This Budget Haven In South Asia Named Top Destination for Solo Female Travelers By Timeout

Marwa Grimes

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While there’s no denying the freedom and excitement of a spontaneous, last-minute trip, solo female travelers don’t usually have the luxury to just pack up and go on a whim.

Extensive research is paramount when it comes to finding that place that’ll make us feel safe and entertained without draining out our budgets.

That’s why TimeOut set out to make that process a little easier for us by crafting a data and experience-backed ranking of the best destinations for solo female travelers in the world.

Woman riding a motorcycle on a beach in Sri LankaWoman riding a motorcycle on a beach in Sri Lanka

And while most of the list was compiled by places you’d expect, like Portugal, Japan, and Greece, the winner was a small-ish, budget-friendly haven nestled in South Asia that took most readers by surprise.

But how did Sri Lanka manage to surpass its flashier, more popular counterparts, and what makes the gorgeous country the best destination for solo female travelers right now?

Stick around to find out.

Sri Lanka Has Everything From Ancient Sites To Golden Beaches

Don’t let Sri Lanka’s relatively modest size fool you – there’s more to do and see in the country than you can wrap your head around.

Two elephants in Sri LankaTwo elephants in Sri Lanka

No matter what your interests are, you’re bound to find something that leaves you in awe.

Some won’t be able to get over the millennia-old remnants that lie within what’s called the Cultural Triangle (which includes the ancient cities of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, and Sigiriya), where you can explore ancient temples, towering stupas, and intricately carved ruins.

Others will fall in love with the gold-sanded beaches that come in all shapes and sizes (and vibes), from the more intimate shores of Mirissa to the lively surfing hotspots of Arugam Bay.

Tropical beach in Sri Lanka, MirissaTropical beach in Sri Lanka, Mirissa

Even beyond its fascinating history and stunning beaches, Sri Lanka promises its solo female visitors an experience that’ll never leave them bored, complete with vibrant festivals and amazing tea plantation tours.

It’s Easy To Explore, Though You’ll Need At Least A Week To Do It Right

One of the main concerns travelers (especially we, as women) have when going somewhere unfamiliar is how easy it’ll be to get to and from the places they want to see without knowing the local language and customs beforehand.

Bus in Sri Lanka, MirissaBus in Sri Lanka, Mirissa

Luckily, Sri Lanka is surprisingly easy to navigate thanks to a well-connected bus system and the many private transportation options that are available at all hours of the day and night, not to mention that most major cities are also connected by train.

However, keep in mind that public transport is not the fastest, and considering how much you’ll want to see while here, you’ll need to make sure you have enough time to get everything you want done, so patience and a well-thought-out itinerary are of the essence.

Blue train in Ella, Sri LankaBlue train in Ella, Sri Lanka

One Of The Best-Value Destinations You Can Find Right Now

While there’s no shortage of gorgeous and culturally rich countries in the world, few are as simultaneously cheap and inviting as Sri Lanka, which is why this is one of the best-value destinations you can find.

Tea plantations in Sri Lanka, South AsiaTea plantations in Sri Lanka, South Asia

Now, the rampant inflation that has taken over the world has also affected the island, so don’t expect to find the prices you (or other travelers) might’ve paid a couple of years back.

Still, considering that a bus ride from one end of the island to the other only costs $25, the average inexpensive meal out for one is priced at $3, and a small, 12-ounce bottle of Coke will only set you back $0.68, it’s impossible not to consider a trip to Sri Lanka an excellent deal.

It’s Safer Than Most Think But Exercising Caution Is Still A Good Idea

OK, so let’s discuss what you’ve all been probably waiting for – is Sri Lanka actually safe for women traveling alone?

Solo female traveler in front of the Dunhinda waterfall in Sri LankaSolo female traveler in front of the Dunhinda waterfall in Sri Lanka

Generally speaking, the country is safe and welcoming to all travelers, no more dangerous than Vancouver or New York, if that helps put things into perspective.

However, I do want to note that testimonials from other solo female travelers are somewhat mixed.

Many say that they felt perfectly comfortable and safe, but there have been more than a few who have reported feeling uncomfortable due to excessive (and sometimes even aggressive) catcalling.

Woman looks at the Demodara nine arches bridge the most visited sight of Ella town in Sri Lanka, Travel to AsiWoman looks at the Demodara nine arches bridge the most visited sight of Ella town in Sri Lanka, Travel to Asi

The bottom line is that if you’re looking for a gorgeous yet budget-friendly destination, there’s no need to cross Sri Lanka off your list, but taking a few precautions is still a good idea.

My top tips would be to use the PickMe app when you need a taxi, to be cautious of your belongings when in crowded areas, and to avoid going alone to quiet/remote neighborhoods at night.

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Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

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