Perhaps one of the most asked questions a solo traveller could ever get is, 'which is the best place for first time solo travellers?' And as much as I love to answer this and list out my reasons why, I thought it was time that I made a blog post on this.
So, here it is. The answer to almost every budding solo traveller's question: "Where should I go for my first solo trip?"
I would say, McLeod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh.
I know it is indeed 'such an overcrowded and overdone destination'. It was my first solo trip and there must be a reason why I keep going back there time and again. If you know how to travel right and travel smart, you're in for an experience of a lifetime. And if you don't, I'll tell you how!
Here are my top 6 reasons why McLeod Ganj is the place I recommend to a first time solo traveller:
1. Super easy to reach
McLeod Ganj is perhaps one of the most easily accessible places in North India. There are plenty direct buses- both Volvo and ordinary plying from Delhi. If not direct, one can opt to get down at Dharmshala and then take an HRTC bus to cover the remaining half hour journey.
This journey can be made well under 1200 rupees in a Volvo and 700 rupees if you decide to give up some comfort and travel in ordinary buses. The best part? You'll be in McLeod Ganj easily in 12 hours, thanks to the overnight buses from Delhi.
2. Plenty cheap accommodation options available
This is one truth that no solo traveller will deny- that travelling solo can sometimes get lonely. And the only way to ward off this loneliness is by staying in a good hostel for travellers where you can find other like-minded people to talk to and to go around with. And thankfully, McLeod Ganj is home to plenty of such hostels, that care about your pocket as well.
As a solo traveller, the best way to save money is by staying in shared rooms instead of private rooms. Here are a few hostels in and around McLeod Ganj that offer both:
Flügler Hostel, Dharamkot
Tibet World Hostel Backpackers Inn
Alternatively, you can always look out for home stays that provide decent rooms at insanely cheap prices. The best part about these is that they are even ready to bargain depending on your skills and the availability of rooms. When I travelled to McLeod Ganj for my first solo trip in March, I stayed at Tashi Khangsar Travel Lodge which is run by a kind old Tibetan lady.
Pro Tip: Although you'll find almost every possible hostel on online booking sites, it's always better to go from one place to the other, compare the rooms and prices and decide for yourself.
3. A number of cute cafés to choose from
If the town is known for anything, it has to be the variety of cafés it is home to. From authentic Tibetan to European and American foods, it is very easy to satiate your taste buds here. And some of them even have dirt cheap rates for the best of meals.
Here are a few of my favourite cafés in and around McLeod Ganj: