“Women are traveling alone all over the globe. It’s an excellent way to get to know yourself and these four destinations a little better.”
By Kristin Zibell of Takeyourbigtrip.com*
In the metropolis of Mumbai, where close to a million people a day ride the local trains; there is a ladies-only train. I learned this when I stood waiting on the platform and heard a polite voice with an English accent announce over the address system that, please, remember the next train is for women only and would the gentlemen, please, refrain from getting on it. Such is the importance of the safety and protection of women in Mumbai, that there is an entire train just for them.
In my two years of traveling around the world as a solo woman traveler, I’ve had experiences that have made me happy to be on the road as a lone gal – like the heartfelt conversation I struck up with a doctor on that lady train – and ones that have made me cringe- I’m talking to you guy in Aswan, Egypt who made a very rude proposal while I was walking to the ATM. Overall, traveling alone was rewarding and transformational. I learned to trust myself, grew a BS detector, accepted kindness from strangers, and felt comfortable being by myself.
For women considering striking out on their own global travels for the first, second, or third time, I recommend these four destinations as being solo girl-friendly. They are overall safe, minimal in harassment, and take the edge off being alone with receptive and lively social scenes and natural activities.
The Scandinavian countries of Sweden, Norway, and Denmark consistently rank in the top 10 places for women to live in the world, so travelers can take heart that they are some of the best places for women to travel solo in as well. Traveling around is safe and easy – there is mass transit and reserved, yet helpful English-speaking locals. The sophisticated and progressive capital cities of Copenhagen, Oslo, and Stockholm are the best places to start a tour with lively art scenes, Nordic heritage museums, and gorgeous waterways.
Scandinavia, especially Norway, has a vibrant hiking culture and well-established national park system. Start with the very popular Jotunheimen National Park and you are bound to meet other backpackers and hikers at the lodges or starting points. Sweden even has a “right of public access” law, which means you can go to any natural area in the country and explore, ideally with those new hiking friends. Relax tired muscles and mix with local women by visiting a communal sauna afterwards, called a Bastu.
The Temples at Angkor in Siem Reap are the travel poster destination for visitors to Cambodia. Not only is this one destination to cross off on a “wonders of the world” bucket list, but also the town and the temples are accessible and friendly for women travelers. The tourism-friendly city has many open-air cafes and inexpensive, clean hotels where it’s amenable to meet other travelers from around the world.
Tired of temples? Head to the beach provinces along Cambodia’s Southern Coast. Try visiting Kep and relax with others who enjoy the relaxed, post-French-colonial environs and fresh seafood in this revitalized beach paradise. Sihanoukville has more of a Bangkok party vibe, but the town rewards with white sand beaches and plenty of social activity.
A foodie and shopping paradise with a skyline of the future, Hong Kong is safe and bustling at all hours. This means a solo traveler can find herself always around people, safely exploring this Eastern city that never sleeps. Serious shoppers will find high-end shops sprinkled throughout the Landmark on Queens Road in Central. The more budget conscious shoppers can hit the markets on Ladies Street in Mong Kok.
For a social scene, expats are found partying at clubs and restaurants in the neon Lan Kwai Fong area, which is also near the Central district. Foodies have a plethora of dim sum choices at popular places like Maxim’s Palace City Hall Dim Sum or Tim Ho Wan. For desert, try Tofu Fa, a creamy bean curd pudding that is topped with ginger and available at food stands throughout the city.
With a reputation for steak, cowboys, and beautiful women, Argentina may seem like more on the machismo traveler track. For a solo women traveler it’s a friendly, relaxed destination where it’s easy to settle down for a while. Many travelers come to Argentina, Buenos Aires, in particular, to take classes – either immersion in Spanish language or dance – tango and salsa. Renting an apartment is common in neighborhoods like Puerto Modero and Recoleta, which offer a glimpse into daily Argentinean life.
Want more natural scenery? Grab a wine tour to the Mendoza region and sip on Malbecs with like-minded travelers or join a group heading to the extreme natural beauty of Ignazu falls or the almost-to-Antarctica Tierra Del Fuego.
Women are traveling alone all over the globe. It’s an excellent way to get to know yourself and these four destinations a little better. With any travel, even to the safest places, use common sense by not showing off valuables, taking care of belongings, and dressing for touring, not night-clubbing or the beach (unless you’re actually going to those places). Bon Voyage!
*Kristin Zibell is a chronic world traveler and travel writer. She authors the popular travel blog TakeYourBigTrip.com to inspire would-be travelers to live their travel dreams. When not traveling locally in San Francisco, Kristin is always planning her next big trip.