10 epic solo adventures you cannot miss
More people than ever are choosing to set off for their dream holiday on their own. Here are some of the best trips for going it alone.
- March 2019
There’s no denying solo travel is on the rise. Surveys show that 40 per cent more baby boomers are doing it and 80 per cent of millennials prefer it. And why wouldn’t they? There are so many advantages - you get to challenge yourself, you get to meet new people and best of all, you get to do exactly what you want. Tempted yet? Here are some of the most amazing travel experiences that you can enjoy solo.
Go on a culinary journey in Thailand
Solo travel doesn’t have to mean eating alone. If you adore Thai food and love to cook, join Intrepid Travel opens in new window for their eight-day Thailand Real Food Adventure for a foodie journey through Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Ayutthaya and Kanchanaburi. Explore a floating market by paddleboat, cook up a northern Thai feast in a remote village, learn how to make palm sugar and central Thai fare, and feed your face with the country’s spectacular street food. Along the way, you can visit sites such as royal palaces, ancient temples and the notorious Bridge on the River Kwai.
Island-hop in the Philippines
Idyllic beaches might usually be associated with romance but the Philippines holiday from Flash Pack opens in new window – a company that specialises in small group adventures for solo travellers – includes camping on a desert island in Insta-friendly Palawan (make sure you check out the unspoilt islands of Coron while you’re in this region). Whether you’re pedalling a bamboo bike around Manila’s historic centre, lounging on a white-sand beach, stand-up paddleboarding or snorkelling with turtles, this island-hopping adventure delivers a little slice of heaven.
Tackle Tasmania’s roaring rapids
You don’t need to go all the way to the Zambezi River in Africa or Asia’s Himalayas for a world-class rafting experience. The Franklin River opens in new window, in the heart of Tasmania, roars through dramatic gorges and World Heritage-listed forest, delivering pulse-pounding class four and five rapids – some so intense you have to carry the raft around. By day, look out for wildlife including wallabies, quolls, platypus and sea eagles and by night, feast on fresh Tassie produce. It’s an epic way to build your fitness, test your limits, meet new people and get out into nature.
Kayak and camp around New Zealand’s South Island
If you’re looking for a solo adventure, forget cruises and test your mettle on a no-frills group journey through the spectacular fjord landscapes of Doubtful Sound in New Zealand’s far south-west. Real Journeys opens in new window offer experiences to look for seals, dolphins and even penguins as you explore secret channels and deserted islands by kayak and camp in sheltered coves, where headlands and valleys reflect in the serene waters. The office never seemed so far away.
Ride the waves in Hawaii
One of the great opportunities of travelling alone is the chance to learn a new skill – regardless of whether anyone around you is interested. Surf Hawaii Surf School opens in new window offers serious Oahu surf exposure on the region’s epic waves for all levels, from beginner to advanced, plus everything from stand-up paddleboarding trips to whale watching, horseback riding or hanging with sea turtles. Most teachers are veteran big-wave surfers, perfect for anyone who wants to push their skills to new heights on Hawaii’s notorious swells.
Cruise the rivers of China
A Yangtze River cruise is one of the all-time great Chinese adventures, where you can float through the surreal riverscapes of the Three Gorges and join in Chinese cultural activities, from tai chi to embroidery and cooking classes. Sanctuary Retreats opens in new window has waived the single supplement for selected shoulder season cruises on its luxurious ship, Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer, making a stylish escape more affordable for solo travellers than ever before.
Detox in Byron Bay, Australia
For many, the best way to improve health habits is to go hard and go solo. Byron Bay Detox Retreats opens in new window sits on a beautiful beach right by Arakwal National Park and offers fasting, cleansing, yoga and massage in Australia’s spirituality capital. Want to do more than just detox? There are hikes, beaches, cafés and shopping on your doorstep.
Experience Bali’s nature and culture
It may be a destination-wedding mecca but there’s plenty more on offer if you join fellow independent explorers on Intrepid Travel opens in new window for their nine-day Beautiful Bali for Solo Travellers experience. Rather than the chaos of Kuta and Seminyak, the journey focuses on Bali’s lush green north. You can climb Mount Batur, an active volcano, or hang out with local weavers, snorkel a beautiful reef off the coast, pedal through sleepy villages and channel your inner Elizabeth Gilbert [Eat, Pray, Love author] in Ubud, the island’s cultural capital.
Follow the Mekong from Vietnam to Cambodia
While big boat cruises can be isolating for the solo traveller, G Adventures opens in new window’ small-ship Mekong River Experience offers an intimate scale that’s perfect for connecting with other travellers. Plus, cabin shares are easily available. You’ll travel down the mighty Mekong in style, sailing from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, to Siem Reap, Cambodia. Explore floating villages and bird sanctuaries, learn about the complex history of the region, wonder at the timeless Buddhist temples and taste traditional cuisine – all in one trip.
Find peace and wellbeing in Japan
If what you’re seeking from solo travel is solitude, make like poet/musician Leonard Cohen and retreat into the world of Zen Buddhism. Favoured by Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia, among others, Japan’s Shoganji Zen Retreat opens in new window is a rural temple in a bamboo forest with four simple tatami guest rooms. Just five minutes from Ojuki, a tiny fishing village in the Oita Prefecture, it’s the perfect base for meditation, coastal strolls and intense spiritual healing, while you can study everything from Japanese cooking to calligraphy and yoga.