The Best Asian Countries to Visit as a Female Traveler

The Best Asian Countries to Visit as a Female Traveler

Traveling on your own, especially as a woman, can be challenging. As women, we instinctively move through the world differently than men, always trying to avoid unwanted harassment or attention. Our vulnerability and fear of becoming just another news story compels us to hesitate without seeing our curiosities through. 

At the age of 21, I realized that surrendering to a life of fear is a one-way ticket to regret. Instead, I booked a one-way ticket to South Korea to teach English for a year. This led to an additional two years of living and teaching in Asia, as well as an abundance of travel opportunities spanning nine East and Southeast Asian countries, including quite a few solo trips. Looking back at this decision years later, it feels trivial to think about the uncertainty that swirled around in my mind because this ended up being the most liberating decision I could have made.

With that said, it is important to acknowledge that one of the reasons we hold ourselves back is simply not knowing where to begin. Many kids dream of flying to Europe or an exotic location. I certainly did, too. The reality for Americans is our country’s geographical isolation means vacations abroad are not financially feasible for many families. I personally grew frustrated with the inability to scope out seasoned travelers within my own community to talk to about my dreams. 

My own international travel experiences growing up consisted of Caribbean cruises since every major coastal city in Florida functions as a port of call. I doubt I would have considered venturing to some of the best Asian countries to visit without the Caribbean island-hopping stepping stones of my childhood. It is my hope that this article inspires more solo travel for women!

Hong Kong: The Autonomous Chinese City

The former British colony of Hong Kong makes for a fantastic and women-friendly destination for Westerners due to its widespread use of English, which is one of two official languages and spoken by 52% of the population. In addition, the safe and sophisticated MTR public transportation network provides straightforward, albeit crowded, navigation throughout the island. Even as a relatively inexperienced solo female traveler at the time, I never felt uneasy. The city’s safety for women at night allows travelers to enjoy dinner by Victoria Harbour with the city’s skyline and riverboats in full view. Just remember, use common sense and avoid any public demonstrations.

Hong Kong’s tight population density means a visitor can expect a packed city, and not just in terms of bodies. My hotel room felt cramped due to the lack of space. However, its central location in the city and affordable price made the trade-off worth it. A four-day weekend during the off-season (spring) renders Hong Kong friendlier to those on a tighter budget despite its reputation for its high cost of living. Plus, the city’s autonomy welcomes foreign visitors desiring a taste of traditional Chinese and Cantonese cultures without the tough immigration laws or movement restrictions.

The southern part of Hong Kong’s Tung Choi Street market offers a wide selection of cheap merchandise geared towards women. This makes “The Ladies’ Market” a popular stop for women wanting to experience an Asian street market. Another top attraction in Hong Kong is the Tian Tian Buddha, or The Big Buddha, located on Lantau Island. The giant bronze statue sits at the top of 268 steps overlooking the Po Lin Monastery.

Photo by Danielle Faviano- Hong Kong Tian Tian Buddha-best Asian countries to visit

Thailand: The Rite of Passage in Southeast Asia

Twice I journeyed to Thailand to experience what I believe are two of the best cities in Asia: Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Many travelers consider Thailand a rite of passage for female solo travel. An extensive community of new and seasoned travelers thrive in Thailand. Locals involved in the tourism sector speak English. The well-established industry makes inexpensive accommodation easy to find. Most hostels offer all-female dorms, although they usually charge an extra few dollars per night for a bed in one. However, many solo female travelers, myself included, happily pay for the added sense of security. Note that most hostels are generally safe, but they do vary in atmosphere. Some are known for partying while others are known for being laidback. Always check reviews to find one that suits your comfort level.

Like Hong Kong’s MTR subway system, Bangkok’s SkyTrain is efficient and well-connected throughout the city. Visitors commonly rent motorbikes to get around; however, the roads can be quite chaotic with frequent accidents. Take extra caution if you choose to rent a motorbike. Foreigners commonly get scammed by companies claiming damage. Never hand over your passport or anything valuable as collateral. Safer modes of transportation include tuk-tuks and taxis, especially in cities without a subway system like Chiang Mai. In Bangkok, you can take a water taxi down the Chao Phraya River. The orange flag boats provide transportation to every site stop for a flat rate of 16 Thai Baht (0.45 USD) per trip, stopping at places such as Wat Arun and The Grand Palace.

Thailand is one of the best Asian countries to visit due to its low violent crime rates. Like anywhere else, use common sense and wear a crossbody bag close to your body to avoid becoming a target for purse snatchers and pickpockets. 

Photo by Danielle Faviano-Temple Chiang Mai Thailand-best Asian countries to visit

Taiwan: The Laidback and Affordable Alternative in East Asia

As a young woman who lived in Taiwan’s capital city of Taipei for two years, I felt safer there than anywhere else, particularly at night. The efficient subway system remains open until late and the well-lit city provides an easy walking path home at 11 PM. The bus system is just as straightforward, and Google Maps can figure out the most efficient routes to take. Consider downloading the Journey Planner/Map Transit app too. The app maps the transit systems of dozens of countries and cities around the world, including Taiwan.

The safe and well-organized transit system means visitors can avoid booking overpriced tours. This makes day trips to the frequented former Japanese mining towns of Jiufen and Hualien uncomplicated. Yehliu tends to get brushed aside, but I always recommend it to visitors due to the geopark’s stunningly unique geographical rock formations and landscapes.

In addition, the High-Speed Rail, or bullet train, runs down the western side of the island and delivers you between cities quickly, taking just over two hours to arrive in the south. This makes day trips to an entirely different region of the country efficient and affordable. However, I do recommend staying in Taichung, Tainan, and Kaohsiung for a couple of days if possible. These smaller cities offer a different perspective of Taiwan compared to Taipei, and Sun Moon Lake in Taichung should not be missed.

With South Korea and Japan gaining popularity amongst young travelers in recent years, Taiwan often gets overlooked. Even though China claims Taiwan as its territory, Taiwan functions independently and democratically. In my opinion, Taipei’s relaxed atmosphere makes it one of the best cities to visit in Asia.

Photo by Danielle Faviano-Jioufen Taiwan-best Asian countries to visit

Cambodia: The Road Less Traveled

The Southeast Asian country of Cambodia is often skipped over in favor of neighboring Thailand or Vietnam. After spending two weeks in the country and learning about its dark yet important history, Cambodia rose to the top of my return list. I journeyed to Cambodia only after gaining some experience as a traveler due to its lack of infrastructure, particularly outside the capital city of Phnom Penh. It feels as if most people wind up braving the stomach bug at some point in the country/ I did when I arose before dawn to watch the sunrise over the historic temples of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap. Absolutely worth it and now a fun tale to tell, just remember to drink and brush your teeth with bottled water.

The weak currency means that the US Dollar or Euro are more valuable, and even the locals use a mix of US Dollars and Cambodian Riel (0.25 USD is worth around 1,000 Riel). Cambodia is a developing country, and I would advise increased caution when visiting as there have been reports of burglaries in hotel rooms. However, petty crimes such as purse snatching, which occur more often here than its Southeast Asian counterparts, are the most common. Always keep your bags between your legs when riding in a tuk-tuk, which I recommend instead of attempting to navigate the chaotic or unpaved roads with a rented motorbike. Tuk-tuk rides are incredibly cheap using Grab, Southeast Asia’s version of Uber.

Those flying into Cambodia typically land at Phnom Penh International Airport as it serves more destinations than the newly opened Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport. Calling a tuk-tuk or a taxi is the best way to get to your accommodation, while buses remain the most efficient way to travel between cities. 

Photo by Danielle Faviano-Angkor Wat Cambodia-best Asian countries to visit

 

Final Thoughts Regarding the Best Asian Countries to Visit

According to the World Population Review, Taiwan and Hong Kong are amongst the safest countries in Asia for women. Both countries rank just below the United States with Taiwan in the 38th spot and Hong Kong in the 39th. Thailand takes the 52nd spot on the list and sits amongst Greece and Argentina. Cambodia takes the 110th spot,tying with Egypt.

The hardest thing about deciding to take a trip as a solo female traveler is also seemingly the simplest: booking the actual trip. Once you do, you realize how liberating traveling alone can be. As mentioned above, most hostels in Asia offer all-female dorms. I suggest staying in one over an Airbnb to meet fellow travelers! People are always looking for buddies to have dinner or take an excursion with. Just keep your wits about you while abroad in the same way as you would in your home country—be wary of accepting drinks from strangers and take extra caution at night. When searching for a hostel, book one with storage lockers and bring a lock to protect your belongings while out in town.

Lastly, hundreds if not thousands of social media networks exist for travelers of all kinds, including solo women. Search on Facebook or Instagram for expat and travel groups in a country on your list. Seasoned travelers understand the daunting task of wanting to but needing an extra push, and they usually enjoy offering tips to newbies. I met a few friends this way years ago, and we always find time to connect if we are heading to the same region. Get on a plane, go, and thank yourself for doing it when you return!

Interested in more tips for solo travel? Check out this article about traveling alone over the holidays.

20 thoughts on “The Best Asian Countries to Visit as a Female Traveler

  1. This was a really interesting read. Honestly, I’ve never felt comfortable traveling alone, especially as a woman. I think these sound like great options, though. I’d definitely feel good about Taiwan in particular.

  2. I would love to see more of Asia! As a woman who often travels solo, this is all such good information to know.

  3. These countries all sound like such amazing places to visit as a female traveller! Thank you for sharing – I’d love to go to Cambodia.

  4. Oh wow, I definitely wouldn’t have expected some of these countries to be safe for female travelers. I’ve yet to visit Asia, but considering visiting Taiwan now.

  5. I have never been to Asia before, and it would certainly be interesting to check out different countries. It is good to know what is best to visit as a female traveler.

  6. I have yet to visit Asia. These countries are definitely on my travel list. Taiwan is the first stop.

  7. It’s pretty brave to visit places alone as a female traveler. This is a great guide for anyone as brave as you are to travel alone in Asia.

  8. Great recommendations, my female friend also went to some of these and loved it a lot. Informative post!

  9. I appreciate the tips and insights you’ve shared, and I can’t wait to start planning my next adventure with your recommendations in mind.

  10. This is so interesting and helpful if planning a solo trip. I would never even really have thought about Taiwan being one of the safest places. It is certainly an adventure that I would love to consider!

  11. I’ve been to a lot of these countries except HongKong oh and Taiwan. I can’t wait to visit these two beautiful countries.

  12. These look like such great paces to visit no matter of you are a female or male. I definitely would love to see Asia one day! The pictures here are amazing!

  13. Firstly, I am so impressed by you. I never travel by myself and to travel internationally is especially exciting. I appreciate you sharing your experiences and good suggestions for where women can feel more comfortable.

  14. While the Philippines offers a rich tapestry of cultural experiences and natural beauty, its exclusion from the list might be an oversight. The country’s vibrant cities, stunning landscapes, and the warmth of its people make it a worthy destination.

  15. These are great recommendations and the pictures are beautiful! I agree I think it’s important for us to travel and see the differences all over the world, I believe it can be a very insightful and informative thing to do! It’s sad we always have to worry about so much, but its good to know we are not alone.

  16. I enjoyed learning some of your background story, and the way you addressed the fear that can be felt by women travelers. Congrats for going for it. I enjoyed Cambodia. Did you enjoy your time in Vietnam? Noticed it wasn’t on your list.

  17. Happy to know that Cambodia is a good place for female travellers to visit. It’s the only one in your list that I haven’t been too. Looking forward to visiting the Angkor Wat. 🙂

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