15 of the Absolute Best Cities for Solo Female Travelers in 2018: Did your Favorite City Make the List?
Are you an avid solo female traveler like me, looking for the best cities for solo female travelers in 2018? You know, a person who can’t wait for everyone else to book a trip because then you’d die waiting and never go anywhere (me, bitter? No way)? Do you shudder every time someone looks at you weirdly as you proudly proclaim that you’re a solo female traveler? Do you get tired of everyone telling you to, “be careful” (no guys, I’m gonna be super reckless and wear a thong, and only a thong, into the bad part of town, in the hope that someone will pillage me. And thanks for the GREAT tips for solo female travelers) whenever you go anywhere, ever? If you answered yes to any of these questions then welcome to my world, and no, you cannot rescind your admission. If you answered no to all of the above questions then stick around. I want to indoctrinate you and transform you into one of us (Yes, drink the Koolaide. Go on, It’s good for you. Down the hatch it goes! Glug, glug, glug).
But back to the whole safety thing because I feel like that’s probably the biggest concern that solo female travelers have. I mean, every time I go on a trip solo, my dad always, without fail, tells me to be careful, and the lecture just goes on from there.
Typically, I am inundated with stories of women who, “Weren’t careful” and ended up in the sex slave trade. And no, I’m not joking. Legit, when I told my dad that I was going on vacation to Tokyo he literally said, “They like blondes over there so mark my words, you’re gonna get sold into the sex slave trade (Thanks for the solid advice for solo female travelers dad).” Feel free to laugh because my family is insane and believes that I will become the inadvertent star of Taken 4, only no one is coming to get me because my dad has two bad hips and is no Liam Neeson, even though he wants to be.
So why am I sharing my ultra weird daddy issues with the world? Well, I feel like we all get the safety lecture whenever we travel alone as women. Whether it’s your dad, mom, cousin, dog, best friend, sea monkey, pet rock, etc, someone is always worried that you’ll run into trouble while going it alone in a foreign country.
Well, that’s why I created this handy list, to avoid insanity and terror at every turn! Sounds fun right? Actually, scratch that, I created NOTHING (insert overzealous cheers here). Nope, I found the raddest and baddest solo female travelers around and they were kind enough to share, with me, their favorite cities for solo female travel in 2018. So take a look, get inspired, and if anything bad happens, just blame me and send your disgruntled parents my way. No worries, I can be your handler.
1. Taipei, Taiwan
Taipei, the capital city of Taiwan, is one of the best cities for solo travel. But for some reason, Taipei is somewhat off the radar and just doesn’t receive as much attention or as many visitors as other capital cities in Asia! I mean, Taipei wasn’t even on my bucket list until I randomly chose to visit. However, when I visited, I was so impressed that this enchanting urban oasis quickly became one of my favorite cities in the entire world.
Now whether you are a fan of culture, food, themed cafes, shopping, tall skyscrapers, temples, museums, large national monuments (with changing of the guards ceremonies), or stunning natural landscapes, Taipei has it all and is worth a visit even if you only have twenty-four hours in Taipei. Plus, Taipei is an easy, safe, and truly pleasant city to explore by foot or by public transportation since the metro system is not only clean but super efficient too. The locals are also really kind, helpful, and friendly, making this an extremely safe city for solo female travelers.
But the main reason I loved Taipei so much was the food! Taiwan is truly a food lovers paradise since one of the best things you can do is explore one of the many night markets here and taste an assortment of delicious Taiwanese dishes and snacks. So no matter who you are or what you like, Taipei really has something for every type of traveler.
2. Tokyo, Japan
Nope, you’re not crazy for considering a solo trip to Tokyo for your first visit. In terms of safety – top concern for us solo female travelers – Tokyo’s got you covered. Low crime rates, female only hotel floors, and trains with female-only cabins all make Tokyo one of the safest cities for solo female travelers (also makes Japan one of the safest Asian countries for female travelers).
But we also can;’t forget the ease of getting around. Trains are everything in Tokyo. Grab a train map and watch how it can bring you both fear and exhilaration, all at the same time. Plus, you’ll feel a sense of achievement when you’ve finally figured it all out but don’t worry because getting lost is all part of the Tokyo experience. Can’t speak or read Japanese? No worries, many people in Tokyo speak English if you need some help.
From day till night, plan on experiencing both the eccentric, traditional, and modern aspects of Tokyo life. Check out some huge public parks to feel some zen, go hike a mountain (yes! In Tokyo!), or just watch the seasons change with stunning cherry blossoms in spring or vibrant autumn foliage. If you like shopping then check out Harajuku and Shibuya for plenty of independent boutiques. And when you’re totally spent at the end of each day, there’s nothing like a good bowl of ramen to help you unwind (with no one giving you strange looks).
Ecuador, one of the best countries for solo female travelers, has three things that are guaranteed to make your next solo female vacation a success: adventure, affordability and chocolate. Plus, with new direct flights from the continental United States to Quito, it is now easier than ever to access this country for less.
Once in Quito, visit the Museo Intiñan which actually sits atop the Equator, at the center of the world. Walk the Equatorial line and see water swirl in different directions, depending upon the hemisphere that you are in. Be sure to enter the chocolate tent and watch them turn Cacao beans into Ecuadorian chocolate. Just don’t forget to bring your passport and get a Mitad del Mundo stamp as a souvenir.
Those craving some adventure will want to head to Baños, Ecuador, a town that is only four hours away from Quito by bus and a trip that costs only $4.00. Once there, you can swing off the end of the world, go rappelling, try bungee jumping, fly down a zip line, soak in thermal baths, or brave Class V rapids on a whitewater rafting trip. The options are endless and totally affordable since most of these activities cost $20-$40 per person.
4. Chiang Mai, Thailand
Although Thailand is generally considered a safe country to visit and one of the best trips for solo travelers, Chiang Mai, a city in the north of Thailand, is a great destination for solo female travelers. Not only is Chiang Mai a much smaller city than Bangkok, but most of the city’s main attractions are adjacent to one another, making it an easier place to explore. The city is also safe and free from many of the scams that plague Bangkok, so a female traveler can feel comfortable walking around Chiang Mai alone. Plus, the city is filled with travelers from all over the world, so you are guaranteed to find great friends with whom you can explore the city with and maybe even travel with to other destinations.
Chiang Mai also offers an assortment of activities for every interest, like exploring ancient ruins, visiting breathtaking temples, cliff jumping at the ‘Grand Canyon,’ eating any and every type of food imaginable, dancing the night away, and even shopping until your heart gives out. You can also celebrate the water festival Songkran, or Thai New Years, here.
Additionally Pai, one of the chillest, rural towns in Thailand, is just a short van ride away. Once in Pai, you can cruise around back roads by motorbike, explore art cafes, or visit local villages. Pai Canyon is also a spectacular place to go hiking, with a vibrant nightlife scene down by the river.
So check out Chiang Mai; a city that is a convenient vacation stop if you are traveling within Thailand or if you are arriving from another, international destination.
5. Luang Prabang, Laos
Luang Prabang is one of my favorite places and is probably one of the safest destinations for solo female travelers. Located in northern Laos, Luang Prabang is one of the most delightful and charming cities in all of Southeast Asia, with friendly locals and a laid-back vibe. Dotted with beautiful buildings and ancient Buddhist temples, the entire town has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.
And while Luang Prabang is a great destination for travelers who want to spend the day at one of the many local cafes, there is no shortage of activities for more adventurous visitors. The city is small in scale so it is safe (one of the many safe destinations for solo female travelers), cheap and easy to explore on by foot.
One of the best things to do in Luang Prabang is to take a tour or hire a tuk tuk and head to the nearby Kuang Si Falls, a spectacular multi-tier waterfall where you can take a dip in iridescent, turquoise pools of warm water.
If you’re up for it, you can even wake up early and devour local food at the morning market or watch orange-robed monks emerge from their temples to collect alms at dawn. Other exciting activities include a sunset cruise on the Mekong River, shopping at the night market, or taking a cooking class. Plus, Luang Prabang is a popular destination in Southeast Asia, so it’ll be easy to meet other travelers if you decide you need some company.
6. Honolulu, Hawaii (USA)
7. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Looking for an amazing place for solo female travel in 2018? Then why not consider Singapore? It’s one of those amazing places where you can easily stroll across the city or go shopping at Mustafa Centre at 3 AM without constantly watching your back. I mean, the people here are so nice that even if you leave your phone in the cab, there is a high probability that you will have it back in a day or two. But this makes sense since Singapore’s crime rates are some of the lowest in the world (probably due to a harsh punishment policy for even low-level offenses), making this tiny country one of the safest countries for solo female travelers. So, even if you do face any problems in Singapore, you can rest assured that it will be resolved quickly by an efficient governmental system.
9. Osaka, Japan
Japan is another one of the many safe destinations for solo female travelers. It is also one of those countries that can change a person. I know for a fact that it changed me and entirely for the better. After spending an entire month exploring this incredible country, I have come to the conclusion that I could easily move there, and be happier than I have ever been.
Osaka, in particular, is one of the safest, cleanest, most exciting, most colorful and friendliest cities I have ever visited. Literally, millions of people are there who are ready to help where ever they can. Plus, the public transportation system is super easy to use and navigate, with awesome convenient stores that sell almost anything you could ever need. Osaka is just one of those magical cities that you will want to visit again and again.
Japan in general though is one of the safest countries for solo female travelers, and Osaka is no exception. I had absolutely no issues, and although I visited with my partner, I would feel totally at ease traveling to Osaka alone. That’s why I highly recommend that every solo female traveler add Osaka, Japan to their 2018 travel bucket list.
10. Gold Coast, Australia
11. Kolkata (or Calcutta), India
When I talk about solo female travel in India, I try to be practical and suggest places where I have felt the most comfortable. On the banks of the River Hoogly, lies an old city that was founded in the 17th century. Slumbering in the haze of the decaying British empire lies the urban oasis of Kolkata, one of the best travel sites for solo travelers.
This virtual paradise for solo female travelers, knows exactly how to roll cottage cheese into a ball and soak it in sugar syrup to create the delightful treat known as Rosogolla. This city also knows the secret recipe to serving steamed carp al dente in a fine, mustard gravy.
Traditionally a place of worship for the Hindu goddess Kali (Sotee Peeth of kalighat, a place believed to have the deceased ruins of Hindu goddess), Kolkata has always been a safe haven for female travelers. The people here have nurtured a literary tradition that immortalizes female deities and queens.
This city is also home to a myriad cultures, originating from such major faiths as Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. In a few day’s time, you can cover the northern part of the city, a hub of education and a home for some of the oldest bookshops in the city. You can also explore the Colonial district of the Esplanade which not only has stunning architecture but serves as a gateway to such amazing places as Gadiwara (a place where three rivers confluence) and Raychawk (near the bay of Bengal and where Henry’s Island can be found).
12. Coron, Phillipines
Coron, located in the Palawan province of the Philippines, should be on everyone’s list of top destinations for solo travelers. Palawan, as a whole, is a spectacular location with crystal clear waters and quiet, white sand beaches that have hidden lagoons and towering limestone cliffs that are just waiting to be explored. There are even some secluded islands and islets that are home to an incredible array of wildlife and provide you with some impressive ocean views.
13. Istanbul, Turkey
Sometimes the best solo female travel destinations are those that push us out of our comfort zone! Istanbul is one of those places that will challenge you and simultaneously, ensnare you in its spell. It’s definitely a top pick for solo female travel destinations in 2018.
Istanbul is a beautiful combination of east and west and old meets new.The magic of Istanbul starts early morning with the call to prayer ringing out all over the city. From there, you can spend your days wandering the streets, taking in the very distinct architectural and cultural experiences that this captivating city has to offer. You can even take in the sights of Istanbul on a boat cruise along the Bosphorus, explore the Grand Bazaar or visit beautiful mosques like the Blue Mosque or Sophia Haglia.
But amazing sites are not all that Istanbul has to offer. With a public transportation system that is easy to navigate and some very welcoming locals, you’ll have no trouble getting around on your own. Plus, many of the accommodations are quite budget friendly so in spite of what you’ve heard, Istanbul is a safe and truly great destination for solo travelers.
14. New York City, New York (USA)
With a population of over eight million people and seemingly endless attractions, New York City is an ideal destination for any solo female traveler. The bustling streets are full of crowds that make it feel like you are never alone.
Additionally, NYC is a welcoming place for parties of one, that is safe, easy to get around, and filled with a ton of fascinating activities. So whether you are in New York City for twenty-four hours, or two weeks, you will never get bored. Now ff you choose to explore alone, it’s easy to disappear into the beat of the city, giving you the freedom to wander without any hassle or feeling like a spectacle.
But if you yearn for company, the city has boundless opportunities to meet and connect with travelers and locals from all over the world. Couple this with New York City’s world class art galleries, exceptional retail stores, and fine dining options, and you have a solo female travel destination that inspires and thrills visitors who are on their first or two hundred and fifty-first trip.
15. Siem Reap, Cambodia
My favorite city for solo female travelers is, undoubtedly, Siem Reap. Although there is the occasional bag snatching, like in the rest of Southeast Asia, this location is remarkably safe and welcoming for solo travelers and I have never once felt uncomfortable or in danger. Khmer people are exceptionally friendly, and you’ll never feel out of place or alone if you don’t want to be.
This charming temple town has a thriving core, bustling markets, a great food and drink scene, and a buzzing expat community. Think writers, photographers, NGO workers, teachers and people who just never left! This gives the city a cosmopolitan vibe, with a lot of activities available to the local visitor’s community.
Siem Reap is small enough to travel around via bicycle but big enough to ensure that you won’t get bored. Highlights include the Angkor marathon and photo festival, Khmer New Year parties, weekly farmers markets, eclectic food options, nightlife to suit everyone and temples galore. Stray away from pub street and you’ll be rewarded: visit Kandal village for some of the best coffee in the city and delectable eats, Sok San or Taphul village for leafy pools and lively bars, or journey up the river to explore some lesser known temples.
To learn more about visiting Cambodia and planning a trip to Siem Reap visit Elise’s site Travel, Work and Play.
TA DA! Our Mission to Find the Best Cities for Solo Female Travelers is Complete
Guess who’s back, back again? Kelly’s back, tell a friend (Eminem anyone). Okay, I swear that isn’t some weird threat from a Chucky Movie. I really am super cool, at least that’s what my imaginary friends tell me, all two-hundred of them!
Just kidding but I do truly hope that you found this list inspiring because I know I did. I mean yeah, I’ve been to a couple of countries in my day, but a lot of these places I’ve never even heard of, let alone visited. The others are just some old favorites, like my home town of New York City. I know what you’re thinking and no, I didn’t pay anyone to put NYC on this list. And yes, I pinky promise that you won’t get shanked much while you’re visiting the bid apple!
Haha (insert crickets and tumbleweeds here), more jesting on my part but hopefully these badass solo travel sisters of mine have given you some epic destinations to add to your 2018 bucket list! And if you need me, I’ll just be living it up in any one of these cities. So toodles because I gotta go get my solo travel swerve on. Hasta la pasta!
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