Itching for some ‘me time’? Pack those bags and head off to any of these destinations that are safe for solos, pocket-friendly and perfect for that year-end introspective journey. What’s more? You could even bring along your travel credit cards to help you enjoy your vacation a bit more.
1. Bagan, Myanmar
Head to old, old Bagan – the land where a hot air balloon ride over a thousand golden pagodas can redefine the meaning of life. This temple town is perfect for a traveller who is looking to travel and ‘experience’ a place.
Bagan is small and easy to explore. About S$450 is the cheapest you will get that balloon ride for, so remember to choose the standard trip and to book on the spot to get this rate. The rest of your trip will be admiring temples and pagodas, which you can do by hopping onto a rented bike.
The Old Bagan to New Bagan temple tour, which is high on sites but thankfully low on distance, can easily be pedalled to as well. Other parts are actually walkable, bringing your costs down further. One of the best Bagan experiences – catching the sun rise and set over the temple-strewn landscape – is free!
2. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh City – or Saigon as it was called in its earlier avatar – is a destination fashioned after a budgeted solo’s heart. Easy to explore with safe neighbourhoods and streets, Ho Chi Minh City has a vibrant street life, an action-packed nightlife, and a café culture that will reboot your lifestyle. Add to this Vietnam’s affordable exchange rate, and you have reached budget trip heaven!
You could opt to stay in backpacker district Pham Ngu Lao to keep your accommodation bills down and dig into cheap eats like the iconic ‘pho’ and pork rolls which are coupled with super affordable ‘bia hoi’ or Vietnamese for microbrewed beer.
Getting pampered here is easy too; get massaged in style at a spa for a fraction of the price back home or sit down for an impromptu late night mani-pedi session at a not-so-fancy roadside place. Then there are the nerve-racking yet exciting city explorations undertaken on the back seat of a scooter that will show you Ho Chi Minh City and its sights.
Visit the floating markets and admire the French architecture all around. Join free walking city tours or take a day trip to explore the Cu Chi Tunnels outside the city.
3. Taipei, Taiwan
Partial to the palate? Take your solo self to Taipei, where you will get to experience an amazing mix of Chinese, Dutch, Japanese and Spanish fare. Keep a check on your budget with inexpensive dinners at Taipei’s many lively night markets, home to some of the best street food in Asia.
Explore city sights with the cheap yet extremely efficient transportation; climb onto Elephant Mountain for a city view instead of paying observation deck fee at cloud-piercing Taipei 101; visit Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall for the obligatory selfie or go to Longshan Temple for its mix of religions.
Guide yourself through the city’s colonial Japanese lanes or take a quick subway ride to the hot springs at Beitou, or the more affordable Quinshui Park if you want a slice of sulphur soaked heaven for less.
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4. Siem Reap, Cambodia
Stop hanging around for that friend who promised to see Angkor Wat with you. Head to Siem Reap on your own – cruise around the gateway town on a bicycle for less than S$2 a day, and get familiar with its charms before you head off for the iconic ruins of Angkor Wat. It is such a solo thing to do!
To avoid burning a hole in your pocket, get the three-day discounted temple pass instead of a single day one. Put your bargaining hat on and haggle full throttle at the Siem Reap markets; you will be offered artwork to local knick-knacks and everything in between at various prices. The street food is inexpensive, and you can get a fried tarantula for S$2.
Opt for super cheap massages or fish pedicures that follow your daily excursions; go on market explorations to while away time in the day; and stay at 4-star accommodation starting at about S$70. Siem Reap truly makes for a great budget getaway!
5. Bangkok, Thailand
Evergreen Bangkok, so versatile that it pops up on every list! This land of smiles is a dream destination for a solo traveller. Shop for less and redo your wardrobe at its wholesale markets like Pratunam, upgrade your electronics stash at Pantip Plaza, gorge on great street food everywhere, and party all night in the backpacker capital of the world Khao San Road (or in the mornings if you so desire!).
Bangkok welcomes solos with hordes of other solos! Temple hop, explore markets and neighbourhoods, bargain hunt, shack up for less in party districts – Bangkok makes budget an easy task.
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