Try To Avoid These Overrated Tourist Attractions: 7 Travel Bloggers Reveal Their Disappointing Experiences
Sometimes when planning a trip or curating our bucket list, we get caught up in the whirlwind of glamorous Instagram photos, guidebooks' "must-see" lists, and the multitude of recommendations we get from friends and colleagues. We decide we must go see all these cool things other people have seen or else we haven't really been to that destination.
Sometimes we really want to see something a little bit off the beaten path because it sounds like something we would truly enjoy, and so we plan whole segments of our trip around it. Well, what about when these things that are on our list end up being a disappointment? What about when you get there and realise...uh oh, I'm in a tourist trap??
I'm pretty sure we have all been in a similar situation, so I reached out to some of our fellow travel bloggers to talk about their disappointing experiences with tourist traps or attractions that just fell short of their expectations.
Here are seven examples of travel disappointment across the globe:
1. Plymouth Rock - Massachusetts, USA
Submitted by Alex of Chasing Daisies
What Alex has to say about Plymouth Rock:
"For anyone who goes to Plymouth Rock in Plymouth Massachusetts expecting to FEEL the history, you're probably going to be disappointed. Even though it's a symbol of "the courage and faith of the men and women who founded the first New England colony," it's really just a medium sized rock enclosed by a fence so you can't touch it. It's a great first stop for the entire tour of Plymouth, but not a showstopper by itself. If you're wanting to really get a feel for the history, Plimouth Plantation is just down the road and WAY more worth it!"
2. Beijing Olympic Park - Beijing, China
Submitted by Per of Resrutt
What Per has to say about Beijing Olympic Park:
"The Olympic Park in northwestern Beijing is a "must see attraction" for tourists visiting the Chinese capital. Unfortunately, the site's glory days seem to have passed. Now, overpriced entry fees, long queues and dirty and unclean constructions remain."
3. Lalibela, Ethiopia
Submitted by Patrick of German Backpacker
What Patrick has to say about Lalibela:
“The rock churches of Lalibela are probably Ethiopia’s biggest tourist attraction, but unfortunately, the experience was rather disappointing for me. There are 11 churches caved into the rock in the small town of Lalibela and while the churches itself are certainly impressive and interesting to visit, there are several reasons why I didn’t enjoy visiting Lalibela.
First of all, the entrance fee (for foreigners) to visit the churches is with 50$ absolutely overinflated (especially in Ethiopia, one of the poorest countries in the world!) I’ve already visited some of the world’s most incredible wonders and sights and never before I had to pay so much. Just a few weeks before visiting Lalibela, I actually explored the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt for 2$! The entrance price for Lalibela just doesn’t make any sense and is a big big tourist rip off. Especially, since you don’t get a guide and not even a brochure with some information. Unfortunately, most churches (besides the famous one which you see in the picture) are roofed with huge metal poles which makes it impossible to take any nice pictures.
Lastly, the town of Lalibela seems to be one big construction site with nothing to do or to see besides the churches (which you can cover in 2 hours anyways). Unfortunately, Lalibela is also very difficult to reach - it takes two days to get there by publish transport from Gondor, therefore most people pay of an expensive flight. In the end, you’ll spend a lot of money on transport and the entrance which just isn’t really worth it. Ethiopia has many incredible sights, but Lalibela isn’t one of them.”
4. Sigiriya (Lion Rock) - Sri Lanka
Submitted by Roobens of Been Around The Globe
What Roobens has to say about Sigiriya:
"Sigiriya, also called the lion rock, is the most famous tourist attraction in Sri Lanka! It's one of the major archaeological sites in the country and a UNESCO listed World Heritage site. It used to be a fortress but now it's a big rock in the middle of the country, and since it's a famous spot, travelers climb to have a nice view on top. Since everybody kept talking about it, I felt like I had to go there to climb the wonderful Sigiriya and see how it is. I'm not gonna lie, I was disappointed.
First off the price. 30 US dollars to climb Sigiriya, that's very expensive, knowing you usually don't pay more than 5 US dollars for all the other tourist spots in the country. Then you have to be careful because sometimes there are wasp attacks. Indeed, you can see wasp nests next to the rock so you cannot be too noisy. And for that price, if you think you'll be climbing Sigiriya for hours, you're wrong. It took me half an hour to get on top. 30 US dollars for that, knowing the view was not that great. Yeah, I was disappointed, and I felt like the place was overrated!"
5. Fisherman's Wharf & Pier 39 - San Francisco, CA, USA
What Constance has to say about Fisherman's Wharf:
Submitted by Constance of The Adventures of Panda Bear
Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, I’ve always known people love visiting Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39. These days I avoid the area like the plague and only head over to there for 1 reason to take out of town visitors who are, for whatever reason, DYING to go there.
Why they want to go there, I’ll never fully understand. To us locals, it’s definitely the most overrated sight in San Francisco. This is because it’s super crowded, full of overpriced touristy (not so great) food, and there are better views of the San Francisco Bay elsewhere. The only cool thing about Pier 39 is the large group of sea lions that hang out and rest at the West Marina.
One of the Fisherman’s Wharf supposed favorites is the seafood stands serving clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls. I’ve never found it to be particularly great especially since clam chowder isn’t even from San Francisco. (For those wondering, the style served in SF is from New England.) For some real San Franciscan food, try seafood cioppino instead. The dish was created by Italian immigrants of North Beach and is a delicious local delight.
For gorgeous views of the city, I’d recommend Twin Peaks. You’ll get to see straight down Market Street, the main thoroughfare through downtown - the Financial District to the Embarcadero.
Check out our blog, The Adventures of Panda Bear, for a local’s guide to a 3 day weekend in San Francisco.
6. Waikiki, Oahu - Hawaii, USA
Submitted by Roxanna of Gypsy With A Day Job
What Roxanna has to say about Waikiki:
"For many Americans Waikiki is on their list as a dream vacation destination. We grow up hearing about the paradise of Hawaii, and that Waikiki is the highlight of that paradise. Everyone I knew wanted to go there, and of course, that is half the problem, as everyone wants to go there. The island of Oahu is gorgeous, and there are many incredible sites I hope to see again someday. But as for Waikiki, I will not return there.
Waikiki reminded me of campustown in a university city. It was crowded with tourists from morning to night, and vehicle traffic was non-stop. Not only was it necessary to weave in and out of crowds while walking the sidewalks, making eye contact was a mistake. Doing so resulted in someone trying to suck us into their sales scheme, in particular for timeshares. While I expected this onslaught of pitches in the International Market, I did not expect it at random locations on the sidewalk. As is typical in this type of environment, everything was grossly overpriced, from the rooms, to food. Fast Food breakfast cost over $10 per person.
Admittedly, the beach and skyline are quite lovely, and if you can find a private spot, there is some serenity. However, that same peace can be found on the island by choosing a more remote location as a base."
7. Bocas del Toro - Panama
Submitted by Nicola of KicTravels
What Nicola has to say about Boca del Toro:
"An archipelago of Islands with a Caribbean vibe. A sunny haven for backpackers. Beautiful oceans with fantastic snorkelling. That's what we imagined when we got in the boat heading for Bocas del Toro in Panama. The reality was quite different. Let’s start with the weather. The Caribbean Coast of Panama has poorly defined seasons. It can rain at anytime and it rained for the majority of our time there. The seas were also rough and swarmed with rip tides so we could only swim in very specific areas.
Secondly the impact of drugs and alcohol on the island was somewhat disturbing. I love a party as much as the next person, but at 10am when you want to get a taxi boat across the choppy ocean and all the drivers are slurring their words and swaying from side to side it's slightly less fun.
The worst thing, however, was the rubbish and the sewage. You could smell the sewage of every street corner and see it being pumped into the ocean right where people were swimming.
Yes, Bocas del Toro puts on a good party for backpackers, but it was worlds away from the idyllic islands we were expecting."
Bonus: Ferrari Museum - Modena, Italy
Submitted by Marcin of Destination: Overlooked
What Marcin has to say about the Ferrari Museum:
One of the biggest disappointments on our Italy trip was a stop at the Ferrari museum in Maranello. I was really looking forward this stop as an admirer of these magnificent supercars. Unfortunately, the museum seemed to be little more than a money grab.
We paid the admission of €16 per person and entered the museum where it began with a lot of history and a few older vehicles, some disassembled engines, etc. It moved on to the older racing cars and a La Ferrari before entering their F1 room. I should add that all cars on display have their windows and doors closed and a buffer area around them.
After the F1 trophy room, you enter the classic car area which then leads you to where the simulator is (€25 for ten minutes) and a 458 Speciale which you actually can get in and have your picture taken if you feel like parting with another €15-20 depending on what size of photo you want. A staff member will then take your picture and quickly chase you out of the vehicle and guide you to their gift shop where you can spend even more.
Maybe I was expecting too much from the start, but when I reached the end of the museum 20 minutes after I started, I actually went back to the ticket counter and asked if I missed something. I thought I would see more of their modern cars, peek in on the factory and have a more interactive experience. A separate 45-minute factory bus tour is available and costs extra, no photography is allowed though.
Unless you are a die-hard Ferrari enthusiast that salivates over every piece of the companies history, I would recommend to save your money and skip this museum. If you are more of a casual admirer of Ferraris like me, you will get a better experience visiting a dealership or strolling down the street of the museum where several of the cars are on display.
Do you agree with any of these? What is an attraction you visited that you felt was a tourist trap? We'd love to hear your thoughts. Let us know in the comments!
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