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The best places to travel solo

Solo traveller, Copyright: Apa Publications Ltd

 Are you considering travelling solo for the first time this year? Excited about the opportunity to have a free rein over your holiday, but nervous about where to start? We list the best places to embark on a first solo trip and offers 10 top tips for making the most of your time away as a solo traveler.

 Travelling alone to a country for the first time may seem a little daunting but solo travel can give you the freedom to have the holiday you desire. With endless possibilities to choose from, though, how do you determine which country is right for you? Not every country that is suited to solos may appeal and thinking about whether you prefer adventure, culture, cities or ancient ruins will help you narrow down your must-see destinations.


Great places to travel solo;


Australia is one of the easiest places to travel to alone and because of its ease, many younger travelers choose to visit here to experience life Down Under before entering the job market. Australians are incredibly friendly and you’ll never be short of company. With an outdoors culture and a more relaxed vibe, Australia will feel just like home only much further away. The east coast is popular for backpackers or visit Melbourne for chic boutiques and a maturer crowd.

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New Zealand

An abundance of gorgeous scenery and easy-going folk create a winning destination and if it’s adventure and the great outdoors that you’re searching for, New Zealand could be for you. There is a large choice of hostels, campsites, hotels and wooden lodges and getting around the country couldn’t be simpler. Jump aboard an organised tour, hire a car or rent a motor home to travel around the two islands; perfect for those who prefer solitude. Visit the North Island for whale and dolphin watching or the South Island for glaciers, waterfalls and Queenstown – the adventure capital of New Zealand and a mecca for travelers.

Buy a New Zealand travel guide.



Thailand’s hospitality is known as one of the friendliest in the world. If you choose to travel solo here you are guaranteed royal treatment and service fit for a king or queen. Well-preserved culture with tropical hideaways make this a destination to kick off your shoes, remove your watch and just let time slip by…plus it won’t break the bank. Completely geared up for the tourist industry, Thailand is incredibly easy to visit, with great transport links, stunning accommodation and the guarantee of meeting many other like-minded solos. Choose Northern Thailand for culture and hill tribes or visit Ko Samui or Ko Phangan if you prefer beaches and nightlife.

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If you’ve never traveled alone before, America is a great starting point. The United States may not be as exotic as Asia but what it lacks in ancient culture, it makes up for in world-renowned buildings and vibrant cities…and they love the British accent! For sunshine, visit Florida or California (Miami has a vibrant party scene and is a great place to meet others) or try New York for a wide range of hostels and guaranteed company.

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Africa may not seem like a continent suitable for solos but there is one country which welcomes internationals with open arms. The Kingdom of Swaziland is untouched by mass tourism and with Swazis believing that greeting foreign guests is a way of gaining wisdom, you can be sure of an enlightening and cultural stay. Swaziland is mainly for game parks and culture and the best way to see the country is to join an organised tour.


Bhutan is one of the most cultural countries in the world and entering the kingdom is only possible on a pre-booked tour. Not only are you escorted around, put up in four-star accommodation and treated to amazing cuisine, you have your very own personal guide to teach you about this country and its Buddhist roots. Although Bhutan is very peaceful, Thimpu is the best place to meet others and has surprisingly good nightlife.


 Top tips for travelling solo

Whichever country you choose to explore, here are some general tips for travelling the globe as a solo:

1. Research the countries before you travel to learn local customs and etiquette and for advice on any areas that you should avoid.

2. Ensure you are aware of the laws of the countries. Certain places have very strict policies and even standard medication can be illegal in some destinations.

3. Leave a copy of your itinerary and a list of contact numbers with friends or family before you travel.

4. If travelling with a tour company, check the demographics of the group beforehand to ensure they are not mainly couples or a younger crowd.

5. Pre-book your first night’s accommodation and airport transfer before you travel for ease.

6. Obtain a business card for your accommodation or ask them to write the name in the local language in case you stray off-course or need a taxi.

7. Leave your expensive jewellery and valuables at home and dress modestly in the main areas.

8. Attend free walking tours once you arrive in a city to get your bearings and meet others.

9. Be aware of appearing like a tourist and when walking alone, act confident even if you don’t feel it.

10. Take each day as it comes and make the most of every minute.

And finally, just because you may start your trip as a solo traveller doesn’t mean you will always be alone. In fact, travelling by yourself enables you to meet more people than you would in a group or as a couple so whether you’re looking for company or prefer your own, you simply cannot beat solo travel.

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10 of the best river cruises

1 The Nile, Egypt

If you only take one river cruise in your life, it should be this route, sailing along the Nile between Luxor and Aswan. It’s worth it just for the temples at Luxor and nearby Karnak, Tutankhamun’s tomb at the Valley of the Kings, and Nefertari’s tomb in the Valley of the Queens. But there’s more: from Luxor most cruise ships sail to Edfu for the temple dedicated to falcon-headed god Horus, then on to Kom Ombo temple, dedicated to crocodile god Sobek. And at colourful Aswan you can take a trip to the Aswan High Dam and the temple of Philae, or fly to Abu Simbel’s temples. To get the most out of the country, combine a Nile cruise with a few days in Cairo to see the Pyramids at Giza and the Egyptian Museum.

nile cruise

2 Volga River, Russia

Moscow and St Petersburg are Russia’s must-do destinations for river cruises, and you can see both by cruising along the Volga River and other rivers, lakes and waterways which connect the two cities. Highlights along the route include: Uglich, Russia’s second oldest city; ancient Yaroslavl, with its 13th century churches; Goritza, a typical Russian village; Kizhi, with its amazing 22-cupola wooden church, and Mondraga village, home to the Vodka Museum.

russian river cruise

3 The Yangtze, China

Many UK-based travel companies offer Yangtze River cruises as part of a wider tour of China’s sights, often starting with several nights in Shanghai before flying to Wuhan and transferring to the Yangtze hub of Yichang. The Three Gorges – Xiling, Wuxia and Qutang – are the cruise highlight, with stops at the enormous Three Gorges Dam and Chongqing, home to lively markets. Longer cruises include: Nanjing, the ancient capital of several dynasties; historic Huangshan; Wuhan where you can visit Chairman Mao’s Villa and Yichang, surrounded by forests and mountains.


4 The Danube, Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Germany

At 1,800 miles, the Danube flows through eight countries from its source in Germany to the Black Sea, with one of its most rewarding stretches starting at the historic Hungarian capital of Budapest. These cultural Baltic cruises through European history includes Slovakia’s capital, Bratislava, and Austria’s principal cities, Vienna and Salzburg. The countryside is also outstanding, including the Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage site.


5 The Amazon, Brazil

There are many ways to navigate the world’s largest river, but by far the most comfortable is by cruise ship. Itineraries usually call at the picturesque city of Santarem, where the River Tapajós meets the Amazon. Other colourful destinations include Parintins known for its Boi-Bumbá folklore festival every June; the wooden village of Boca de Valeria, and Manaus, the State of Amazonas capital.


6 The Rhine, Netherlands, Germany, France, Switzerland

There are plenty of options for sightseeing along the 900 miles of Europe’s most popular cruising river. You’ll see fairytale castles and medieval towns, as well as big-hitters such as Basle’s cobbled old city, Strasbourg’s fabulous mix of medieval, Renaissance and Baroque buildings, the half-timbered houses in historic Mainz, the neoclassical palace and Roman basilica at Koblenz (where the Rhine meets its cruising partner, the River Mosel), and Cologne’s UNESCO World Heritage gothic cathedral. You’ll also have access to Dutch cities such as Arnhem and Amsterdam.


7 The Mekong, Vietnam, Cambodia

Mekong River and Delta cruises usually begin with a few nights in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), a hectic urban sprawl which retains its elegant French colonial heart. The mystical Mekong offers an enticing mix of Buddhist shrines, colonial towns and floating markets. Many cruises cross into Cambodia where you can visit the capital, Phnom Penh, and the major temples of Angkor Wat by the town of Siem Reap.


8 The RhĂ´ne, France

Navigating France’s mightiest river is a favourite for wine aficionados and foodies. A cruise through Burgundy and Provence gives you the chance to visit vineyards (think Côtes du Rhône and Châteauneuf-du-Pape), explore Lyon – the gourmet capital of France – and enjoy historic towns such as the fortified city of Avignon and the Roman ruins in Arles. The countryside is equally superb: its fields of lavender and sunflowers were an inspiration for artists such as Vincent Van Gogh, and as the river drains into the Mediterranean you’ll see the famous white horses of the Camargue.


9 The Mississippi, USA

A trip along Ol’ Man River from Memphis to New Orleans reveals an impressive slice of the United States’ cultural and historic richness. You’ll see Elvis Presley’s Memphis, Civil War sites such as Helena and Vicksburg, and the Southern belle towns of Natchez and St Francisville with their beautiful antebellum houses. Baton Rouge is the spiritual home of folksy Cajun music and spicy Cajun food and then there’s jazz-soaked New Orleans, now recovering much of its nightly Mardi Gras atmosphere


10 The Douro, Spain, Portugal

Often overlooked, this beautiful river meanders through peaceful villages and towns, through gorges and past vineyards and tranquil almond orchards. The cultural highlights include Salamanca, an ancient Spanish university city fought over by Hannibal the Great, and Porto, Portugal’s elegantly historic second city and the home of port wine. En route you can stop at Peso da Régua and Pinhão, in the heart of Portuguese wine country, or visit market towns, castles and country homes such as the 18th century Casa de Mateus Palace.


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The world’s best rail journeys

Train journeys offer a more relaxed pace of travel and often evoke a feeling of a bygone era, with elaborately decorated carriages and the opportunity to mingle with like-minded people. There are countless rail journeys across the world all of which offer something different, but for me there are a few that really stand out. Here are five of my favorite rail journeys from around the world.

The Eastern & Oriental Express, Southeast Asia

Travel from Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, through the country’s beautiful landscape and into Malaysia and Singapore on board the Eastern & Oriental Express. This is Asia’s most luxurious train ,with lavish carriages full of brass fittings, rich wood and comfortable en-suite compartments.

Eastern and Oriental Express

Take the opportunity to dress in your finest clothes for an evening of fine food and wine in the ambient dining car, where you are surrounded by the elegant style of the Twenties and Thirties. Stops include Georgetown in Penang, the bridge over the River Kwai.

Rovos Rail, South Africa

If you’re visiting South Africa, why not take in the beautiful scenery from the comfort of the luxurious and historic Rovos Rail. The train’s carriages, including restaurant cars, observation carriages and sleeping compartments, have all been restored to their former glory, and a journey on this wonderful train is like taking a step back in time.


Designed for pioneering travellers and colonial grandees, the train is decorated with dark woods and period fittings – just perfect for enjoying a drink as you meet fellow passengers.

Rocky Mountaineer, Canada

A journey on the Rocky Mountaineer in Canada takes you through grasslands, canyons, past thundering waterfalls and through mountain tunnels. There are three classes available on this famous train, Red, Silver and Gold Leaf, the latter offering a superb bi-level glass-dome coach with a wonderful viewing platform. Gourmet meals served below in the dining car for those travelling in Gold Leaf.

Rocky Mountaineer

The train is one of Canada’s most well-known and operates a few routes in the summer months – between Calgary, Banff, or Jasper and Vancouver, and between Jasper and Whistler.

Trans-Siberian Railway

A fantastic overland journey awaits those who travel on this epic route. A series of railways which connect Moscow in the west of Russia to either Vladivostok in the far east of the country (the true Trans-Siberian route) or Beijing in China (known as the Trans-Mongolian as it crosses through Mongolia), the Trans-Siberian traverses several landscapes, time-zones and cultures whichever route you choose. Travelling by public trains, the Trans-Siberian may not be the most luxurious on this list but it is certainly one of the most impressive, attracting travelers from all over the world with a sense of adventure and a desire to experience the might and splendor of European Russia and the mysterious Far East. For those who prefer a more luxurious stance, there are a couple of private trains which offer set itineraries.

Trans-Siberian Railway

The Hiram Bingham, Peru

Chosen by the readers of Condé Nast Traveller UK as the best train in the world (2011) the Hiram Bingham is a luxurious train in Peru that takes you from the small village of Poroy, just outside of Cuzco, and on towards the world-famous site of Machu Picchu.

Hiram Bingham train

Enjoy a hearty brunch, learn how to make a Pisco Sour in the bar car or take in the scenery from the observation carriage, as you journey alongside the mighty Urubamba River in the Sacred Valley.