I would like to head out the beginning of October for approximately 3 weeks. I am woman and will be traveling alone. I would like some ideas on locations that would be safe, adventerous and teach me about a new culture. Something very different than anything in the United States. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!
Plenty of women travel around South East Asia alone - it's a pretty safe area of the world. There would be lots of opportunities to hook up with other people too if you didn't want to travel alone for the whole time. I would suggest, in particular, Thailand and Vietnam - plenty of culture and loads to do. It's also very cheap if you are coming from somewhere like the US.
My vote would go to Iran. It is one of the safest countries in the whole world for a single woman travelling alone. Don't be shocked, it is true. The strict rules of separation between men and women make it absolutely hassle free. (Men don't even dare to look at you the wrong way.)
Iranians are very nice and friendly people, they love meeting foreigners and are honest and very helpful in every aspect. They also love to travel, so there is a very good infrastructure available - plenty of good and cheap hotels and excellent public transport to every part of the country. On top of it Iran is an absolutely gorgerous country with lots of history and an exciting culture.
The only hitches in travelling to Iran for US-citizens are 1) the difficulty of getting a visa 2) the fact that you need to be on a guided tour and 3) the minor inconvenience that all women need to cover up with a headscarf, long-sleeved loose-fitting blouse and ankle-length loose-fitting trousers or skirt. (And finally the reactions of friends and family, who are frankly terrified by the word "Iran" alone. They will be very afraid for you, though they only know Iran from CNN. It is totally different for a tourist going there, trust me!)
[ Edit: Edited on Sep 19, 2007, at 10:04 AM by t_maia ]