Talalla, Sri Lanka
Although India is often thought of as the land of spirituality, don’t forget its smaller neighbour Sri Lanka is also a meditation haven. With more and more yoga retreats opening up along its pristine sandy beaches, Sri Lanka is becoming the new go-to destination for mentally and physically restorative holidays. Chilled-out Talalla Retreat is perfect for serenity-seeking travellers, with a set schedule of yoga classes and a specific diet regime, your only job is to bask in the sun, soothe your soul, and give your body a well-deserved break. Expand your horizons further – and keep costs down – by rooming with like-minded solo-travellers in the Bungalow Dorm. As a trip revolving around reflection, this is one of the best options for solo travellers. To go the extra mile, stay unplugged during the retreat and embrace the me-time.
Need to know
Flights from Dubai to Colombo start from Dh1,150 return with Fly Dubai. A seven-day yoga retreat in the Bungalow Dorm at Talalla Retreat starts from Dh2,887 – www.talallaretreat.com.
Walking on narrow cobblestone lanes through Old Town, past small shops and city squares filled with farmers’ markets, it’s easy to forget Berne isn’t a medieval city but a major European capital. As a Unesco World Heritage Site with its red-roofed houses and preserved historic architecture, this picturesque city has plenty of history to unearth. Stay in a hostel and meet other solo travellers. Or wander off on your own and lose track of time exploring the 6km of sheltered cafés and shops the old town has on offer. Whether you’re paying a visit to the city’s mascot at Bear Park, taking a train to the Alps, sunbathing alongside the River Aare, or just gazing in awe at the beautiful views, Berne is the perfect city to lose yourself in – hopefully near a chocolate shop!
Need to know
Return flights to Berne start from around Dh3,800 on Lufthansa via Munich. Hostels start from around Dh160 a night, and vary depending on whether you want a private or dorm-style room.
Hvar Island, Croatia
When viewing any of Croatia’s 700-plus islands and 1,000km of coastline, it’s hard to believe you aren’t in a postcard. And whether you want sandy or pebbly, secluded or crowded beaches, there’s a spot for you at Hvar, the longest and sunniest island in Croatia. Not as busy as Brac, Hvar is also one of the more glamorous locations in Croatia with luxurious hotels and shops. Its town attracts many people travelling on their own and it is known for its bustling nightlife. It’s the perfect place to meet people from all over the world and bond over living in close quarters. Although there are lots of hotels and hostels, one of Croatia’s most popular forms of accommodation (and the cheapest) is camping. With sanitary facilities, quality campsites, and sometimes even an internet connection, camping is not a rough-and-tough-it experience. So, if it’s an idyllic island escape you’re after, skip the honeymoon crowd in the Maldives and try Hvar.
Need to know
Return flights to Split in Croatia with Lufthansa start from Dh3,695, and from there you can get a ferry to Hvar.
Most four-star campsites cost between Dh40 and Dh76 – www.camping.hr/best-camps. If cost is less of an object, you could fly to Zagreb (from around Dh2,800 return on Lufthansa) and join an eight-day Captivating Croatia group cruise that includes a Hvar stop, starting from Dh12,000 – www.onthegotours.com.
Controlled at various times by the Phoenicians, the Romans, the Moors and the Spanish, Seville has been under the influence of many different groups, making it a city filled with diverse cultural experiences. This melting pot has many historical and natural sights to see for the traveller who likes to keep busy. Don’t miss the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, the Catedral de Sevilla, and its bell tower, La Giralda. Gaze in awe at the Alcázar de Seville, the royal palace built by Moorish kings. Plan a day trip to the Arcos de la Frontera to see the ‘pueblos blancos’ – the white villages – on the cliffs of Cadiz (just don’t look down!). And, of course, make sure you eat plenty of tapas and watch a Flamenco dance or two.
Need to know
Return flights to Madrid start from Dh3,950 with Turkish Airlines, while train tickets from Madrid to Seville start from Dh268. Creative holiday company Golearnto.com offers solo travel packages with a learning slant, for example, a seven-day flamenco beginners’ dance class in Seville starts from Dh1,050. Alternatively, if you’re in the 18-35 age group, you could join a Contiki Vacations 14-day tour of Spain, starting from Dh7,614 – www.contiki.com.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Formerly known as Saigon, this city is the perfect place to immerse yourself in Vietnamese culture. Sign up for a cooking class, haggle in the bustling markets of Hoi An, and cycle around the many historical sights. Those who want more of a physical challenge can trek through the Muong Hoa Valley, take a longtail boat to visit the many villages and fish farms along the Mekong River, and explore caves and grottos in the Halong Bay Islands. The non-claustrophobic can even crawl through a part of the 200km of underground tunnels used by the Cu Chi freedom fighters in the Vietnam War. No matter how long your trip, you’ll never get bored with the many temples, waterfalls, tombs, and more to see.
Need to know
Flights to Ho Chi Minh City start from Dh2,640 return on Emirates. Join small-group tours such as the four-hour cyclo (a three-wheeled bike) tour of Ho Chi Minh, which starts from Dh90 – www.viator.com/Vietnam/d21-ttd. Or for a more comprehensive trip, a 16-day exploration of north and south Vietnam starts from Dh5,015 with British-based adventure solo travel company, Exodus – www.exodus.co.uk.