackers, budget and luxury travelers, fresh grads and retirees, solo travelers (like you!) and tour groups on an epic journey around the country.
Just last year, 35 million people visited Thailand. What I am trying to say is, there’s something for everybody there!
I recommend beginning in Bangkok and learning how to fall in love with the city, or starting off in Chiang Mai up north. There are so many things to do around there, like cooking courses and temples, and playing with elephants ethically. Next, head south and go scuba diving around one of the many gorgeous islands, some of which are well known and some of which are lesser known, or even participate in a 10-day silent meditation retreat. If you end up loving your experience in Thailand, it is so easy to extend your journey and explore the surrounding countries by plane, train, or bus.
Malaysia is often overlooked as a travel destination in favor of its neighbors and to me it’s mind-boggling! Malaysia is one of the most developed countries in Southeast Asia, making it perfect for easing yourself into a different environment before venturing to other more off-beat places in the region. As a multi-cultural country, the locals generally speak at least 2 languages, and English is usually one of them. I personally never had a problem with communication when traveling in Malaysia. In fact, a common language helped me have more local interaction in Malaysia, including participating in local events and being invited to local family celebrations.
Japan is one of the cleanest, safest, most polite, and most organized countries I’ve ever visited. It was also one of the most unique in terms of culture, food, and the delightful mastery of technology in everything from art museums to the bathrooms.
I should warn you that language will be a problem at some point. I got pretty confused at the train stations as some signs are only in Japanese, and since English isn’t commonly spoken, it was challenging at times communicating with some hotel staff and restaurant waiters. However, you can always rely on apps to navigate your way around, and use the classic “point and nod” method to order your food. All that said, people are so kind and friendly, the language barrier wasn’t stressful like it can be elsewhere. The transportation system is so widespread and punctual, you’ll never have to worry about getting from point A to point B