“When you’re travelling with someone else, you share each discovery, but when you are alone, you have to carry each experience with you like a secret, something you have to write on your heart, because there’s no other way to preserve it”
– Shauna Niequist
1. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
It’s easy to lose yourself in this bustling city as motorbikes speed past you carrying a family of four. There’s always something cooking and as the mixture of scents filter through at all hours, you’ll spend hours navigating your way through markets, malls and the parks. The French colonial architecture (below) will surprise you and in the midst of all the noise, you’ll discover a way to find balance.
2. Siem Reap, Cambodia
This is the stuff that bucket lists are made of. Siem Reap is a surreal destination filled with Buddhist temples, ancient ruins and archaeological wonders. Anyone who has ever been will tell you that seeing the sunrise over Angkor Wat is one of the best experiences in the world. Spoil yourself with a private tour of the grand temple complex. This is one trip you’ll never forget.
3. Ahmedabad, India
This is your opportunity to celebrate. It doesn’t matter what, because in this once-sleepy west Indian state, there is always a festival of some sort happening. Allow yourself to rejoice with the locals. It has a new vibe about it with the development of the inner city as well as an influx of youth because of the National Institute of Design and Centre for Environment Planning and Technology.
4. Yangon, Myanmar
Shwedagon Pagoda (below) is this city’s crown jewel and not only is it a landmark, it’s beautiful enough to keep you entranced for hours. It’s considered one of the most religious pilgrimage sites for Buddhists in Myanmar. Yangon allows for peaceful walks around lakes and pretty parks, while there are many vegan and vegetarian options abound.
5. Taipei, Taiwan
As soon as you enter Taipei, your mood will immediately be lifted. Taipei is filled with fun places like tons of all-night karaoke bars that you have to visit. It is also known for its picturesque mountains and you must find time to fit in a hike to take in the magnificent city sights (below).
6. Shanghai, China
Shanghai is the perfect combination of old and new. Here, you can either tap into the hustle and bustle of a busy city with its soaring skylines or, the remnants of her short history – since the establishment of British concession in 1842 – awaits. Hidden in street corners, the local food is a treat. It’s unusual because of its colonial past and the European mansions will add another dimension to this thrilling city.
7. Seoul, Republic of Korea
If you’re looking for a solo escapade that mixes non-stop partying with some spiritual experiences, then Seoul is what you need. Bars, karaoke, 24-hour food stalls – the people here never sleep and you’ll always find a party spot. At the same time, the remote temples and the chance to visit a hanok (below; a traditional Korean house) will align you and offer some balance.
8. Fukuoka, Japan
From indulging in a local sumo wrestling gym to visiting the Nakasu Nights – the red-light district known more for its food at the yatai stalls – you’re bound to be fascinated 24/7. The Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine (below) is a 30-minute walk from the main city centre and is dedicated to a spirit greatly feared in Japan. If you go in early spring, you’ll also witness over 6,000 plum trees blooming.
9. Osaka, Japan
Nicknamed the ‘nation’s kitchen’, Osaka will give you a culinary experience like none other. It is home to 137 Michelin-star restaurants and as you discover its museums and parks, you’ll find yourself igniting that inner-foodie flame. More than anything, Osaka is known for its friendly people – don’t be surprised if you find yourself joining the local ladies doing some yoga in the park or chatting to the street vendor serving you some of the most scrumptious dishes you can imagine. You’ll feel so at home you won’t even realise you’re travelling solo.
10. Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam
To most, Bandar is a pit stop to explore the jungles of Borneo, but the magic of this city must not be neglected. While there are museums and malls to occupy your time, the floating village of Kampong Ayer (below) is where its true beauty lies. Built on stilts, the village stretches across 8km of the Brunei river.
– TEXT BY JESSICA FARAH
PHOTOS: INSTAGRAM, 123RF.COM
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.