Thankfully, the world is now your oyster once again. Governments have finally lifted most restrictions on your favorite bucket-list destinations, and the skies are beginning to fill with planes once again. Asia is one of the most spectacular regions for travel with its temperate weather, spectacular tropical scenery, friendly people, and vibrant history and culture.
The end of 2022 is set to see a plethora of solo travelers exploring the world on their own terms. Whether you are looking for backpacker style, spur-of-the-moment adventures, or lavish destinations that curate everything for you. The Asian continent has something for everyone.
Little Steps Asia has explored some of the region’s hot spots that should be on the top of your bucket list.
Hidden in the West Papua Province lies the almost undiscovered area of Raja Ampat, one of the most biodiverse landscapes in the world. Its 1,500 islands lie lazily between West Papua and East Indonesia with powdery white sandy beaches, dense jungle terrain, unmapped caves, and hidden coves. For just over a decade, Raja Ampat has been attracting nature lovers and keen divers seeking pristine coral gardens, whorls of colorful fish, manta ray cleaning stations, microscopic seahorses, and giant pods of feeding sperm whales. Raja Ampat has true Man Friday appeal because of its remoteness, blissful peace, and utter perfection.
If you are a planner, you'll need to book the private resort Misool at least two years in advance. The nearest village is 20 kilometers away; nothing but uninhabited islands and the richest reefs in the world surround the resort. It's one of the remotest destinations in the world and it's the epitome of marine biodiversity. The reefs around Misool were once used for the brutal shark finning trade and unchecked dynamite fishing, which destroyed some of the most important and bio-diverse reefs on the planet. The Misool Marine Reserve now protects 300,000 acres of hyperdiverse coral and is a strictly governed no-fish zone.
Accommodation at Misool is peppered throughout the towering karsts that stand like protective sentinels. The spacious rooms are on the white sandy beaches on the south beach or on stilts over the north lagoon. The spacious outdoor terraces are ideal for lounging or on-deck dining. The restaurant is in the shade of coconut palms that sway in the breeze as you watch baby sharks playing in the shallows. If wellness is on your itinerary, indulge in treatments made with organic, natural ingredients such as aloe, banana leaves, cucumber, and coconuts.
Misool, Raja Ampat Regency, West Papua, Indonesia, +62 813-5406-0519, email@example.com, https://www.misool.info/
The Cardamon Forest is considered one of Southeast Asia's most species-rich tropical rainforest ecosystems. This region remains unexplored and biological surveys reveal dozens of new species of birds, reptiles, plants, and insects, many of which are endemic to this isolated part of the world. Shinta Mani Wild is an extraordinary camp that strives to preserve its 865-acre private nature sanctuary and prevent poaching, mining, and logging activities.
Shinta Mani Wild is all about nature, and there are distinctive seasons in the forest. Early spring sees almost empty riverbeds making it the ideal time for hiking and mountain biking adventures. Towards the end of this season, the cooling rains refresh the valleys and fill the rivers giving a new lease of life to the verdant jungle; this is the ideal time for butterfly watching as they flit busily in the sun's warm rays. You can also explore the Srey Ambel Estuary on one of the resort’s three expedition boats or kayaks. June and July bring mist, rain, and monsoon storms feeding the 17 streams creating a torrential outpouring into the main river and impressive waterfalls. The trees begin to bear fruit, and birds return to their breeding ground; it's a perfect time for twitchers and wild-nature lovers.
The resort boasts 15 elegantly eccentric tents with carved artisanal dark wood and wild animal print furniture, eclectic art, and collectibles from the local villages and around the country. Each tent nestles within 40 acres of wilderness and is constructed on stilts to allow nature to roam unchecked. The legendary architect Bill Bensley carefully chose the names of the luxury tents as a tribute to his affection for the jungle and the unique environment.
Shinta Mani Wild, Thmor Roung National Resort, Cambodia, +855 12 223 782, firstname.lastname@example.org, https://wild.bensleycollection.com/
Chiang Mai is the former glorious seat of the Lanna Kingdom, one of the first significant rulings in Thailand’s rich history. The small northern city is enveloped by wild verdant countryside and ancient rainforests peppered with picturesque waterfalls and refreshing pools. Chiang Mai is a city that’s easily explored by foot; wander around the backstreets and discover a city that remains resolutely Thai in its atmosphere and attitude.
137 Pillars is a private house, quietly tucked away from the city vibes and a mere stone’s throw from the shores of the Ping River. Its 30 lavish suites are havens of tranquillity. They include every possible convenience in the private and luxurious suite accommodation with outdoor garden showers, privacy, delicious food offerings, and personalized butler services. In the center of the house's immaculately manicured grounds stands a century-old sacred banyan tree, a clear emerald-green pool, and a 15-meter vertical wall of green plants. Expect to be entirely pampered at 137 Pillars House; enjoy the gardens dotted with lady palm, mimosa, and sacred banyan trees or relax in the Nitra Serenity Centre and practice calming yoga and poolside meditation.
Not far away is the Elephant Nature Park, the first ethical sanctuary in Thailand and home to almost 100 elephants. Visitors can experience emotional hands-off tours or volunteer experiences led by the park's mahouts. Each mahout has learned how to interact with sometimes terribly abused elephants and guide them, without hooks, to live life as freely as possible in this beautiful and expansive space. This extraordinary project has inspired many sanctuaries to follow the founder Lek Chailert's kindness and compassion for these remarkable animals.
137 Pillars House, 2 Soi 1, Nawatgate Road, Tambon Watgate, Muang Chiang Mai 50000, Thailand, +66 (0)53 247 788, email@example.com, https://137pillarshotels.com/en/chiangmai
Elephant Nature Park, https://www.elephantnaturepark.org/
Penang is famed for its many historical sites and sparkling waters off Batu Ferringhi Beach. The island happily boasts extraordinary culinary offerings. The tasty blend of Chinese, Tamil, and Malay influences resulting in fiery curries, noodle dishes, and a plethora of curious street cuisine. A UNESCO World Heritage Site sits proudly in Georgetown's capital, dotted with old-fashioned colonial-era mansions, clan houses, ornate temples, a Little India, and many Chinese shop houses. The great outdoors delivers rainforests, beaches, and a vibrant history that melds seamlessly into contemporary living.
Almost half a century ago, the Shangri-La Rasa Sayang was built. It’s nestled amidst rainforests, beaches, tropical jungles, and coastal mangroves. The beautifully-fragrant gardens are planted with heliconia, creeping daisies, frangipani, giant Malayan fern palms, colorful bougainvillea, and hibiscus. Ancient giant rain trees take pride in place within the expansive gardens. The impressive indigenous tree has for centuries provided shade and was used for medicinal purposes. Arboculturalists consider the trees within the resort some of the oldest along this coastline.
The resort has two wings that house various rooms and suites. The rooms are large, fresh, and airy. The garden wing interiors are decorated with earthy tones with accents of citrus and assorted hues of pretty seaside blues. The Rasa Wing is for the sophisticated solo traveler who enjoys a sense of solitude and peace. Exclusive to Shangri-La, Chi the holistic spa introduces age-old healing practices and philosophies from the Asian region with relaxing, therapeutic, and harmonious treatments.
Shangri-La Rasa Sayang, Batu Feringgi Beach, Penang, Pinang, Penang, Malaysia, +60 4-888 8888, firstname.lastname@example.org, https://www.shangri-la.com/penang/rasasayangresort/
Borneo is diverse and is home to 140 million-year-old rainforests with some of the world's tallest trees, indigenous groups and tribes, and some of the smallest animals like the pygmy elephant, sun bear, and the exquisite pygmy squirrel. There are many unusual animals, including the Proboscis monkey with its exceptionally unique nose. Explore the Bako National Park, wander through the Bau caves, track down the world's largest flower in Gunung Gading National Park or hike the mist-shrouded Borneo Highlands. Book a guide and hike Mount Santubong, spend time with delightful orange-furred orangutans in their natural environment, and discover the nearby national parks and cultural and fishing villages. It's a must to get out and about in nature.
On the southwest coast of Borneo, the Sarawak River provides an essential water source and transportation for the inhabitants. Sarawak's capital, Kuching, boasts a glorious coastline on one side and dense rainforest on the other; it’s a breathtaking gateway into the country’s caves, beautiful beaches, and tropical jungle. The melting pot of ethnic and cultural backgrounds of Borneo's people means that the island's cuisines are widespread and delicious. Take a sampang for a matchless view of the pretty Malay villages, bustling streets of 19th-century shophouses, museums, an imposing wooden-roofed palace, and a golden-domed mosque with the backdrop of the glorious Santubong Mountain.
The Borneons bring together age-old traditions of culture, language, and hospitality; they'll welcome you warmly. In the foothills of the Santubong Mountain and on the shores of the South China Sea, you'll find Cove 55, a hideaway of luxury and the ultimate destination for exploring. The sprawling resort nestles amidst lush tropical greenery and the feeling of infinity as you look towards the horizon across the sea. Once a private Iban-owned home, the resort has 28 bedrooms and allows you a sense of exclusivity and peace. Choose one of the three ocean suites with private pools if you want complete calm. Each room has a private courtyard garden, sunrise or sunset views, and is on the beach or in the shady mangrove forest.
Cove 55, 93010 Kuching, Sarawak, Borneo, +60 82-846 068, email@example.com, https://cove55.com/
The largest island in Thailand, Phuket, has been a long-term heartthrob for many. Its historic charm dates back to the Chinese settlers and the times of tin mining. Its unique blend of color, serenity, and history makes it the ideal base for travelers. Across the island are swathes of nature, ancient rubber plantations, untouched jungles, and pine tree-lined beaches. Explore the markets, sample the fiery dishes of the world's favorite food, lounge on miles of white sandy beaches, learn the art of eight limbs or head to a wellness retreat for the ultimate rejuvenation program.
Just steps away from a street that hums with activity is a serene oasis that offers a true escape from the maddening world. Award-winning Chivitr is a place to feel safe, cocooned, nurtured, and calm. Chivitr is an eclectic mix of Thai, Chinese and European interiors that seamlessly meld into unique living spaces. You'll be encouraged to explore the well-tended tropical gardens dotted with time-worn banyan trees, naturally flowing water and little pods of peace. The wellness resort is centered around a healing infinity pool.
The retreat is built around octagonal wooden pillars that form impressive walkways and salas for dining under the stars. There are eight suites and four luxurious residences. Subtle references to the number eight appear throughout Chivitr; it's an auspicious number in China. Thoughtful attention to detail is everywhere; slatted shutters allow cool breezes to drift through the shady teakwood rooms. Personalized daily programs afford you time to exercise, breathe, and rest. Your perceptive butler will attend to your every whim.
Chivitr, 14/106 Moo.1 Rawai, Muang, Phuket, +66 (0) 76 388 838, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.chivitr.com
The tropical island of Bali is known for its breathtaking beaches, meandering rivers, never-ending jungle scapes, temples, and holistic living. There are many activities for the intrepid explorer, including whitewater rafting, diving, and hiking past the Sekumpal waterfalls, Tegalalang rice terraces, and the Instagrammable Handara Gate. In the unspoiled Eastern region of Bali, there are endless exploration opportunities, such as cycling in the shadows of the great Mount Agung, past Tirta Gangga Water Palace, along quiet village roads and the emerald-green rice terraces synonymous with Bali. You can also hire a guide to take you to spots only the locals know.
The resort name, Amankilla, means peaceful hill, and this couldn’t be more true; it’s a world away from traffic jams and busy working days. Amankilla nestles proudly on a dramatic clifftop with dramatic views across the watery horizon. This breathtaking stretch of coastline on the Lombok Strait sits beneath the sacred Mount Agung. In contrast, greenery stretches for miles and steals glimpses of Nusa Penida island in the distance. The resort is connected with frangipani-lined walkways, and 34 standalone stilted suites are high on the hillside. At the heart of the resort lies a three-tier temperate infinity pool, and on the black sandy beach is the cool-vibed beach bar.
If you want something truly unforgettable, the Kilasari Suite, named after Amankila’s main temple, has a stunning sea-view infinity pool and private terrace so you can sleep with the doors open and fall asleep to the sounds of the sea below. Resident holistic healers will transform your well-being with various practices such as hypnotherapy and reiki. Relax into the daily yoga and movement classes, including the comical laughing yoga sessions.
Amankilla, Jl. Raya Manggis, Manggis, Kec. Manggis, Kabupaten Karangasem, Bali, +62 363 41333, email@example.com, https://www.aman.com/resorts/amankila/
Cambodia is on many solo travelers’ bucket lists of places to visit. The relatively unexplored country has a pleasant tropical climate and seemingly endless temples. The country boasts one of the most impressive towns, Siem Reap. The northern city has captured the hearts and imaginations of archaeologists and visitors worldwide. It’s a must to visit Angkor Wat temple for a sunrise like no other, Ta Prohm in its inimitable setting of gnarled trees and curled creepers intertwining protectively around this once-lost temple, and Angkor Thom with hundreds of carvings of faces making it akin to stepping onto a magical film set.
The Shinta Mani Angkor and Bensley Collection Pool Villas are located in the peaceful leafy French Quarter of Siem Reap between the Royal Gardens and the Old Market. They are mere steps from the eponymously named Siem Reap river and minutes from the magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Temples of afore-mentioned Angkor Wat.
Shinta Mani Angkor has 39-breathtakingly stylish rooms with modern facilities. Inlaid ceiling artwork showcasing the images of Angkor, which complement the contemporary, chic interiors. An age-old canopy of palace trees shades the 10-bedroom Bensley Collection Pool Villas, offering privacy and the ultimate extravagance of tropical living. Dramatic high wall facades frame the pool villas with intricate three-dimensional carvings of the closed 'hands of meditation. Each villa boasts at least 150 square meters of space, including bedroom and bathroom pavilions, verdant gardens, a private pool, outdoor bathtubs, and rain showers. Try Kroya Restaurant for its menu blends international and local produce and combines fresh ingredients, native herbs, and spices to create innovative, palette-pleasing plates.
Shinta Mani Angkor and Bensley Collection Pool Villas, Oum Khun Street and 14th Street, Shinta Mani Street, Krong Siem Reap, +855 63 964 123, firstname.lastname@example.org, https://angkor.shintamani.com/
Sri Lanka is a hidden gem that’s only been on the map for just over a decade since then-president Mahinda Rajapaksa declared the end of the 26-year civil war. Its tumultuous past has allowed its beautiful people to rebuild their lives and create an extraordinary destination for travelers to discover. The almost endless beaches, rolling surf, ancient ruins, incredible wildlife, delicious tea, and flavorful food are the perfect ingredients for a solo holiday of a lifetime.
The Uga Chena Huts are set in the Wildlife tourism zone in Yala, slightly inland from the southernmost coast. Uga Chena offers unforgettable wildlife experiences like no other on the island. The spacious seven-acre resort is home to 14 luxurious wooden cabins. Each cabin is designed in harmony with the natural environment and is a nod to African safaris that are so well known. The large cabins feature log furniture, comfy beds, free-standing bathtubs, and a large covered deck with a five-meter plunge pool. The resort has a unique location that borders Yala National Park, the Indian Ocean, and a natural watering hole. Solo travelers can enjoy discovering the landscape with experienced rangers on personalized safaris.
Visiting the Ruhuna National Park, familiarly known as Yala, is at the top of the list of things to do in Sri Lanka. Ruhuna is the largest and oldest national park. It is the richest in biodiversity, boasting 44 different resident mammal species and one of the highest leopard population densities in the world. There are dozens of reptile species, including turtles, crocodiles, flying snakes, and fan-throated lizards. The reserve has over 200 resident and migrant species of birds; the flamboyant peacock is the most common. Your ranger will take you for adventures through grasslands, semi-deciduous and thorn forests, freshwater and marine wetlands, and sandy beaches where the only footprints you see belong to foraging birds and animals. After a long day of exploring, you can enjoy a range of indulgent spa treatments and remedies.
Uga Chena Huts, Tala-Palatupana, Wildlife Tourism Zone, Yala, Tissamarama, Sri Lanka, +94 47 2 267 100, email@example.com, https://www.ugaescapes.com/chenahuts/
Ho Chi Minh City is known for its fascinating art scene, whether in back street cafes, boujee art galleries, or the world-class museums scattered across the city; there are collections of art and other pieces inspired by the atrocities of war. Allow yourself to embrace the high-octane chaotic whirl of the city with verve. You'll find elegant French colonial architecture on tree-lined Dong Khoi revamped with luxe stores and elegant hotels colliding with modern skyscrapers and apartment houses in the city's China Town. Get off the tourist route and find fragrant flower markets and a hidden incense-infused Buddhist pagoda. It's worth exploring local street food vendors to sample some of the best Vietnamese food. Travel around old Saigon and head to the red dirt trails that meander haphazardly through the countryside and many villages.
Stay at the ideally located Reverie Saigon in the 39-story Times Square building in the heart of District One on Nguyen Hue Boulevard, Ho Chi Minh City’s tourist center and main shopping street. The old French colonial center is right on the doorstep. The hotel is for solo travelers that enjoy a sense of theatre; it's debuted as the most spectacularly extravagant hotel in Vietnam. The hotel owns The Reverie Yacht, which peacefully cruises the Saigon River. If you feel fancy, experience Ho Chi Minh City in true Reverie style with an exclusive tour of the city in a limited-edition Rolls-Royce Phantom Dragon.
Choose from lavish hotel accommodation or one of the full-service residential-style suites. The rooms and suites accommodate all tastes, from sleek and modern to classic, whimsical, or fanciful. The city's most sought-after spa presents an oasis of calm in this busy city. It has various treatment rooms and beauty and hair salons. Treatments combine ancient therapies from the orient with Western-inspired aromatherapy treatments to relax your body after a long day exploring this colorful city.
The Reverie Saigon, Times Square Building, 22 – 36 Nguyen Hue Boulevard and 57 – 69F Dong Khoi Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, +84 (0) 28 3823 6688, firstname.lastname@example.org, https://www.thereveriesaigon.com/