My Experience Backpacking Solo in Asia

Have you ever imaged yourself backpacking South East Asia, taking a solo trip across the world, staying at a backpacker hostel, or having the complete freedom to wake up and do whatever you wanted to do?!

Yeah me too ; )

When I graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2016, I felt ready to take over the world and excited to start “adulting”. However, before I started my career in business operations for a tech company, I convinced myself that a solo trip to South East Asia was my destiny. I worked really hard to save my money and go on this trip as a graduation present to myself.

It was the best decision I could have made at the time! This article will walk you through the cities I visited in 6 Asian countries and the 5 lessons I learned throughout my journey!

graduation cap and travel suitcase photo

This was before I knew much about travel hacks and tips for long term travel. I wish I knew then, what I know now to have traveled smarter. But better late than never! Check out the linked post to read about my travel tips so you can travel smart too.

So back to my last months in school. I had the opportunity to study abroad for a fifth and last time in Japan to complete one final course for my degree. My journey with UTSA took me to Tokyo, Osaka & Kyoto.

I fell in love with Japan after spending a few weeks there!!

I attended a tea ceremony, cheered on at a sumo wrestler match, fed macaque monkeys at Arashiyama, watched the sun set through a bamboo grove forest, went to the robot and maid cafes, spent a day at Tokyo Disney Sea and much much more.

If you’re planning a trip to Japan I’ll be happy to give you my personal recommendations!! I provide a travel guru service to take your pre-planning stress away.

Contact me to learn more!
Bamboo grove, Kyoto, Japan

Macaque monkeys in Arashiyama
Okonomiyaki pancake in Osaka
Tokyo Disney Sea!
Habu sake wine in Okinawa – would you try it?

I learned my first lesson in Japan:

It doesn’t hurt to ask.

You’ll be surprised the good things that can come out of it if you simply ask the questions to turn a wild thought into reality! This is how I managed to start my solo journey after my study abroad program.

And after waving goodbye to my study abroad university group, I jumped on a plane to spend a few island days in Okinawa, Japan, before traveling by myself to South East Asia!

… and yes I tried the habu sake wine from the picture above : X

I recorded a podcast episode on Limitless Living about my 2 month journey traveling through Asia – click below to listen!

Solo travel in South East Asia –

These were the following stops along my journey:

– Okinawa, Japan
– Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
– Phnom Penh, Cambodia
– Siem Reap, Cambodia
– Bangkok, Thailand
– Singapore
– Bali, Indonesia

My journey through Asia!

I have a million memories and I learned invaluable life lessons while traveling alone for two months. I truly recommend this once in a lifetime experience to anyone. It can sound scary but the experience is worth taking the chance!!!

First stop after Japan was Vietnam. I had quite an interesting experience in Ho Chi Minh City that involves fake taxis, cancelled hotel stays, and ruthless motorbikes – for the full story, listen on Soundcloud!

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Vietnamese Pho lunch in Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnamese pho lunch in Ho Chi Minh City

I learned lesson #2 in Cambodia:

My tourist money can make a difference in the lives of the local people.

For 20 days, I traveled through Cambodia with Intrepid and I was paired with Channa, my local tour guide who shared her country with us. She proudly shared much about Cambodia’s history and culture and took us to amazing places, including Angkor Wat!

My experience traveling with her changed the way I travel now. In new places, I look for nonprofit restaurants, stay at airbnbs, and support local merchants as much as I can.

Angkor Wat Cambodia
Angkor Wat, Cambodia

I learned lesson #3 in Thailand:

Friends of friends are the friends you didn’t know you had.

In Thailand, I roamed local markets, visited hole in the wall restaurants and had a private tour through the city because my friend at home connected me with her Thai friends! I learned to travel like a local thanks to them!

I learned lesson #4 in Singapore:

I’m a representation of my own country, I better make a good impression!

While grabbing sunset drinks at the top of the boat at the Marina Bay Sands hotel in Singapore, I’m told by someone that I’m the first Mexican girl they’ve ever met. What an honor to represent Mexico and share my customs and traditions with someone way across the world!

Marina Bay Sands Bay in Singapore
Marina Bay Sands Bay in Singapore

I learned lesson #5 in Indonesia:

I learned that its good for you to disconnect from the world.

This meant some days without my phone, computer, wifi… and more time with myself. Indonesia did not disappoint.

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan Floating Temple, Bali, Indonesia
Kecak Fire Dance in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Rice fields in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

My time in South East Asia was special and I can’t wait to return one day. For a full video on my trip, check out my Youtube video: Adventures in Asia.

Whether you are alone, traveling with your partner, with family, or friends – traveling to the other side of the world to live life in a way so different from yours is a life changing experience.

“You’re gonna find yourself somewhere, somehow.”

Are you considering taking a solo trip after reading this article?! Message me to tell me about it!

Signed while in Peru (check out the blog post here!),

Salma Travel Guru

Do you want to travel and don’t know where to start?

Contact me for help planning your next trip!

An overview of my Asian adventure!

3 thoughts on “My Experience Backpacking Solo in Asia

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