Solo Travel: What to Do at Night When Traveling Alone

Last Updated on January 11, 2024 by Christine Kaaloa


I’ll admit, there are times being a solo traveler at night can feel like… well, a single gal alone on a Friday night! In solo travel, what to do at night when traveling alone? In this post, i’m sharing 19 things to do at night when traveling solo.

Some solo travelers will avoid going at night for fear it is unsafe. But it doesn’t have to be so, especially when you see families going out at night.

In fact, would you believe that when I travel alone, I often don’t return to my pad until midnight? I practice safe creativity and street smarts, because a city at night offers a lot of unique experiences, charm and local variety.

Read 31 Safety tips for Solo Travelers



Solo Travel: What to Do at Night When Traveling Alone? (19 Options)

1.   Take a romantic stroll through the city

If you feel unsafe going out at night, then this first tip might not be for you… I like to explore the city and fall in love with it.

Each city takes on a magical face in the evening, as it’s veiled in light, shadow and occasionally in neon. Locals and families go out at night.  Explore streets lined with lights, visit a popular boardwalk, sit at a cafe, observe how locals come out to play. Unwind through the smells wafting from restaurants and homes.

Romance isn’t only for couples, but are for soloists too. Go ahead, make a date with the city!

Check out anti-theft bags for solo travelers

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2.   Make your own city bus tour at night

Some tour agencies and cities offer city bus tours at night and these tours are like cheap all-inclusive holidays, taking you around the city to all the major landmarks lit by light. But if you can’t find one, go ahead and make your own! I’m a big fan of D.I.Y. (aka do-it-yourself) tours.

Public transportation services such as city buses, ferries and monorails make perfect and cheap way to see the city lights at a slow pace. (Read my post on Bangkok’s transit options to get an idea of ways to see a city through its transportation)

3. Sightsee, sightsee, sightsee!

Although museums, theme parks and government attractions typically clock out when it hits sunset, temples, churches, shopping malls, night markets and shops are still operating under working hours. As long as there are things to see, these shoes will go until it closes the town down.

Below you see me visiting a temple that is alongside a night market in Chiang Mai. Streets are crowded like a country fair, street food is available and craftsmen set up their stalls to sell cute knick knacks. I love Chiang Mai at night.

4.   Explore night markets and indulge in street fairs

One of the best things to do at night when traveling solo is visiting night markets. Southeast Asia has wonderful night markets I love indulging in. Thailand has walking streets which are like huge block parties or street fairs… they’re all pretty much the same fun. Haggle for cool local craftwork and souvenirs or dive into the local foods and snacks, watch street performers jangling for change or fuel up with local cuisine at an outdoor restaurant. Watch my tips on how to haggle when traveling

Night markets for local folk can get a little more gritty, less sparkly with a feeling more foreign, but you’ll often see families and friends enjoying them.. Foods are authentically made for local taste and shopper’s items are aimed at more practical and household variety. Interesting nonetheless!

Watch your money though, it’s sure to drain fast.

Read 24 ways to avoid pickpockets


5. Dinner shows, concerts and cultural performances

Did you know that Vietnamese water puppet shows originated as a form of entertainment in villages, when rice fields got flooded?

…Or that in Bali, Legong dancers are played music, while still in the womb and taught the hand gestures before they can walk? I saw a Legong dinner show on the beach and it was included on an all-day sightsee- snorkel- and-beach tour package I got…for $40. Snap, don’t you love great budget tour deals!

A culture’s art is very indicative of its people’s history and many places offer engaging dinner shows and cultural performances to showcase their local talents and give tourists a vibrant understanding of who they are.

6.   Follow your curiosity

Curiosity pays and occasionally, wandering off the grid can lead to discoveries, which are more rewarding than seeing the Taj Mahal. Never underestimate off-the-beaten-path places, even if at first glance it looks… too grassroots for your taste!

Just when I was scraping the barrel of ideas for evening activities in the little Indian town of Gokarna, I came across a small town Indian community theater blasting Bollywood music in a shoddy dirt lot.  I’ve never experienced community theater in a rural town before. This was entertainment put on for the locals- not its tourists- and it was a blast.

Keep an open mind and follow your curiosity. It may lead to adventures that most tourists don’t think to try and you’ll be glad you did.

7.   Brave creepy crawlers on a night safari

Flashlights out everyone and don’t forget to hit yourself with insect repellent before you start!  Night safaris lead you on tours of the jungle, to point out the type of animals and critters that come out after dark.  It’s fun, eye opening and enough to give you the heebie-jeebies!

Read about my stay and night safari at Bako National Park

8.   Dine alone

There’s a myth that many soloists hold around solo dining, and it’s that others will see you as lonely or pathetic. Well, have you ever noticed someone dining alone? The likelihood is… not really, unless you’re another soloist or the only person in the joint. But ordinarily, our eyes are drawn to movement and activity (i.e. many vs. one).

Sorry soloist, hate to burst the bubble, but you’re not exciting enough to catch attention. In a busy restaurant, you’re actually wallpaper! So lose self-consciousness.

Read tips on How to Eat Alone.

Alternate ways to get over the fear of dining alone:

•   Look for other solo diners in the restaurant. They’re immediate validation that you’re not an anomaly and if you have the fortune of getting seated next to another soloist, use it as an opportunity for possible conversation.
•   Ask for a table near a window or outside, so you can people-watch and experience your surroundings.
•   Bring a book, magazine or journal to occupy yourself as you wait for your food to arrive.

9.   Explore Street Food culture

Forego the table-for-one at a restaurant and eat on the streets. Street food culture is alive in certain cities and it’s the place to be! With street food, you can eat standing up, sitting on a plastic stool on the sidewalk as motorbikes zip past you or amidst the cluck of foreign chatter. It’s real dining just the way locals do it:  authentic food and cheap prices!  Next time you visit street foodie capitals, like Thailand, Kolkata or Taipei, dare to step outside the tourist box and experience it local style.

Read my tips on street food safety and how to avoid getting sick abroad


10. Explore the local shopping experience

One of the best things to do at night when traveling solo is to explore grocery stores, convenience marts and shopping malls. They are absolutely safe! Doing your shopping at night also makes time for you to do your historical and monument sightseeing at day..

I ooh and aaah at unique products, raise my eyebrow at strange ones and even pick up souvenirs for friends, which might have them guessing…  I’m always curious about how a country is different from my own.

In Asia, you can get a lot of skin care products with whitening in it (even underarm deodorant!), in India they sell a lot of Ayurvedic products. Islamabad, Colombo and Bangkok have mega-glam shopping malls that would blow any American one out of the water! Don Quijote in Tokyo at night… I could stay there until closing!

spam koreaSpam by the gift box sold in Korea

11.   Hang out at your lodgings, chat and find travel friends

The fallacy about solo travel is that you’re always alone. On the contrary, often I find it’s quite the opposite.  You’re almost always meeting people on the road.

But occasionally, you have to know where to look.  I’ll never pooh-pooh hostels and guesthouses. They’re a soloist’s salvation and these days, it’s not just for the young, but for the budget-minded in general!   Some joints host nightly events, book budget tours and often it attracts open-minded and friendly compadres, who are willing to share advice and recommendations of where to go and what you shouldn’t waste your time seeing. You can find a dinner companion or more or even strike up a group of friends to go to a bar with. It happens all the time. Sometimes, you’ll wish you were actually alone. (Read about my experience in finding friends to go to Bangkok’s X-rated ping pong shows).

Read how to make friends when traveling alone.

12.  Catch up with family and friends

Skype your family, update your Facebook status, write a new post on your travel blog and… unload your photo card so you have something new to work with the next day.

I like to Skype or Facetime my mom to let her know how i’m doing and to talk to my dog, Tinker.


13.    Enjoy the quiet time reading a book or writing in your journal

We all need downtime to rest, absorb and process our day. Reading a book about (or inspired by) the country you’re visiting, helps you open your eyes and notice more of what’s going on around you.  In India, I found a copy of Superstar India: From Incredible to Unstoppableir?t=gt0d8 20&l=am2&o=1&a=0143102583 by my favorite Indian writer, Shobha De.

Journalling is also great for taking notes on your observations and putting all your experiences into perspective.

Lastly, if you’re like me, you’ll also spend it trip planning and figuring out my transportation route for the next day!

14.  Cozy Up for a Movie Night (Solo Style)

Grab some popcorn and find a cozy outdoor cinema screening, light show or visit an actual cinema and watch a movie in a foreign language without subtitles. It can be quite fun! Immerse yourself in a different kind of story, surrounded by strangers who become your movie-night companions for a few hours.

I watched a Bollywood film in a historical movie house in India and took in my first 4DX movie in Thailand watching an American film about a big whale while having my chair rock and shoot mist at me to simulate being on a boat at sea. Note: this was before 4D came to the U.S.! In Mexico, I discovered the city center was aglow at night and certain historical monuments had light shows.

15. Research the local events & make a new discovery

All cities have a local event calendar where you’ll find concerts, opera, festivals, markets, etc…  Many main cities have a Time Out magazine. 

Tip: Ask your hotel front desk or concierge. The night I arrived in Valladolid, Mexico, I asked my hotel front desk if there was anything to see at night and they told me that the city had a carnival festival celebrating the virgin. It was the biggest carnival I’d ever been to in my life! Mexico has insane carnivals.

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Dive into local culture, food and off-beaten-path gems without the stress  


16. Take a Night Tour with a Twist

One of the best things to do at night for solo travelers is to take a night tour with a unique spin.  The traditional ghost tours aren’t bad. But how about a bike tour to navigate the city with the wind in your hair, or a photography walk to capture the city’s nocturnal charm? I did a night tuk tuk tour in Bangkok, exploring popular street food while sightseeing famous monuments lit up at night.

17. Take a food tour

Another safe thing solo travelers can do at night is to take a night food tour or pub crawl. Explore hidden culinary gems as you eat your way around the city with other travelers.


18. Join a Cooking Class (and Eat the Results!)

Learn the secrets of local cuisine in a hands-on cooking class. Not only will you gain culinary skills, but you’ll also connect with other travelers and locals, sharing laughter and delicious meals.

19.  Do take long-distance journeys at night

Overnight sleeper trains and buses are hotels on wheels. They help you maximize your daylight hours for sightseeing as you travel during the evening.

You might think you want to watch the passing landscape from the train during the day, but in reality, you might just watch half an hour of it before slogging off! You’ll maximize your sightseeing, by scheduling your long-distance travels for night instead.

Some buses and trains accommodate for instance, I love taking the overnight train in Thailand and India, while the Myanmar overnight Hello Kitty bus was surprisingly comfortable.

Tip: Check out my Resources page to see the tools I use for transportation

crashed out


Remember, what to do at night when traveling alone is entirely up to you.

Embrace the freedom, chase the unique experiences, and trust your adventurous spirit. The night holds endless possibilities for solo travelers who dare to explore. So, go forth, my friend, and paint your own masterpiece on the canvas of darkness.

What would you add to this list of solo travel things to do at night ?

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