Traveling across the world by yourself can be one of the most daunting experiences you ever have–but also one of the most rewarding. There are certainly some places that are better than others for solo travelers based on factors like safety, things to do, and to some extent how popular they are among other tourists. Thailand has recently become extremely popular thanks to a growing tourism industry, an influx of younger, backpacking types, and plenty of hostels and Airbnbs where it’s extremely easy to meet other travelers.
Still, traveling by yourself can get lonely at times even at a trendy destination–especially during meal hours or in the evenings. That’s why I’ve put together a list of things solo travelers can do to stay busy and happy while in Bangkok, Thailand’s biggest city and capital.
Eat your meals on the street
Even veteran solo travelers struggle with eating alone sometimes, especially when it comes to restaurants frequented by couples, families, or groups. Luckily, a lot of the best and most authentic dining options in Bangkok come right off the streets, meaning you don’t have to worry about occupying yourself during a solo sit down meal. In fact, as you may be aware already, this city is famous for its street food stalls and pop-up restaurants–sometimes there’s even food being sold right off of docked boats in the river!
One of my favorite stalls is Hea’ Sa, which specializes in satay and is located in Bangkok’s Chinatown. You won’t regret stopping by. Afterward, for dessert, you should head down the street to Pa Tong Go Savoey, where you can get a Thai delicacy: deep-fried doughnuts. This place was awarded a Michelin plate in 2018, placing it among the best street food stalls on Earth.
Hang out at a sports bar
Going out for a drink and some comfort food can feel odd alone, but at a sports bar, you’re likely to be surrounded by like-minded fellow patrons. It’s particularly common to find Thais out in numbers watching major football matches on television, whether those matches concern local clubs or, perhaps more commonly, top teams from Europe and around the world. Thais are big football fans, and many of them also have personal stakes in match outcomes given the betting market that has emerged around the sport over the course of the last decade or so. People can use the Dafabest famous brand in Thailand or a similar brand to sign up with ease and start putting real money on matches if you want.
Whether or not you log on to place your own bet is of course up to you, but even if you don’t take part, you’ll be among fun fans who care about the matches. It’s a great environment in which to make a new friend or just enjoy some company if you’re a sports fan. The Sportsman and The Clubhouse Sports Bar & Grill are some good places to start with.
Join a walking or biking tour
Perhaps the easiest way to make new friends while traveling alone is to join a tour group. There are some companies that offer group tours that last an entire day or even take you around the country, but these are often a little overpriced. Nowadays, you can easily find free walking tours in every big city around the world. Just be prepared to leave a tip at the end (as this is often the only income stream for the guides).
While on your walking tour, don’t be afraid to say hi to anyone else who looks like they’re traveling alone, or to spark up a conversation with a group. You never known when you’ll make a new friend. Even if you just exchange a few words, it can enhance the experience of seeing the city. If you want to get some exercise by biking around the city, Co Van Kessel’s three-hour tour of Bangkok is one of the best organized options out there.
Check out the wildlife
Bangkok isn’t typically mentioned among Thailand’s numerous wildlife destinations. The more common activity in this category is to visit an elephant sanctuary well outside of the capital, or even to go scuba diving off of one of the islands. These are, to be sure, the most unique wildlife experiences you can have in nature in Thailand. But there’s also something to be said for stopping by the capital’s aquarium if you’re traveling solo and need something to do. Bangkok’s Sea Life Ocean World is definitely a little on the touristy side, but it can still be fun, and it’s a nice break from the hustle of the city.
Have you ever traveled to Thailand solo? What was your experience?
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