CALL ME CRAZY BUT I WANT TO TRAVEL ALONE IN INDIA LATER THIS YEAR. ARE THERE ANY PLACES YOU CAN RECOMMEND FOR A SOLO TRAVELLER?
You’re not crazy. India has been long been traversed by the solo traveller and yes, some places are definitely kinder than others.
I’ve travelled India extensively but not exhaustively so I roped in some of my people to help me compile this list. We have a few criteria for what makes a place solo traveller friendly.
Safety of course. (My next AMA post will address women’s safety in India in detail.)
Plentiful accommodation so there are always alternatives available.
Shared or accessible transport - you might need to rent your own in some places as taxis are expensive/inconvenient. Knowing how to ride a bike is a huge plus.
Options for entertainment or socialising. Things to see and do, and the opportunity to meet locals or other travellers are definitely a bonus when you’re flying solo.
I don’t know your gender so these are places I’d recommend to both solo female and male travellers. I’ve left the cities out of this list because they are a no brainer. Research them and visit the ones that take your fancy. I’ve been to many of the major cities in India solo - Delhi, Bombay, Bangalore, Calcutta, Hyderabad, Pune. Are they okay for solo travel? Sure. Are they more fun with company? Definitely.
So without further ado:
Rajasthan in general is made for travellers but Udaipur (pictured above) is just a total charmer. It’s picturesque, has a great vibe and it’s lovely to stroll around in. It ‘s big on hospitality and has options for cute, comfortable accommodation for all budgets. I love destinations with a craft culture and I loved stumbling upon leather workshops and the studios of miniature painters.
Honourable mentions in Rajasthan: Pushkar and Jaisalmer.
I posted this photo blog about Hampi just recently. Hampi is an otherworldly, former seat of the Vijayanagar empire and it is as serene as it is spectacular. Rent a bike to get around and visit the beautiful temples, explore the ruins, go bouldering, ride a coracle down the river and have lunch overlooking the paddy fields. It's pretty easy to meet people and find your own tribe in Hampi.
Goa is a no brainer for the solo traveller and it can be whatever you want: a tranquil haven to hit reset or a raucous party destination. It has stunning beaches, great restaurants, and for the design lover, a new crop of independent boutiques. In Goa, there will always been things to do, places to go and people to meet. I recently wrote this ‘Insider’s Guide to Goa’ for one of my favourite travel blogs The Travel Hack so check that out for some more tips.
Stay in the lovely French Quarter. Walk along the promenade and in the lovely leafy lanes, Pondicherry’s colonial past is very much alive in its architecture and design, discover cool design stores and try creole dishes which are an interesting melange of French cuisine with Tamil ingredients or influences. Pondicherry is a nice place to relax but there isn’t much in terms of sights so you might like to visit Auroville, a fascinating township with a lot of sustainable projects or Mahabalipuram, a cute seaside temple town, on the way to Pondicherry from Chennai.
Fort Kochi is one place I could keep going back to and I’ve already been three times. It has lots to do and see and is filled with great little homestays so you can take your time doing it. The Kochi-Muziris Biennale in 2012 kickstarted a fabulous art movement in the city. Walls are covered in street art and a number of cool galleries have sprung up that are open year round. The local food is great, and there are a host of hip cafes to hang out. If you go now, you can still catch the 2014 Biennale on until the end of March 2015!
Honourable mention in Kerala: Varkala for the surf enthusiast.
I’ve only been to Leh, Ladakh, a laidback and incredibly scenic town which is fine to travel to solo but will get expensive if you are planning on hiring cabs alone to take you to the various sights the region is well known for. Many of my friends agreed that their best solo travel experiences were in the mountains naming Dharamshala, nearby Dharamkot, and Rishikesh as their favourites for hiking, adventure sports, hanging out, painting, vipassana meditation, yoga and enjoying the mountain air.
If you have questions about travelling in India, feel free to Ask Me Anything.
Big thanks to Hannah Baker, Ronda Ramm, Rachel Varghese, Mara Purves and Laura Caccamo for their inputs.
Image: The view from the rooftop pool at Udai Garh, in Udaipur