Skip These 6 Tourist Traps for More Remote Destinations
That easily recognizable landmark makes a stellar #travel Instagram post, but you’ll have to navigate through the overcrowded tourist traps to get there. Skip the tourist traps for your next trip and try out these equally-as-stunning locales — without the crowds.
Not only is overcrowding counterintuitive to your travel relaxation, over-tourism promotes the dark side of tourism and ends up exploiting developing countries, destroying natural resources, and inflating prices. While good things come from tourism — like increased job availability, better living standards, and eco-tourism initiatives — you can easily skip the tourist traps if you’re looking for a more authentic experience.
In many regions of the world, particularly in Europe, South Pacific, and the Caribbean, tourists outnumber residents. To avoid this, add any of the seven destinations listed below to your next itinerary and embark on an unforgettable experience.
Skip This, Visit Here: Avoid the Tourist Traps
Though Laos sees its fair share of annual visitors, the number doesn’t remotely compare to the hoards of people that touch down in neighboring Thailand, a country that has long been associated with the dark side of tourism. Many parts of the county have become overcrowded and overpriced, and tourists aren’t seen in the same light as they used to be. Laos is a tranquil paradise that seems worlds away from busy Thailand.
Loa people are friendly and charming; the food is wonderfully flavourful, and there are lots of options to choose from. The country’s natural beauty seems endless – waterfalls, lush green rainforests, an abundance of flora and fauna, and rolling fog-covered mountains. The country is home to many spiritual and religious temples and complexes worthy of exploring. Watching the sunset over the Mekong river in Laos is a vision that will be forever embedded in your mind.
Skip: Venice, Italy
Visit: Udaipur, India
Udaipur is one of the most charming and romantic cities in India, which is why it was once dubbed “The Venice of the East.” It’s also referred to as “The City of Lakes,” which contribute to its peaceful character. While you may want to rush to Venice, Italy to see it before it sinks, you might also want to consider why not to go, and ultimately choose a unique alternative like Udaipur. Venice sees 18 million people annually, making it an expensive, sinking tourist trap.
Udaipur, on the other hand, is a very affordable destination. The city is home to a dizzying number of restaurants that serve mouth-watering food, and there are many charming and quaint cafes to pop into. The magical City Palace overlooks the serene Lake Pichola. In the middle of the lake perfectly sits the picturesque white Pichola Hotel – tourists slowly pass by in boats and watch the sun as it sets over this romantic city.
Skip: Machu Picchu
Many travelers make the journey to Peru, and then the trek to the ancient Inca ruins of Machu Picchu but end up stopping there. One of the most amazing countries in the world is on the other side of the nearby border. Bolivia’s vast natural landscapes are waiting to be discovered by eager tourists, who are willing to explore this high-altitude gem. Though Bolivia is commonly associated with the Andes mountains, it’s also home to some of the Amazon Jungle, and more otherworldly natural beauty.
Bolivia is also rich in indigenous culture, and is very ethnically diverse, recognizing 36 different ethnic groups. Sixty-two percent of the population is of indigenous descent. It’s cheap, beautiful, amazingly diverse, and full of natural wonder. Make sure to visit the spectacular desert-like, 11,000-square-kilometer Salar de Uyuni, which was once a prehistoric lake. The expansive salt flat looks like a dream, where the sky is reflected off the water-covered flats, and where you can see nothing but white for miles into the horizon.
Anytime you hear Cancun, you probably think of spring break, which may make you think of tens of thousands of young people, endlessly partying and taking over the city. Doesn’t sound appealing? It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, that’s for sure. Instead, head a little more south, and discover the many highlights of Guatemala, including volcanos, authentic Guatemalan food, beautiful lakes, Spanish colonial architecture, and ancient Mayan sites.
Laying in a crater at the base of three volcanos, high-altitude Lake Atitlan is a quintessential stop on any Guatemalan itinerary. Highland Mayan villages surround the area, and locally-made traditional textiles are sold at the markets. Head to the colonial city of Antigua – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – to be transported back in time. Experience the city’s vibrant culture and rich history as you wander among charming colonial buildings that line the cobblestone streets. No trip to Guatemala should skip seeing and learning about the ancient Mayan ruins in Tikal. The astonishing 3,000 ruins date back to 200BC, and are considered the first home of many Mayan communities. Tikal is said to have flourished between 200 and 850 A.D. and then was later abandoned. Located in the midst of lush, dense jungle, howler monkeys can be heard as the sun sets over the iconic temples and palaces.
The Giza Pyramids are one of the most spectacular sights in the world – one of the classic seven wonders of the world, and shrouded in myth, history, and awe. However, with busy Cairo and newly constructed infrastructure as a backdrop, the Pyramids lose a little of their wonder. The pollution, political unrest, and poor treatment of work animals may make you rethink visiting the pyramids for an alternative such as the increasingly popular country of Djibouti. Considered to be one of the safest and secure countries in Africa, Djibouti is slowly popping up on tourists’ radars.
Djibouti is a very small country located on the Horn of Africa. Residents mainly speak French and Arabic. Like most African countries, Djibouti is home to an array of exotic wildlife. Much of the country, especially outside the capital, is off the beaten path, making it that much more fun to explore – you’ll get to interact with friendly locals, and see landscapes you’ve only previously dreamed of, and there are virtually no crowds. It’s home to some of the best diving and snorkeling the world, and boasts pristine and untainted beaches where clear, warm water is awaiting. Visit this tiny paradise before it becomes Africa’s next hottest destination.
Any search on Google about Hawaii will yield numerous sarcastic articles suggesting a bunch of reasons NOT to visit Hawaii. Of course, the articles are joking – Hawaii is truly beyond beautiful, and should be on any nature-lover’s list of places to visit. However, the South Pacific is filled with unknown, unexplored micro-countries that are begging to be visited – by you. So, instead of going to the easily accessible, undeniably beautiful American state, consider going quite a few miles further and making your way to one the least visited countries in the world: Tuvalu.
Tuvalu is an independent island nation within the British Commonwealth, and is part of Polynesia. The nation consists of 9 small islands, which comprise sparsely-populated atolls and reef islands. Due to its small size, few number of tourists, and location in the middle of the South Pacific, getting there can be a little difficult. However, flights regularly depart from Fiji. Once you’re there, you’ll be wondering why you didn’t arrive earlier. Just imagine: having a tropical island all to yourself (minus the 1,200 other annual visitors). Get to know locals and learn about their customs and way of life, try traditional Polynesian food, and become one with the water. The local waters are home to thousands of species of tropical fish and other forms of sea life. This is really off the beaten path.
Don’t get me wrong, I think everyone should be able to experience the joys of these ‘Skip’ countries and regions, if done as ethically as possible while avoiding the darker sides of tourism. But, the world is big, and it would be a shame to skip over these lesser-explored destinations in favor of the ones you’ve been bombarded by on social media. Getting off the beaten tourist path might prove to be more difficult, but it will almost certainly pay off and will be a rewarding alternative to tourist traps.