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Every summer I start making plans to avoid being “Home Alone for the Holidays”. I’ve had some real adventures, going upriver on the Amazon and welcoming the New Year in Cambodia.
I think the best vacations for singles are river cruises because they allow for time alone in a private state room but with a ready-made group for meals and travel.
The question remains, why SE Asia?
- The low, low prices in SE Asia are hard to beat. While the airfare can add up, even 4-star and 5-star lodgings are cheap as are meals.
- I was lured by photos of ancient, unique architecture. While Cambodia and Thailand have almost identical styles from past centuries, Vietnam was quiet different with a mix from the Colonial Period.
- Exotic wildlife and foliage are perfect for an eco tour.
- While Asia is filled with modern high rises and cutting-edge tech, the deep, rich culture and spiritual influence remains in the art work and many places of worship.
Having finished the visa applications, booked all the hotels and airplane tickets and purchased my solo travel package, I was then able to sit back and enjoy reading about the Mekong Delta. I was surprised to see in the background packet some very unique aspects of the region as described by our tour operator’s background piece included below:
- “…(T)he Mekong is only river that changes direction twice a year. I am still not sure what that means?!
- The Mekong is a major trading route linking China’s southwestern province of Yunnan to Laos, Burma (Myanmar) and Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.
- Glowing spheres of light are observable from time to time rising from the water’s surface in certain parts of the river. These are sometimes referred to as “Naga fireballs” or “Mekong lights.” The locals attribute the phenomenon to Phaya Naga, or “Mekong Dragons.”
- The Mekong is the world’s 12th-longest river at 2,600 miles. It is the largest river in Southeast Asia and crosses borders from Cambodia to Vietnam seamlessly. I was intrigued by the chance to take a perch solo on top of our elegant ship to watch the river roll by with the transition only noted by the arrival of a customs/border official to check us in with no real fanfare.
- The river forms the border between Laos and Burma (Myanmar) and most of the border between Laos and Thailand.
- The earliest known civilization along the Mekong dates to the 1st century A.D. The first European to explore the river was Portugal’s Antonio de Faria, in 1540.
- The name Mekong derives from Mae Nam in the Thai language, meaning “Mother of Water.”
- In 2009, 145 new species were identified in the Mekong region, including 2 new bird species, 5 mammals, 96 plants, 6 new amphibians, and 29 fish species previously unknown to science.
- The Mekong has more large fish than any other river, including the Mekong giant catfish, which can weigh up to 660 lbs. and grows to be almost 10 feet.”
Solo Trekker 4 U: Personal insights and recommendations from Founder, Elizabeth Avery:
For those of us in North America, our first thought is how really far away Asia is. Just thinking about the long, long flight can be daunting. Next, the diverse numbers of languages can give a solo traveler pause. The good news is that Asia is a warm and welcoming solo travel destination. English is widely spoken, and it felt safe for me as a solo female traveler. In any case, it is important, whether at home and in any location abroad, to use good judgment. This is true even though I love adventure, having explored the world alone, including navigating the swine flu and cholera epidemics and dodged feasting crocodiles. However, I always look for lodging with a full service restaurant to avoid foraging for dinner in unfamiliar places after dark, and book a reliable pick-up for my arrival.
Some more of our lessons learned:
- Connecting flights between counties require processing through passport control and/or customs. Allow for time lost. Worse yet connections even within the same carrier’s system may be at opposite ends of the airport.
- With the amount of flying time required, consider spending the night at an airport motel.
- Check visa requirements carefully. For example, if you are on a river cruise, you may cross a second international. This is true traveling between Cambodia and Vietnam.
- While the climate is generally warm, modest dress is appropriate for both men and women. In royal palaces, houses of worship and other certain public monuments, you may need to have head covering, a long skirt and/or shawl. In one case, my guide found my Capri pants at mid-calf too short. I went back and changed into blue jeans. That passed the test! Some locations will offer “loaners” for your visit. Do be prepared for real temperature drops either at night or en route. Coming from Southeast Asia, I almost froze traveling home through Beijing. Air China arrived on the tarmac in 40 plus degree weather with no Jetway and a plane full of tee shirt and flip-flop clad tourists shivering.
- I recommend packing socks. Why is that? If you need to remove your shoes going into certain buildings, the stones or other flooring can be hot. They are also a good way to dodge mosquitoes of other unwanted insects as needed.
- Watch out for wet markets and/or petting or getting too close to undomesticated animals. In addition, even many pets may not have had rabies vaccinations.
- Many of the authentic attractions may be hard to reach or require access from the water.
For more top solo travel deals for the holidays or year round, see our “River Cruises” offerings for one of the best vacations for singles whether you are looking for solo travel Asia or other traveling alone specials.