Travelling alone can be scary. Especially when you’re in an unfamiliar place with the challenge of a language barrier. I recently experienced this for the first time while travelling to Asia alone. After travelling with my boyfriend for a few months, I was nervous to venture out by myself and wasn’t sure what to expect. I did a lot of research and found the two places in Asia that were recommended to visit as a solo traveller: Singapore and Hong Kong. I decided to visit both, and I was glad I did as both places provided incredible experiences. Between the two, Hong Kong was more of a challenge because I stayed in Kowloon were English was barely spoken, so I faced a language barrier almost everywhere I went. Nevertheless, it only took me a day before I was comfortable enough to navigate the city myself, which brings me to a few tips I can provide if you’re thinking of planning a solo trip to Hong Kong.
Buy a phone plan
This is probably the most important tip I can give you. I paid $15 for a 7-day plan that included near unlimited data and phone call minutes. At first, I was going to wing it and just use my phone when I was connected to Wi-Fi, but after a few interesting experiences (getting lost in a taxi, etc), I am SO happy I purchased this plan. Hong Kong can be a confusing city and I found it very easy to get lost. A lot of times the buses don’t indicate what stop they’re at, so I was able to open Google Maps and navigate where the bus was going so I knew when to get off. There were also a few times when the language barrier became an issue and I needed my phone to translate so I could explain to taxi drivers where I was going. Without my phone plan, I would have been very lost traveling Hong Kong.
Stay in a female only dorm room at your hostel
I’ve stayed in the co-ed dorm and the female dorms and I highly recommend the female only. There are a few reasons I recommend this. First, I am a VERY light sleeper and men are generally louder sleepers than women. I invested in some ear plugs and I still couldn’t sleep through the chorus of men snoring in each room. Second, staying in a female only dorm room makes it more likely that you will meet other solo female travellers. There were a lot of women in the room with me who were travelling alone and a few times we ended up touring around the city together. It’s always nice to make friends.
Tell someone where you’re going
Whether this is someone back home or a friend you met on your trip, tell people where you are going to be heading while traveling alone. I’m sure you’ve all heard the horror stories of solo travellers heading out on an excursion without returning and no one realizing for days. Ensure this won’t happen to you by keeping someone up to date with your plan. If you have someone you’re comfortable enough with to share your location, do this. You can use the Find My Friends app or the iMessage location sharing tool and that way someone knows where you are always. This does sound kind of creepy, but it may help keep your parents at ease while you’re out travelling alone, I know it did for mine.
Join the free walking tours
You’ll want to see as much of Hong Kong as you can, and a walking tour is a great way to do this. A lot of hostels offer walking tours and pub crawls, and this isn’t only a great way to see the city, it’s also a great way to meet some people on your trip. I had a list of places I wanted to check out while in Hong Kong and I ended up checking quite a few off during one of my walking tours. Another bonus is you’ll likely meet someone who can take some photos for you. I also enjoy learning about the history behind the places I’m visiting , so tour groups allow you to stay engage instead of researching on your phone. If you do a walking tour, your tour guide almost always knows the history and you’ll get the walking tour and the history lesson in one.
Be aware of your surroundings
Hong Kong is a safe place and there weren’t any times that I felt unsafe, but one night while we were out I had a few things stolen from my purse without realizing. After talking to a local, they mentioned that pick pocketing is bad in some places around Hong Kong, so be aware of your surroundings. Carry a purse or bag that zips up and keep it close to you. I was stupidly carrying my passport around, so I am very lucky they couldn’t get to it. I had also been told some stories about taxi drivers taking you on some very long detours to your destination resulting in double the price. Use my GPS trick and pull your destination address while you’re in the taxi so you can be aware of where you are and notice before you end up with a hefty bill. I had mostly pleasant experiences with taxi drivers, despite the language barrier, but there was one night we got very lost and I ended up paying a lot more than anticipated.
Travelling alone around Hong Kong was an amazing experience. There are so many interesting things to see in Hong Kong and I found it easy to get around by myself. If you’re planning to take a solo trip but not sure where to go, I would highly recommend Hong Kong. The culture, the food and the people were all amazing. It can be scary to travel alone as a man or a woman, but if you are aware of your surroundings and not throwing yourself into a dangerous situation you will be fine. I am glad I didn’t let my fear of solo travel stop me from going on my adventure. Not only did I have an amazing time, I learnt a lot about myself along the way.