5 of the most female-friendly luxury travel destinations

As a man who has travelled the world, I can only base my opinions of luxury destinations on my observations – which admittedly, is much different that a woman’s point of view. So I asked some well-travelled female friends: “What are some of the most female-friendly luxury destinations?” Great shopping and availability and variety of spas were themes they repeated, and key factors of respect and safety are high on the list of deciding features. Here are 5 of the destinations that stand out (and a couple cities that are in contradiction in friendly versus festering): 

Female friendly

1.  Bali, Indonesia (by Jessica)

Jessica, originally from Indonesia, now residing in Australia, speaks multiple languages, and found it comforting to find that many of the locals speak English, Japanese and other languages in Bali. She mentions that she felt like a luxurious princess when partaking in the mesmerizing Kecak Dance, Barong Dance, and Balinise dance lessons.

Bali

There are temples galore, and she recommends that women should take time to slow down and find a peaceful garden or temple for meditation and relaxation. Here are the special touches that make Bali one of the most female-friendly destinations:

  • The luxury resorts have Asian atmosphere with global amenities most Westerners expect, and global travellers will enjoy.
  • Visitors can find spas, massage salons, and fine nail art salons everywhere.
  • For the adventurous women, find plenty of activities to choose from: Rafting; Scuba diving; Trekking the mountain; or Yoga on the beach.
  • Shopping, shopping, shopping

2.  Lisbon, Portugal (by Lauri)

Lisbon is a coastal city along the eastern Atlantic, and just a short drive to the beach. Lauri found the food and fine wine to be fresh and delightful (especially for seafood lovers). ‘Don’t forget to try the famous Pastéis de Belém while there’, she says.

Lisbon

Here are her reasons for selecting Lisbon to be on this list:

  • The locals are oh-so friendly.
  • Stumble upon many gorgeous, fairytale-esque sites, including Cabo da Roca (the Western-most point in Europe) and castles abound!
  • Be like royalty – visit Sao Jorge Castle, Belem Tower and the breathtaking Pena Palace in the nearby Sintra. There’s even a coach museum in the city where you’ll see all of the luxurious methods of transportation for the Portuguese royalty over the years. 

3.  Austin, Texas (by Lauren)

With eight hotels and resorts at 5-star level, Lauren, a VP for a wholesale travel company chooses Austin, Texas – the surprise destination of the bunch. Mingle with heirs of cattle barons alongside a flourishing of musicians and cultural trend-setters.

Austin

Lauren found a healthy mix of personalities throughout the city. Just the right amount of ‘hippy cowboy’ guys to chat with, and people from the blossoming film and music scene. And find plenty of venues for girls’ night on the town that allows women to feel comfortable letting their hair down on the dance floor. Austin’s place on the list is due to: 

  • A myriad of dining choices! – Find local favorites along the water-front; Inventive cuisine of Tex-Mex; Cross-genre tidbits of French-Vietnamese plates; Elegant four-course meals; and more! (she recommends: http://lenoirrestaurant.com/)
  • It’s easy to get around – rent a bike at stations around the city, walk, order an Uber car or car-hire.
  • Feel equally comfortable dressing up, or skipping out in something casual. Overall, Austin is pretty causal, but while dressed up in bachelorette gear, you’ll get just the right amount of attention, without the harassment.

 4.  Amsterdam (by Dawn)

If you can handle the very liberal lifestyle, then you’ll be rewarded with a wide-range of luxury hotels, like the Hotel Pulitzer, Andaz Amsterdam Hotel, Hilton Amsterdam Hotel, and more, as well as fine cuisine, and unique experiences found in no other travel destination.

Amsterdam

For activities, Dawn says to try the Bikes & Dykes Tour in a city triuly designed for cycling, or take an evening dinner cruise amid the gorgeous backdrop of the canals. Discover beautiful sites for beautiful women. Take the best selfies at windmills, tulip fields, floating homes, and a ballet of bicycles crossings over every bridge! Here’s what makes Amsterdam a female-friendly destination:

  • If shoes are your thing, Amsterdam offers a vast range of shoe retailers for her, such as Shoebaloo, United Nude and more.
  • The night is young, and so are you, so if you go there during summer, people will be out from 10pm onwards, and you will never feel bored, alone, or vulnerable at night.
  • Most importantly, people in Amsterdam are friendly.

5.  Milan (by Sabrina)

Fashion is what first comes to mind to many women when thinking of Milan, yet visitors will find cultural highlights throughout the city. The Duomo di Milano is a must see, and Sabrina recommends taking the steep stairs to the roof-top of the cathedral for unique views of more than 3,000 statues. Find these points of conviction for placing Milan on the list:

Milan

Not only is there world-class shopping opportunities, but the shopping venues themselves are fabulous (see Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II – one of the world’s oldest, and most beautiful shopping malls).

  • Don’t miss the stunning architectural sites: Duomo Di Milano; Teatro alla Scala; Sforza Castle.
  • Yes, of course, there are marvelous fashion shows.
  • There’s plenty of hip and elegant restaurants like Clandestino Milano – an Italian Sushi restaurant, or Cracco – the most awarded restaurant in Milan, and more.
  • Visit the spa clubs and relax while sipping champagne, meditate in sound chambers, sooth your legs in a hot tub while chatting with the locals.

I also received some contradictory opinions when the topic of female-friendly destinations were discussed. Cities in Japan failed to make the list because, even though Tokyo is often ranked as the safest city in the world, there are women-only passenger cars in subways originally created to keep female students safe from ogling and aggressive men. Now, to Westerners, it gives the impression of a feminist movement gone flat.

Dubai is another destination that is not stereotypically chosen by Western women as being particularly female-friendly; however, Dubai may be an exception. It’s safe, contemporary (expats make up more than 88%), and loaded with clean, modern public buildings and attractions. However, there is lingering oppression as noted by one conventioneer that visited last year. A stated restriction within a major travel tradeshow is that unmarried women under the age of 30 are not allowed on the convention floor (unless from UK or USA).

David Gilmore is Director of Marketing at LMTclub.com.

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Comments (9)

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  1. Candice says:

    I would add Dubai and Singapore. I’ve been to Singapore alone about 20 times and always felt safe and comfortable. I lived in Dubai for five years and it’s also incredibly safe with fantastic shopping and endless great spas.

    • Vandana says:

      Completely agree on Simgapore and Dubai..and Hong Kong as well, for the ladies who would like to shop by day and party by night!

  2. Dawn says:

    Sydney is another destination for women due to the great beaches, friendly locals, luxury hotels, and easy access to island-getaway day trips.

  3. Samantha C says:

    Great suggestions as I totally didn’t think Indonesia would be a female friendly place. But I must say, while I found Amsterdam safe and overall a cool place – there are definitely sexist males, mostly tourists I experienced while in the city centre. Mind you, the Red light district is famous but I was taken photographs in well-crowded areas by perverts (and I was dressed sporty, conservative) because Im a short Asian woman. Be forewarned.

  4. Sara Hardman says:

    Unfortunately my experience of Bali was different, as a woman travelling alone, I didn’t feel comfortable or particularly safe at all.
    I did feel very comfortable in all the Australian cities, especially Sydney and Brisbane.
    I do agree with Amsterdam and would also add Toronto.

  5. Mima Isono says:

    I’m surprised Bali is on top of the list. I’m Indonesian myself, traveled to Bali hundred times, harassment especially verbal harassment does happen on daily basis. Oh don’t forget how unsafe it is taking taxi in all parts of Indonesia.

    For me, Tokyo is the safest I’ve been to. The fact that there’s “Women Only” cars during rush hours in Tokyo show how committed local government is in ensuring female safety. Once I saw working lady screamed inside the train because she was harrassed by the person next to her, others came to help, escorted her & the one who harrassed her to station office. The one who harrassed her was sent to police office immediately.

  6. Annie says:

    That you relate the term ‘female-friendly’ mainly with spas and shopping really bothers me. And ”get just the right amount of attention without the harassment”? This makes me a little sick to be honest. You don’t know if a women wants ‘attention’ or not and it’s certainly not always conveyed by the way she dresses.
    So it’s funny that you talk about trains Tokyo as a “a feminist movement gone flat”. Sure, I don’t neccesarily think this is the best idea ever, but after all it’s a different culture. I found Japan over all as a very safe environment for everybody!

    I know you said that you are writing from a western male’s point of view but I hope my comment makes you think more about that women and female-friendly is defined only by the points you mentioned. And apart from the safety issue in some countries, I don’t see why a luxury holiday for women should be any different than one for males.

  7. Definitely Singapore and Japan anytime instead of Indonesia, as per my experience talking to female counterparts in my family and friend circle, and my overall knowledge being an asian (Indian).

  8. Susan says:

    I love Milan but found it unfriendly to females eating alone. Many restaurants hide you in a corner and try to get you out the door very quickly. Had very uncomfortable situations. My suggestion instead is Firenze, or Florence. Completely 180 degrees in friendliness and welcoming sentiments. Had people who didn’t speak English invite me to join them. Had an experience where a couple paid for my dinner. Hotels are beautiful. Sights and shopping are great. And of course, the food!

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