Solo travel is now ‘cool’. This is great because when I first started solo traveling in 2009, I wasn’t sure how society will respond. Will there be too much of shock and stigma, or will they accept it? Really happy to note that while solo travel is still not so easy for a lot of women in the country, it is being widely accepted. In fact it is soon turning into a trend. And I often get a query from women looking to go on their first solo trip – “Suggest a safe place?”
These are my suggestions based on my personal solo travel experience to these places,
Safe first time solo travel destinations for women,
Starting off the list with the obvious – Pondicherry. A lot of people are fascinated by this town. If they haven’t already visited it, then they want to visit soon! Located on the east coast a few hours from Chennai makes it a fairly easy to reach. The ride from Chennai is picturesque as the highway hugs the sea coast. And at the end of the trip, this town fascinates us with a french ambiance, lovely blue seaside and the serenity exuded by the Aurobindo ashram.
The French taste of the town is only limited to a certain portion of Pondicherry – the area near the promenade (seaside). If you go exploring the internal town then it picks up a strong Tamil flavour. The Aurobindo ashram has its focal point in the samadhi building quite close to the promenade. From there a lot of different ashram buildings like the eating hall, factories, guest houses and so on expand across the town. So the ashram is not a separate area you can go to…. it’s integrated with the town.
This Aurobindo Ashram is a separate organization from Auroville – which is a different township also founded by Sri Aurobindo & Mother a few kms from Pondicherry. The Auroville township hosts the Matri Mandir – a unique meditation temple guided by Mother’s vision.
If you are thinking of visiting Pondicherry, think RELAXATION.
Long walks by the seaside, sitting at the promenade having a coffee or roadside snacks, music, foreigners, warm sea breeze, meditation, budget accommodations, safe, excursions to the auroville, surfing, boating, ayurvedic massage, french ambiance and so on.
Mysore is probably not one of the first towns you would think of when you consider solo travel. Somehow in the last some years it has not become one of the top ‘cool’ travel destinations even though it was very popular during our parents times. One of the reason could be that a lot of the amazing places in Mysore are not being highlighted enough. This why I have written earlier about the Unexpectedly Awesome Mysore Lakes. The Kukurahalli & Karanji lakes in Mysore are sure to bring a smile to your heart.
In this article, Mysore is the biggest city. So if you prefer small towns then this is probably not your first choice but maybe it can be one of the stops on a longer trip. A quick list of places to explore here includes the Mysore Zoo, Palace, Chamundi Hills and some museums. (I haven’t been to the museums yet). On the outskirts of Mysore are another bunch of places – Srirangapatnam, Ranganathathittu bird sanctuary, Vrindavan Gardens, Gomatgiri, KRS Venugopal temple, Shravan Belagola and so on. You can visit these places through local buses or private car.
Think coffee plantations. Stay in old, bungalow style cottages and stroll in the surrounding coffee plantations and fields. Be part of the coffee harvest process, spend time with the farm animals, chat with your hosts and go for long walks to explore the nearby area. The experience of staying at a coffee plantation is unique. In Coorg there are also a lot of other places to explore but be sure to balance it with the time you spend at the estate, otherwise you will miss out on the coffee life. 🙂
Waterfalls, national parks, river origin points, Buddhist temple, elephant camps – Coorg has it all. When you book a coffee estate, be sure to figure out how you would be moving around to these other places. Usually a private car makes sense and you can ask the home stay host to call a trusted car driver. You can also go by local bus but then you need to know how far the bus stand is from the estate and how you can reach it. Read more about my experience in Coorg coffee estate.
You probably haven’t heard much about this town. It is not your typical small, touristy town. If you venture into the urban and developed parts then it can get very congested. However, the attraction at Udupi is the Krishna temple, said to be 1000+ years old. Take a hotel near the temple and you could enjoy a small town ambiance with some interesting architecture and heritage places. The Udupi Krishna temple is very well known and religious folks come down from far off places to take blessings.
What I loved was the ambiance in the Temple area. A huge chawl with some small shops selling traditional stuff. The various Muths surrounding the temple. A small pond within the temple and the bhojnalaya which served free, delicious lunch for all.
Near Udupi is a quaint coastal town Malpe. Apart from a lovely beach and fishing wharf, Malpe has intriguing culture. It is not exactly Kannada culture – they have another language that is spoken called Tulu. There is quite a bit of cultural current in the area. Read more about Udupi & Malpe.
Another one of the popular travel destinations. If you go in the international tourist season (late Oct, Nov I think) then you might see too many foreigners and a lot of smoking pot culture. Going during off season would give you a feel of the local Indian culture. Whichever time you visit – sitting by the Tungabhadra river, crossing it in a coracal boat and riding around in the countryside would be equally enriching. So when it comes to Hampi, don’t think too much about the season, just plan your way there.
If you are going to Hampi think: Magical. A mingling of ancient ruins from couple of different eras, greenery and scenic beauty, ethnic currents, relaxing in hammocks and a whole of lot of stuff to do.
The Himalayas! I could almost burst into poetry thinking of these majestic mountains. There are too many destinations across its ranges that would be ideal first time solo travel destinations. The only problem is if you are going just for couple of days then reaching would take too much of time. So ensure that you have at least a week when you head to the Himalayas. At least that’s what I suggest, but I do know of people who have visited for 3 days and still had fun. 🙂
Himachal has a bunch of places you could visit – Rewalsar a picturesque town around a sacred lake, McLeodganj & Manali, Jibhi that’s still offbeat (but not for long). All these places are amidst the gorgeous mountains so if you hunted for the right accommodation, you could wake up to the view of the mountains every day. You can go for trekking, explore ancient temples or forts, mingle with the locals and just stroll down the tiny town roads.
Apart from Himachal there are many other places to visit in the Himalayas like Kasauni, Leh and so on.
So these are good starting places for you. If you have some specific interests for your first solo trip then you can shoot me a message, I can try and help you with a destination. If you have already been solo traveling, tell me where and how your experience was. 🙂
Happy Solo Traveling!