If you’re reading this, you’re probably planning to go on a kick-ass trip through Thailand – all by yourself. YES! But is it safe for women to travel alone in Thailand? Is it easy to meet other travelers? And what do you tell your (overly) concerned parents? This is my experience!
Yes, I sometimes visit Thailand without Sander. It doesn’t happen a lot, but it does happen.
Or we travel together and split up for a few days. While he goes on week-long jungle adventures, I stay behind to check out some cultural sights or new restaurants.
Scary? Hell no!
Solo traveling is amazing! There is so much freedom to it: as you get to be in charge of your own decisions. Where you go, what you do, how much you spend; it’s your decision. You’ll discover that you are capable of so much more than you think and that you rely on yourself. Which is the best feeling ever.
And it doesn’t matter whether you’re 18 or 80. As long as you take responsibility for yourself, use common sense and have some people skills, you’ll be okay. We meet loads of girls around 18 or 19 years old, who travel alone. They thought it was fantastic and were having a great time!
Here are some tips on traveling alone as a female that I’ve learned along the way.
1. Use common sense
Traveling through Thailand is pretty safe, as long as you have your wits about you.
Make sure you can always find your way back to the hostel – day and night. Take the hostel’s address card with you, keep your phone charged and topped-up, don’t drink too much, don’t wear overly revealing clothes and don’t wander alone in the streets at night.
Personally, I don’t think twice about going to the 7-Eleven late at night to get a grilled cheese sandwich. As long as it’s not in an isolated area with no one around – which you wouldn’t do back at home either – it’s fine.
Still, it’s good to have a plan B in case something does goes wrong.
What do you do when you get sick? When your hostel is fully booked? Or miss the last bus?
Have a plan in advance, so you know what to do. Be prepared for everything. Know where you want to sleep, where you want to go, and how you’re going to get there (more or less).
It all comes down to taking responsibility for yourself. There’s no one to fall back on when you travel. Not even the nice girls you met at the hostel. Though you may be having a great time together, you really don’t know them yet. Click here for 10 Tips for a Safe Trip to Thailand.
2. Wear appropriate clothing
If you dress differently, you’ll be treated differently.
Around tourist areas or bars it is OK to wear spaghetti strap tops or short skirts. People are used to it. But in the countryside, it’s still best to cover up, as locals will get really offended by it.
I usually wear leggings, T-shirts, and long dresses; and am always greeted nicely and helped everywhere.
If you try to visit a temple wearing revealing shorts, you’re asking to be treated differently. Cover your shoulders, knees, and cleavage when visiting a temple and only flaunt your bikini at the beach or swimming pool. Click here to read more on how to dress properly in Thailand.
3. Check the reviews
A hostel can make or break your trip. First of all, location is important because you don’t want to walk too far to see all the sights. Plus, it’s also good to know whether there are female dorms and if the hostel is known for its good atmosphere and friendly staff.
That’s why you should always check reviews that are written by other girls before going to a hostel. At Booking.com and TripAdvisor you can easily filter the reviews according to individual travelers.
A few good hostels with female dorms are:
- Here Hostel in Bangkok
- Pack-Up Hostel in Krabi Town
- Lupta Hostel on Phuket
- The Earth House on Koh Tao
4. Talk to locals
Feel free to start a conversation with a local. Like the girl who sells you an iced coffee on the street or the staff member at your hostel. Thai are really friendly and like to help out wherever they can.
Locals, in particular, can tell you where the hidden gems are and which neighborhoods to avoid. This is how you end up at a hidden temple or a local shop where grandma cuts your hair for 20 baht.
5. But be wary of locals who approach you
On the other hand, don’t trust locals who approach you. Thai people usually keep their distance and are too modest and polite to strike up a conversation with foreigners. If a Thai person does approach you on the street, 99% of the time something isn’t right – because they’re not like that at all.
Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, remember politeness is NEVER more important than your safety!
6. Get to know other travelers
Afraid of being all alone in Thailand? Don’t be!
It’s very easy to meet fun people almost everywhere you go. At your hostel, the bus stop, but also in random places. You meet people everywhere – next thing you know, you’re part of a group. Sometimes you decide to tag along with a little and explore together. Or consider taking a class, like learning how to cook Thai food, practicing some yoga or taking a Muay Thai class. So much fun!
Ask the owner of your hostel if there are any fun things to do in the area. If you have a trip in mind, ask your fellow hostel guests if they feel like joining you. A lot of times this will not only end up being a unique experience, but it’s also usually a lot cheaper and more fun too. No people around at the hostel? Check whether there’s a Facebook-group and post a message asking if someone wants to join you.
7. Keep in touch
Make sure there are people back home who know where you are in and what your plans are for the next few days. A Thai sim card, which you can buy at the airport, keeps you connected to the internet anywhere in Thailand. This way, people can always contact you in case of an emergency.
And if you’re taking a tour or going out all day, let the hostel’s reception staff know. Leave your contact details and agree ahead of time on how many nights you’ll be staying. It would be strange if you didn’t return after already paying for your overnight stay!
8. Have a plan
Finally, there will always be people with concerns about your plans on traveling solo. Like your parents or your friends. Keep in mind that they wish you the best and are just worried about you.
Show them that you know what you’re getting yourself into. An adult approach means they’ll take you a lot more seriously. Be fully prepared; show them your plans and where you intend to go. Decide on your itinerary, plan your budget, get the necessary jabs, check the visa requirements, take out a travel insurance, make a packing list, inform yourself on any local scams, learn a few Thai phrases and book your first overnight stay(s) and any domestic flights or sleeper trains you plan to take in advance.
And yes, you might end up completely changing your plans once you arrive in Thailand. That’s normal and not a problem at all. Just remember to let people back home know!
Good to know:
- Sanitary pads, tampons, and condoms are for sale everywhere; including well-known brands. You can get over the counter birth control pills and morning-after pills at all pharmacies.
- Most creams, lotions and deodorants contain ‘whitening cream’. Even intimate washes!
- Mosquito repellent is (almost) as effective as pepper spray.
- Most hostels have separate dorms for women.
- Many sleeper trains have a special train car for women and children. Booking in advance is advised.
So… what are you waiting for?! Go and make that trip to Thailand!
You’ll find out just how much you’re capable of on your own, and that you’re able to cope just fine. It’s the best feeling EVER. Go for it; it’ll be the best decision you make! You got this!