Q: I’m an 18-year-old. I’d love to visit Himachal Pradesh sometime next year. I’ll probably be travelling alone or with a travel group (please suggest if you have any in mind). It’s going to be a budget holiday, but I would like to take my time and see the place inside out. It would be very kind of you if you could help me plan my trip. Is there any other place in India worth exploring alone?

Marco Says

You say you like to “take your time”, which could mean a couple of weeks, a couple of months or longer even, which has me in a bind as to what kind of holiday or travel group to suggest. Since you are young, travelling alone, flexible with schedule, and keen on immersing yourself, I suggest homestays, of which there are plenty in Himachal Pradesh. For instance, Tirthan Valley has the excellent Khem Bharti Home Stay (9459101113) and the ever popular Raju’s Cottage (9625211848). Near Dharamshala, there is Kareri Village Homestay (9736246820). Himachal Tourism (himachaltourism.gov.in) has a few options listed, and so does homestays.in.

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A farmer outside his house in Manali with his yak
A farmer outside his house in Manali with his yak

One way to be safe and still have the option of exploring would be to base yourself in a well-connected place, such as Kullu-Manali or Shimla, and make day trips or treks with groups to surrounding places. Manali would let you access Kasol, Manikaran, Solang Valley, Naggar and Rohtang Pass. Shimla gives you day trips to Chail, Kufri, Naldehra and Mashobra. If you’d like to keep moving, consider the Dhauladhar trail: Dalhousie–Chamba–Khajjar–Dharamsala–McLeod Ganj–Palampur.

Among other places in India good for solo female travellers, I’d say Puducherry, and Coorg and Mysore in Karnataka, in fact, anywhere in India, as long as you’re sensible about it.