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You've travelled with your honey for Valentine's day and you went on a weekend getaway with your family for CNY—but what about travelling with your girlfriends? Going on holiday with your best friends can be a great way to reconnect and unwind at the same time. With trending destinations for 2019 ranging from tried and true cities such as New York and Tokyo to up and coming cultural and reflective destinations like Bhutan, there are plenty of options to choose from for the female traveller. Not only are these destinations on jet setter's travel wish lists, but they have also been well-ranked for safety, atmosphere and things to do.
Trending Destinations for Getting Pampered: England, France & Vietnam
With wellness and self-care becoming increasingly important in today's stressful world, why not consider getting away with your friends for a spa holiday? With top-rated spas available for a variety of budgets around the globe, there are many places to consider if you want to get pampered. However, we found England, France and Vietnam to offer a great combination of globally recognised spas and a high safety rating for female travellers. For a royal experience, the Cliveden Spa is a late 17th century mansion nestled among the scenic English countryside in Berkshire. While it is the priciest destination on our list, especially when combined with the S$1,600 roundtrip airfare (per person), the still weakened GBP can make it a bit cheaper than usual. Another great spa destination could be les Pres D'Eugenie spa in Landes, France. In this picturesque spa retreat, you and your friends can indulge in weekend spa packages ranging from around S$1,251 to S$2,424. These packages include accommodations, a variety of spa treatments and breakfast.
If you'd rather experience a spa getaway closer to home, you can visit the Four Seasons in Hoi An, Vietnam. Vietnam is a relatively safe destination for female tourists and staying at a luxury resort will probably decrease the chances of you ending up in dangerous parts of the city. To save money, you can book the 1-bedroom villas and split the cost between 2-3 people. This can end up being 46% cheaper than if you were to book the 3-bedroom villas. The spa offers everything from bathing ceremonies to beauty treatments and massages. Once you're all relaxed, Hoi An offers plenty of things to see, including UNESCO world heritage sites and pristine beaches.
Bhutan & Sri Lanka for the Life-Changing Adventures
If you're looking to go on an adventure rather than a retreat, Bhutan and Sri Lanka are both great options. These destinations that are off the beaten path and offer a plethora of adventurous activity. Both also scored very well on the Global Peace Index for South Asia, with Bhutan and Sri Lanka taking first and second place. Bhutan is a very safe destination, both overall and for females, where harrassment is generally very minimal. What isn't minimal, however, are the activities you and your friends can embark on. There are monasteries to visit, rafting and multi-day trekking tours all for under S$200 per person. However, getting to Bhutan is a bit more complex than normal destinations. It is generally recommended to book your trip with a registered Bhutanese travel agency to minimise the hassle of flights and visa requirements.
Sri Lanka is an emerging destination for 2019. As crime rates have been declining and tourism has been expanding, more and more people are considering Sri Lanka as an new destination for adventurous activity. You can hike Little Adams Peak, Ella Rock or the Nine Arch Bridge, see the tea plantations in Nuwara Eliya or even go on a safari in Kaudulla National Park. Hotels range between S$57 for a 3-star option to S$227 for a 5-star option. However, despite the drop in crime in recent years, it is still advised that women be alert when they go out at night, since Sri Lankan cities may not be as comfortable or familiar at night for women as metropolis cities such as New York, Hong Kong or Tokyo would be.
Consider Copenhagen & Barcelona for the Hipster Crowd
Paris, London, Berlin and Milan will always be the world's favourite tourist destinations in Europe, but this is 2019 and if you want to hop on the latest travel trends, then you should consider Copenhagen in Denmark and Barcelona in Spain. Copenhagen is both trendy and historical, and you can split a room with 6 friends in an upscale hostel for only around S$325 per night or just S$54 per person. From there, you can have a great time experiencing nordic cuisine, exploring Copenhagen's art galleries and taking Instagram-worthy shots of the colorful Nyhavn houses.
Barcelona is another trending destination to consider in 2019. It is safe for female tourists—despite having a pick-pocketing problem—as it is focused on increasing female safety by building female-friendly public spaces and increases lighting in previously dark alleys. Barcelona is a great option for the hipster group of friends who want to explore the city's famous architecture, plethora of museums and enjoy some of the best music festivals in Europe, such as Sónar Festival. Similar to Copenhagen, hostels can be as nice as traditional hotels, with the added benefit of saving you around S$250.
Shopper's Paradises: Hong Kong, New York City & Tokyo
New York, Hong Kong and Tokyo were all voted as winners for the best shopping destinations in 2018 by Travel + Leisure's World's Best Survey. So if you are bored with Singapore's shops and want to shop elsewhere, you can consider flying out to these destinations. While these are not necessarily unique or new locations for Singaporeans to visit, they are large enough to find something new each time you go and they are considered to be very safe for women. You should just make sure to bring along a credit card that doesn't charge for overseas spending or gives you points for spending miles abroad to get a better bang for your buck.
In fact, New York City ranks as the safest large city in the United States, with a murder rate that is almost 40% below the national average. It is also a top spot for female solo travel, so travelling with a group of friends should make you feel even safer. New York City is littered with shops ranging from high-end department stores such as Bergdorf Goodman's to cheaper vintage and second-hand stores scattered around Brooklyn and Manhattan.
Tokyo and Hong Kong are also relatively safe options, with Tokyo's levels of crime declining and Hong Kong having the lowest murder rate in the world. One thing you should watch out for in Tokyo, however, is petty theft and the possibility of groping on public transportation. To avoid getting into an unpleasant situation, you can consider taking female-only train cars when travelling during rush hour. As shopping havens, both cities offer everything from high-end fashion districts. For instance, luxury shoppers can check out the Central district in Hong Kong or Ginza in Tokyo and vintage or indie brand lovers can consider Hong Kong's Sheung Wan neighborhood or Tokyo's Shimokitazawa district.
Staying Safe While Travelling
As people are growing bored of travelling to the same places year after year, we have seen a rise in new and unusual destinations as potential holiday hotspots. However, some of these places may not necessarily be the best options for female travellers, even if you're travelling in a group. To make sure these destinations are as safe as they are trendy for our female travellers, we looked at crime data against tourists and women and the Global Peace Index, which measures a nation's peacefulness. However, despite high rankings, it is still prudent to be careful. For instance, while Sri Lanka has been named as one of Lonely Planet's top destinations for 2019 and has one of the top Global Peace Index scores for South Asian countries, there have still been reports of harassment of female tourists at night. Thus, while it may be named as a great new place to check out, it may still not be as safe for women as it is for men.
There are without a doubt different rules for men and women when it comes to travelling, especially in countries where gender inequality is still a problem. While men and women are both susceptible to petty theft crimes, women in particular have to take extra precautions to not walk alone at night, watch their alcohol intake and pay mind to the country's customs and dress. If your trip involves going to an unfamiliar location, you and your friends should make contingency plans in case any of you get separated or run into trouble. This includes letting your hotel know where you are going, being careful at night and doing your research about areas to avoid and the area's common scams. Furthermore, regardless of where you are going, you should always have a good travel insurance policy to prevent financial losses due to pickpockets, baggage loss and trip delays.