I’ll admit it – I was terrified when I landed on my first destination in Southeast Asia, in Hanoi, Vietnam. My friend decided to bail on me and I refused to skip backpacking in Asia because of this. So there was just one choice left for me – to do it all solo. I wasn’t scared because I thought it would be unsafe. I was scared of being lonely, of having to handle everything on my own and I was scared because I all of a sudden had to change my mindset. Instead of always having someone there I could rely on, I all of a sudden, only had myself to rely on.
But I have absolutely no regrets about it and I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world. There’s a reason why things happen and I know that I would have never met all the people I did during my trip or have seen the things I was lucky enough to see. I had a lot more freedom to do whatever I wanted to, eat wherever, be spontaneous and hang out with anyone I wanted to. So if you’re also going to travel solo in Southeast Asia, there’s a few things that could prove to be useful to know. Take a look!
1. There’s something called the “Banana Trail”
Southeast Asia is already an established tourist destination and there’s something called “Banana Trail”, which is the routes around Southeast Asia that’s been highly popular amongst backpackers and other travelers. So if you’re worried about all the planning and deciding where to go, you could always just follow the tourist trail. You’ll definitely meet other travelers along the way so you don’t have to worry about being alone.
2. Tourism infrastructure is good
Since many of the Southeast Asian countries receive millions of tourists everyday, you’ll find that it’s easy to travel around, finding places to stay and even finding international food, if you get tired of rice and noodles. It’s easy getting from point A to B as well, if you don’t venture out the tourist trail. All the major cities are well connected and there’s plenty of buses and trains you can hop on to get to the next exciting adventure. When it comes to restaurants, it can get tricky to find English menus, but the major cities usually offer English translation, and the staff may also be capable of speaking English with you. As for accommodation, it’ll be difficult to find a place that doesn’t offer a hostel. Then you have to had ventured out very far from the tourist trail. These days, hostels and hotels are being opened left to right, and there’s everything from budget-friendly to 5-star hotels to choose from.
3. Southeast Asia is safe
You’ve probably heard it before, but Southeast Asia is a safe destination and it’s not common to get robbed or assaulted. The locals are so used to tourists these days and most people won’t bat an eye when you walk past. But even though it’s known to be safe, anything could happen. There’s never a guarantee for anything. For example, pickpocketing is still quite common so always keep an eye on your belongings. But when it comes to violent crimes, it’s quite rare (and thank god for that!).
4. The people are warm and welcoming
One of the biggest factors for me when traveling to a new country are the locals. You don’t want to travel around a country where you don’t feel welcomed. Luckily, most of the locals in Southeast Asia are very warm and welcoming. I found that they’re always up for a nice chat and they might even invite you home to their family for dinner.
5. There’s so many solo travelers
I didn’t even have time to check in to my first hostel before I got to know people. Some people were traveling with friends and some were traveling solo. My fear of being alone was squashed quickly and I started to just enjoy traveling. The truth is, you’re never alone. Especially if you check in to social hostels, you’re open minded towards meeting people and you have a positive attitude. You can meet people everywhere – free walking tours, in cafés, bars, at the gym… Wherever really! I met one solo traveler on the bus on my way from Sihanoukville to Kampot, and she quickly became one of the people I spent most time with during my travels.
Even though it might feel like it sometimes, you’re definitely not the only solo traveler out there. In fact, sometimes you’ll meet more solo travelers than people who are traveling with friends. Southeast Asia is a hot-spot for backpackers because of its affordability, safety, and beauty. So don’t let your fear of traveling solo stop you. Instead, embrace it, book that ticket, and have fun! You’ll not only get to see some stunning spots, you’ll also get friends for life.