I had a fantastic time as a solo woman travelling the world in 2018. I visited a total of 9 countries across 4 continents, not bad, right? 2018 was by far my best year when it came down to just me and my backpack. My aim for 2019 is to top that, and push my country count up to fifty (yes, I am one of those people, judge me!). Besides my personal travel goals, I also hope to see more and more women travelling solo and loving it! So, here is my list of top 2019 destinations for different types of solo female travellers:
- Top 2019 Destination for the First Time Solo Female Traveller: NEW ZEALAND
- Top 2019 Destination for Solo Female Travellers who Love History and Architecture: EGYPT
- Top 2019 Destination for Solo Female Travellers who Love Nature and Outdoor Activities: PERU
- Top 2019 Destination for Solo Female Travellers who enjoy the beach, diving, and snorkelling: AUSTRALIA
- Top 2019 Destination for Solo Female Travellers on Budget: CAMBODIA
- Top 2019 Offbeat Destination for Solo Female Travellers: AZERBAIJAN
- Top 2019 Destination for Seasoned Solo Female Travellers: COLOMBIA
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Top 2019 Destination for the First Time Solo Female Traveller: NEW ZEALAND
New Zealand is the perfect place to start your solo travels. Why? Because the country is super organised and everything runs like a well oiled machine. New Zealand is absolutely stunning and you simply cannot get enough of it. The Kiwis are helpful and friendly. More importantly, it is one of the safest countries for women. Auckland has some dodgy parts, and is crowded and a bit dirty, but Auckland is not all of New Zealand. Given that it is a small country with so much to see, you can cover a lot of sights without having to travel too long for it. It is also a nature lover’s paradise with hikes and trails practically everywhere, with affordable camping sites to boot.
Furthermore, as opposed to the popular opinion, you do not need a car for New Zealand. Sure, having a car is inconvenient, but if you are travelling alone it can be expensive and can get lonely. Fear not! New Zealand has an extensive system of buses, both intra and inter-city, such as Intercity NZ, Stray Bus and Kiwi Experience. All these bus companies offer tours and bus passes based on routes or travelling hours. I used a 65 hour Flexipass with Intercity (NZD 490), and covered all the places I wanted to visit. It worked out to be super economical for me. Moreover, I did not feel restricted in any way because I didn’t have a car. I also met several other solo travellers, and we travelled a few legs together.
Ultimately, whether it’s your first time or not, New Zealand is definitely among the top 2019 Destinations for solo female travellers.
The downside: Not only is flying to New Zealand expensive for most, your day to day expenses would be on the higher side. Even supermarkets will be charging you more than what you are used to. Tours do not come cheap either (read here about whether the Hobbiton Tour is worth it). Still, you have budget backpacker hostels in all key locations, and many cafes and restaurants offer deal meals in all tourist towns.
If you are not digging New Zealand because of the costs, here is a helpful guide to pick your perfect first international solo travel destination.
Top 2019 Destination for Solo Female Travellers who Love History and Architecture: EGYPT
If you love history, here is a country with over 6000 years worth of it. The Great Pyramids of Giza are the only remaining fully intact structure out of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World. But Egypt is not just about the pyramids, there are plenty of ancient temples dotted all over the country. My favourite is the funeral temple of Hatshepsut (Luxor), the only Egyptian queen who claimed to have been turned into a man by the Gods in order to rule Egypt. If you tire of the temples, check out the beautiful mosques in Cairo (all more than hundreds of years old). Alternatively, you can head over to Dahab or Sham El Sheikh to enjoy the gorgeous beaches! I didn’t go to Egypt for the beaches though, I went for the history and architecture, and I was left hungry for more.
The supposed ‘downside’: There are touts everywhere and you are expected to tip all the time. And many find the country to be unsafe. Regarding the touts, yes they are there, ask them to go away, and they will. As for tipping, it is a way of life in Egypt, but you don’t need to tip a lot. Remember, a small tip helps someone with their livelihood. Finally, Egypt is NOT unsafe. I had a really great experience in Egypt as a solo woman. I wrote a post about why you should not be afraid to travel to Egypt alone, read it here (A Solo Female Traveller in Egypt: A Positive Experience).
Top 2019 Destination for Solo Female Travellers who Love Nature and Outdoor Activities: PERU
Outdoor activities are so varied that it is hard to pick one particular country, since each place has something different to offer. However, arguably Peru probably has it all (almost). Do the Inca Trail, Salcantay or Jungle Trek to Machu Picchu. Or, hike up Rainbow Mountain, or sandboard in Huacachina. Still not sold? How about heading to Iquitos or Puerto Maldonado to explore the Amazon Rainforest?
The downside: Unsafe. Well, to be honest, that is only true for some parts of Lima after nightfall. Places where you would need to go for any outdoor activities are safe. Consider travelling with Peru Hop. Though somewhat expensive, they guarantee your safety and provide pretty good service. I used them a couple of times in Peru and had little to complain about.
Peru is also big on scams. Local tour agents and taxi drivers will try to scam you. Even if you speak Spanish. To give an example; I booked an Uber from downtown Cusco to Tambomachay, which is about 9km on the outskirts of the city. Uber quoted PEN 12 (USD 3.5). The driver gave me some bullshit story that the flat rate to Tambomachay is PEN 100, and that Uber has it wrong. I told him to drop me at a public transport stop asap. He then took me around in circles to get the price up on Uber before dropping me. I ended up paying PEN 15, and reported him to Uber, and they gave me PEN 70 in credits.
Moral of the story: Use Uber to avoid taxi scams. And if Uber drivers try to scam you, report it. As for tour companies, speak to several, bargain, and then pick the cheapest. Paying more in Peru doesn’t necessarily mean better service. For one particular tour, say for example, Inca Trail trek, they all will offer more or less the same thing but for varying prices.
TIP:: Make sure to spend at least one day in Lima before you head off to your adrenaline adventures. Lima totally deserves a bit of your time! (Read my ‘One Day in Lima: 5 Things to Do’ Guide)
Top 2019 Destination for Solo Female Travellers who enjoy the beach, diving, and snorkelling: AUSTRALIA
Feel free to disagree but for me, Australia has some of the most gorgeous beaches in the world. Let’s start with the popular ones: Bondi and Manly close to Sydney. People complain a lot about them being crowded but I never found them as crowded as say beaches in Spain. The Bondi to Coogee stretch has multiple stunning beaches. And this is just one tiny bit of Australia. Head over to Cairns or Port Douglas in Queensland to make your way to the Great Barrier Reef, which just so happens to be one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Diving and snorkelling here can be one of the most fulfilling and surreal experiences of your life!
The downside: Not all beaches in Australia are safe for swimming due to stingers and crocodiles in the water. Watch out for warning signboards before you waddle out into the water. Furthermore, Great Barrier Reef is only accessible through tours which can be expensive. Make an informed choice before you pick one as there are many. Here are 5 helpful tips to pick the best Great Barrier Reef Tour.
Top 2019 Destination for Solo Female Travellers on Budget: CAMBODIA
To be honest, South and Southeast Asian countries are good options for anyone who likes travelling on a budget. I am all about budget and backpacking, and so I love SE Asia for the same reason. Cambodia is the cheapest country out of the forty I have visited so far. It also doesn’t hurt to know that Angkor Wat is Number ONE on TripAdvisor’s List of 25 Landmarks in the World. Furthermore, speaking from personal experience, I did not face scams in Cambodia, something which is common in SE Asia). I found the locals friendly, and the cities and towns fairly safe. From buying a bikini for USD 1 to having delicious meals for as low as USD 1.5, Cambodia is every budget traveller’s dream.
The downside: Cambodian weather for the most part of the year can be hot and humid. I can do hot but humidity just kills me. Wear comfortable linen clothes and drink loads of water!
Top 2019 Offbeat Destination for Solo Female Travellers: AZERBAIJAN
Firstly, ten points to your Hogwarts house if you know how to find Azerbaijan on the world map. Or even the general area where you think it might be. So, what does Azerbaijan have to offer? Amazing food, mud volcanoes, ethereal fire mountains, stunning architecture and natural landscapes. Doesn’t sound bad too bad right? And best of all, it is not on the tourist radar yet. So, you can visit all the awesome sights without getting ambushed by the crowds. It is also an affordable and safe country with fairly reliable infrastructure so travelling alone isn’t a concern.
The downside: Azerbaijan doesn’t cater to a lot of tourists. So, if you are used to various conveniences such as many tour, hotel and restaurant options that can be found easily in super-touristy countries like Thailand, you will be left wanting. What I am trying to say is that the country surely has everything you will need as a tourist, but it might not be readily accessible. But this is how offbeat destinations are, so if you don’t care for it, try to find something low key closer to your home.
Top 2019 Destination for Seasoned Solo Female Travellers: COLOMBIA
I am going be a bitch here and say that for me ‘seasoned’ solo travellers are those who have had some experience travelling outside First World Countries. I am sorry, hate me for saying it if you like. First World Countries are easy to travel to on your own because they are safer, and more organised than their poorer, less developed counterparts. For instance, despite multiple language barriers, Europe was very easy for me to travel, thanks to a well-developed and reliable road and rail transportation system. You definitely cannot say the same for a place like India. Sure, you will get pickpocketed in Europe. Sure, there are dodgy places in First World Countries. But, the chances of you getting robbed at knifepoint are not exactly that high in say a place like Wellington or Sydney.
This brings me to Colombia. It is one of my favourite countries ever, but it isn’t a country where you can be carefree of your surroundings. ‘Constant Vigilance!’ Other travellers will you tell you this, Colombians will tell you this, and so will the expats living in Colombia. Colombia isn’t the safest country and you need to be prepared for that. I almost got mugged in Bogotá at 8pm if it hadn’t been for two locals who walked me back to my hostel. I was right next to Teatro Colón, crowded with people, one wrong turn and I found myself in an isolated street, promptly followed by three young men.
That said, Colombians are the most big-hearted and generous people I have ever met. They know that their country has a reputation of being unsafe to say the least. So, they make an even bigger effort to make you feel welcome. Colombia is no longer a country run by drug lords and gang violence. It is changing for the better and the Colombians are proud of it. Head over to Colombia to experience a country that is taking its violent history and turning it into bright future.
Colombia has so much to offer: Beautiful Caribbean beaches, picturesque towns nestled in the Andes, and the coffee region. It also has a rich gastronomy, culture and history (see this post for Top 5 Museums in Bogotá).
The downside: Drugs are no longer a problem unless you foolishly go out seeking them. Don’t. Safety becomes an issue in the big cities. So, either go out with a hostelmate or try not to be in isolated areas post nightfall. All in all, Colombia makes it to my top 2019 destinations for solo female travellers, provided that you have some experience already travelling by yourself outside places like Europe, USA, Canada, Australia, Japan and New Zealand.
Needless to say, this list is not exhaustive and obviously, subjective. I have intentionally left out Europe as it is time to move from the most sought-out destinations and explore other places. The world has so much to offer apart from France, and Switzerland.