World’s 12 Worst Tourist Traps
Planning a vacation is a lot of fun. It can also be exhausting and expensive, so you want to make sure you make the most of your time away. This list should help you pinpoint places to avoid on your next adventure! See the full list after the jump.
1. Dunn’s River Falls, Ocho Rios, Jamaica
This admittedly pretty series of waterfalls in a lush forest has been transformed into a death march for millions of cruise shippers on shore leave.
Visitors slog up a crowded, hillside holding hands with strangers like worker ants on a particularly gruesome mission.
Aggressive guides hustling for tips complete the tourist trap experience.
Better to get ripped off on straw baskets in the Kingston markets.
2. Avenue of Stars, Hong Kong
Built in 2004, this one is designed with mainland Chinese tourists in mind. You’ll find them here in droves, led by flag-toting tour guides as they stumble toward the promenade’s highlight, a statue of Bruce Lee in kung fu pose, while mall music blurps out from tiny speakers.
A lack of comfortable resting areas and focus on souvenir photo booths makes the whole experience about as satisfying as a sneeze that doesn’t quite come out.
3. Times Square, New York City, United States
A big TV, a bunch of outdoor advertising and chain stores you can find anywhere in the United States.
Locals avoid it with almost the same assiduity as empty cabs do, meaning once you’re in, there’s no quick escape.
4. Nanjing Dong Lu, Shanghai, China
It bills itself as the “best shopping street in China,” but in reality it’s far from that.
Nanjing Dong Lu, whose history can be traced back 150 years ago, was once known as the “Number One Commercial Street in China.” Most guidebooks recommend tourists check it out for its history.
But apart from a handful of old shops, any sense of history is largely gone.
Locals are a rare sight. Ubiquitous brands that can be found on any major shopping street in Shanghai, however, are all too common.
5. Winston Churchill’s Britain at War Experience, London, United Kingdom
The heavily advertised Britain at War Experience draws thousands to experience wartime London. There are a few decent artifacts, but mostly what visitors get are amateur tableaus featuring department store mannequin limbs slathered with fake blood meant to represent Blitz carnage.
A shame so many get lured in, since authentic sites pertaining to WWII — Churchill’s actual bunker and RAF Uxbridge’s magnificently restored Battle of Britain Operations Room at RAF Northolt — are nearby.
6. Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, Bangkok, Thailand
There are at least a dozen floating markets in and around Bangkok. Yet every tourist wants to hit the same one: Damnoen Saduak.
It used to be a legitimate place for locals to enjoy some boat noodles or shop for produce and knickknacks. Today, thanks to every tour company in the world pushing it on tourists, it’s about as authentic as that pack of Viagra for sale in a back soi on Sukhumvit Road.
There are even manufactured floating markets, such as the one at Ancient Siam, that are more realistic than this nightmarish network of canals that’s filled with long tail boats shuttling visitors around to check out the floating shops and boats that peddle the same junk you can find on Khao San Road.
And be ready to duck. Things can get dangerous when boat drivers raise their long boat propellers out of the water to navigate through canal traffic jams.