Worst Places To Visit On This Planet

I asked Google what the opposite of a Bucket List was and it told be it’s called a ‘F*ck It’ list or a ‘Sh*t List’. Makes sense, as these places, these events, these activities are ones that made me swear (a lot) and made me wish I could just curl up in a ball a transport myself home. Because let’s me honest – travel isn’t always pretty.

This is obviously, as always, quite personal. I don’t expect you all to agree with me, but I would love to hear what places you would never dream of returning to. The world ain’t perfect people. Here are some of the worst places to visit on this beautiful but sometimes scary planet of ours.

 Note – often times I absolutely love the people in the place I’m bashing, or I love the country as a whole, so don’t get too defensive. Just saying. 

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”

– Anthony Bourdain –

Manila, Philippines.

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What an absolute Godforsaken city. I hated it the first time round, but decided I would give it a second chance around this time last year. That resulted in a trek through the slums next to the airport where we got mugged and my friend’s camera was stolen. We had literally been on Filipino soil for less than an hour when this happened. The hostel we stayed in wasn’t fit for pigs, it was horrifically disgusting. I won’t go on…it’s too painful.

Kalokol, Northern Kenya

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Don’t worry, it’s highly likely you have never heard of this tiny village located in the middle of the desert in Northern Kenya, and that’s probably a good thing. We ended up there and got totally scammed. Both Lonely Planet and the locals sort of crushed our dreams. It was once a booming fishing village (about 15 years ago) but over-fishing killed all the fish, so now there is virtually nothing left there.  We ended up almost getting eaten by crocodiles (no joke!), suffering from severe dehydration, and were left to find our way out of the desert by numerous locals who drove past us, whizzing across the sand in matatus, and laughing. Absolute nightmare of a place.

Gangnam, South Korea

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If you haven’t heard the song, get off my blog as you must be from another planet. The affluent area of Seoul, made famous the world over by Psy and his crazy dancing, is actually a sad, sad place. Did you know 1 in every 5 women in Seoul have had plastic surgery? And it all happens in crazy places like Gangnam. These people, along with young, beautiful and super-rich kids party the weekend away in the clubs in this area paying scandalous prices for 1 drink. Oh and if you are a foreigner, expect to wait longer and get charged up to double. They will screw you right over. It’s also an area where street hawkers and local slum dwellers literally got driven off the streets, with absolutely no warning. It really is an awful, awful pocket of an otherwise pretty cool city. AVOID.

Kuta, Bali

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I’m a (mature) backpacker – Get Me Outta Here!!

Oh Kuta, how I loathe your very being. I saved for months to go to Bali. I dreamed, I saved, I googled, I was ready to be mesmerised. Then, I arrived in Kuta. WTF. The place is like Benidorm for Australians. People walking down the street half-naked, all wearing the same crappy t-shirts with major brand beer logos splattered across the front. Shop after shop of really shitty souvenirs. Clubs that charge for drinks at exorbitant prices and where if you are lucky you will just get robbed and if you’re unlucky you will get your drink spiked or worse. People selling all sorts of dodgy drugs on the streets, scary thugs hanging out on dark corners and drunk, teenage Aussie puking their guts up outside a McDonalds. This is NOT the Bali I dreamed about. I will for sure go back to Bali, but you could not pay me to go back to Kuta.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

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Oh all the capital cities I have visited, this could well be the worst. I will never forget my first night in Addis Ababa, mainly because it was one of the worst nights of my life. I literally could not find a place to sleep. I had money, I had a taxi and we simply could not find a room at the inn. It was all a bit ironic really, considering it was nearing December 25th on the Ethiopian calendar (which is 7.5 years behind our calendar) and they were preparing to celebrate the millennium (it was 2007, my time!). In Ethiopia, it was ‘high season’. I guess that will teach me to research what calendar different countries use before I fly there.

I ended up staying in a brothel. I knew it was a brothel because it was pay by the hour. Me and my friend ended up being the only westerners, me the only non-prostitute. There were syringes all over the floor, used condoms and 2 rats ran out of the cupboard when I opened it. The “toilet” was half a door, and guys kept bursting in on me. They followed me to my room and peeked through the keyhole. They pushed the shitty, wooden window panes open from the outside and pushed their heads in through the window. Not one wink of sleep was had, not one thing was touched. We couldn’t leave because we didn’t trust leaving our luggage there so no dinner was eaten that night. Brilliant start to my 6 week backpacking trip…NOT.

Agadir, Morocco

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My Mum recently said she would not go back to Agadir even if someone paid her a million dollars. Personally I would go anywhere for that much money, but I certainly agree with her sentiment. Unless you want to get harassed until you can no longer bear it, unless you want to pay for an all-inclusive hotel but feel guilty about actually drinking any alcohol, unless you want to walk down a beach filled with (and I’m not exaggerating) 100,000 Moroccan Men and not one single woman, and unless you want to be sold for 100 camels to the highest bidder…I suggest you avoid travelling to Agadir, Morocco.

Nairobi, Kenya

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I used to think I hated Jo’burg in South Africa more than Nairobi, but having returned (alone) for the 3rd time recently I have decided I definitely hate Nairobi more. How some expats CHOOSE to live in such a such a dangerous city is beyond me. Forget walking around to see the sights, you WILL get mugged. Don’t even think of leaving your hotel/hostel after dark, at best you will get mugged or stabbed, at worst you will get raped. I once arrived on a night bus from Mombasa, that dropped us all off on some dodgy side street at 5am in the morning, only to be grabbed by two guys, harassed by taxi drivers, and then wrestled for my bag and all my possessions. I literally ran, in pouring, monsoon rain, in whatever direction my feet decided to take me. I ran into the first, shitty, hotel I found and begged for a room. There was no lock, so I moved my bed against the door and slept with one eye open while men continued to bang on my door throughout the night. Another ‘brothel’, no doubt. God I hate that city.

The Pyramids in Cairo, Egypt

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What do you think of when you imagine the pyramids? One of the last remaining original 7 wonders of the world? Miraculous architectural achievements, in the middle of the Egyptian desert? Think what you like, the reality is pretty devastating. While I remain fascinated by the Pyramids themselves, the history, the myths, the human achievement, I absolutely detest what has happened right next to them. The Pyramids are in Cairo, one of the most densely populated cities in the world. Like they are literally right there in the middle of Cairo. Cairo, has in fact, grown almost the whole way around these magnificent buildings as the Egyptian government obviously doesn’t give a crap as long as they are still making money from stupid tourists. Guess what is right behind the Sphinx? A KFC!! A freaking Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant. So go ahead and pay some corrupt police man to take some ‘clever positioned’ photos of you touching the Great Pyramid or you looking all arab sitting on a stupid camel, but don’t tell me it wasn’t, overall, a massive MASSIVE disappointment.

Phuket, Thailand

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This one still baffles me as Phuket use to be on my BUCKET LIST and I always thought it would be pure dreamy. I arrived by long distance bus on a wet and humid day last August, and within about 2 hours I wanted to get the hell out. Granted, I was staying in Patong, but the fact that a place like that even exists disgusted me. Seeing 2 beautiful, 18-year-old Thai girls walking arm in arm with a fat, drunk, 65-year-old English chap was enough to make me vomit up last nights Pad Thai. The guys making that grotesque popping sound with their fingers and cheeks to advertise the ping-pong show (where old women shoot table tennis balls out of their…well you get it) was enough to send me running. The beach was far from idyll, their were russians absolutely everywhere, transport was awful and when I got a tuk tuk to the other, nicer side of the island I was totally ripped off. I don’t think I would ever go back to Phuket, and would recommend you pick a better, nicer Thai island to spend a few days on.

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34 Comments

  1. January 20, 2015 / 12:16 am

    Lol at the kfc in egypt hahah. Surprised about bali! Never been but thought it would be awesome

    • January 20, 2015 / 12:23 am

      Bali IS awesome, Kuta is just one area of Bali. Ubud and Suminyak and the Gili Islands are unreal…Kuta not so much.

  2. January 20, 2015 / 12:16 am

    There is a reason Phuket is known for being the sex capital of the world.

    • January 20, 2015 / 12:22 am

      I thought that was Pattaya?? They are both as bad as each other. Avoid, avoid, avoid!

  3. January 20, 2015 / 12:48 am

    I find what’s happening in Egypt so sad. The huge milestones of our ancestors are being slowly destroyed by our times!

    • January 20, 2015 / 8:27 am

      It really is pretty awful. Can you imagine the same thing happened up around Machu Pichu or someplace like that? Devastating to see such neglect.

  4. January 20, 2015 / 1:30 am

    Greetings from the Philippines! :) “a trek through the slums next to the airport” is never a good idea. Glad you’re safe.

    • January 20, 2015 / 8:26 am

      HA, that’s very true Tessa bit it should be said that it was by accident. They overbooked our flight and sent us off to to whatever for 5 hours. We didn’t want to venture too far from the airport, so we just went in search for food. Food is not what we found!! ;-)

  5. January 20, 2015 / 9:51 am

    Don’t know how Gangnam made it on to this list. I used to go drinking there about once a month when I lived in Korea. It is a great area for amazing food, lively bars and a friendly atmosphere. I never paid more than anywhere else in Korea and certainly never felt it was just for rich kids; and as a Westerner I was never discriminated against.

    • January 20, 2015 / 11:58 pm

      Really?? The only thing I liked about it was the shopping. Not that I could actually afford anything. I found it so fake, and they are even cashing in on this image now by clearing street dwellers away – there were quite a few articles in Korean national media about it.

  6. jouelle brick
    January 20, 2015 / 3:16 pm

    I would add Jakarta to the list, have you been? It is a despairing crush of humanity mired in poverty, toxins, crime, child exploitation, and traffic.

    Also I am fairly sure you would fetch more than 100 camels, with that accent and your fabulous hair I am sure your market value includes goats, chickens and maybe even an ATV ;)

    • January 21, 2015 / 12:00 am

      Yea, I have heard there are some pretty awful cities in Indo. There’s another one that is repeatedly voted worst city in the world…Medan I think it’s called.

      • January 21, 2015 / 1:19 am

        I came to nominaye Jakarta, too! I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

      • January 22, 2015 / 1:04 pm

        Darn, I was just going to comment with that one but you beat me to it in the comments. A real armpit.
        Phuket is fine, you can find ugliness anywhere in the world if you look for it – and most of it in Phuket is right there on Patong. Unfortunately its the gateway to the islands.
        Love the Anthony Bourdain comment!!
        Frank (bbqboy)

  7. January 20, 2015 / 3:20 pm

    This is great!! It’s easy to look for places to backpack around to…but this is almost more helpful because now I know what places to avoid putting on my Bucket List : )

    I’ve loving your blog so I nominated you for the Liebster award! Instructions are here: http://kelsapoodle.com/2015/01/20/ohemgee-liebster-award/

    : )

    • January 20, 2015 / 9:50 pm

      Thanks for your kind words Kelsey, I love getting readers feedback on my posts. :-)

  8. January 21, 2015 / 5:42 am

    You could probably add Probolingo-Indonesia onto your list. The reason this should have been a lil better is because we travel all the way to see the beautiful mount Bromo and the only way you can get there is via overland through probolingo.

  9. Aaron
    January 21, 2015 / 11:17 am

    Agree with jakarta… However Kuta is a bit of a stretch… You are talking about a tiny 2km stretch of messy australian s … Move a couple of km’s down and you have romantic jimbaran bay, bit further and the gated rich restorts of nusa dua… Few km’s across from kuta is the quiet senur over run by germans…. Go north 1 km and you have legian and seminyak – think small bars, anazing but expensive restaurants and designer shops… Couple of km’s north and you have quiet bali and then on to ubud…anyway, my point is you include kuta you could include every city with a seedt area (most citys in the world)… And at least kuta isnt that bad, abd pretty safe.

    • January 21, 2015 / 11:48 am

      But that is exactly my point. Here are a million nicer places to go than Kuta, many just a stones throw away. And yet many tourists go to Bali and never leave Kuta instead of bypassing it altogether!!

  10. January 21, 2015 / 11:55 am

    Phuket, we saw it very in different way than You. We made many sightseeing tours like visiting rubber plantations and James Bond Island for example. We visited there in 2010, When You visited there?

  11. January 21, 2015 / 6:48 pm

    Your perspective is very refreshing. I sometimes get criticized by readers for writing about negative travel experiences, but, dammit, the world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows and unicorns and kitty cats. Some places are sh*tholes and some people are just plain rotten. Thanks for really letting it rip!

    • January 22, 2015 / 1:06 pm

      Exactly. Too many bloggers are too politically correct and its just boring. Rather know what they really think then end up in an armpit somewhere.

  12. January 25, 2015 / 8:21 pm

    I have not (yet) been to Thailand myself, but it is ironic reading your post about Phuket. Why? Because less than two hours ago, I read a blog-like facebook post by a girl who absolutely loved it there. Her story was accompanied by pictures of what seemed to be nice quite beaches. A lovely setting really. Her statement was: “Those of you who did not like Phuket probably never went any further than Patong”. So that one migt be worth another shot?

    Also, I am very dissapointed by your story about the pyramids. Those are/were on my bucket list too! Maybe not so much now.

    • January 25, 2015 / 8:40 pm

      I think there probably are nice areas in Phuket, but as it rained everyday I was there (5 days) there was not much point looking for secluded beaches. Nothing looks good in the rain. Thanks to the poor weather, most of my time was in Patong and that is the place I truly hate. Im sure other areas are quite nice, especially when the sun is shining or during low season. As for Egypt, I hear there are other pyramids that are just as impressive and much more secluded which a lot of people recommend checking out. They are still impressive, its just sad how they have not been protected as much as they should be.

  13. Alison
    January 27, 2015 / 2:47 am

    Sad you had an awful time in Manilla but just remember how beautiful Boracay is. It’s just a gateway to paradise. As for Phuket, I thinks it’s really beautiful when you stay in a nice resort in Karon or Kata beach and then you go island hopping! STAY AWAY FROM PATONG!!

  14. January 30, 2015 / 2:31 pm

    This post is EXACTLY why I spend obsessive hours researching every trip we take (just ask my husband!) :-) I’ve enjoyed most places I’ve been to on one level or another, but you did remind me of one memorable night in northern India – Jaipur, I think – where my sister and I unwisely attempted to save some money on the nice haveli room we had booked by taking the “advice” of the auto-rickshaw driver about a cheaper alternative.

    Of course, the “alternative” turned out to be a dirty, badly-lit hole of a place run by two distinctly dodgy-looking guys. The basement room they showed us to brought all the hair up on the back of my neck – it reminded me of the last scene in The Blair Witch Project. We point-blank refused to stay there, and then the auto driver tried to insist he wasn’t going to take us back to the original haveli. I was very, very glad there were two of us that night – at one point, he tried to physically intimidate us by getting right in my face, which was scary. We did eventually get back to the haveli, and I’ve never been so happy to see a clean, safe room in all my life.

    Now that I think of it, Jaipur was also where some street kids followed us and threw rocks at us until my intrepid sister threatened them with her slingshot (yes, she was carrying a slingshot). Far from my favourite city in India, that.

    • January 30, 2015 / 2:35 pm

      Wow – that sounds seriously dodgy alright! I always feel bad leaving negative reviews but sometimes it simply HAS to be done. I had a great experience in Calcutta – a city most people avoid like the plague, so often times every experience is very personal and everything depends on the people you meet while traveling! :-)

  15. February 4, 2015 / 1:20 pm

    You sound as though you’ve had lots of adventures, many of them scary. I was in Phuket about 25 years ago. Clearly it’s changed a lot. Ditto Nairobi.
    I hope you have enough good places to go to that will be less dangerous and annoying.

    • February 7, 2015 / 11:05 am

      So true – many times it’s crap while you are there but you ‘take away’ so much more.

  16. February 9, 2015 / 10:18 pm

    Addis Ababa!! Terrible, from the second your foot leaves the plane and enters the airport (Bole has got to be the worst airport I’ve ever passed through). I wrote a blog post about my (mis)adventures there. Cairo was also pretty terrible. I did manage to escape Nairobi without a horror story. And I spent 5 months there – not bad! Unfortunately, most of my expat friends there can’t say the same.

  17. January 5, 2016 / 12:31 pm

    What a fantastic article and as previously said bad experiences make the best stories. My biggest disappointment was Vang Vieng at the height of it’s tubing fame and I’m so glad they have put a stop to it. It sounded quite like your experience of Kuta and was my idea of hell!
    I avoided tubing like the plague and hired a bike to explore the stunning scenery around the town and had some great adventures which balanced out the nightmare of returning each evening to drunken carnage and casualties proudly displaying their injuries and bandages from their river escapades?! The girl I was sharing a room with lost all her money in the river and literally drunk herself unconscious.
    Laos is a beautiful country but the backpacker culture of excessive drink, drugs and unfortunate tubing fatalities in Vang Vieng really let it down.

  18. January 21, 2016 / 5:28 pm

    Hey Janet! I am really enjoying reading through all your blog posts! I also love having found another Irish travel blogger. I do have to say though that your comments about Nairobi are way harsh, having being born there and having lived there for 18 years as an expat I think it has a lot to offer. Sure it’s not the best place on Earth and you do have to be extra careful security wise but there are some fantastic restaurants, bars, and wildlife experiences. I guess it equally drives expats crazy when tourists come and walk on the street after dark downtown against all travel advice and then are surprised when something happens. You do have to adapt to every city you go to and be a bit savy, it does not cost that much to get a taxi from a proper taxi company and stay in a legitimate hotel, you just need to research a bit. Anyways that is just my opinion. Keep up the good work!

    Ash | Liakada

  19. Quarty
    June 2, 2016 / 1:39 pm

    These sound absolutely awful! Why would you go back to some of these places if you hated it so much the first time?

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