After 10 Years of Travel Here Are My Least Favorite Places
Looking back at my travels (since that’s as close to travel as I can get at the moment), I recall some of my “least favorite” places to travel. Or rather, I should probably say “most disappointing”, since I feel like that’s what this list is based on. It was much harder to think of entries on here than my favorite countries and places to travel!
Perhaps a controversial list, but a list all the same. All entries on this list have a different reason for being here. And being pretty British about things, I don’t want to say that I didn’t like these places because they’re bad, and I don’t want to give them a bad reputation. I’ll just say that these are some that didn’t sit with me.
And, of course, it’s my personal opinion. If you’ve had a better experience in these countries or places, let me know! I’m always willing to go back and try again, too.
Least Favorite Cities
“Paris Syndrome”. It’s a thing.
Paris syndrome is a sense of disappointment exhibited by some individuals when visiting or going on vacation to Paris, the capital of France, who feel that the city is vastly not as “artistic” and “aesthetic” as they had expected it to be.
I won’t say Paris isn’t amazing, but the unfortunate thing is that it’s hyped up so much. It’s the epitome of romance and the center of French fashion. You’ll see hundreds of thousands of amazing photographs of the Eiffel Tower, couples on a honeymoon, high-end fashion, and great cuisine.
In reality… I mean, it’s pretty grey. The weather is pretty similar to in the UK. So it’s rainy and grey a lot of the time, and also when I last went. (I’ve been a couple of times.)
There are tourists everywhere. Everywhere. If you want to climb the Eiffel Tower you’ll be waiting in line for a long time. And if you want to get a picture with no one else around then… Maybe your only chance is during COVID. It’s not the cleanest of cities and has problems with high crime rates in more suburban areas outside the centre.
What’s more, is the Champs Elysee, that famous street you’ll know, is a massive road with so many lanes. It’s busy, noisy, and near-on impossible to navigate. France has however recently announced a new plan to turn this road area to more environmentally friendly park-style land – so let’s see how that transforms the place!
Another thing to watch out for is the price. It is expensive. And if you want a coffee with a view in one of the main areas, you’re looking at something that will put you back for nearly the same price as a full dinner.
That saying, Paris is lovely and iconic. If you want to put typical “must-sees” above other spots then you should of course head to Paris. It’s just not on top of my list of recommendations.
For all of the American readership; please don’t take this one personally. I guess it’s another ‘Paris Syndrome’ situation. And also a combination of a few factors. Visiting on a school trip… Not having much money… No freedom to explore… Stuck with a group of people I didn’t really know… Jet-lag…
I visited a few years ago for about 10 days with my high school. I was 18 and very independent already. Then I arrived in a country where I was told I couldn’t drink alcohol and had a pretty strict school teacher who wouldn’t let us walk around by ourselves.
It was my first (and last, so far) time in the US and I remember the first thing that shocked me was the pizza slices. I was jet-lagged and it was my first meal. We went into a pizza place to get some quick food. In the UK, we have a ‘restaurant’ called “American Pizza Slice”. Usually, you buy two (or three if you’re hungry) slices of pizza for a bit of a hearty snack. Well, I walked into the place and ordered two. I was pretty hungry, but not that hungry. Anyway, the slice came and apparently American pizza slices in the US are pretty much the size of half a pizza. So I ordered pretty much an entire pizza and now I had to eat it all.
Maybe me and New York got off to a wrong start from there.
I’m sure New York has many incredible things to see, but unfortunately, the main sites didn’t do much for me. As an explorer at heart, I wanted to go off the beaten path, but alas, my teacher thought it too dangerous for an 18-year-old woman and I was stuck with the group – most of whom wanted to shop.
I visited in February and it was extremely cold. Probably the coldest weather I’d ever experienced up until then, making it difficult to be outside for too long.
One thing I found tough was the stark contrast between rich and poor. The rich walking past in a suit and trainers holding their work shoes, walking past the homeless without lifting a blind eye. Of course, this is something you see in other countries too, but it did leave a lasting memory.
Again… New York was pretty cloudy and rainy the time I was there. Or snowy, perhaps. As someone who loves the sun, even if it’s freezing, this left an impression too. Maybe I just got unlucky, but I don’t remember a single sunny day.
I’m sure if I returned now it might be a different story, and I might be able to enjoy it more. But I think it was mainly the Paris syndrome. I expected New York to just hit me with amazing things. Instead, I think you have to seek them out instead.
Last one for the “underwhelming” list. Shanghai held much promise, but yet again, failed. For me, anyway.
It’s the most modern city in China with beautiful buildings, skyscrapers, what looks to be like incredible shopping and amazing nightlife. In fact, I’ve written a blog about all that here. But I had a tough time finding it, to be honest.
Plus, as someone who prefers more traditional Asia and traditional China, the amount of western influence in Shanghai disappointed me. There are lots of foreigners and there is much influence from the foreign trade that happens there.
The biggest factor is probably the weather. The climate in Shanghai is… wet. And cloudy. I’ve only seen Shanghai sunny one day. Maybe that’s me bringing the rain with me, but I hear stories from other people, too. Rain and clouds affect my experience a lot (as you can tell from my two previous entries), but it matters a lot for Shanghai when one of the biggest attractions is to climb a big tower and have a great view of the city. A lot of the times, you can’t see the tops of these towers as they’re covered in clouds…
I’ve been to Shanghai a few times now and haven’t felt any buzz as such. Not that it’s awful. I’ve been back several times for both work and pleasure. But it gets on this list purely for its disappointing factor. I expected a lot, and in the end, didn’t get much out of it.
Least Favorite Countries
A risk for writing this while I’m still in the country, (yes I’m still in Tonga), I have to put it in here. While Tonga isn’t one of my least favorite places in the world, it’s one of my least favorite travel destinations. And, I just so happened to be stuck here.
Yes, here I live with sun, sea, and sand. It’s beautiful, postcard style turquoise warm waters and white sand, palm trees everywhere and various islands to visit. It is also famous for its whale swims.
There’s something about Tonga that never clicked with me. Which is a shame, since I’m stuck here. As someone who is always out to find out about new cultures and get in with the locals, I find Tonga to be surprisingly closed, especially for travel over a short period of time.
There’s also not much to… do. When I first arrived here, I had done everything on the main island in one day (really not exaggerating). It’s flat, and apart from the main ‘sites’, there’s really little exploring one can do. What’s more, is that it’s chilled back. Sleepy. I’m sure you may have heard of ‘island time’ and Tonga definitely works on this. Something that doesn’t quite fit with someone who’s used to keeping up with the pace of Beijing life.
So if you’re wanting a few days of sun, sea, sand, palm trees, and whale swims – Tonga is perfect. If you’re looking for walks, hiking, adventure… Tonga might be a bit calm for you.
It’s not like I’ll never go to India again. I never say never. But, I think if I didn’t go again in the next 20 years I won’t miss out and not much will change. Actually, many foreigners I meet who have been to India say the same thing. India hasn’t changed much in the last 20 years and probably will continue to not change much. So if you’re worried about visiting a place before it ‘changes too much’ then go somewhere else first.
So why is India on my least favorite list?
Honestly… I didn’t like where I went to India. I spent 3 weeks travelling the North from east to west. At first, I arrived in Calcutta and went to Delhi, from there I headed way far south to the bottom of India, very close to Sri Lanka. So close culturally and geographically, actually Sri Lanka is one of my favorite countries.
My route is a pretty well-trodden one. But it’s also not like India has the best tourism infrastructure, so even going on a beaten path in India is still fairly rough and you can still have enough adventure. So what went wrong for me?
India is chaotic. I had just come from Bhutan and the contrast was stark. There’s nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. Everywhere is… chaos. Loud, dirty, chaos.
Travelling to India alone as a woman I was prepared for the worse. You hear horror stories. But luckily, nothing too awful happened to me, however. However, I say nothing ‘too awful’ in comparison to the worst that could happen. I experienced a few things I’d rather not have, and every solo female traveler should be aware that India is not the safest place.
The thing that was most disappointing is probably the food. I know I’m not alone in saying that one of the only countries in the world where the cuisine is better abroad is India. Love a curry? Indian takeaway on a Friday night? Well, enjoy it. Because that’s probably one of the best Indian dishes you’ll have. You won’t get much better in India, or you might get much worse. Indian food in India is rich and not at all healthy. What’s more, a lot of restaurants won’t be the cleanliest. I’m not squeamish, but there were a couple of places I walked out of for fear of ‘Delhi Belly’. (I’m talking about local restaurants, not more expensive ones or tourist ones).
I appreciate that there are many beautiful areas of India. It’s a massive country. And just like China or the US, you could travel it for years and not see everything. I’d love to go back someday and do the more northern rural areas. But for now, I’ll stick to visiting other countries and enjoy a curry at home.
My Least Favorite Places – Final Thoughts
With this least favorite list, I don’t mean to put off travel to these places. In fact, I hope you do travel there and prove me wrong, or maybe you’ve had different experiences.
In the end, I think ‘favorite and least favorite’ places comes down to the overall experience you had there, and that sticks in your memory. And overall experiences are influenced by a lot of things, not just where you are, including who you’re with, what was going on in your life at the time or how much money you had to spare.
The most important thing is to keep travelling and to keep making these experiences!