Can you really solo travel to Bali as a woman and how safe is it?

Can you really solo travel to Bali as a woman and how safe is it?

In the jungle behind Bliss Sanctuary for Women, Ubud, Bali (Picture: Tobi Akingbade/Tobi Rachel Photography)When I told an older member of my family that I was travelling to Bali for a week by myself – with no connections in the country – she panicked. A lot.
After enduring some frantic calls from other aunties who heard the news I was exhausted from repeating: ‘It will be fine’.
I am a 27-year-old woman from the borders of East London and Essex – and while I act like I can handle anything – I did wonder if solo travel in Bali was the wisest of ideas?
After all, I’d never met anyone who has done such a thing before.
But as an extremely busy woman, single, with no children at the moment, I thought now would be perfect time to take on such a wild ride.
Ironically, it was far from rock and roll and it was everything I needed all at the same time, because the moment I stepped foot in Bliss Sanctuary For Women, I felt right at home – well a home in the middle of a secured jungle.
I was greeted by hosts Christiana and Dessy – in the Ubud branch – and secretly wiped a tear as I hugged them goodbye seven days later.

Dinner was held by the pool (Picture: Tobi Akingbade/Tobi Rachel Photography)

Bliss Sanctuary for Women, Ubud, Bali (Picture: Tobi Akingbade/Tobi Rachel Photography)Others openly cried. And my departure was not an isolated incident. Every single time a woman left the villa, the others stood by the door and waved a very heart-breaking farewell.
Entrances are equally as emotive, and it was during mine that I realised I would definitely be returning.
The newest sanctuary in Ubud, uplands Bali —  joins sister locations in Canggu and Seminyak — comprises five stunning rooms with wooden four-poster bed, Instagrammable outdoor bathroom, and marble floor.
I had no intentions of making friends in Bali – I thought solo meant solo – but the nature of the retreat meant that I formed a close bond with nearly a dozen women – staff, cooks, yoga teachers, masseuse and guests alike.

The venue was homely (Picture: Tobi Akingbade/Tobi Rachel Photography)

View from the rooms (Picture: Tobi Akingbade/Tobi Rachel Photography)This is because all guests sit together while the kitchen staff lay on a feast — from seafood BBQs and grilled meat, extensive vegan and vegetarian options to traditional Balinese curries and salads.
You will struggle to taste Western food without judging. I know I did.
The occasion brings together women from all over the world, of all ages and backgrounds. I particularly befriended a white South African woman – my age – who lived on a yacht in the Red Sea and a 50-year-old Australian woman living in Canada who recently experienced becoming a widow and had decided – during the trip – to start dating again.
I also met a mother and daughter duo who stayed in what we called ‘the jungle duo room’ together as it has two beds. The villas has a strict ‘no children, no couples and no men’ rule.

Balcony of Room 5 (Picture: Tobi Akingbade/Tobi Rachel Photography)My large walk-in shower and freestanding bath with organic toiletries including handmade soaps and bath salts and it all made it really difficult for me to want to leave the villa for some sightseeing.
But I did, thanks to the encouragement of the staff we helped us each evening by fixing an itinerary for the next day.
All we had to do was talk through our plans and ideas and they would make phone calls and arrangements with the tourist locations and personal drivers who would travel the depths of the islands just for us.
On some days, I travelled solo with my driver – like when I wanted to climb a Volcano at 2am – and other times I naturally grouped with other women in the villa who expressed a desire to hit the same spots as me.

Guest can climb Mount Batur (Picture: Tobi Akingbade/Tobi Rachel Photography)But it was safe. At all times. I was provided tour guides and personal drivers – part of the package – who even worked as translators and at times felt like bodyguards. Additionally, Bali proved itself to be the friendliest place on earth, according to me.
I didn’t always go out. The day after hiking Mount Batur, I decided to focus on the wellness theme of the sanctuary and made use of the unlimited massages, treatments and yoga classes available to us all.
In short, my time at Bliss saw me being pampered by the pool, or filling my days taking photos, watching the sunrise at the beach and visiting culturally rich towns away from the tourist areas.The choice was all mine.
They ensured that our stay was not filled with distractions because – as discovered at the dinner table – every woman had a reason for being there whether they knew it to begin with or not.

I, for starters, made a huge decision to make some changes in my career and I have Bliss Sanctuary For Women to thank for that.
Before you leave, your host will ask you to write down a word to describe your stay. I wrote down a phrase in Spanish ‘inhala, exhala’ – because for the first time in a long time I took a deep breath and exhaled.
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