7 Best Things to Do When You Travel Alone in Bangkok on Your Birthday Week
In 2016, I started a tradition of traveling alone during my birthday month. I visited Taiwan in the middle of a typhoon on my first time. Last year, I went to Australia and experienced winter in July. But this year, I decided to spend my birthday alone in Bangkok. Unlike my previous solo trips, I didn’t meet with anyone I knew in the area. So, I spent my whole week with total strangers in a foreign land. But despite this, I can still say that I had an awesome birthday week. Also, I realized that there are a lot of things which are best to do when you travel alone. Please read on to find out what I can recommend, as always, based on my experience!
1. Dine alone in a nice restaurant
I am an introvert, but I hate dining out alone. Or maybe I hate dining out without company when people could notice me. So, when I travel, I only get a snack on the go and eat it while walking or inside my hotel room. But during my trip to Bangkok, I realized that it's also nice not to care if you're eating with company or not. What matters is that you enjoy your food and that you enjoy your own company — especially when it's your birthday. Why sulk and hide in your hotel room when you can book yourself a seat for a sweet afternoon tea or a fancy dinner in a well-loved restaurant? Celeste in Meet Me in St. Gallen was right: “Loneliness is different from Solitude.” So, celebrate your day the way you would with friends and family. And most importantly — don't forget about the birthday cake!
2. Partially disconnect from the internet world
In the world where social media almost control our lives. It is so hard to disconnect from the internet especially when you're traveling alone. After all, the only thing you can do so your family members won't worry about your absence is to update them regularly. But don't worry. You can still enjoy your me time. Why not grab an actual book and bring yourself to another world at least before you get back to the reality of work and obligations?
I brought The Four-Hour Work Week book by Tim Ferris and grabbed Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell on my way to Okura Prestige Bangkok. Take note, though. It doesn't matter if you get self-help, fiction or nonfiction books. What matters is that you enjoy what you read as much as you enjoy scrolling through your Facebook feed.
3. Treat yourself to a fantastic temporary home
Okay, for someone who's into staying in hostels these days, this is pretty hard, no? But what if I told you that staying in hostels and inns no longer equates to bed bugs and poorly maintained rooms? I found The Yard Hostel Bangkok in Ari neighborhood, and I was amazed by how pretty the whole place was. I mean, I had a private room with a garden and a small patio all for myself! How cool is that?
I guess, looking for your temporary home during your travels shouldn't always be about what's cheaper so you can save money. Sometimes, just with a bit of research, you can enjoy the best of both worlds. Who says I didn't sleep and wake up like a princess at The Yard?
4. Have a day- off and pamper yourself
So, it's your birthday week. Ideally, you don't even have to worry much about your itinerary. So why not have a day off even from traveling? I preferred getting a massage a few days into touring. And given that I stayed in Bangkok, a Thai massage was non-negotiable. I discovered this place called the Watergate Spa near the Platinum Fashion Mall where they offer an hour of full body Thai massage for only 300 baht. But of course, I got the 500-baht package for two hours of pure relieving torture (if you get what I mean). Why? Because it's my birthday, that's why!
5. Go on a shopping spree
It may or may not be on your list of things to do when you travel. But going on a trip on your birthday week is already a valid excuse to do some shopping while you're at it. Just know your limits, and you'll be fine. But honestly, even if you go beyond it, nobody will judge you. Perks of traveling alone, huh?
6. Immerse yourself in your destination’s culture
It's a must to do this — traveling solo or not. Wherever you go, you must not only think of the tourist circuits. Take a class, visit museums and temples. If you can, attend a local performance. In Bangkok, there are a lot of ways to know more about their culture and history. So, aside from visiting their temples, I decided to enroll myself in a Thai cooking class via KKday. It didn't just introduce me to the flavorful cuisine of Thailand. It also helped me exercise my kitchen skills. Again, it's like hitting two birds in one stone!
7. Join a group tour and meet new friends and locals
Okay, so you're traveling solo. Chances are, visiting attractions far from your home base would be pretty expensive. And the best way to go would be to be a joiner in a group tour. It is a foolproof way to meet new people while traveling. You don’t just learn about the culture. You also get to meet co-travelers and connect with the locals. But of course, it's still up to you if you want to enjoy the activity at your own pace or mingle with strangers that may turn into friends. Again, no judging here.
It's easy to do all these things when you're with friends or family. But as for me, it's also important to do these things alone from time to time. Then you can spot how different it is and how enjoyable it could be. When you travel alone, you can do everything you want at any time you please. But when you don't have friends with you who can help you figure your way out of a strange place or take your photos, you also develop more skills that could be useful in other situations. So, whether it is for a solo birthday travel or not, I'm confidently going to do these activities more often in my future travels.
How about you?