Monday, 14 March 2022

10 Asian destinations everyone should try experiencing solo

The Covid-19 pandemic – and its associated lockdowns and social-distancing restrictions – has given most of us the space and time for more self-reflection and introspection. As borders continue to reopen and we’re finally able to take to the skies again, many voyagers may be seeking to continue their self-discovery journeys on their travels.

Hospitality platform EHL Insights has pegged solo travel as one of the top trends that will shape the global hospitality industry in 2022. And a similar observation was made by luxury tourism provider Black Tomato, which credits the post-pandemic boom in solo jaunts to travellers seeking to explore the world on their own terms.

Indeed, hitting the trail alone offers a golden opportunity to find out more about yourself as you become reacquainted with the wider world. Not sure where to go? Start in Singapore and then head off to one of nine other remarkable destinations in Asia, all included on Singapore’s Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) list.

For the stunning architecture: Singapore

Design aficionados will have a field day in Singapore, where sleek skyscrapers and futuristic attractions are juxtaposed against traditional temples, heritage shophouses and colonial-era structures. You can spend hours traipsing through colourful districts such as Chinatown, Little India, Kampong Glam and Katong. Do also check out more modern architectural marvels including Gardens by the Bay, Marina Bay Sands and the ArtScience Museum, and drop by the recently restored Raffles Hotel for an iconic Singapore Sling cocktail.

Singapore skyline gardens by the bay
Gardens by the Bay and Marina Bay Sands are highlights of the Singapore skyline

For big-city buzz: Seoul, South Korea

Searching for a memorable solo escapade that mixes partying with a good dose of spiritual encounters? Then Seoul is just what you need. With its plentiful bars, karaoke joints, 24-hour eateries and street-food vendors serving delicious local cuisine, the people here never seem to sleep – and you’ll always find a spot for a fun party. At the same time, going for a tranquil hike or visiting the remote temples and hanoks (traditional Korean houses) will help align you and offer some balance.

Myeong Dong district Seoul
Myeong Dong district is the most popular shopping market in Seoul. Photo credit: Adobe

For the urban hiking trails: Hong Kong

Images of double-deck trams, top-notch art museums and famous dim sum halls often come to mind with the mention of Hong Kong. And while time should be set aside for all of those, as well as solitary strolls through Soho, Sheung Wan and Sai Ying Pun, the real magic can be found along one of the many beautiful hiking trails. For beginners, Dragon’s Back is a 9km moderate hike that’s accessible all year round. Looking for a bigger challenge? The Lantau trail stretches over 18km from Shek Pik to Tai O, offering spectacular views of the coastline, ancient monuments and lush meadows along the way.

Dragon's Back hiking trail hong kong
Dragon’s Back trail is one of Hong Kong’s most popular hiking trails even among the locals

For the ultimate self-care escape: Maldives

If it’s wellness you’re after, then a luxurious solo trip to the Maldives should be on the cards. The country’s gorgeous, sun-kissed atolls are home to a myriad of top resorts that offer everything you need for the ultimate pampering experience: think serene spas providing traditional treatments, sunrise yoga classes, holistic outdoor adventures that allow you to connect with Mother Nature, nourishing local cuisine and world-class fitness facilities. You’ll definitely leave feeling rested and rejuvenated.

Wander down a pier over turquoise ocean in the Maldives

For the mouth-watering food: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Malaysia is known for its sumptuous nosh, and the nation’s capital is guaranteed to delight hardcore foodies. Sample homey and eclectic Malaysian dishes at the many casual eateries, street-food stands and hawker stalls that dot the metropolis, most of which are suited to solitary dining. You can also treat yourself at one of the city’s five-star restaurants, which serve an array of local and international fare. Try Dewakan, in Platinum Park, the first Malaysian restaurant on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list or sample flavours at ATAS in The RuMa Hotel, which specialises in Modern Malaysian fare. One thing’s for sure – this is a trip that your taste buds won’t soon forget.


For the history and nature: Kanchanaburi, Thailand

History buffs and nature lovers will be right at home in Kanchanaburi, located a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Bangkok. Be sure to stop by the Death Railway, which was built during the Second World War, and discover more about its history at the Death Railway Museum. As far as natural attractions go, you’ll be treated to towering waterfalls, hidden limestone caves, verdant hiking trails and lots of native wildlife. The greater province’s Erawan National Park is also worth a visit.

Erawan National Park Thailand
Fantastic waterfalls in the Erawan National Park. Photo credit: Adobe

For the archaeological wonders: Siem Reap, Cambodia

This is the stuff that bucket lists are made of. Siem Reap is a surreal destination filled with awe-inspiring Buddhist temples, gorgeous ancient ruins and many archaeological sites to explore. Anyone who’s ever been will tell you that witnessing the sunrise over Angkor Wat is a truly unforgettable sight – so be sure to make this a priority during your visit. You can spoil yourself with a private tour, or choose to chart your own adventure through the historic, maze-like complex.

For the thriving tea culture: Colombo, Sri Lanka

Those who love drinking tea know that some of the finest leaves are produced in Sri Lanka. You’ll find modern tea houses and old-fashioned tea parlours in Colombo, where you can sample the country’s famed export. To further deepen your understanding of tea culture, head to a plantation in the meditative, mountainous Hill Country, where you’ll learn about how tea is harvested and processed.

Tea country hills sri lanka
Wander through the tea country hills of central Sri Lanka. Photo credit: Adobe

For the island life: Bali, Indonesia

If your idea of the perfect solo trip involves plenty of lounging at the beach and reflecting by the water, then Bali is the pick for you. The island paradise is home to pristine, powdery beaches, cliff-top bars and seaside beach clubs where you can tuck into tasty bar bites and tropical cocktails as you take in the smouldering sunset. Other activities include shopping for handicrafts, getting a traditional Balinese massage and taking a dip in the hot springs.

For the floating village: Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

To many visitors, Bandar Seri Begawan is simply a pit stop on the way to exploring the lush jungles of Borneo. But savvy travellers know that there is much to discover within the city itself. While there are the requisite museums and malls to occupy your time, the unique floating village of Kampong Ayer is where this locale’s true beauty lies. Built on wooden stilts, the traditional settlement stretches across the sprawling Brunei River, and is best experienced by renting a water taxi.

Kampong Ayer on the Brunei
The unique floating village of Kampong Ayer along the Brunei River. Photo credit: Adobe

Please check the establishments’ respective websites for opening hours as well as booking requirements before visiting, and remember to adhere to safe-distancing measures while out and about.

The information is accurate as of press time. For the latest travel advisory updates, please refer to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website.

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This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings. Original Text By Jessicac Farah


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