Southeast Asia forum

Advice for Solo Woman Traveler

  • Skrohn1

    Joined Travelfish
    8th March, 2012
    Posts: 1

    Hi fellow travelers,

    I am an active, well traveled, 58 year old woman embarking on my first solo trip to SE Asia. I am very excited that i will be traveling for 6 weeks and have had a wonderful time planning my trip. I have arranged hotels, home stays and day trips in a number of my destinations. I will be traveling with one piece of carry on luggage - a rolling duffel.

    I would love any tips from you experienced travelers especially regarding safety: I will be spending 2 overnights on a train - sharing a compartment with 4 strangers. Also, due to the fact that credit card and ATM's can not be used in Myanmar, I need to carry cash (pristine American Greenbacks) for the last 2 weeks of my journey.

    I would love your thoughts!

    My itinerary follows:

    Hanoi - Hanoi kids to highlights, hcm complex & museum of ethnology etc, cooking class, day trip to perfume pagoda,
    Halong Bay overnight
    Sapa (hiking and homestay) visit to market towns BaCa and Can Cau

    Laos - Luang Prabang - pak ou caves, and kuang si falls
    Cambodia - seim reap and angor wat, and kampong phhluk

    HCMC city and tunnels
    Mekong - villages and homestay

    Myanmar (2 weeks)
    Golden rock
    Boat to Mandalay
    Inle lake

    #1 Posted: 12/5/2012 - 11:29

  • Advertisement

  • SBE

    Click here to learn more about SBE
    Joined Travelfish
    14th April, 2008
    Location Global Village
    Posts: 1999
    Total reviews: 5
    Places visited:
    At least 2

    Hi there.

    It's pretty unlikely you'll have any problems so I wouldn't worry about personal safety too much!

    Re the cash... well I wander off the beaten path rather a lot to places where there are no banks or ATMs too and I often stay in homestays and flimsy bamboo huts etc. I frequently have wads of cash on me but never had any problems. I haven't been to Vietnam mind you, so I don't know if theft is more of an issue there. I've seen occasional reports of bag snatching but it's never happened to me.

    On public transport keep cash, credit cards and passport on your person, not in hand luggage on a rack and especially not in luggage that gets put in a hold where you can't see it. You could use a money belt, a bum bag, (fanny pack I think they call them in the US) or zipped up pockets in your clothes.... whatever...just make sure it's actually ON you, not lying about in a bag that someone could rummage through while you're asleep.

    I will be traveling with one piece of carry on luggage - a rolling duffel.

    Hmm. Backpacks are actually easier IMO, especially if you're going trekking with the thing. They take up less room on public transport and the wheels add extra weight that you may have to carry if the ground isn't suitable for wheels....sand, mud, potholes, steps, various urban obstructions like stupidly placed lamp posts, bill boards and stairwells, people cooking, eating and selling things on the pavements, pedestrian traffic jams etc. As long as your pack isn't too heavy, carrying is often less hassle than wheeling. I look for backpacks that have a lockable zip rather than a drawstring... not 100% secure but it discourages very quick and easy opportunist theft which is the main risk. Don't leave your bag right under an open window for the same reason . Put it on the other side of the room where it's out of reach and don't leave valuables lying about in full view. Just use basic common sense.

    Sounds like you've already booked accommodation and day trips etc...hmm again. You might well find that very constraining and regret having done it. People's travel plans frequently change because you really like somewhere and want to stay a day or two longer or you don't like somewhere as much as you thought you would and want to move on. SE Asia is a very easy part of the world to be flexible so it's best not to set plans in concrete!

    #2 Posted: 12/5/2012 - 13:31


    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6955
    Total reviews: 10

    I concur with SBE here - especially regarding the pack and planning.

    The itinerary struck me as a bit strange - jumping from place to place. Places with seemingly no connection to each other. But I assume you did your homework and have good reasons for going where you are going. It necessitates a lot of flying, but you must know that already.

    #3 Posted: 13/5/2012 - 09:19

  • busylizzy

    Joined Travelfish
    31st December, 2007
    Location New Zealand
    Posts: 2155
    Total reviews: 20
    Places visited:
    At least 107

    Good points above - and I see SBE has given you the same advice re: packs that I just did on another post. Packs that lock are a must.

    Mac is right about the itinerary - it's not the most logical one but you may have reasons for that. By arriving twice in Vietnam you will pay for two visas (unless you're aware of a multi-entry visa?) and these will need to be arranged ahead of time - you can't get them on arrival. If you arrive by air in Vietnam, you can organise a pre-approval letter online ahead of time, then get the visa when you arrive, but that doesn't work for overland.

    Logistically and probably cost-wise, it would make more sense to re-arrange your itinerary as follows:

    Vietnam - Hanoi, etc - then fly down to Vietnam
    Cambodia - overland from HCMC to Cambodia.
    Laos - fly from Siem Reap to Luang Prabang (Laos Air)

    With respect to safety, I've had no problems on my travels, but I am pretty sensible. Bag snatchings are known to be a problem in HCMC and Phnom Penh, and apparently more recently in Siem Reap. Just keep your bag close to you by wearing it across your chest (not dangling from your shoulder). Don't walk alone in dark alleys, etc late at night. Don't flash your money around, and leave the jewelry at home. Don't let your guard down and just assume other backpackers are trustworthy and leave them looking after your valuables. Just use common sense that you would at home and you'll be fine.

    And... do have a good time!

    #4 Posted: 13/5/2012 - 15:44

  • busylizzy

    Joined Travelfish
    31st December, 2007
    Location New Zealand
    Posts: 2155
    Total reviews: 20
    Places visited:
    At least 107

    PS -I haven't had the time to check it out yet, but I just saw this post made by altml that might be useful:

    #5 Posted: 13/5/2012 - 15:46

Have questions? Jump to our menu of forum quicklinks

Add your reply

Your reply

Check this box if you want to be notified of replies.

Please be familiar with our user guidelines before you post. Thanks!

Businesses planning on plugging their guesthouse / hotel / karaoke bar should read our "Addition guidelines" very carefully.

You need to be logged in to answer an existing post on the Travelfish forums. Please login via the prompts just above and refresh this screen -- before writing your post -- and you'll be in business.

Hotel Deals of the Day
best price guarantee

Possibly related discussions Replies  Views  Latest reply
Advice for a solo female traveler? ... By XeniaC on 2 Aug 2012 4 6077 12 Aug 2012
Travelling SE Asia Solo (first time traveler) advice please :) ... By chris9393 on 17 Apr 2014 41 4911 25 Apr 2014
First time solo traveler off to SE Asia for 3 months next month, would appreciate some advice. ... By NFT_Terrorist on 13 May 2014 12 1930 16 May 2014
Where's best to stay in bangkok for first time solo traveler (hostels where mainly solo backpacke ... By Paddy1888 on 10 Oct 2013 3 6778 12 Oct 2013
solo woman safety ... By sunlvr on 20 Mar 2015 4 1120 22 Mar 2015
Sihanoukville for solo woman? ... By curstilace on 30 Jun 2009 7 3600 3 Jul 2009
solo woman 31 years old thailand, bali and etc 21.09-01.11 ... By vilma_79 on 20 Sep 2010 0 1553 20 Sep 2010
3 Weeks in SE Asia - solo, woman hardcore backpacker ... By foubee on 8 Jul 2011 20 5131 11 Jul 2011
WOMAN SOLO TO THAILAND, CAMBODIA, LAOS, VIETNAM ... By jajaradak on 10 May 2012 8 3512 30 May 2012
Solo Traveler ... By heavanse on 11 Jan 2012 12 2658 25 Jan 2012