Solo Travel not only pushes you out of your comfort zone, it also pushes you out of the zone of others expectations – Suzy Strutner
There are some things in life that you must do on your own, all by yourself and at least once. Solo Travel is gaining popularity among the travel community steadily due to the sheer spontaneity that comes with it. The quest to discover oneself along with spiritual rejuvenation and flow of adventurous adrenaline becomes a perfect reason to pack your travel bag and climb those serene mountains or stroll by silent beaches, all by yourself. Solo travel also allows you to not be enslaved by the whims and fancies of your fellow travellers, and your planning is largely unmarred by group dynamics. So if you want to trek up that hill on your next trip to the Himalayas, or watch the sunrise by the beach on your next trip to Gokarna, get ready to go! You get a sense of independence and freedom, from being out of your comfort zone while also getting cool stories to tell people back home! Here are some places you must explore if you’ve been bit by the little bug called wanderlust!
1. Sandhan Valley
Referred to as the Grand Canyon of Maharashtra, the Sandhan Valley is a trek of a lifetime for the thrill-seeker in you. It’s a combination of a valley with a canyon. Accessible from November to May, this water carved valley has Ratnagad and Ajoba mountain ranges around it. Going back to basics, it is the quintessential tent-pitching camp where food is cooked in campfires with the aroma filling the air around. The trek takes five hours to finish with activities like rappelling to really get your adrenaline pumping.
Getting There – Reaching here is half the fun with a train journey to Kasara and then a bus till the Samrad village where it’s located in the Bhandardara region. You can also fly to Mumbai and then go on with the train.
Where and How Long to Stay -Accommodation is in the tents by the campsites in the area or even in the open if you’re an experienced trekker. This is generally a two day trip.
The most isolated of all the Himalayan valleys, Zanskar is to be explored by those who want to experience untouched, pristine beauty in India. The frozen waterfalls and the Chadar trek along with the frozen Zanskar River is a must-do while visiting here. Buddhist monasteries are also worth the visit here. The best time to visit is April to August.
Getting There – This is a destination which you must cover on a road trip to Leh-Ladakh. A bus or on a motorbike is the best way to get here.
Where and How Long to Stay – There are no resorts in Zanskar but tourists can pitch tents in the valley or stay in establishments at Leh. Ideally, three days or more are required to visit here. Preferably, take a whole tour of the popular places of the Himalayan region in a two-week expedition if you’re really feeling adventurous.
One of the most unexplored terrains in the country, Lahaul-Spiti is definitely a trip of a lifetime. Mountains and monasteries await you here. You can either make a long road-trip of these two places while passing Manali, Rothang Pass and Leh, these destinations can be visited individually also.
Getting There – This trip is strictly to be taken by road to actually experience what it is all about. Some of the highest motorable roads in the world exist here. Best time to visit from May to October.
Where and How Long to Stay – Though there are no hotels here, the people are warm and friendly who will let you stay with them as well as monasteries where you can spend the nights. Give yourself a week or ten days for this crazy road trip of a lifetime!
Old and new are both beautiful when it comes to visiting Manali. Thick pine forests and a gushing river make it seem like you’ve stepped into a perfect world that only exists in books and imaginations. Manali is also a starting point for many while going to Spiti and Leh. Having two major seasons of summer and winter, you can take your pick of which season you want to visit in to experience Manali in a different way. If you go in February, the Tibetian New Year and Lossar Festival happen then which is an extravagant affair. Temples, hot springs, monasteries, German bakeries are just some of the places to visit.
Getting There – You can either fly to Bhuntar which is 10 kms from Manali or take a bus or train if you want a longer, more scenic path along the rivers.
Where and How Long to Stay – Lots of hotels and hostels are there, depending on your budget. Keep five-six days aside to visit Manali, especially if you’re going in winter since the snow will make your drive there more treacherous.
If you want to go to France but don’t have the money yet, go to Puducherry instead! With French influence in its architecture, this sleepy little place is perfect for a serene, beach getaway. The food has a lot of French influence too and beer is cheap, making it a place to if you want a real culinary experience. The Auroville temple is a place to visit if you want to reconnect with your spiritual side.
Getting There – You can get here by driving down from Chennai on one of the most scenic rides in India. While there, you can walk around town and explore. It’s also famous for its incense at the Aurobindo Ashram shops. October to February is the best time to visit with the minimum temperature not going below 17 degrees.
Where and How Long to Stay – Staying in one of the colonial establishments converted into hotels is the best thing to do here. This can be a three-four day trip, ideally.
6. Bodh Gaya
If you’re feeling spiritual, historical or just a curious Buddhist, a trip to Bodh Gaya is a must do for you. Essential to Buddhism being the place where Prince Siddhartha attained enlightenment under a bodhi tree, it attracts a lot of tourists who come here for meditation and study.
Getting There -The best time to visit is November to March while high season is December to January when his holiness Dalai Lama visits. Well connected by air, rail and road, with Gaya being the closest point of access of all three from where you can take a bus to the monasteries.
Where and How Long to Stay – The Bihar State Government runs 3 hotels, along with private hotels and bungalows available as accommodation. Try spending four days here so you can cover all the places given they are rich with Indian history.
If a chilled out beach experience is what you’re looking for then Gokarna is your destination. Even though it’s a temple town, the beaches here have some insane bonfire nights and parties for all. All the beaches are in quick succession of one another, each being even more beautiful than the previous.
Getting There – The best time to visit is October to March. Well connected with buses and rails, you should experience the drive to this place rather than flying down. Otherwise, the closest airport is Dabolim in Goa.
Where and How Long to Stay – There are cottages and guest houses where you can live like a real backpacker, chilling on hammocks and enjoying the balmy weather. This can be a four-five day trip.
A World Heritage Site, Jaisalmer is a jewel in the Rajasthani crown. Camels and sand dunes almost give it an Egyptian feel but the forts remind you that you’re still at home. Safari tours, visiting Jain temples, feeling royal at the havelis are just some of the things to do in this city.
Getting There – You can get here by bus or train easily but there are limited flights here. The best time to visit is October to March, when the temperatures drop.
Where and How Long to Stay – You can stay at hotels which used to be palaces or even camps in the desert, choosing the kind of experience you want.Two-three nights spent here are sufficient if you’re doing a pan-Rajasthan tour. Otherwise four days will do justice to the beauty of this place.
Could be called “Goa of the Hills”, Kasol is a destination that is on every trekkers list. Catering to a lot of hippies, it’s a small village on the banks of Parvati River in the valley. The river being replete with trout is ideal for fishing but you need a permit from the forest department. It’s also a great destination for rafting and water sports.
Getting There - Buses and trains are well connected to this region. The best time to visit is from March to May.
Where and How Long to Stay – There are quite a few cottages and hotels to stay at in the old and new parts of Karol.This can be a two day trip with one day for trekking and two days for chilling.
A scenic drive from Chennai, Mahabalipuram is a small temple-town. A major sea-port of the Pallava Kingdom, it is also a World Heritage Site. The architecture of the rock-cut temples is beautiful, which everyone goes to see. There are also local craftsmen who keep the art alive of carving idols out of a single stone.
Getting There - 2 hours away from Chennai by a car or bus, it’s a town that can be explored by foot or a bicycle.
Where and How Long to Stay – Guesthouses and hotels are plenty here to stay but you can also cover it in one day while on a tour of the South where you can additionally go to Chennai and Pudducherry and make a longer trip of it. This can be a trip of just a day or two if you want to extend it.
Home to the largest Tibetan temple outside Tibet, Dharamsala also has the monastery of the Dalai Lama. The upper part of Dharamsala, known as Mcleodganj is the one more famous with travellers. Bir is located southeast of Dharamsala and Biling is on the way to Thamsar Pass. It’s a trek of 14kms which can be done on foot from Bir to Biling. Biling is also a paragliding destination with some of the best services in the world. Kaereri lake, which is a high altitude fresh water lake, is in the northwest of Dharamsala and a trek can be made out of going there.
Getting There – Easiest to reach by a flight to Dharamshala, taking a bus or train is a better option to get a feel of your trip. The hotels are cheap with the best time of visit being March to October. It’s ideal even for a weekend getaway.
Where and How Long to Stay – There are lots of budget and luxury hotels and cottages to choose from. Spend two days here and combine it with a trip to Dalhousie or McLeodganj for another two days to make it a longer one.
Everyone has had trips to Rishikesh, be it from school or college but it never gets old to go back! Rafting being the reason most people flock here, mass ashrams for yoga and meditation are also found here. If you feel spiritual after visiting one, Haridwar is just one hour away from Rishikesh. Haridwar is also one of the stops of the “Chaar Dham Yatra”.
Getting There – Going by bus and train are popular options but if you want to fly there, the Jolly Grant airport at Dehradun is the nearest to Rishikesh.
Where and How Long to Stay – There are various camps and hotels to stay in at Rishikesh while in Haridwar there is the Swami Dayananda Ashram to stay at. A three day trip is ideal, to break the monotony of life and it can be done even over a long weekend.
Whether you want to go to Varanasi, Kashi or Benaras, you will land up at the same place. Regarded as one of the holiest cities for Hindus, it is known for more than just the Benarasi silk. It is replete with ghats and temples, making it hard to imagine that a lot of them were destroyed in the middle ages. The most intimate rituals of death take place in the open so it is not a destination for the faint of heart.
Getting There – The best time to visit is October to March. You can fly here with the Lal Bahadur Shastri airport being 24kms away from the town, or take a bus or car directly.
Where and How Long to Stay – Spending three days here is sufficient to explore the city and what it has to offer. Most of the budget hotels are located at the banks of the Ganges River. One can also stay at one of the many backpacker’s hostels that have sprung up.
A peaceful cliff overlooking the Arabian Sea, Varkala is a coastal town in Kerela. Ponnumthuruthu Island, Papasnanam Beach, Kapil Lake, Janardhan Swami temple are some of the sights to see here. You could also just lie down at the beach in a hammock and watch the day go by, because the place is that beautiful. Ayurvedic spas and massages are also famous here.
Getting There – You can get here by train to the Varkala station or a drive from the Trivandrum International Airport. December to March is the best time to visit especially if you need a respite from the cold climate you live in.
Where and How Long to Stay – Three-four days here will be good to explore the temples, beaches and water sports.
The number of reasons stopping you from visiting Ziro is zero. Located in lower Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh, Ziro valley is another captivating destination for solo travellers. With enriched flora and fauna, this place is filled with pine groves and mesmerising orchids. The rivulets and streams and the crisp mountain air, will not fail to revitalize your tired soul. Dolo Mando is a trek to undertake here. There is also the Ziro Music Festival, which is ideal, amidst the hills for listening to some great music.
Getting There – The best time to visit would be from February to October and for the music festival in September. Tezpur is the closest location to get here by a train or air.
Where and How Long to Stay – Spend four days here to soak in the beautiful topography that this part of the country has to offer.
A small state bordering Bhutan, it has diverse topography to scale on your trip here. Sikkim has a lot of hot springs, perfect for visiting in the winter. Kanchanjunga is also visible from various points in the state making for postcard-perfect pictures. West Sikkim is a favourite among trekkers for its high peaks, in Pelling and Jorethang.
Getting There – Fly down to Gangtok and then take local transport to make the best of your time here. Or even take a trip if you have more time on your hands. The peak season to visit is from September to June.
Where and How Long to Stay – There are several hostels and hotels to choose. You can also home-stay with families to experience the food and culture first hand. Spend two days in Darjeeling, another two in Gangtok and one in Kalimpong to get a feel of the state.
The ‘Abode of Clouds’ as it literally translates to, Meghalaya is one of the Seven-Sisters you can’t miss. As the name suggests, it has two of the wettest places on Earth, Cherrapunjee and Mawsynram where most of the rain falls between June and September. The water has carved out some of the longest caves of Asia. One of the main attractions in Cherapunjee is the Living Root Bridge.
Getting There – Guwhati is well connected by trains and air but for the rest of the state, the road network is to be relied on.
Where and How Long to Stay – In Shillong, most hotels and accomodations are in the Police Bazaar area. Given the shortage of water in the state (touche!) the rest of the places are harder to stay in but can be still visited. Five days here are ideal though you will really have to plan if you want to visit Cherrapunjee and Mawsynram, given the rains there.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Karnataka, this place is a must visit especially if you love some art and history. There are more than 500 monuments to see here, strewn across the gorgeous backdrop of hills, so make sure you devote enough time to this trip! The political, royal centre of the Vijayanagara empire, temples and even the quarters of Muslim officers in the royal army are all here in a harmonious setting, located just a few miles from each other. The river Tungabhadra also adds to the beauty of Hampi, with coracle boats and stone-hills.
Getting There - The closest town to Hampi is Hospet and you can take a train here and then a short bus ride. If you want to fly down, Hubli is the closest airport located about 160 kms from here.
Where and How Long to Stay – Winter is the best time to visit Hampi with the temperature not dropping below 12 degrees. There are a lot of nice guest houses to stay at here and also some hotels if you want a luxurious trip. There are also heritage resorts with ayurvedic massages to offer. An ideal trip should be of 2-3 days to really see what Hampi has to offer.
These Hindu and Jain temples in Madhya Pradesh are also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temples have exquisitely carved, erotic sculptures. They’re a part of the tantric mysticism which regarded sex as an important part of the rituals. Carefully preserved even after all these years, these temples are a definite must visit.
Getting There - October to February is the best time to visit with the temperature dipping to 4 degrees almost, with quite some activities to be done. Monsoon has its own charm when the lush green landscape makes the temples stand out even more. There are trains that go directly to the Khajuraho station as well as a new airport that connects it to the major cities of India.
Where and How Long to Stay – There are budget hotels and hostels as well as five star, luxurious hotels so it’s really your pick! 3 days is more than enough here. Brass sculptures available here are something worth picking up.
20. Colva Beach
A white sand beach, this stretches for a good 2.4 kms in Goa. Water sports are a great activity here, apart from just lazing around on the beach!
Getting There - The closest railway station is Margao and the closest airport is Dabolim. You can get around in cabs or even hire scooters to see the place yourself.
Where and How Long to Stay - While there’s no limit in the amount of days one can stay in Goa, 4-5 days is the ideal time to spend here on the beaches, eating food and drinking by the shacks. There are villas that you can book as well as hotels depending on your price range. The best time to visit is either spring or during winter, when a lot of people rush in for the new year.
21. Kaziranga National Park
While being the oldest park in Assam, Kaziranga lies partly in the Golaghata district and partly in Nagaon district. A world heritage site, it is famous for the Great One Horned Rhinoceros. The park has lush forests, tall elephant grass and marshes in its terrain.
Getting There - The nearest airport to Kaziranga is Rowriah in Assam which is about 74 kms away. Regular trains go to Helem in Assam which is connected to Kaziranga by road. If you want to take a bus then you need to reach Numaligarh from where regular buses ply.
Where and How Long to Stay – There are lodges and resorts located inside and outside the premises of the park. The park is open from November till April. An ideal duration is of about 3 days to cover the park.
Majuli is the world’s largest river island, located in the Brahmaputra in Assam. Given the abundance of rainfall and water, much of this island is submerged during monsoon. With over 100 species of birds, this place is ideal for bird-watching and for neo-Vaishnavite culture and tradition. The local art and culture is quite a spectacle here and can be seen in the Satras.
Getting There – From Guwahati, Jorhat is a 7 hour bus ride away. There are also ferry rides to Majuli everyday, twice.
Where and How Long to Stay – There are no hotels here but there are guesthouses and guest rooms where tourists can stay. An ideal visit would be of two days to just unwind in the scenic beauty of the place. Best time to visit is post November, once the monsoon is done.
Some Do’s and Don’ts of Solo Travel –
- While it is liberating to not have to check in with people constantly while travelling alone, make sure someone has the numbers of the places you’ll be staying at.
- If you are going to a place where your phone might not get network and you are not sure where you’ll stay, get an MTNL/BSNL sim-cars for your phone as most places do catch their signal.
- When going to a cold place, always carry en extra pair of woollen socks that can also double up as mittens for when your hands start to get cold.
- Always have some money strapped on your person for if your luggage were to get lost, you can at least get by to a safe location with some money.
- When backpacking, keep it light as you’ll only have to carry the bag like dead weight. Backpacking to colder places is better since you can re-wear the same clothes a few times, without sweating in them and feeling mucky.