1. Oslo, Norway
Scandinavia is famed for its spectacular natural beauty and low crime rates, making it a top contender for that nerve-racking first solo trip abroad. If you’re looking for great scenery but are a city girl at heart, consider travelling to Oslo, capital of Norway.
This lively city – besides being the economic engine of Norway and boasting one of the highest levels of quality of life in Europe – is nestled amidst some of the greatest natural wonders on the planet, including great mountain ranges like the Hallingskarvet, Norway’s highest waterfall Vøringsfossen, stunning fjords filled with crystal clear water, Europe’s highest mountain plateau Hardangervidda, spectacular glaciers and much more. With so much surrounding beauty, its no surprise that Oslo is considered the perfect gateway for nature-lovers to get in touch with the great outdoors.
Go hiking around the mountains and forests in summer, fish, kayak or sail in the fjords, then switch your shoes for ski boots and embark on a cross-country ski trail or alpine skiing in winter.
Safe and gorgeous, Oslo is perfect for solo female travellers. Photo Credit: Thinkstock
2. Hawaii, USA
Another top favourite of solo travellers, the islands of Hawaii are calling – gorgeous, exciting and (most importantly) safe, Hawaii boasts one of the lowest crime rates of the 50 American states. Far from being just a honeymoon destination, these islands should make you want to get your swimsuit and flippers ready!
The state of Hawaii consists of 8 main islands (Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe and the Island of Hawaii), each of which come fully equipped with gorgeous coastlines and a unique feature of its own. Maui, for example, is known for its tranquil beaches and giant marine mammals – humpback whales frequently pass the waters around the island, so be sure to do a whale-watching tour to get up close and personal with these gentle sea beasts when there.
Begin your Hawaiian sojourn at spectacular Maui. Photo Credit: Thinkstock
3. Auckland, New Zealand
Want great scenery with a bit of cultural diversity thrown in? How about a solo trip to stunning Auckland, New Zealand? The country’s largest city, Auckland is truly a melting pot of different cultures; it is the home of the Māori, the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand, as well as the settling place of many different people from Europe, China and India.
Today, the genetic makeup of Auckland’s people is fantastically diverse: about 50% of its residents are of European descent, 10-11% are Māori, about 13% are of Pacific Island descent and there is also a growing Asian population of more than 10%. Here, racial and nationality lines are blurred – you’ll meet people from all walks of life and all corners of the Earth.
Natural beauty and cultural diversity – what’s not to love about Auckland? Photo Credit: Thinkstock
4. Bangkok, Thailand
For the shopaholics who can’t resist the thrill of scoring great deals on vacation, you don’t need to fly too far: Southeast Asia provides. Thailand’s capital city Bangkok, for one, is heaven on earth for you: go crazy in Platinum Mall, one of Asia’s bestest and biggest megamalls, then follow that up with a visit to the iconic Chatuchak Weekend Market with its 15,000 stalls.
Solo female travellers in Bangkok should take basic precautions on the city’s streets, though, as petty crime is not an uncommon phenomenon here. Watch your belongings carefully, be sure that any taxi you board has a working meter, and stay away from tuk-tuk drivers promising unbelievably low rates.
The perfect place to shop till you drop. Photo Credit: Thinkstock
5. Cape Town, South Africa
Tell your family and friends you’re going to Africa alone and you’d probably be met shock and awe – now isn’t that enough of a reason to go, already? Contrary to the shock, though, you’d actually be visiting a stunningly pretty city that seamlessly fuses natural beauty with chic sophistication, an amazingly friendly populace and incredible wildlife.
This is where you can get up close and personal with great white sharks from the safety of a steel-barred cage, admire nursing Southern Right whales with their new calves and see adorable little African penguins in their thousands at nearby Boulders Beach. Do note, however, that parts of Cape Town can be dangerous – tourists (solo or not) are strongly advised to stay out of townships and keep their valuables out of sight when there.
Cape Town is an underrated, undiscovered gem of Africa. Photo Credit: Thinkstock
6. Seoul, South Korea
K-drama- and kimchi-lovers rejoice – Seoul, capital of South Korea, is also a safe destination for solo female travellers. Feel free to eat your fill of amazing Korean beef and fried chicken (that’s the beauty of travelling alone – no one’s judging!), go shopping to your heart’s content at Myeongdong, take cheesy selfies at iconic K-drama sites and cycle along the Han river when the weather’s good.
People-watching in the city is great fun as well, when the populace is as well-groomed and dressed as the locals in Seoul are.
The beating heart and soul of South Korea. Photo Credit: Thinkstock
7. Bali, Indonesia
Need to get in touch with your spiritual side? A yoga retreat in beautiful Bali is the perfect way to rejuvenate your soul, relax your mind and re-discover your inner peace. Let go of the hustle and bustle of city life and surround yourself with Balinese tranquility and the peaceful silence that comes with the absence of mobile phones.
Afraid of being alone? Fret not – fellow seekers of spirituality are a-plenty on the island, so you’ll find plenty of like-minded yoga buddies to bond and have a coconut with in no time.
Relax, unwind and find yourself in Bali. Photo Credit: Thinkstock
8. Siem Reap, Cambodia
Feeling more adventurous in an Indiana-Jones kind of way? Go all Lara Croft, Tomb Raider, on the world-famous Angkorian temples of Siem Reap (incidentally, where parts of the movie were filmed as well) in Cambodia to admire the amazing ancient architecture and intricate carvings that the olden Khmer people produced without aid of modern technology.
Do be aware of touts near the temples, though – it is best to bring your own water, shades and sunscreen to avoid being charged double the price for these essential items near the temples.
Make like Lara Croft and have an adventure in Siem Reap. Photo Credit: Thinkstock
9. Amsterdam, the Netherlands
After Scandinavia, the Netherlands is a close runner-up when it comes to safe and swanky solo trips in Europe. Visit pretty windmills and take a boat down the city’s canals, have amazing Dutch food, and chill out by the gorgeous Vondelpark. If you need inspiration, one strong lady to another, the Anne Frank Museum is there to bolster your courage and spirits.
As pretty, but less painfully romantic, as Venice. Photo Credit: Thinkstock
When it comes to large, bustling metropolises safe for women to travel alone in, Southeast Asia’s little red dot Singapore will always come to mind. This is a country that has been ranked the second safest in the world (behind only Iceland), a city where safety is such an assured quality that personal belongings are left carelessly in public, owners secure in the knowledge that their items would still be there when they return.
Enjoy a worry-free vacation wandering the clean streets of Singapore by yourself – no district is out-of-bounds for safety reasons, nor is night a time to be feared – make friends with the locals, and marvel at the spotless city’s effortless blend of modernity with Asian tradition.
Safety and skyscrapers are Singapore’s middle names. Photo Credit: Thinkstock
- Seoul under RM1700: budget itinerary from KL
- Explore Bangkok on a budget: a 3-day getaway itinerary under RM600
- What to do in Jakarta: best weekend itinerary for solo travellers
- 10 things to see and do in Amsterdam
- Travel tips: Visa-friendly countries around Europe for Malaysians
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Originally published on 15 Dec 2015 and updated in May 2017. Any prices are lowest estimated prices only at the time of publication and are subject to change and/or availability.