Did you know that 3 in 4 women in the U.S. have traveled or are planning to travel solo?
Solo female travelers are the fastest-growing group of travelers in the world. With searches for solo female travel having tripled over the last 4 years, it’s safe to say that trend isn’t going anywhere.
There’s been outstanding progress in the opportunities and acceptance of women who want to see the world alone, but safety is still a big part of the conversation.
According to recent surveys, while most men say their biggest travel worry is the price of a trip, half of women cite safety as their top travel concern.
While it’s important to remember that safety as a solo female traveler is entirely individual and subjective, many women consider statistics like low crime rates and safety rankings when choosing a solo destination.
You may be familiar with the usual front-runners for women’s travel safety, like Norway, Japan, or Canada. But the world still has a few good surprises in store.
Here are six lesser-known safe destinations for solo female travelers that are bound to surprise you.
Punta del Este, Uruguay
Uruguay is the safest country in all of Latin America and one of the top fifty safest countries in the world, according to the Global Peace Index. The slow pace of life, welcoming social scene, and relative political stability make Uruguay a top safety pick.
Punta del Este is sometimes referred to as the St. Tropez of Uruguay. This elite beach community is known for its gorgeous beaches and clean flower-lined streets, as well as its tranquil safety.
While there’s nothing particularly unsafe about the capital city of Montevideo, Punta del Este is widely regarded as the safest and calmest destination in Uruguay.
This seaside city attracts plenty of luxury tourists and celebrities from all over the Americas. Its swanky resorts, sleek nightclubs, and award-winning restaurants won’t be the cheapest option in Uruguay.
Solo travelers can join boat trips to swim with sea lions at Isla de Lobos, enjoy the daily sunset ceremony at Casapueblo, catch some waves at Playa Brava, or soak in the sun at trendy Bikini Beach.
Qatar is the safest country in the Middle East and one of the 25 safest countries in the world. While the dress code is conservative, sexual harassment and street crime are incredibly low.
Neighboring Dubai usually comes to mind first for a safe and luxurious Gulf getaway. But don’t underestimate Doha. The Qatari capital is so safe that you’d be hard-pressed to find so much as a taxi scam or pickpocket anywhere.
Unlike most big cities, Doha is just as safe to explore by night as by day. It’s a good thing, too, because the city lights up into an architectural work of art when the sun goes down. Evening is a great time for a walk around the Corniche, a fountain show at Place Vendôme, or hanging out in Barahat Msheireb.
Getting around the city is safe and easy any time of day, both on public transport and with Uber.
There’s so much to do in Doha for every kind of solo female traveler:
- Hop on a boat to Banana Island
- Climb the Inland Sea dunes
- Marvel at Education City Mosque
- Stroll the colorful Qanat Quartier
- Shop in Souq Waqif, or the calmer alternative Souq Al Wakrah
- Kayak around Purple Island
- Get your culture on at the Islamic Museum of Art
- Visit the Golden Masjid at Katara Cultural Village
- Shop in some of the glitziest malls in the world, like Al Hazm
Doha is also one of the most Instagrammable cities in the world. Snap your travel shots at the Iconic 2022 building, Ceremonial Court, Mina District, or even Al Sadd Metro Station. For those willing to get off-path, ‘Shadows Travelling On The Sea of the Day’ mirror art installation in the desert of nearby Al Zubarah is a true hidden gem.
Some safety items to note: Homosexuality and some forms of reproductive health care are illegal here and can carry a prison sentence of up to 5 years. The laws in Qatar are as strictly enforced for tourists as they are for locals.
Frisco, Texas, U.S.
Did you know that 8 of the top 10 safest cities in the U.S. are in Texas? And Frisco is #1.
Rates of violence, street crime, and harassment are all extremely low, so women adventuring alone can feel comfortable day or night.
In Frisco, safe doesn’t mean boring. This destination is full of surprises, from the trendiest restaurants and shops in Legacy West to hidden swimming holes at Limestone Quarry Park.
No description of Frisco would be complete without mentioning “The Star.” This mega-complex is home to the Dallas Cowboys, but has become so much more than that.
Enjoy the buzzing social scene of nearly 30 top-rated restaurants, bars, and patios in the complex before cooling off in the Omni Hotel’s rooftop pool – all without leaving The Star. Oh, and don’t forget to get fitted for a pair of iconic Lucchese cowboy boots in the 6,200-square-foot shopping center before you go!
Pretty much all cities in Texas are car-dependent, so travelers should reserve a rental car in advance for this trip. With that rental car, though, your Frisco trip can take you to so many other destinations in 30-45 minutes.
Solo female travelers can see the rodeo in Fort Worth, explore the hipster-meets-historical old town square in Denton, or take in the Dallas skyscrapers and trendy food truck fare in Klyde Warren Park – all with peace of mind about their safety.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Malaysia is the third safest country in Asia, the safest budget-friendly Asian destination, and one of the top twenty safest countries in the world.
Violent crime against tourists is almost unheard of. While locals might look twice at foreigners of all genders, solo female travelers are unlikely to receive unwanted attention or street harassment here.
Many travelers might want to head straight to the jungle-lined beaches of Langkawi, but it would be a serious mistake to skip the capital city of Kuala Lumpur.
With recently announced digital nomad visas, hundreds of new hotels, and top safety ratings, it’s no wonder that Kuala Lumpur is trending in 2023.
Here are some great solo-traveler-friendly activities in Kuala Lumpur:
- Climb the colorful steps of Batu Caves
- Get high above the clouds at Petronas Twin Towers, the tallest in the world
- Indulge your inner foodie at Lot 10 Hutong, Jalan Alor, or Michelin-starred Dewakan
- Make new friends in the hopping nightlife at Changkat Bukit Bintang
- Take in a PUSAKA traditional dance show
Rwanda is one of the biggest comeback stories in the world when it comes to social peace and women’s safety.
The capital city of Kigali is the safest in Africa, with all-time low crime rates for the continent.
In 2022, Rwanda was also ranked the sixth safest country in the world for solo travelers. This year, the BBC featured Rwanda as the second safest destination for solo female travelers specifically. It is also the sixth most gender-equitable country in the world.
For solo female travelers, walking alone at night isn’t advised, as is the case in most cities around the world.
The minor risks in Kigali are petty theft (usually crimes of opportunity) and reckless moto drivers.
- Shop at the open-air Kimironko market
- Get around the city with Rwanda’s first female tour guide driver
- Visit a traditional milk bar
- Cycle around Kigali on a bike tour with all-female company Judith Safaris
- Savor Rwandan coffee at Question Coffee, Inzora rooftop, or J. Lynn’s, which doubles as both a café and a women’s entrepreneurship hub
- Take a day trip to see the gorillas at Parc National des Volcans or soak up the sun at Lake Kivu Beach
Ojochal, Costa Rica
Costa Rica is the safest country in Central America and one of the top 40 safest countries in the world (for reference, the U.S. ranks below 120).
That said, safety in Costa Rica can vary a lot between regions. A few flashpoints to avoid are Quepos, Limon City, Santa Rosa de Pocosol, and most of San Jose.
One of the safest places to be in Costa Rica is the town of Ojochal and its neighboring beaches, Playas Tortugas and Ventanas.
A true hidden gem in Puntarenas, Ojochal isn’t a major tourist destination, but hosts outstanding natural beauty and a welcoming long-term international community.
The pristine stretch of beach at Playa Tortuga is a unique find in Costa Rica: an untouched sandy beach better for swimming than surfing. Solo female travelers can have peace of mind soaking up the sun here.
The town of Ojochal retains its traditional culture but welcomes newcomers. It’s not bad on the budget, either. Large multi-room villas with jungle view pools can go for as little as $175 a night.
Take a short drive to Nauyaca Waterfalls, boat down the Río Terraba mangroves, or go scuba diving with sea turtles. Whichever pura vida activities you choose, you can have peace of mind knowing you’re in the safest off-path paradise in the region.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com