Are you sick to death of posts about ‘The Best Places To Visit In 2016′ clogging up your news feed? Everyone already knows the best places to visit. We already know where to find the world’s best beaches, most beautiful cities and of course where to find the party. What we don’t know, and what we need to know, is the places to avoid. Wouldn’t it be nice to get a little heads up about that rat-infested hotel, ridiculously over priced bar or city that has as much character as a glass of water? We need to know about the worst travel destinations in the world, not the best.
Turns out I am not alone in this regard. I reached out to my family, friends, fellow travel bloggers and indeed some total strangers from an eclectic collection of Facebook groups I’m a member of to see if they had ever been somewhere they would never return. I asked if they had they ever traveled to a city and wished upon the north star that someone, anyone, had warned them to avoid it like the plague? The answers came flooding it like someone had opened up a sluice gate and this excellent list has been formed. For more suggestions, be sure to check out my 2015 ‘anti-bucket list’ of the Worst Places To Visit On This Planet.
17 Worst Travel Destinations
17. Sihanoukville, Cambodia
Suggested by Laura Nordberg
Don’t be fooled by this pretty picture. Most things you’ll see in Sihanoukville aren’t as photogenic. These are mainly (1) sleazy old men with barely legal Cambodian girls on their arm (2) hoards of prostitutes invading crappy tourist bars (3) aggressive tuk-tuk drivers trying to sell you every drug under the sun. The only good reason to visit Sihanoukville is to use it as an access point for the beautiful islands nearby. But it’s best to wear a blindfold until you get on the ferry!
16. Cunnamulla, Australia
Suggested by Wing Ng
While Australia has some beautiful scenery to offer in its great outback, there are certain places to avoid due to its social issues in the community. Cunnamulla, a town in Queensland, Australia, is one of these towns to avoid. The country has a dark history from its colonial era. The native Aboriginal community has been massacred, kidnapped and driven into specified locations in the past. Modern day Australian government offers aboriginals large amount of welfare as “an apology” for the past. These welfare funds as I have seen only served to keep this ethnic group trapped in a limbo away from major cities. The amount of drug and alcohol abuse is disheartening. There is little to no true native culture in this town as the leisure activities are all westernized and mainly include sitting in front of a television set. Parents are too busy gambling or drugged up to even provide food for their own children. During the summer months, people steer clear of the outdoors due to the extreme heats and hordes of flies. If you are looking to create social changes, this is a great place to start. If not, I’d strongly advise others to stay away or simply pass the town.
15. Malabo, Equatorial Guinea
Suggested by Jennifer Melroy
I wasn’t in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea by choice. I told my employer I was willing to work anywhere. Hence, why I was in Equatorial Guinea (EQG). This small Africa nation is located about 4 degrees north of the Equator on the west coast of Africa. Many of the expats refer to Equational Guinea as being located in the armpit of Africa. EQG has improved but is still very much a poor nation. The sad part is that it has one the highest GDP’s in Africa. The nation is oil rich, but the government corruption means that very little of the oil money goes back into local economy. The hotels and restaurants cater to the oil industry and there is no tourism infrastructure. Food options are the hotels or Chinese. Be forewarned that most of the Chinese restaurants are more than just a restaurant… Beyond that, cameras are a little problematic. I could never get a straight answer on if I needed a permit or not. I didn’t want to risk it so I didn’t take any pictures on the island except at the hotel.
Suggested by Fit, Fab and Foreign
Maybe it was my mistake attempting to drive to Naples but garbage lined the streets. Literally LINED it. The people were aggressive and the buildings seemed to be falling apart entirely. I wasn’t even a solo traveler. I was with a college football player (and I am trained heavily in self defense and a very head strong independent, mostly fearless woman) but I constantly feared for my safety. We had booked four nights, but said ‘fuck it, we’re out of here’ and left after the first night. The best thing about Naples is how close it is to places far better than Naples. The windshield on out car had streaky lines all over it due to a random man who randomly started washing our window at an intersection. He punched our window when we did not pay him. Looking for one of the most beautiful places in Italy? Try Puglia!
13. Coron, Philippines
Suggested by Andrea Stone
Dogs foaming at the mouth trying to eat you. Jellyfish ridden water and sand fly infested beaches. Ripped off literally every time you leave the hotel (who are also ripping you off!). You must love pork fat for every meal since they serve absolutely nothing else (despite the menus saying otherwise). Still want to add this to your magical Philippines itinerary? Who knows maybe they’re cleaned up their act!
12. Potosi, Bolivia
Suggested by The Aussie Flashpacker
11. Flores, Indonesia
Suggested by The Sea Is My Cup Of Tea
Even though Flores is often described as the hidden gem of Indonesia, that definitely does not apply to all places in Flores. Labuan Bajo, the harbor city with amazing reefs for snorkeling, is a paradise compared to strict Christian city Ruteng in the mountains for example. But the absolute low point of our trip was harbour city Ende in the East. The city is a chaotic, dirty and old, and the people were not very helpful. The “highlight” of it all was finding an old shack on the beach where we hoped we could eat without getting sick (and where we had to write down the order ourselves and bring it to the counter because the staff were on their phone all the time) and watching the sun setting over the harbour (which consisted of one big old ship in front of the coast and a beach full of plastic). The good news was we left the day after and Moni village was the complete opposite!
10. Bratislava, Slovakia
Suggested by Olivia McDonald
Bratislava is probably the MOST boring place I’ve ever been to. The downtown core is so minuscule, and not well taken care of, the people weren’t overly friendly. The hostels were drab, their history is sad (used to rule a lot of the Eastern block and the land used to be all vineyards, then lost it all), but the food is AMAZING (only positive). The rest of the country I hear is incredible, but I won’t be rushing any time soon to check it out.
9. Bromo, Indonesia
Suggested by A World To Travel
Bromo Mount, in Indonesia, truly blew our minds as it showed us both the best and the worst in one place. It provided a stunning sight for all landscape addicts like ourselves, we were welcomed by a warm local community and there was a range of adventures and experiences to suit all tastes. However, it also showed us the worst aspects of a fast rising tourist destination; Dubious sustainability at tourist spots, where an overwhelming amount of visitors head every morning in order to catch sunrise just to find out there’s literally no room for everyone when they get to the top. There are very high health risks for the visitors (sulphur filled air that condenses and falls right in your face if you make it up the Bromo volcano in order to catch a glimpse of the crater from the best spot) and locals that work endless hours daily breathing it in, again, in very bad working conditions. Finally, animal abuse is rife and you can witness dozens of exhausted horses carrying tourists as they commute back and forth from the parking lot to the crater itself all day long, without being fed properly and in the same polluted conditions as everyone else.
8. Cairo, Egypt
Suggested by Anna Everywhere
Egypt was my dream destination and when I finally decided to go there straight after graduating high school, I was almost jumping out of excitement. I was finally about to see the famous pyramids of Giza, the enigmatic Sphinx, and the national museum in Cairo. After my visit however, I wished I hadn’t seen them. As a passionate art historian, I was fascinated by the amount of art I was going to see in Cairo, but my visit at the museum lasted no more than half an hour. Why? It was a very hot day with no AC and an ungodly amount of people inside the museum, making it impossible to enjoy the art the way I wanted to. The pyramids welcomed me with a crowd worse than Oxford Street in London on Boxing Day. For a high price I was able to get inside the pyramid for no more than 3 minutes and go out again. The worst part of my Giza trip was the Sphinx. Have you ever wondered what it’s looking at? This is what it’s looking at (photo below) – a Pizza Hut! No wonder you see so many unhappy faces leaving the attraction as you wait in line to take a picture that you’ll have to cut the Pizza Hut out of.
7. Mandalay, Myanmar
Suggested by Stephanie Bonde
Mandalay, in Northern Myanmar was a dirty, crowded city filled with people constantly trying to get me to buy things or ride in their taxi – it’s one of the only places I’ve ever been where taxis flagged me down instead of the other way around! I hated it, especially after the feel of Bagan! It should also be noted that Mandalay is considered the worst cities in Myanmar to be gay, known to regularly detain and beat up both gay men and cross dressers for the crime of ‘dressing as a woman’.
6. Pisa, Italy
Suggested by Ruth Meade
5. Paris, France
Suggested by The Bonfire Dream
4. Langkawi, Malaysia
Suggested by A Wanderphile
Langkawi in Malaysia is synonymous with a tropical island and had been on my “places I really want to go” list for years. While it’s official name is Langkawi, the Jewel of Kedah, my experience turned out to be more of a Cubic zirconia. Starting with the hideously overpriced, manic taxi driver that sideswiped a tree causing another car to run off the road on the way to my “resort”. I arrived to find a filthy room with excruciating loud air con and no sand or literally anything else within walking distance from my “resort”. This meant every time I wanted to go somewhere it was another endurance test with extortionate taxi drivers. At the very top of my list of things to see was the Langkawi Sky Bridge a 125m cable suspension bridge on the highest point of Langkawi that affords amazing, expansive views of the island 660m above sea level. Well, it would have if the weather had played nicely and the bridge was open rather than closed for repair!
3. Temple Bar, Ireland
Suggested by Greg Bowler
Temple Bar, for those not in the know, is that grotesque area in central Dublin known to have a higher concentration of (usually American) tourists per sq meter than any other location in Ireland. The only way Temple Bar should feature on a bucket list is if it is a bucket for vomiting into after drinking fifteen overpriced pints of mediocre Guinness. If you want to pay €7.50 for a crap pint and €2 for a packet of crisps while watching scantily glad teenagers trip over themselves while attempting to walk across the cobbled streets, or if you fancy a night listening to songs that could not be further from traditional Irish, go ahead. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
2. Saigon, Vietnam
Suggested by Donna Wanderlust
The taller the sky scrapers the darker the shadows, why is Saigon is my least favorite city in Vietnam? (Yes I did just write a style seekers guide to Saigon because I hated my time there so much that I had to find something good about the place) but it really had no charm. It is one of the only places in Vietnam I have felt unsafe. It is impossible to walk around. The motorbike congestion and air pollution made me physically sick on 2 occasions. Someone pushed me off my bike. I saw a man injecting drugs into his arm in the park. There are prostitutes everywhere. I could go on??? but I think you get the drift.
1. Pyongyang, North Korea
Suggested by There She Goes Again
One of the worst places you can travel to is North Korea. It typically costs over $1,000 for a very strict, very propaganda-heavy tour that shows you nothing of what’s really going on. NK’s track record of human rights issues, total abuse of power, and blatant lying should be enough to make you say, “Hello. No.” Your money will probably benefit some of the most corrupt leaders, you would be on one of the fakest trips ever, and not a single person with half a brain will be even remotely impressed with you. You’re not bravely adventuring into unknown territory, you’re being ignorant and selfish all in one go. It’s like someone traipsing around Nazi Germany and thinking it was a fantastic experience while ignoring the burning smells coming from the random camp a few miles down.