I can be a pretty jaded traveler, so I watch videos like these to remind myself of the magic.This one is from a summer trip to Dubai and Indonesia. Notice the commonalities and the differences of the two places, which are both fascinating in their own ways. Do I ever get tired of travel? Sure. Do I ever want to stop?Absolutely not. Read More
Image by JasonRogers
In my trips around the world, I’ve been to a lot of conventional places and a lot of off-the-grid places. Among other things, these experiences have led me discover that some of the best destinations for travelers are not always “undiscovered.”
Many places have a well-deserved reputation for being cool, and some other places you’ve never heard of maintain that status for a good reason. Still other places have gained undeserved reputations for being somewhere you “must’ visit before you die – but whenever I’ve gone there, I’ve felt a bit disappointed.
I’ll tell you about 9 of those here, but…
I don’t like to be overly-negative, so in addition to telling you what’s wrong with these overrated destinations, I’ll also give you an alternative for each one that is worth visiting. Then if you’ve been to either the overrated one or the alternative, you can tell me if you think I’m wrong, and also add your own overrated destination for everyone else to consider.
Ready? Here we go.
The Alternative: If you really want to see the world’s best waterfalls and you can go anywhere, then head to Zambia and check out the great Victoria Falls. I was there in 2006 and can confirm that it is indeed one seriously big waterfall. Afterwards, head over to the Victoria Falls Hotel on the Zimbabwean side and pay $1,000,000 for a Diet Coke.
If you can’t easily hop off to Southern Africa, then just go somewhere else in Ontario or Quebec. There's lots to see in that part of Canada that is definitely worth checking out.
- The Decent Canyon
- The Not-Bad Canyon
- The “If you’re 10 miles away, go and see it” Canyon
You get the idea. Technically speaking, the Grand Canyon is impressive, but there’s so much hype about it that it’s hard to live up to your expectations upon arrival.
The Alternative: Sedona, Tucson, Santa Fe (New Mexico), or elsewhere in the area. The American Southwest can be a fun place. I liked hanging out in Sedona, where we stayed before driving to the Not-Bad Canyon. It does get pretty hot there, but it is the desert, after all.
The Alternative: There are plenty of other nice islands in the Caribbean not yet overrun with visitors. St Kitts & Nevis is nice, for example, as is Dominica. Also, Barbados has a lot of visitors, but they do a better job with planning the overall development and culture of the island.
Paris, London, and Rome in the summer. These are all great cities, but not in the summer. Most Parisians leave their city in August, and they have the right idea.
The Alternative: For anyone traveling with U.S. or Canadian dollars, these aren’t great places to go at any time of the year, but for everyone else, going in the winter can be nice. And even if you do pay in dollars, lodging will usually be cheaper in the late fall or winter.
The Alternative: The best alternative is to keep your money and go anywhere else, but if you really want to gamble, head to an American Indian casino so that the money you lose will at least go into tribal education funds.
The Alternative: Dublin isn’t a bad jumping off point - so head there first, then quickly go out to the other cities and smaller towns of Ireland. Chances are you'll discover that they are more fun for visitors who want to experience the Ireland they've always imagined.
The Alternative: Egypt’s neighbor, Jordan, is a better place to visit overall. You won’t be hassled nearly as much (some people will even give you rides for free or otherwise extend hospitality without taking anything in return), and the ancient city of Petra is simply amazing. If you’re interested in visiting Israel or Lebanon, you can get there easily from Amman, and overall you’ll likely be much happier in Jordan anyway.
The Alternative: Just half an hour away by bus, Malaysia offers a better presentation of Asian diversity. The cities are edgier (not necessarily a bad thing, when compared to an overly-sterile environment), and nearly everything is cheaper. You can also head down to Bantam Island (Indonesia) by ferry, although I found the experience a bit strange when I was there two years ago.
The Most Overrated Destination on the Planet
All of those destinations are somewhat overrated - which doesn't mean you shouldn't go there. You should do exactly what you want; just try to keep your expectations in check. There’s one place over all the others, however, that wins the prize for being the most over-hyped city anywhere on the planet:
Image by Sharam Sharif
This is not actually that unusual, because most travelers end up thinking that Dubai is odd when they get there. The majority of the people you’ll interact with in Dubai are immigrant workers (English surpassed Arabic as the common language a while back), and seemingly permanent construction cranes fill the city. Yes, you can get anything you want in Dubai, but since sheiks and Russian billionaires use Dubai as a playground, it won’t be cheap. As for entertainment, there are shopping malls, shopping centers, shopping areas with fake ski resorts, and hotels with shopping malls enclosed within.
The Alternative: Oman, a nearby Persian Gulf country, is much more fun and a thousand times more authentic. Qatar is also OK, but seems to be on track to become another Dubai as soon as they can build a ski lodge and fake islands with huge hotels.
And Now, Your Turn
I need your help with this one. What other places are overrated, and what’s a better alternative? In other words, what did I miss?
Also, whenever people talk about their favorite places, someone usually disagrees – and that’s fine. Would you change anything in the above recommendations? Let me know.
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I arrived in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) after trekking through Jordan and Israel. Flying on Gulf Air, I stopped off in Bahrain for six hours, where I persuaded the immigration guy to let me into the country for a while even though I was in transit. Total cost: $10 for a one-day visa. Six…Read More