Quality time with your family? Check.
Grad trip with your squad? Check.
Honeymoon with your soulmate? Check.
… Me-time? Oops, forgot that.
It’s no secret that Singaporeans have one of the busiest lifestyles in the world. A lot of us work long hours, leaving little time to spend with our friends and family. It’s no wonder that we take every opportunity we can to travel with our loved ones. But what a lot of us don’t realise is that we often forget to set aside time for ourselves to rest, relax, and rejuvenate.
Best Places To Travel Alone
Taking a solo trip can be intimidating, which is why it’s even part of The Bucket List series (read also: 12 Heart-stopping Activities That Every Grad Trip Must Have). It’s a big step out of our comfort zones to spend hundreds (or thousands) of dollars to throw ourselves into a foreign land with little more than a GPS device and our imagination. And not every destination is friendly for first-time solo travellers! Taking into account the local culture, public transport system, and more, we shortlist (in no order whatsoever) the best places for your virgin solo escapade.
#1 New Zealand
Ah, the land of the hobbits, dramatic landscapes, and extreme sports! You’ll be glad that this wonderland is one of the easiest places to navigate, and that the kiwis are super welcoming and friendly. New Zealand is great for first-timers as there won’t be any language barriers (everyone speaks English!) and their road rules are very similar to that of Singapore’s (you’ll need to drive around). Plus, if you’re on a tight budget, there are affordable hostels (like YHA and Base Backpackers) and supermarts (Kmart and The Warehouse) at every town.
Everyone loves Taiwan! After all, how could anyone say no to scenic mountain hikes in the day, and delicious street food and shopping at night? (See also: The Most Popular (And Instagrammable) Spots In Taiwan) Getting around via public transport is straightforward with the convenient subway and bus networks. The cities are dotted with helpful signs, most of which have English text for foreigners too. If you speak Mandarin, even better. The country has a generally low crime rate, with demarcated “safety zones” at train stations to protect commuters at night (it’s monitored by CCTV).
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#3 Salzburg, Austria
Perhaps the most well-known for being the birthplace of musical genius Mozart and the film site of The Sound of Music, Salzburg is a cultural city in Austria, which sits at the border of Germany. The European town features beautiful and well-preserved Baroque-style architecture, with Salzburg’s “Old Town” (Altstadt) being a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If Alpine backdrops, historical structures, and art museums are your cup of tea, you’ll love Salzburg. The best part? The entire city can be covered on foot and via bicycle! Just grab your map and running shoes (and maybe a bike), and explore away at your own leisure.
Coined the world’s most livable city for six years running (according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), as of 2016), Melbourne is hot favourite with everyone from solo backpackers to big families. Take an easy drive along the famous Great Ocean Road for a breathtaking coastal view, and go out into the great outdoors to experience the diverse native wildlife (think koalas, penguins, wallabies, and more)! Adding to this laidback city’s charm is the coffee culture, and their vibrant sports and nightlife scene. We recommend staying in the CBD, where train stations, the Yarra River, and Queen Victoria Market is within short distance.
#5 Munich, Germany
Like Melbourne, Germany is a title holder: It’s been voted as the friendliest place in the world (according to CNtraveller, as of 2016)! Solo expeditions are all about cultural immersion, so there’s no better place to get to know the locals than in Germany. Chug on beers and you explore the Munich and its highlights, which include not just bustling night spots, but castles, museums, theaters and more. Most Germans speak English, so getting around via public transport shouldn’t be difficult. If you lose your way, just ask and they’ll most likely be more than happy to point you the right way.
RELATED: Choose from Changi Recommends’ menu of attraction tickets, day tours, and transport passes for destinations all over the world!
Let’s look at somewhere closer to home: Famous for its spectacular coastline, Vietnam is home to many stunning beaches and bays. You may need to book day tours to get to more remote areas, but in general, the train system is affordable and easy to navigate. Aside from Saigon (Ho Chi Minh), we recommend Halong Bay and Hoi An, both of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Although they don’t speak much English, the locals are generally friendly, honest, and helpful.
You didn’t really think we’d conclude this list without Singapore’s favourite travel destination, right? Japanese culture may seem very intimidating (just because it is so quirky), but the truth is that the country is actually very tourist-friendly! The most popular public transport network is the Japan Rail (JR), for which you can get a tourist-exclusive JR Pass for. With that, your transport is pretty much settled—you can take the JR buses, ferries, and even the famous shinkansen bullet trains, which will take you across prefectures as well. One thing to note though, while the street signs mostly have English translations, other things like store signs and food menus usually don’t.
General Tips for First-time Solo Travellers
- Don’t dangle your expensive belongings for pickpockets to see
This may seem like a no-brainer, but a worthy reminder nonetheless. You will definitely bring your best cameras and gadgets to capture the best of your solo experience, but make sure you keep an eye on them and avoid tempting the street thieves.
- Dress inconspicuously
Don’t wear flashy clothes to invite unwanted attention. It’s easier to dress simply and focus of exploring the new town you’re visiting!
- Know your country’s embassy information
It doesn’t hurt to be a little kiasu here, so err on the side of caution. Save the Singapore Embassy’s information on your phone, in a little wallet card, whatever. Just make sure you have access to it in the event of any unexpected emergencies.
Check out THE BUCKET LIST: 12 Heart-stopping Activities That Every Grad Trip Must Have, Long Weekend in Yogyakarta: Charcoal Coffee & UNESCO Temples, and Post-Tohoku Earthquake Japan: Is It Safe For Tourists?
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