It’s a new year, which means it’s time to start booking your next adventure! While women can travel anywhere in the world—with the right research and planning—there are some destinations where you’ll feel comfortable from the get-go. Whether you’re traveling solo or planning a girls’ getaway, here are 5 destinations that you’ll want to check out:
Speckled with lakes, forests and national parks, Finland is a country known for its natural beauty. In the summers, soak up the endless sunlight (literally—there are 24 hours of it), go for a hike, and attend one of Finland’s many music festivals.
Do not pass up Finland’s national treasure. The sauna, a major part of Finnish culture, involves sitting naked in the heat alongside other people of your gender. You can wear a towel, but most people don’t. The sauna is a relaxing, freeing experience—and a great way to escape the frosty Finnish winters. If you wish you were less body conscious, the sauna may give you the confidence boost you need!
2. South Korea
The Land of the Morning Calm is chock full of ancient ruins and temples, as well as modern cities filled with endless karaoke bars, fresh food, and fantastic shopping with tons of sales associates ready to assist.
Best of all are the people. South Korea has a strong sense of community that can be felt everywhere. Koreans reach out to help each other—whether that means returning the lost wallet that you never expected to see again or chastising two children who are arguing on the street. Public transportation and city streets are known to be super safe.
In this tiny country, it’s not uncommon to experience lush green hills and desert dunes in one day, as well as age-old religious sites and trendy dance clubs the next. This country is all about extremes, so get ready to pack a tank top for cosmopolitan Tel Aviv and a long skirt for Jerusalem’s ancient Western Wall.
Expect Israelis to get in your face—divulging their life stories to you while you’re shopping in the outdoor market, debating politics at the beach, guiding you to your next destination, and inviting you to their home for a Friday night feast. Tucked into a tumultuous region, Israel is a country that won’t let you sit back and relax for too long. But it is one of the most comfortable places for women to travel in the Middle East.
From its deserted islands to its vast rainforests, Panama is a country that’s filled with natural wonders but hasn’t yet been overrun by tourism’s high prices. Head to Panama City to experience Latin nightlife and taxi around town for no more than a few dollars. Then hop on a bus to Boquete to sample the local coffee and zipline through a cloud forest.
Be sure to take a day to immerse yourself in the Embera community, one of Panama’s indigenous tribes. Take a dug-out canoe to the Embera’s remote village, where the community members will greet you with dances and serve you traditional food. Admire the Embera people’s intricate body paint and the women’s colorful tops, and leave with a few homemade baskets.
5. New Zealand
Scattered with mountains, beaches, lakes, fjords, and forests, New Zealand is one of the best destinations for outdoor sports lovers. Rent a car, throw your bike in the back, and traverse this country, stopping along the way to bike a trail, hike one of the Great Walks, or just breathe in the gorgeous surroundings.
Traveling around New Zealand is a stress-free experience with transportation that runs on time, ubiquitous ATMs, tons of clean public bathrooms, delicious food, and very few pickpockets. A vacation to New Zealand will give you the chance to let loose, and focus only on your next adventure.
Rachel Sales is the co-founder of Pink Pangea, the community for women who love to travel.