If you’re single and planning a vacation, you really might want to consider Asia as a destination; this vast continent with its diverse people and cultures is one of the best places for the single traveler.
The two places that come immediately to mind for the single traveler are Bali, Indonesia and almost any place in Thailand. For exotic, and the occasional erotic, delight, they are nice, but there are in fact, they are overrated.
Two destinations that seldom get mentioned in tour articles aimed at singles are Cambodia. For the single traveler, though, these can be vacations that provide memories that will last a lifetime.
Australia is famous for its diverse terrain, and relatively friendly people. It has islands, beaches, and deserts for unforgettable photography safaris and just watching sun-bronzed young people frolic in the sun and surf. For the intrepid traveler, joining in the frolic makes it an even better vacation. One of my favorite destinations is the Gold Coast in Queensland, an area famous for its sunny and warm weather. Queensland also has tropical rain forests and opportunities to explore the flora and fauna of the outback. South Australia is famous for the wines of the Barossa Valley, vintages that compare well with anything France or California has to offer. I also highly recommend a trip to the island of Tasmania, home of many of the strange animals that have evolved in the Oceanic region free from other genetic influences.
Prepare for a long plane ride, but if you take Qantas, the Australian flag airline, expect first class service even in economy. Be sure to get your visa before departing, as Australia, like the United States, has strict entry requirements. Australians are gregarious and love nothing more than having a party with lots of beer. Great place for the party-loving single traveler.
To most Americans, Cambodia is known only for “The Killing Fields” and the temples at Angkor Wat. Both are true, but the country is much more. Visiting some the temples, marvels of engineering, and majestic in appearance, is a definite must; and getting a first-hand look at the remnants of the depredation that the Khmer Rouge visited upon the country is emotional and instructive. After the historical diversion, however, the single traveler can experience a trip that is more than an architectural and historical journey.
Phnom Penh, the capitol, is a rapidly developing city situated at the confluence of the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers. The city has lots of historic and cultural sites, such as Wat Phnom, a Buddhist temple located on the highest hill in the city, and is the place from which it takes its name. The area along the Mekong River, not far from the Royal Palace and Royal Pavilion, has coffee shops, bars and clubs, restaurants, and shops that can occupy days of a visit just looking.
Cambodians are warm and friendly people who have an easygoing approach to life that leaves an impact on the first-time visitor.
Going south from Phnom Penh, a day trip to the seaside cities of Sihanoukeville or Kep, offers panoramic views of the ocean, gentle surf, and beach bars and restaurants offering freshly caught seafood, washed down with the local favorite, Angkor beer. North of Phnom Penh is the city of Kratie, located on the banks of the Mekong, the home of one of the last remaining populations of fresh water dolphins. The Irrawady Dolphins look and act just like their saltwater cousins, and can be viewed either from the banks of the river, or from boats that are paddled by friendly guides.
Unlike Australia, Cambodian entry requirements are more relaxed. Visas can be obtained at the airport upon arrival for a US$25 fee, and US currency is accepted by most of the hotels and restaurants. Be prepared to pay a $25 departure fee at the airport when you leave, and make sure you have spare batteries and a couple of extra memory cards for your digital camera.
If after visiting either of these countries you still prefer Bali or Phuket, so be it.