Choosing the best experiences of the trip has been a difficult task, I had so many intense moments! But here they are. As you’ll see, most of them are related to people. Even more: I believe that some of these experiences wouldn’t have happened if I had not been traveling alone.
There are a few questions I always receive about the round the world solo trip that I never know how to answer.
Which country did you like the most? What was the best of the trip?
Choosing a favorite country would be like asking a mother which is her favorite child. Impossible! I liked and enjoyed all of them, each for its unique particular reasons. As for the experiences, I lived many intense moments that I keep preciously in my memory, but I’ve tried to select some of them, the ones that left me a deeper mark.
As you’ll see, most of them are related to people. So I’ve understood something: the interaction with people from different cultures was the best of the trip.
Even more: I believe that some of these experiences wouldn’t have happened if I had not been traveling alone.
There they are, the 10 best moments of my trip, in chronological order.
A super star finding internal peace in India
I started my solo trip in India for two reasons: because I had been there once before and because I had good friends that I wanted to visit. So I spent the fist days with them adjusting to the time difference but specially getting used to India.
After that, I did my first mini solo trip in India: I went to Kanyakumari (the southernmost point) for two days, and it couldn’t have been better.
I was visiting the Vivekananda Rock Memorial when I realized that I was the only foreigner around. Well, Indian tourists obviously noticed that as well!
There were a group of five women traveling together with their husbands who asked me to appear in the photo with them. After that one of them wanted a picture of her husband, her, and me – and me in the middle! One by one all the other women asked me for a photo with me and the husband.
I felt like a super star!
They didn’t speak a lot of English but tried their best to ask me where I was from and how came I was there. So I was walking with them when we entered a building, and I found myself in a meditation room.
I was already there so I sat down like them and closed my eyes. And now what? I thought. I had never done meditation, even though I was interested to learn. So I breathed and tried to focus on myself and the building I had around, and I felt calm, safe, at peace, protected, like someone or something was telling me “don’t worry, everything will be fine in India”.
And it was.
Munroe Island, my favorite place in India
I’m not able to chose a favorite country but I can tell you which is my favorite place in India: Munroe island, a hidden gem in the backwaters of Kerala.
I have to thank my friends to recommended me this unknown place that stole my heart.
What did I find there? First of all, a beautiful and peaceful place.
Secondly, a welcoming family who were running the only homestay in the island and made me feel at home.
Finally, my first new friends on the road, with whom we stayed in contact and met again a few days later in Kochi.
If I hadn’t booked my train and accommodation for the next destination in advance, I’d have definitely stayed longer.
Learning about different lifestyles in Laos
Laos was the country I was looking forward to visit in South East Asia, and it didn’t disappoint me.
I entered the country by land from the north of Thailand, and found myself in a landscape of green mountains and river valleys. Best of it, however, were the friendly and smiling locals.
My best memories are from Huay Bo and from Luang Prabang.
Huay Bo is an off the beaten path village that I reached by walk from Muang Ngoi, which in turn I reached by boat. There are no roads yet. The houses are made of bamboo and there are no streets nor private property. Huay Bo has a population of 220 and no internet nor electricity network. Everybody knows everybody and people help each other in the manual tasks as smashing the rice or constructing a new house.
Luang Prabang is the most touristic city of Laos but it’s also the old capital of the country and there are many temples. There is an organization that organizes English conversation sessions between tourists and locals who want to practice English, most of them buddhist novices, which allowed me to talk to them and learn a bit about their life in the temples.
Experiencing true hospitality in Cambodia
Cambodia impressed me for its people. They’re friendly, welcoming and ever-smiling, and even though most people don’t speak much English, I received a lot of hospitality from them.
One of the first days, in the bus, there was a young girl sitting opposite to me, on the other side of the corridor. She gave me fruits. I said “aw-koon” (thanks in kmer) and smiled. She smiled back. We couldn’t speak more, but we managed to communicate.
In a small island in the river Mekong called Koh Trong an old lady who didn’t speak English invited me to sleep in her place with signs. Later that day, a woman offered me a free motorbike ride to go back to the homestay, and in addition gave a bunch of bananas. And a smile.
In Siem Reap I visited the Angkor temples by bicycle. At some point I wanted to buy a mango and tried to negotiate the price, which was double than usual. I didn’t try hard though, prices are usually higher in touristic places. She then asked me if I was moving by bicycle, and gave me three bananas for free.
Couchsurfing in Malaysia
My stay in Malaysia was marked by the wonderful people I met in couchsurfing.
Thanks to them I discovered two tropical paradises: Perhentian islands, ideal for snorkelling, and the lesser known Kapas island, ideal to relax.
Thanks to them a lot of unexpected things happened: I volunteered two days in a school in a rural area, I spent the Chinese new year with a Chinese family, I overcame my fears of motorbikes and I took care of a hostel for one day.
The best of it was, of course, that I’m still in contact with a few of them and I hope we’ll meet again in the future.
Hiking in Mordor (ehem, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing!)
From the title you can imagine that I’m a fan of The Lord of the Rings! So I could’t miss the opportunity to do one of the most famous day-hikes in the world, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, where the scenes of Mordor were filmed.
The Tongariro National Park is one of those places that seem unreal, taken from another world. Smoky volcanoes, moon like valleys and colorful lakes are part of this National Park of mind blowing beauty.
But it wasn’t special only for its natural beauty. It was special because I’m not a sportive person, not at all. In addition, I have a small problem in my back so walking 5 hours per day on a flat terrain is usually my limit. That day I walked 19.4km with a serious incline in about 7 hours.
That day I tested my limits.
And I succeeded.
Meeting talkative friendly people in Chile
When I was in Asia I never felt that the language barrier was a problem to enjoy my trip. Most locals didn’t speak very good English, I only knew a couple of words in their language, but as I mentioned before I had plenty of nice experiences.
After six months of travel I arrived to Chile and then, suddenly, I could understand everything. Like language had been decoded. And I discovered how much richer the experience was when I knew the local language, specially in a country where people like to speak.
In Valparaiso I met a man who was selling magnets. In Dalcahue I was told and shown how to cook a traditional dish. In Chiloé I laughed with the jokes of the bus driver. In Frutillar I spent half the afternoon talking to a woman who worked in a handicraft shop. In Puerto Montt I met a former traveler who had a souvenir shop. In Concepción I met many interesting people thanks to a friend of a friend… and these are only a few.
Mind blowing landscapes around San Pedro de Atacama and Uyuni
In terms of natural beauty my TOP 3 of the trip would be the Tongariro National Park, San Pedro de Atacama and Uyuni.
The north of Chile and south of Bolivia have some of the most mind blowing landscapes I have ever seen.
Unreal, taken from another world.
Colorful mountains and lakes. Volcanoes. Geysers. Salt flats.
It was a challenging experience with the cold and the altitude, but one that I’ll always remember.
It’s difficult to describe only with words, I should make a photo essay for that!
Meeting my travel inspiration bloggers in Buenos Aires
My days in Buenos Aires were all different, like they were pieces of a puzzle that I had to put together to complete an image.
I learnt about the beginning of the city from two women who work in El Caminito, being one of them an exile from Spain. I walked with the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo in memory of all the people who disappeared during the dictation. I had to queue to get a picture with Mafalda. I walked randomly in search of street art with my camera and one man posed in front of me.
But the most special moment was another, unexpected one.
My travel inspiration came from three travel blogger girls, one Spanish and two Argentinian. When I thought about my round the world trip, I decided to visit the country that had inspired these great travelers. It was a nonsense reason, of course. What did I expect? Meeting them?
Well, as it happened, I did meet them!
They organized a picnic on Sunday afternoon. When I arrived there were like 100 people! Later in the evening we were only about 10 people left so I could finally say hello. So happy to have met them!
Surprise birthday party in Uruguay
When I started the trip I thought that I would spend my birthday in Peru. Instead, I was finally in Uruguay, which wasn’t in my initial itinerary… this the magic of travels!
When I was in New Zealand I met a couple from Uruguay with whom I spent the day and we kept in contact. I wrote them two weeks before arriving to Buenos Aires, since I would have time to visit them in Montevideo before coming back to Barcelona.
So I arrived to Montevideo the day of my birthday, in the afternoon. They came to pick me up at the bus station and we went to their place. They had told me that they would wait for me with a cake.
They received me with a traditional asado (barbecue) with the whole family! In addition to the delicious cake, of course. And the day after they took a day off to show me around. And took care of me like I was their daughter. Loved my time with them!
BONUS: meeting old friends in India, Australia, Chile and Bolivia
Last but not least, my trip was marked by the old friends I had around the world who invited me to Thiruvananthapuram and Bangalore (India), Sydney (Australia), Santiago and Coyhaique (Chile) and La Paz (Bolivia).
It was great meeting them again after a long time, catching up on each other’s life, talk about our current and future projects and spend time together. They definitely made my stay in those places more special.
Solo travel doesn’t mean traveling alone all the time, if you have friends abroad, take the opportunity to visit them!
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I remember I read your post about Munroe island eight months ago; I visited the place and stayed with the Vijeesh family, as per your recommendation. It was great, and I stayed there for four days; i remember that the lunches on banana leafs were delicious! 🙂
An unrelated question, if you were to settle up (and work) in a beautiful and cheap place, where would it be and why? 🙂
So happy to hear that you enjoyed Munroe island! Vijeesh is very nice and her mother cooks sooooo well! I also remember her food!
A beautiful and cheap place to settle down and work?
Mmmm without much thinking I’d say somewhere in Malaysia. It’s cheap, people are very friendly and most of them know English (I enjoy talking with locals), there is great food, very beautiful places and it’s well connected by plane to the rest of the world (you don’t expect me to completely settle down, right? 😉 )
Diana Garcés says
The pictures are amazing!!! ehhhh una frase en inglés… Voy progresando guapa 😀
Pues nada, decirte que todas tenemos experiencias diferentes cuando viajamos, sin embargo creo que podemos coincidir en varios puntos: hospitalidad de la gente con la que nos encontramos, paisajes increíbles, comida que nunca imaginaste probar y ahora te encanta, inspiración…
En fin, viajar abre tu mente de una manera tan maravillosa que debería ser una materia obligada en la vida 🙂
Un abrazo guapa y thanks alot 😉
Thanks Diana! I completely agree, traveling opens your mind in such a wonderful way that everybody should try it at least once in life 🙂
Un abrazo guapa!
Laia, what wonderful stories about your travel around the world !
I loved the part in India about your first experience with the meditation….that voice near you….amazing !!!…..
I can assure I could also feel it 🙂
Beautiful experience is to find great persons who turn into your family to celebrate your birthday…. it really moved me
Great stories of life !!! thanks a lot for sharing them 🙂
Regards Guapisima !!!
Thank you Carolina!
Yes, that moment in India was very special, and spending my birthday with my new friends in Uruguay was magical! 🙂
Un abrazo guapa!
I got excited during the Laos and Cambodia bit because I find them dreamy and so rich. I believe it’s the temples and architecture! Your pictures are so lovely and I secretly want to see more lol. I enjoyed this 🙂
Thanks a lot Perrisha!
Laos and Cambodia are very special places, people are very friendly and the temples have a very beautiful architecture!
I’m glad that you enjoyed it 🙂
Lauren Bishop says
What an incredible adventure! Many times throughout that post I nodded along with your sentiments. I absolutely loved the mountains and rivers of Laos, I’ve met & become friends with the most incredible local people in countries where I could speak the language, I’ve experienced those transcendental moments when you are travelling alone and suddenly everything is clear. This article is such a lovely summary of your highlights and is definitely relatable to other solo travellers. Best of luck in your onward journeys!
Thanks a lot Lauren!
I’m very happy that you could relate to it, it means we’ve had similar enriching experiences!
I think that speaking the local language makes a difference, since you can have much more contact with locals – and eventually make friends forever 🙂
Best of luck to you too!
Adrienne Lee says
What an amazing experience! Like you, I’m always stumped when someone asks me to name my favorite country or destination. There’s so much to love about every destination.
I love each destination for a different reason, but all of them have something special 🙂
Isobel Lee says
I keep reading great solo travel experiences and it’s making me want to up my game and be more adventurous!
I think the way to get to solo travel and be more adventurous is to expand your comfort zone little by little. You could start with a weekend away, and then go further. So you gain in confidence and have great experiences!
Congrats to you! You are living the dream! What I love about this post is that pretty much all of your highlights are the experiences that you had with people. The earth is an amazing planet but the people you meet along the way make it an awesome one
Thanks so much Katy!
Yes, it was the point of this post, that most of the highlights were the encounters with people! I’m happy that you share my point of view. Beautiful landscapes make beautiful photos, but great people make great memories and a more meaningful experience 🙂
I’d love to book a round the world ticket and just go! The experiences look well worth it 🙂
Yes, the experiences are worth it 🙂
I am planning to visit Chile at the end of the year and I am having troubles choosing between the North and the South. Atacama looks amazing but also Torre de Paine and I only have 3 weeks to explore. Your language barrier mentioned reminded me of my trip to Peru, where I was forced to remember all the Spanish I picked up by watching novellas when I was a kid. 🙂
Hi Joanna! Yes it’s a difficult choice because both north and south are amazing places, but very different to each other. I’d say that if you love hiking, the south is a better place. Also, if you have three weeks, I think in the south there are more things to do. Atacama is breathtaking, but you can see it in a few days (though you can combine it with a tour in Uyuni, Bolivia).
Anyway, don’t worry, whatever you chose will be a great experience! 🙂
I’d love to make a round the world trip but I still don’t have the guts to do it. Anyway, this post inspired me. I envy you. Happy travels!
Thanks Evelina! Maybe it’s not the moment yet. It took me years to take the decision to do it. Though once I was there, traveling, things weren’t so difficult and had a great experience 🙂
Katie @ The Budget Backpack says
I had a similarly awesome experience in Cambodia. The people are so friendly and well-meaning. Its one of those places that though I’ve already been, I could never say no if asked if I wanted to join another trip
Hi Katie, so happy to hear that you had a great time in Cambodia too! People are so friendly and amazing there 🙂
Nicole Louise says
This post has got me so excited! I’m going to Kerala to do my Yoga Teacher Training in September and I’m definitely going to try and scope out those spots. Sounds like you had an amazing trip!
Yes, I had an amazing trip! And I enjoyed a lot Kerala… I’m sure it’s a great place to do a training in yoga 🙂
Have a very nice trip!
What an amazing experience in your live. I love your description and trip in India and Cambodia.
Unforgettable experience was to celebrate your birthday with great people, well done!
I am sure that this memory would be in your mind for all your life 🙂
The pictures are awesome! I love it.
All the trip was an unforgettable experience, but some moments even more than the others and my birthday was indeed one of them 🙂
I’d really like to go back to Uruguay and meet my new friends again!