The ultimate guide for solo travellers: Most affordable, most exciting, and more

best countries for solo travel
Explore the best countries for solo travel and get the experience of a lifetime. Source: AFP

Ever wondered what are the best countries for solo travel?

While the thought of travelling alone may sound intimidating, it is actually a great experience that can bring about many benefits.

There is no denying that university life can be stressful — everyone needs a break every now and then. Travelling alone allows you to escape these stressors and go on an adventure. This is also a great opportunity for self-discovery and introspection. You can take the time to reflect on your goals, interests, and passions. It’s a chance to learn more about who you are and what you want out of life.

One Reddit user shares that “the absolute most brilliant part about solo travelling is I get to do exactly what I want to do all the time. I don’t have to go to your stupid museum or get up early if I want to sleep in or whatever. I can selfishly focus on myself and my interests.”

The worst countries for solo travel

Before we look at the best countries for solo travel, it is important to know which are the worst. 

When planning a solo trip, the most important factor to consider is your safety.

Unfortunately, some countries are challenging for solo travellers due to safety concerns. For example, Venezuela has one of the highest crime rates in the world. The South American nation has a crime rate of 82.1 and experiences frequent armed robberies, kidnappings, and violent crimes. 

The political instability and economic hardships further contribute to the unpredictability and danger, making it a risky destination for solo travellers.

Aside from safety, the cost of travelling is a huge concern many have when going on a solo trip.

Switzerland, for example, is notoriously expensive, with high prices for accommodation, food, and transportation. While it is one of the safest countries in the world, the high costs can make it difficult for you to enjoy your trip without breaking the bank. In fact, it was found that Zurich and Genera are among the top ten most expensive cities in the world due to expensive groceries, household goods, and recreation.

Cultural and social challenges can also deter solo travellers from visiting certain countries.

For example, Saudi Arabia has strict social norms and regulations that can be difficult for many, especially women, to follow. The conservative dress code, gender segregation, and restrictions on women’s activities create a difficult situation. 

The best countries for first-time solo travellers

1. Costa Rica

Travelling on your own for the first time can be scary, but if you are looking for one of the best countries for solo travel, especially for the first time, consider going to Costa Rica. 

Even if you don’t speak much Spanish, many have said that Costa Rica is one of the friendliest countries in the world. Costa Ricans, known as Ticos, are known to be friendly and hospitable.

Costa Rica’s diversity is a highlight, boasting some of Central America’s unique wildlife. From spotting sloths in Santa Teresa to exploring the cloud forests of Monteverde, whitewater rafting in La Fortuna, or taking on Central America’s longest zipline, there’s no shortage of adventures here.

Costa Rica is the perfect destination for first-time solo travellers due to its safety, affordability, accessibility, and cultural experiences. Whatever activity you choose to pursue, Costa Rica promises an unforgettable experience. 

best countries for solo travel

The large white Buddha statue, 45 meters high and 25.45 meters wide, is the third largest statue in Thailand. Source: AFP

2. Thailand

Thailand is known for its cultural diversity and welcoming locals. Many Thai people speak fluent English, making communication easy and allowing you to enjoy your trip without feeling overwhelmed. 

Popular destinations like Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pai, Krabi, and Koh Tao are great for solo travellers. Bangkok has amazing temples and street food, while Chiang Mai and Pai cater to cultural exploration and adventurous activities. The southern islands like Koh Tao are excellent for relaxation.

From budget accommodations to delicious street food, your travel funds can stretch further, allowing for more experiences without breaking the bank.

It’s an explorer’s dream come true — whether you’re exploring bustling markets, attending the iconic Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan, or enjoying the tranquillity of Khao Sok National Park.

The best countries for solo travel for foodies

1. Japan 

Known for its meticulous preparation, fresh ingredients, and unique flavours, Japan is one of the best countries for solo travel if you are a foodie. 

Begin your journey by indulging in a bowl of hot ramen, a beloved noodle dish that varies in flavour and style across the country. Varieties include the hearty miso ramen of Hokkaido and the rich tonkotsu ramen of Fukuoka.

While sushi is a staple of Japanese cuisine, you’ll find many options beyond raw fish. Enjoy vegetarian sushi rolls filled with fresh vegetables, tofu, and avocado, or indulge in tempura sushi.

For dessert, treat yourself to mochi, a delicate jelly-like confection dusted with kinako, roasted soybean flour. Its chewy texture and subtle sweetness make it a perfect end to your meal.  

Japan’s dedication to delicious food can even be found on the streets. As you explore the street food scene, you will find stalls selling takoyaki, which are octopus balls, yakitori, which are grilled skewers, and taiyaki, which are fish-shaped cakes filled with sweet filling. 

And if you are vegetarian or have any dietary restrictions, don’t worry. Many restaurants in Japan now have alternative options to accommodate this. 

best countries for solo travel

Indulge in delicious pizza as you explore Italy. Source: AFP

2. Italy 

Where better to go for a food adventure than the land of pizza, pasta, and gelato? 

While Italy boasts breathtaking scenery and architecture, a rich culture, and an impressive history, it is most known for its delicious cuisine. 

The first thing you must try is Italy’s iconic pizza, renowned worldwide for its thin crust and rich toppings. Whether you prefer the classic Margherita with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella or a gourmet variation, it is something you don’t want to miss out on.

As you explore Italy’s different regions, indulge in handmade pasta. From the hearty spaghetti alla carbonara, made with creamy egg and cheese, to the spicy kick of spaghetti all’Arrabbiata, tossed in a tomato and chilli sauce.

Of course, no visit to Italy is complete without savouring gelato, a velvety-smooth dessert originating from the country. Made with a higher proportion of milk to cream, gelato has a lighter texture and more intense flavours. Whether you opt for classic flavours like pistachio and stracciatella or unique combinations, such as fig and ricotta, you won’t regret it.

The best countries for solo travelling on a budget 

1. Colombia

If you are looking for one of the best countries for solo travelling on a budget, Colombia is a great choice. The average travel cost in Colombia is only around US$30 to US$50 per day, including accommodation, food, transportation, and activities.

Medellín is a great example of Colombia’s appeal. This city, once known for its troubled past, has undergone a transformation. It retains its rustic charm with friendly locals and traditional celebrations. In Medellín, you can enjoy nature by visiting Arvi Park or the botanical gardens.

Street food is delicious and inexpensive, with meals typically costing between US$5 and US$10. Public transportation, including buses and the metro cable system, is efficient and cost-effective, making it easy to navigate the country without breaking the bank.

best countries for solo travel

Known as “the king of fruit,” durian is a large, spiky tropical fruit famous in Malaysia. Source: AFP

2. Malaysia

Malaysia is another one of the best countries for solo travelling on a budget. The average cost of travelling in Malaysia is around US$60 per day.

Malaysia has efficient and inexpensive public transportation, including buses and trains, making getting around convenient and cheap. Street food in Malaysia is delicious and budget-friendly, with meals typically costing between US$5 and US$10.

One of Malaysia’s highlights is Penang Island, which is known for its long history and tourist attractions. A visit to Penang is incomplete without exploring Georgetown, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This capital city showcases a mix of Chinese, Malay, and European influences. 

The best countries for solo travel for adrenaline junkies

1. South Africa

If you’re an adrenaline junkie looking to go on a solo adventure, South Africa is one of the best countries for that — though other parts of Africa are worth exploring too. Known for its stunning landscapes and culture, South Africa also offers many thrilling activities that will test your courage and ensure you have an unforgettable experience.

Cape Town, in particular, is a hotspot for these experiences. If you ever wanted to swim with great white sharks, now is the time. The waters around Cape Town, especially Shark Alley, are home to the highest population of great white sharks in the world. 

But if that is too scary for you, there are many land-based thrills you can enjoy as well. You can try abseiling down Table Mountain, descending its steep cliffs while enjoying the view of the city and coastline. 

For those who prefer surfing, Cape Town’s coastlines have some of the best surfing conditions in the world. Hout Bay at Dungeons Beach is famous for its huge waves, attracting surfers from around the globe. 

2. US

If you want the adrenaline but are scared of the water, the US has much to offer, especially Las Vegas.

While the City of Lights is known for its nightlife and casinos, Las Vegas offers many thrilling activities beyond the flashing lights and slot machines — one of the best thrills is the SkyJump from the Stratosphere Tower. At 855 feet, this leap from the 108th floor will give you a rush like no other as you plummet towards the ground. 

If you crave more heights, you could try the Slotzilla zipline over Fremont Street. As you fly down, you’ll zip through neon lights and over crowds, watching the city from above.

You could also take to the skies with Sky Combat Ace. Here, you can barrel-roll in a fighter plane, experiencing the same manoeuvres as military pilots. This once-in-a-lifetime experience is sure to get your adrenaline pumping.

Whether you’re leaping from the Stratosphere, ziplining over a busy street, or piloting a fighter plane, Las Vegas has so much to offer that will leave you breathless.

The best countries for solo travel for a self-discovery trip 

best countries for solo travel

Enjoy the breathtaking view of Bali’s sunset while relaxing on the beach. Source: AFP

1. Indonesia

If you are on a journey of self-discovery, Bali, Indonesia, should be at the top of your list. Known as one of the best countries for solo travel, it offers a rich culture, beautiful landscapes, aesthetically pleasing cafes, and lively bars. 

The Balinese charm is loved by many. The locals are incredibly friendly, and many speak fluent English, making it easy for you to navigate around the island. 

If you are looking for some quiet introspection, you can explore waterfalls, rice terraces, jungles and pristine beaches. For example, the Tegalalang Rice Terraces and the Kanto Lampo Waterfall are perfect for some alone time and reflection. Bali is also a surfer’s paradise, with beaches like Uluwatu attracting tourists worldwide. 

The island is home to many temples, such as the famous Uluwatu Temple and the peaceful Tirta Empul, where you can experience traditional Balinese rituals. You can take a yoga class in Ubud, hike Mount Batur for a stunning sunrise, or snorkel at Blue Lagoon Beach. If you are interested in local crafts, you can join a Bali cooking class or make your own silver jewellery.

best countries for solo travel

Find inner peace as you learn the art of meditation in India. Source: AFP

2. India 

Where else would you go for a self-love trip than the birthplace of yoga? 

India is known for its spiritual depth. Religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism all originated in India, which is why there are many sacred sites and spiritual retreats. 

For example, Varanasi, one of the oldest cities in the world, is a religious hub where you can witness ancient rituals on the ghats of the Ganges River. Rishikesh, often referred to as the Yoga Capital of the World, has many ashrams and yoga centres where you can deepen your practice of meditation.

India’s wellness and retreat centres also make it a great destination for self-discovery. Ayurveda, an ancient system of medicine, is widely practised, with many wellness retreats offering holistic treatments and therapies. Places like Kerala and Goa are known for their Ayurvedic spas and wellness centres, where you can rejuvenate your mind and body.