Summers are around the corner, and you must be planning travel with family. But here are a few places that you don’t want on your list unless you know what you’re getting into.
Here are the top cities:
I loved the other places I visited in the Philippines, but Manila was awful. The air quality, the traffic, the garbage, and the abnormal proliferation of air-conditioned shopping malls. Most of all, child poverty was heart-wrenching. A good wake-up call for a privileged Westerner, but not one I want again.”
Any City, UAE
“United Arab Emirates. Why anyone ever decided to start a city where it’s 120 degrees and 90+% humidity every day is far beyond me.”
“Freeport Bahamas. The beaches were dirty, and I just felt like I was in a shipyard. They also have a problem with feral dogs. They were everywhere. It broke my heart to see the skin and bone dogs. I guess so many of them starve to death they cannot keep up with the body pickups. I saw too many decaying dogs to count. Seriously would NEVER go back.”
“Kuta Beach, Bali. Had such high expectations but there was just trash everywhere. I didn’t have high expectations for Kuta specifically but for Bali in general. I was also 15ish at the time so was not involved with the research at all as my parents planned and paid for it. I had only heard about Bali from people/TV shows/magazines/social media and from there it seemed like paradise so there ya have it”
City of Belize, Belize
“Belize City. Belize was one of our stops for the cruise we were on. I always heard about how gorgeous Belize was (and I’m sure there are beautiful parts of Belize) but Belize City was absolutely bad.
They pretty much dropped a majority of white US citizens and thought it would be ok to let us roam a city torn by local civil war. The city was full of armed military guards standing at street corners, and the city canals and streets were incredibly polluted.
I live in Baltimore and have seen some bad neighborhoods, but Belize City seemed way worse than anything I’ve seen. Many stores had armed guards who would unlock the door to let you in, and once you we inside, they would lock the door behind you.
We didn’t experience any issues with the violence, but it was the strangest feeling getting stared down from every angle. We stayed for about an hour and then decided it was time to get out.
As we were leaving there were three people standing near the port. They looked at us and said, “Welcome to the real world”.
Once we got back to the ship, we strolled past the lobby. There may have been 4 or 5 employees working the customer service desk. Each employee had a deep line, and the chatter was all centered around angry complaints about dropping us off at Belize City. Needless to say, that same cruise line took Belize off their itinerary soon after.”
“Gary, Indiana. Came off the exit immediately into a neighborhood that looked like it was hit by some natural disaster before and never recovered, but no they’re just too broke to fix their roads or anything.
We tried to cut through the neighborhood as fast as possible, but the potholes made us not go over 25. We finally got to a gas station, and the guy at the register said “Yeah you all should get out soon; it’s about the time when they start robbing people.” Advice taken, got out of there.”
Lapa, Rio De Janeiro
“Pickpocketers run that place. I saw one of my buddies get picked and confronted the pick more pocket in hopes of getting his stuff back. They proceeded to kick my back. Just skip it.”
“Dubai, I thought it would be fun to see all the skyscrapers and supercars, I got tired of it in 5 minutes.”
East Saint Louis, Illinois
“I was meeting a colleague for dinner at a Mexican restaurant in a not-terrible part of East St. Louis. Unfortunately, Apple Maps took me into a desolate neighborhood with gigantic potholes in the streets and empty lots interspersed with abandoned houses on either side.
Thankfully, it was a 90°F July afternoon and no one was out and about. I stopped in the middle of one street, looked around, saw no one, and entered the same address into Google Maps. This time it took me to the restaurant.”
“Yakima, WA. They might call it the Palm Springs of Washington or “Yakivegas”, but it’s absolutely bad.
The highest rate of carjacking in the country is rife with violent crime. I had a friend that went there for a soccer match when he was in high school, and the match was canceled because one of the kids on the other team was a gang member, and some stupids drove by and shot at the players on the field. Luckily nobody was hurt, but gives you an idea of what sort of special stupidity Yakima is
That said, the Yakima Valley makes some amazing fruit and hops. If you’ve ever had a Washington apple or a craft beer from anywhere in the US, there’s a very high chance that the apple or the hops came from the Yakima Valley”
“Phuket Thailand. Having to collect the ashes of your brother-in-law and having to grease the palms of authorities to prevent ‘overdose’ being written on his death certificate is a bit too much trauma for one lifetime.
PS: It wasn’t an overdose. He had a heart attack, and the police wanted a bribe. Why avoid overdose? Because a lot of insurance policies don’t cover overdoses and getting a body home is expensive.”
“No, really, perhaps with Erwin Rommel, but even then, you gotta pay me.
Got ripped, left in the desert to die, not met ONE simply kind person, paid a little fortune for the worst 5-star hotel in the world, where I couldn’t sleep one night cause of the elevator that went literally through my room, was blackmailed by a guy with a donkey cart -A DONKEY CART- and almost crashed with the Tunisair plane on the way home.
No thanks, Tunisia, maybe next life. Or just never again. Yeah, never sounds good.”
Any City In Japan
“Japan during late July / early August. The heat and humidity are sweltering, and the sun rises around 4:30 am. I’ve never been so exhausted and miserable on a trip.”
“I moved to St.Petersburg, where people are said to be nice. Suffice it to say that in two years, I was mugged by two guys whose car I helped fix, my roommate’s elderly father had to be hospitalized after being assaulted in an elevator (nothing was taken, he was just beaten). On three separate occasions, teenage children of colleagues were assaulted by adults in broad daylight in public places.
This isn’t to say that everyone who lives there is violent by any means, but there seemed to be a general attitude that it is preferable to see someone lose, fall or be injured than improve one’s own life which can lead to some messed up things.”
“Was having an awesome day with my mates, driving rented motorcycles into the mountains with no license. Great times! Then some policemen pull us over for “failure to present yourself to an officer” and threw my Cameroonian friend in jail, conveniently not willing to risk throwing me and the other white foreigners in jail.
The jail was a three by 3-meter cell with about ten people in it, some of whom had been there for over a month.
Clearly, a bribe was going to be necessary to fix this. I went to the commander’s office to sort it out. His “office” was full of hundreds of whiskey bottles strewn everywhere, and a prostitute was in there with him. He informed me that he was off duty and I’d need to talk to a colleague at the bar next door.
Went to the bar, found the guy, and asked him what it would take to get my friend out. He said 10 thousand CFA (about ten GBP at the time). I told him we had a deal. He wanted me to give him the money in this dark corner where no one could see the exchange. I was thinking “No way, if I am going to bribe this one, I at least want all of his colleagues to know what is happening,” and I insisted we exchange in a well-lit place in front of his colleagues.
At this point, my Cameroonian friend was out of jail and standing next to us, and the cop said, “no, you are trying to disrespect me; the deal is off.” And throws my friend back in jail and walks back to the bar.
All of the above had taken many hours. I was exhausted and needed to just get out of there with my friends. So I went to the bar and asked the cop what it would take to get my friend out. He looks me straight in the eyes and says, “you disrespected me in front of my colleagues back there. There is a penalty for disrespecting an officer. The penalty is two beers.”
So I bought him his beers, gave him the 10 quid, and finally got my friend out of jail.
It’s a shame because the areas around Buea (and Cameroon in general) are beautiful, but you get like these corrupt cops bringing the place down and making the very few travelers who have been there say “nope, not worth going to.”
“Abu Dhabi; I was only there for a stopover, but the man, did they make you feel uncomfortable? There are two things you need to know about UAE security guards.
They have guns.
They want you to know they have guns.
They want you to wait and motion with their gun. They want you to move and motion with their gun. They give you directions and motion with their gun.
That and the work staff’s generally lousy attitude.”
“Egypt. A decade of political unrest has left it significantly less inviting since the last time I was there.”
“I feel profound shame about giving that regime even a little bit of my money. It was a unique place, but “rare glimpses” aren’t worth the legitimacy being a tourist in that country affords its leadership. The recent death of Otto Warmbier intensified these feelings. I gave my money to murderers, liars, and thieves to go a place where they imprison their countrymen and starve them to death. Whatever the Kims. Wish I’d never gone.”
“China – The place is filthy and polluted. Believe it or not, they do not diaper their babies. I went through a market and set my hand down on something, and I set it right into diarrhea!
People are constantly hacking up loogies and spitting them on the street. Every single thing you buy there is junk… no quality in anything whatsoever. They’ll sell chicken in the hot sun out of the back of a dirty truck bed… no standards on food handling or health and safety. Sorry if this is overly critical, but I’m a hardcore germ phobia. It tested every fiber of my being.”
“Istanbul. I crossed a few oversized items off my bucket list. I got to see the black sea and the Bosphorus, and I toured the Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque, but overall I hated my time in Istanbul.
I felt like I was being assaulted every time I went outside. You could not escape the street hawkers and people constantly trying to hustle you and sell you stuff. Even if you got away from the tourist centers, you would still have restaurant owners coming out and following you. On two separate occasions, while my wife and I were just trying to go for an evening walk, we had waiters physically hold up oversized menus and block the entire sidewalk and try to force us into their restaurant.
When we took one of the ferry rides to the black sea, we figured we had a few moments of calm, but the salesman jumped on the boat and just KEPT trying to sell you stuff out of a briefcase and wouldn’t leave you alone. If you said no, they just shifted tactics and kept trying to sell you stuff, which made sightseeing and just enjoying the view impossible.
Once we arrived, the assault just continued. We had lunch and couldn’t walk because all the shop owners were hounding us and following us, to the point where we just went back to our original restaurant, ordered another appetizer, and spent the rest of our afternoon not going out because we were sick of dealing with people.
If I could describe what Istanbul was like, it would be boorish, aggressive, and rude. And Ataturk Airport is one of the worst I’ve visited, it’s crowded hot, and there is no place to sit.
I will go out of my way to never revisit Turkey.”
New Delhi, India
“Decided to go there in 2008. Never going back again. It’s crowded, polluted, and everyone is trying to rip you off the moment they find out you are a foreigner.
I am of Indian descent but Canadian. Even though I can fluently speak Hindi, I still speak it with a heavy accent, which shows you are not a native speaker. Suddenly my prices to visit touristy places would go from 50 to 500 rupees; the moment I opened my mouth.
I’d come to my hotel from travelling during the day and wash my face and see this black grime (from all the pollution) spill all over the sink.
There is no such thing as crossing a stree. I basically had to fear for my life if I had to cross a street because the drivers were horrible and didn’t follow the rules. It’s fine on major intersections but on smaller streets…you are gone.
Oh, and the first and only time I was ever pick-pocketed was on the Delhi Metro. As grand and well-planned and honestly beautiful as it was (the stations are all massive compared to the ones in Toronto); it was still a bad show to get onto a train. Lining up and waiting to get onto a train is not a concept popular there. And my well-mannered Canadians would politely let people in until there was no room for me.
Also, the first time I ever threw up after drinking beer was in the native country of my parents. Having safely ordered a Carlsberg, thinking it was brewed in Denmark, I got an upset stomach. Upon inquiring further, I thought it was actually brewed locally with local water, and that completely messed up my system.
It’s honestly crowded, hot, disordered, and messy. And whateever Indira Gandhi international airport.”
“It was a missed connection with a train, so we arrived late at night. We would chill at the station for a few hours until the next train at 5 am. Multiple police and other people we asked suggested we find a hotel as it wasn’t safe for a group of girls to stay there at night.
A few women seemed worried and tried to convince us not to stay as we walked out to find a hotel, the people in and around the station gave off a very sketchy vibe. We overheard some man’s conversation and got so freaked out we booked the first available room. Maybe it’s nice during the day, but at night it left a bad impression.”
Johannesburg, South Africa
“I have been all over the world. I was in Columbia while it was under the control of the FARC. I spent time in northern Mexico during the drug wars. Some of you may remember that time. The cartels would kill anyone and anything that they perceived as being in their way. It seemed as though weekly, there was a news story about an ice crest found on the side of the road that was full of heads.
Joburg is the only place I have felt I would be murdered for no reason. Hilbrow is scary.”
“When I’ve had a bad day, I often think, “At least I’m not in Mumbai.”
I was looking forward to going to India as it had been top of the list of places I wanted to go. There was thick smog everywhere; so many people lived on the footpaths. I’m pretty sure most people I interacted with didn’t have homes.
Taxi drivers lived in their cars, and hotel security and concierges slept at their posts. There were toxic pools everywhere. Tiny children holding tiny babies were everywhere, and a group spent every night outside the hotel I was at. Going out was expensive because alcohol was more expensive than London prices. When my conference ended, I went to a cheaper hotel.
The ‘cook’ was using the shower in my room when I arrived, and I saw a massive rat just before I went up the stairs in what looked like an abandoned building. I was there during the currency problems they were having. I couldn’t get money from ATMs very often.
When there was cash, it was only about £20 a day, which made everything a bit scary. Plus, every vendor was trying to rip you off by giving back the defunct currency. I had to leave my crap hotel after one night because I didn’t have any money to pay them. I returned to a slightly more excellent hotel with a card machine. I went to Aurangabad for a few days and saw some pretty cool things, but the pollution there was even worse.”
“Gainesville, Florida. The university is nice and a great school, but all the towns surrounding it are backward, redneck, and generally otherwise just unpleasant and unfriendly.”
“Memphis, Tennessee. I was driving from Louisiana to Nebraska and had to stay overnight in Tennessee, so I thought I’d stay in Memphis bc it’s a city I’ve heard of all my life. Of course, I’ve heard about Elvis’ home and the giant bass pro shop pyramid, so I thought it’d be cool to stay in. Nnnnope, that city is so run down and depressing.
I stayed in a hotel across the street from the hospital and had to move my sound system out of my car into the hotel bc they called and told me someone parked behind my car and was looking inside of it. Will never go back and probably should’ve just stayed in Nashville.”
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This article originally appeared on Mrs. Daaku Studio