Keep Reading

This is how I plan my first trip to Japan as a female solo traveler

My younger self would have never believed I’d be travelling solo in a foreign country someday. She would have been proud. I think the idea of solo travelling came to me when I met a group of girls in one of the island-hopping tours in Semporna. Their friendship and how they met through solo travel, continuing to go on vacations together, inspired me.

I have always had this fear and thoughts of all the possible dangers of travelling alone. Thanks to all the Netflix true crime docuseries I watched, I am sceptical about talking to strangers because people are not always who they seem to be. But I guess it is important to give people the benefit of the doubt while remaining discerning and having good judgement character at the same time. First thing first, do a vibe check to detect any red flags. Thankfully, I met many amazing travelers at different points of my solo journey and I am truly grateful for the fond memories.

Also read: How I went to Japan with just below RM7k! – A 10 Day Itinerary (Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Uji)

Why travel solo?

I was inspired by the idea of solo travelling as it played an important role in my journey of self-discovery. It is something I want to experience before turning 30 this year. I want to do something for myself by planning a trip using my own expenses and visiting all the places on my wish list at my own pace and on my own terms. It gave me a sense of control over my life, which felt amazing.

Why Japan?

Japan is practically everyone's favourite country. It is such a popular destination that there are always long queues at the immigration checkpoints, despite Japan's efficiency being already at its finest. Almost everybody I know has made it to Japan since the borders opened. Hence, there is no need for an explanation as to why the land of the rising sun is a popular holiday destination.

But there is a special reason why I chose Japan for a solo experience. I have always wanted to go to Japan for the longest time, but I never had the opportunity because my usual travel buddies have already been there and prefer a different destination they haven't visited yet.

So, why not take this opportunity to go on a solo trip and explore Japan? It is something I have always wanted to do in a place I have always wanted to go. Japan is generally safe for female travellers and very solo-friendly as well!

Being alone is normalized in Japan, as nobody cares about what you do. Everybody respects each other's space and is busy minding their own business. Capsule hotels are everywhere, and dining establishments have dividers or single seats.

How did I plan?

I was so inspired by the idea of solo travel that I began planning a year ago! If you know me personally, you'd understand that this is just me going into full-on planning mode. I started doing research about this solo project to check its feasibility and estimate the budget. I began booking accommodations on since they offer a free cancellation policy up to a few days before the actual check-in date.

I planned to visit in spring because, of course, the cherry blossoms. As someone who lives in the tropics, I'd go for any season but summer. However, the cherry blossoms' peak bloom period came one week earlier than predicted. It was quite a bummer, but I still managed to catch some late-blooming species!
My entire trip was only 10 days in the Kansai region, covering Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, and Uji. I didn't go to Tokyo for my first time as I wanted to focus my visits in one region without getting too overwhelmed. Most of my visits revolved around famous tourist sites because there is plenty of information available in English for those places compared to off-the-beaten-path locations. Nevertheless, I managed to find some quiet spots that are only known to locals.

How did I get around?

Japan is known for its reliable and highly efficient public transport system, so getting around Japan is not much of a concern if you're in the city. The train system is well connected and can be overwhelming at first. Walking around is safe as there are pedestrian-friendly walkways. Google Maps is reliable and quite accurate as well.
Buses are widely used in Kyoto, and you can get a day pass for them. Kyoto's buses can be confusing, and I'm still trying to figure them out myself, but the locals are kind enough to help. In Osaka, I only use the subway. Osaka Metro subway stations are huge and can also be confusing. Make sure to get the Osaka Amazing Pass for unlimited subway rides on the Osaka Metro and other benefits too.

In Uji and Nara, I prefer to walk as most of the places I visited were within walking distance. Reload your prepaid cards like ICOCA, SUICA, or PASMO, and you're good to go!


How did I stay connected?

I used Digi Roaming, which provided me with 30 GB of internet and 30 minutes of calls for 30 days at a cost of RM95. Before my trip, I purchased an eSIM from hello1010, but unfortunately, there was no internet connection available! It was a complete nightmare not having internet on my first day in a foreign country. However, after going through the unpleasant experience, I was able to get my money refunded.


Where did I stay?

I stayed at two different places during my solo trip. For the first half, I chose The Pocket Hotel Shijo Karasuma in Kyoto. While it's not considered a capsule hotel, the individual rooms have locks, and the bathroom is shared. 

I opted for the women's-only floor, where the bathroom was conveniently located. The hotel was clean, well-maintained, and offered numerous facilities, including a washing machine and dryer, vending machines, unlimited toiletries, and filtered water. Each room came with a tablet for controlling room lighting, air conditioning, and checking bathroom availability.
For the rest of my trip in Osaka, I wanted a more comfortable experience, so I stayed in a 'proper hotel' with an ensuite bathroom. I absolutely loved the hotel in Osaka due to its strategic location near two subway stations, and the fact that there was a 7-eleven on the ground floor was very convenient. The room was clean, and the staff were friendly and hospitable, upholding Japanese standards of service. They even provided free bath salts! I highly recommend Porta Inn Tanimachi to anyone visiting Osaka.


How much I spent?

Your budget depends on the kind of vacation you're looking for. Personally, I prefer to spend more on food since I love Japanese cuisine, as well as on accommodation for added comfort. Fortunately, I was able to save a lot on accommodation by booking a year in advance.

 In terms of flight tickets, I decided to spend a little more by choosing a premium airline instead of low-cost carriers like AirAsia X. This decision was made because I couldn't afford any chances of last-minute flight cancellations or rescheduling, especially while traveling solo. Additionally, premium airlines provide more comfort and meals, which alleviates any worries. I flew with EVA Air, which had an overnight layover at Taoyuan International Airport. During my layover, I stayed at a capsule hotel within the airport before catching my next flight.

I will share more on the budget breakdown in my next post!

What I’ve learned as a first-time female solo traveler

After much contemplation, I'm glad I decided to embark on this solo trip. It provided me with the much-needed peace and quiet that I had been longing for, allowing me to find solace in solitude and escape from the noise of my daily life. During this journey of healing and self-discovery, I had the opportunity to truly get to know myself better. I learned to love myself more and embrace my imperfections along the way.

This solo trip provided me with a unique and special way to explore and experience Japan. It allowed me to immerse myself in the culture, and I discovered hidden gems and unforgettable moments that I might have missed in a different setting. It was an adventure that expanded my horizons and provided me with a fresh perspective.

Overall, this solo trip has been a transformative experience, offering me the chance to grow as an individual and appreciate the beauty of both Japan and myself. I am grateful for the memories created and the lessons learned along the way.


Send me a hello :)

Form for the Contact Page