6 Little-Known Countries that Are Safe for Solo Travellers in 2017

6 Little-Known Countries that Are Safe for Solo Travellers in 2017

We found some pretty interesting or little-known destinations that rank high on the safety and security index in the recent Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017. Here are some of them.

Safety is one of the main concerns of solo travellers when choosing their next travel destination. After all, without a travel buddy, any issue that arises on the road has to be tackled independently. This takes a measure of bravery, and many solo travellers prefer to stick to tried-and-tested destinations to reduce hiccups along the journey. However, we’d like to broaden the options for solo travellers by offering some fresh locations for your next adventure!

Every year, the World Economic Forum publishes a report on Travel and Tourism Competitiveness to rank countries according to their travel attractiveness as well as factors that contribute to it being a good travel destination. Based on this report, we put together a list of lesser-known countries that rank highly on the index for safety and securityWedged alongside countries like Germany, New Zealand and Japan, we found some pretty surprising destinations. 

Here, we list them out for your consideration.

1. Rwanda

The mention of Rwanda probably brings to mind the genocide and political turmoil in the early 90s. Since then, Rwanda has perhaps surprisingly turned into one of Africa’s safest and most stable countries for tourists. According to WEF’s report, Rwanda actually ranks 9th in the world in terms of safety and security, above Portugal (11th), New Zealand (13th), and even Sweden (16th). Located in the heart of the African Savannah, it is the probably the best place to access Africa’s amazing wildlife sanctuaries and natural landscapes.

Image credit: Derek Keats

Dotted with volcanoes in its northwestern region, the aptly-named Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda is a great place for those looking to challenge themselves with a hike up one of those fiery giants. The national park is also one of the best places to see the famous mountain gorillas as well as the rare golden monkeys. It is best to take as long as possible to linger in the park to bask in the magnificence and beauty of the region.

The best period to visit Rwanda will be from mid-May to September when the weather is dry. While travelling during the wet season from March to early May is not impossible, the incessant rainfall makes it more uncomfortable to do so, especially if you are looking to go trekking and visit gorilla sanctuaries.

Image credit: Scott Chacon

One should not visit Rwanda without learning more about its history and its devastating genocide in 1994. There are a few museums and memorials that will offer insights into this bleak period of history.

2. Georgia

Whether Georgia is an Asian or European country is often a debate as it’s situated in the Eurasian hinterland that is the Caucasus. Georgia may easily be thought of as a dangerous country to visit due to its altercations with Russia in the last decade. According to the WEF report, Georgia ranks 29th, higher than the Czech Republic (ranked 30th), Belgium (32nd), and even South Korea (37th) in terms of safety and security for tourists. Outside of the disputed regions, the rest of the country remains eye-opening and safe to visit.

The capital of Tbilisi is precisely an embodiment of this mixture of European and Asian cultures. The Old Town in the north of the city retains a Eurasian crossroad-esque village feel as old houses line the narrow valley, bringing communities closer to each other. The city is dotted with churches, museums and newly-introduced pubs and cafes. It exudes a wonderful mix of old and new, and is the perfect example of an up-and-coming city that’s rushing to develop itself in what is a dramatic region in the world.

Georgia possesses many valleys against the mountainous backdrop which offers visitors opportunities for biking or trekking trips out of the cities. One such location is the Kazbegi region near Mount Kazbek. With green hills and endless roads, this region is perfect for a trip on a mountain bike, with the snowcapped peak of Mount Kazbek always visible in the distance.

Image credit: Michael Wong

Originally founded to export oil from Baku on the Caspian coast, Batumi has since transformed into a rapidly popular tourist destination, with resorts and nightlife sprouting around the city. Lying on the coast of the Black Sea, Batumi offers visitors a mesmerising insight into Georgia, with green hills of the Georgian countryside clearly visible from the city.

3. Oman

Oman is the perfect proof that not all Middle Eastern countries are in turmoil. In fact, most of them are not. Sitting on the crossroads between the Arabian Gulf and the Indian Ocean, Oman (ranked 4th) is one of the safest countries for tourists to visit, with ever-improving infrastructure and good governance.

Unlike neighbouring UAE, Oman’s cities retain their traditional charms without being tainted by post-modern metallic super-skyscrapers and artificial islands. Oman’s capital and largest city is Muscat, a 3000-year-old coastal city on the Gulf of Oman. New buildings in the city are required to include a dome or Arab-style windows so they do not differ too vastly from the existing buildings in the city. Muscat, a city strategically sandwiched among the rugged hills of the Western Hajar Mountains and the Arabian Sea, is most famous for its forts.

Grand Mosque in Muscat at sunset | Image credit: rastmo

Other attractions in Muscat include the Grand Mosque which is adorned with the world’s second largest Iranian carpet, occupying a floor area of 5,000 square metres. Completed in 2001, this mosque was built to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Sultan Qaboos’ reign, and it is able to hold 20,000 worshippers at one go. The interior of this mosque also includes an extravagant Swarovski chandelier and marble panels, making it a marvellous sight to behold.

Image credit: Chris Price

Ancient beehive tombs marking a prehistoric settlement in Al-Ayn | Image credit: Kathryn James

Beyond Muscat, the Hajar Mountains make a great destination, filled with archaeological sites and ancient villages. Some of these sites, which includes Bat, Al-Khutm and Al-Ayn are recognised in the UNESCO World Heritage list. The ancient villages are marked by the beehive-shaped tombs, built by the first settlers in the region, and survived through the wind and sand for millennia.

4. Estonia

For 50 years, Estonia (ranked 15th) was under Soviet rule despite being closer to the Finnish in both ethnicity and language. However, it was exactly this half a century of separation from Finland that has allowed Estonians to create a little unique world of their own ever since the USSR fell apart in 1991. Since then, Estonia has been slowly finding its feet in the conglomerate of nations within Europe, with its classical cities and relatively untouched natural landscapes.

solo travel destinations

The Old Town of Tallinn is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for maintaining its centuries-old medieval architecture. Walking along its cobblestone streets instantly teleports you back to 16th century, with the skyline in the Old Town dominated by the stone towers of the churches and town hall.

solo travel destinations

If small towns are your thing, then Estonia is definitely the place to visit. With a land area larger than the Netherlands, Estonia only has a population of 1.3 million people. Its 5th largest city of Rakvere only has 15,000 people, giving it lovely small town vibes. Complete with the ruins of a 16th-century castle, it is the perfect location to play out your fairytale dreams.

5. Bhutan

Hidden high in the mountains of the Himalayas is the Kingdom of Bhutan (ranked 25th), whose people are widely considered to be the happiest people on the planet. A country with a population of devout Buddhists, Bhutan is the only country in the world that subscribes to Vajrayana Buddhism (Tibetan) as its main religion. It is not surprising then that the best sights in the country are probably the numerous monasteries deep in the Himalayan mountains, and that Buddhist traditions guide the way of life in the country.

solo travel destinations

Of the many monasteries in Bhutan, the most famous will be Taktsang Goemba in Paro (Paro Taktsang). Also known as ‘Tiger’s Nest Monastery’,  the monastery is built into the cliff of a mountain, and so it seems to be hanging precariously on the edge. The monastery is one of the must-visits in Bhutan, even if that means sore legs due to the sheer number of steps to climb in order to reach it.

Image credit: Stefan Krasowski

The city of Thimphu is Bhutan’s capital and the country’s only city. Even so, it is only as large as some towns in other countries. Perhaps rather fittingly, the largest building in the city is the Trashi Chho Dzong, a monastery that also serves as the seat of the civilian government, evidence of how closest Buddhism is held to the people’s hearts.

solo travel destinations

Image credit: Anja Disseldorp

Perhaps the most beautiful of the monasteries in Bhutan, the Punakha Dzong is where all Kings of Bhutan have traditionally been crowned. Situated next to the river, the Dzong had been damaged numerous times by floods, earthquakes and fires, each time meticulously repaired and restored. Access to the Dzong is over the river on the Bazam bridge which was rebuilt after the original was destroyed during a flood in 2008. The Dzong was also the seat of the government before it moved in the 1950s.

Also read: Top 15 Attractions in Bhutan You Should Not Miss

6. Morocco

Wedged between the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Sahara Desert, Morocco (ranked 20th) is considered by many to be the gateway to Africa from mainland Europe. In fact, the strait of Gibraltar that separates Europe and Africa is only 14km wide at its narrowest. Despite this proximity, Morocco is culturally a world of difference from Spain, its Northern neighbour. Imagine desert journeys on camelback, sipping mint tea in the medina, trekking up the Atlas Mountains and visiting ancient Roman ruins. You’ll be sorely mistaken if you had imagined Morocco to be a huge desert.

The Ksar of Ait-Benhaddou is a Moroccan mud-brick city that has been featured in many movies such as Gladiator and The Mummy. Originally a town along the former caravan route through the Sahara, the city itself is an attraction for its amazing views and unique architecture. The only way around town is on foot as the steep hills mean that the streets of the city are inaccessible by vehicles. Climb up to the granary at the top to get a panoramic view of the city’s surroundings.

solo travel destinations

For centuries, Northern Morocco was under the rule of the ancient Roman Empire, and hence, there are multiple sites in Morocco where Roman ruins can be found. The city of Volubilis, in particular, sits on the south-western border of the Roman empire. While the city no longer exists, the ruins of the city remain in place, including some impressive looking pillars of what was an ancient basilica. Take a day trip out from the city of Fes to visit these archaeological marvels!

solo travel destinations

Of course, what is more representative of a Moroccan holiday than a trip into the Sahara on camelback? Desert tours are available from most major cities in Morocco, but it makes the most sense to go from Marrakech or Fes as they are closer to the Sahara

Some of the countries listed above are definitely not your everyday tourist destinations, but if you’re looking for a change from typical towns, they are definitely made for you. Furthermore, their unexpectedly high levels of safety and security make it all the more possible for solo travellers to visit them without too much worry. 

About Author

John Fan
John Fan

John is a coffee-reliant human being. It will not be wise to disturb the exhibit before he has had his morning coffee. A wanderlust confined by financial and social limitations, it is not uncommon to hear him whine about his desire to travel on a regular basis – more than 20 times a week by some accounts. He is also fairly interested in cars, long drives and football amongst other things.

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