Women Who Have Traveled in SE Asia Alone?
12th November, 2012
People keep telling me that it's fine as long as I am cautious, but I am worried because I like to travel off of the beaten path, to remote wilderness, to jungles and other unreachable and non-touristy places. Is it safe to take tuk-tuks alone as a woman to a nature reserve? Is it safe to hire guides to take me to jungles alone? Or should I really try to pull some other travelers along with me to stay safe?
I am planning my trip to Thailand and perhaps Vietnam or Malaysia, and I am actually getting very anxious about it.
#1 Posted: 15/11/2012 - 01:16
19th October, 2011
Total reviews: 5
I'm a male but will try to help. Of those three countries I only know about Thailand, but if you're smart and careful you'll be fine - actually the non-touristy places you want to go generally seem to be safer (for solo men, solo women, groups, basically anybody) than tourist places, since people who want to scam tourists naturally center around tourist places. People might find it strange that you're single since people here tend to marry and have families a bit earlier than most westerners, and women don't seem to travel alone too much (it's still a largely patriarchial society here) but in everywhere off-the-beaten-track I've been in Thailand people have been very helpful and considerate, and I generally feel safe even leaving my suitcase in bus station seating areas while using the toilet since people watch your belongings for you. I've even done this by experiment - left my luggage in a bus station while walking off to get some food - and neighboring people literally keep their eyes glued on the luggage as if protecting their own property. Naturally I wouldn't do this in a typical station in Bangkok or CM or down south (where I haven't ventured yet), but in areas that don't see a lot of tourists and we're therefore a bit out of the ordinary, they'll go out of their way to watch out for you, in my experience.
The only time I've been slightly done wrong is being slightly overcharged by tuk-tuk's, but at the worst it has amounted to maybe 30-60 baht over a reasonable price.
To be honest, the most dangerous creatures I've encountered here are other westerners and the occasional attack of soi dogs while walking late at night (I always keep a bag while walking late at night). In one Isaan village I stayed in, locals even warned me not to walk at night due to the risk of being attacked by pii or ghosts. Also in several less-visited places in N and NE Thailand, local policemen have gone out of their way to introduce themselves to me in a way that suggested they wanted me to feel welcome.
As far as going to the jungle alone with a guide, bring your concerns up with the agency before going. If they're a good agency they should be able to handle your concerns and go out of their way to ensure your safety.
Another thing - everywhere I've been in Thailand has been well-traveled many times before, by various Asian civilizations living here as well as the occasional westerner passing through (also you'll find westerners married to locals in many of even the more remote spots). The jungles seem to be well-trekked by monks or forest farmers, and word-of-mouth passes quickly around the more remote areas. I hear Nan province is pretty nice and out of the way (in the north of Thailand, east of Chiang Mai) so may check that out.
So in short, talk to the locals when possible, mention what you're doing, show respect, keep your head on your shoulders, and you'll be fine. Have a good trip.
#2 Posted: 18/11/2012 - 07:49
#3 Posted: 18/11/2012 - 08:31
28th April, 2007
Total reviews: 2
yeah I second squarethecircle. in smaller towns of SEA i feel safer and more peaceful. once you are out of tourist areas, the people you will meet are mostly people who are busy working for a living, scamming or harming tourists are not their top priority.
In Siem Reap, there was once I went for a dinner across the river from my hotel. after the meal it was pitch-dark and the street deserted. my hotel was about a km away. with no sign of any tuk tuk, i walked. not a minute went by before a motobike stopped beside me and started talking to me in Khmer. I didn't know a word, but understood he meant hey it's not safe here, jump on i'll fetch you. so i ended up on his moto and he took me back across the river to the market area. In Pitsanulok one evening i was walking and lost my way, holding my map in hand, i approach a housewife who was resting outside after her dinner. she can't say a word of english, but she wasted no time to even try to work out the directions, she just asked her hubby out and got him to fetch me to the train station that's where i wanted to go. i won't suggest you trying this as a lone lady, for i'm a guy. i was very touched by this and other similar incidents/encounters with the locals. however, there's always added precautions needed for women than men. just be smart, most common sense at your hometown would mostly be applicable here as well.
taking any public transport is generally safe, just make sure all your valuables are on or near your body. taking a tuk-tuk alone in any town areas should be no problem, but as a lone lady traveller, taking tuk-tuk for further out-of-town tours or for a day trip - it might be better to ask your guesthouse/hotel to charter one for you, and make sure they know who is the driver (and make the driver knows that he is known too), your target location and your scheduled time to come back. for added safety, buy a local sim card and store your guesthouse's phone number in your cell phone. If you like trekking, go for a reputable company.
#4 Posted: 18/11/2012 - 20:10
28th April, 2007
Total reviews: 2
The above link is a very interesting site by a girl who loves solo travelling. Marvelous.
#5 Posted: 20/11/2012 - 00:23
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