Traveling solo can be a rewarding experience that broadens your horizons and builds your self-confidence. However, solo travel can be dangerous too, almost too dangerous for women to even attempt. Thankfully, women don’t need to miss out on the experience. Today, I will introduce you to Korea, the ideal location for travelling solo as a woman.
As a woman, solo travel is a huge challenge. Regardless of wherever you are in the world, safety will always be more of an imperative for women than for men. That’s not to say that men travelling solo should be careless, but as a woman, we live in constant fear of attack when we’re alone, even in familiar places.
Thankfully, Korea is a little bit different. In this article, I will describe my experience travelling solo as a woman in Korea, as well as explaining how you can too.
Stay Safe in South Korea
Let’s start with the main reason women don’t travel solo: safety. My main thoughts before coming to Korea alone was whether I would be easy prey as both a woman and a foreigner.
I did plenty of research before my trip and it was clear that foreign women felt safe living in Korea. Indeed, I’ve been living in Korea for 3 years now and have never felt unsafe. I am even comfortable staying out until late and walking home alone. Of course, it is always better to be safe than sorry. If you ever do feel uncomfortable, hail a taxi or take refuge in a crowded area.
Cameras, cameras everywhere
You might be wondering why Korea is seemingly more safe for solo women than other countries. Well, for one thing, there are cameras everywhere. Criminals are regularly deterred by CCTV cameras, many of which are monitored 24/7! Therefore, there’s always someone you can hail down for help.
On that note, there are also camera-related issues that are a greater problem in Korea than other countries. Camera crime involves taking unsolicited photographs of strangers, mostly women. Some criminals may hide cameras in bathrooms or motel rooms, so it’s best to check these facilities before using them. What’s more, camera criminals are notoriously difficult to apprehend, as their technology is often encrypted to protect their identity. This is the primary reason that the camera sound on Korean phones cannot be disabled, even in silent mode.
In emergencies, call 112
Traveling solo can be a great opportunity to learn more about yourself and what gives you zest for life. The feeling of total freedom is exhilarating and does wonders for your self-confidence. You will embody the soul of an adventurer, trying new food, sampling a new culture and making memories with new people.
When you first arrive, you may feel nervous. After all, everyone is speaking a different language and nothing is familiar to you. But keep your head high! This experience will push you out of your comfort zone towards exciting opportunities ahead.
You can plan an itinerary that suits you or have a wander and see what tickles your fancy. Additionally, don’t worry about people looking at you strangely when eating alone, it is totally normal here! In fact, if you want recommendations for where to eat alone, you can search for ‘혼밥’ (hon-bab) online. Hon-bab is short for ‘hon-ja bab’, which translates to ‘alone meal.’
Meet New People
Solo travel doesn’t mean being alone the whole time. In fact, traveling solo is a great opportunity to meet new people and discover a new culture. When traveling with friends or family, you’re unlikely to reach out to new people, but when traveling solo, you’re far more inclined.
Korea has many language cafes in which you can meet with Koreans who wish to learn English. What’s more, you can meet other expats here too, wanting to study Korean or meet new people like yourself. It is a great way to make new friends, as well as sharing your own culture with native Koreans.
Aside from language cafes, you can make friends easily while staying in a guesthouse. In these accommodations, there is usually a large shared kitchen or dining area where you can chat with people everyday! The owners often organize BBQs or parties* for guests to mingle too.
*Note: Social activities may be restricted currently due to Covid-19.
Living or travelling in another country is an opportunity for you to live a different lifestyle you couldn’t back home. I recommend just heading out and immersing yourself in the Korean way of living! Of course, it can be challenging, but its refreshing to change up your routine right?