Going on vacation is supposed to be a fun experience…so you may want to stay away from these unfriendly tourist destinations!
The phrase: unfriendly tourist destination might invoke caution and curiosity in tourists seeking new adventures. But it often draws a fine line between unforgettable experiences and potential challenges.
While the allure of some of these places might be undeniable, it’s essential to explore the intricacies beneath the surface. Many unfriendly tourist destinations offer a unique blend of history, culture, and scenic beauty.
But they also come with their own unique set of burdens that travelers must learn to navigate. From language barriers to unspoken social norms and sometimes less-than-welcoming locals, these places present an array of interesting dynamics.
Our exploration will take you to intriguing places worldwide, from bustling metropolises to remote villages, each with its distinct reasons for earning the label of “unfriendly.”
Join us as we shed light on the complexities and attractions of these 11 unfriendly tourist destinations that might make you think twice about your next adventure.
When Barcelona’s first female mayor, Ada Colau, took her place in office back in 2015, she didn’t mince her words about the tourism scourge in her beloved city. She said: “We don’t want the city to become a cheap souvenir shop,” siting Venice as a cautioning tale.
Since then, she has frozen licenses for all new holiday rental apartments and hotels and gone after short-term rental sites, giving Airbnb a 32,000 Euro fine.
She has also suggested introducing a new tourist tax and limiting visitor numbers. So, is this unfriendly tourist destination worth the hassle?
Koh Khai Islands, Thailand
The backbone of backpacker gap year travelers, Thailand, is mostly extremely tourist-friendly. But some places are now off-limits because of environmental crises.
The islands of Koh Khai Nui, Koh Khai Nok, and Koh Khai Nai, well-known for their colorful coral displays and popular with day-trippers from Phuket, have been strictly prohibited since Spring 2016.
The Department of Marine and Coastal Resources said that up to 80% of reefs have been spoiled in this unfriendly tourist destination, and ultimately, the decision was made to ban tourists.
The Onsen in Japan
Many visitors who travel to Japan do so to experience the magnificent “Onsen,” which are natural hot springs, and “Sento,” community bathhouses. Most of these guests are allowed in without any issues. But if you have a tattoo, that’s an entirely different story.
A survey that was released in 2015 by the Japan Tourism Agency discovered that over half of all of the Onsen in the country banned tattooed guests or required them to conceal their ink.
Tattoos are still considered a huge taboo in this unfriendly tourist destination, inseparably linked in many people’s minds with the Yakuza mobsters.
But with the inpouring of tourists in the last decade, many of whom are from cultures where skin art is welcomed, this old-fashioned rule has become increasingly problematic.
For many years, travelers have found this unfriendly tourist destination inaccessible due to the restricted number of flights going into the country and undesirable due to the limited welcome they received when coming here.
Many restaurants and bars in the Old Town of Riga are well-known to be scammers focused on cheating tourists, and allegedly, child tourism that preys on vulnerable young girls is teeming.
Also, ATMs in many Latvian cities are often rumored to be rigged so that criminals can swipe credit card details. So, if you do decide to visit, having cash on hand is typically the best idea.
Tourism in Bhutan only truly began to kick off around 1974. But eversince, the country has determoined to regulate itself in order to preserve the nation’s unique culture and unspoiled landscape.
The kingdom on the border of the Himalayas has a policy of “high value, low impact tourism”.
The result is that the number of visitors is restricted and that most travelers have to pay a whopping $235 a day for fees and visas for the honor of seeing this unfriendly tourist destination.
Cinque Terre, Italy
This stunning coastal area and UNESCO World Heritage Site used to be quite a trendsetter when it came to holding back the tide of travelers.
Under increasing pressure from ever-growing tourist numbers, in the beginning of 2016 this unfriendly tourist destination announced plans to introduce a ticketing system. Once the number of people reached 1.5 million, the area was off limits.
This figure might sound pretty high. But the previous summer saw 2.5 million people flow into the area to visit its clutch of five charming fishing villages connected by narrow cliff-top paths.
Unfortunately, Pakistan has been the home of many international and domestic terrorist groups for many years. And attacks in rural areas and cities alike threaten visitors.
To give you an idea, in 2013, 355 different terrorist attacks took place in this unfriendly tourist destination.
Especially in Karachi, the capital city, political, ethnic, and criminal rivalries make the city hazardous for newcomers who don’t know which spots are safe to travel through.
The US government, along with many others in the Western world, limits travel in Pakistan to government personnel in order to help defend its citizens from attacks.
A couple of years ago, the most active port in Greece made an announcement that they had enough: The number of cruise ship visitors coming into the port would have to be restricted.
The popular island of Santorini was getting swamped by upwards of 10,000 tourists arriving simultaneously daily on cruises. That number is now limited to 8,000. Seems to us that overcrowding is a common denominator among many popular destinations.
Unfortunately, our own beautiful country couldn’t be kept off this list.
In 2015, a private air charter company Stratos Jets analysed more than 37,000 geotagged tourist-related tweets from around the country to decide which places were most friendly, and which were most hostile towards tourists. Obviously, this is far from scientific.
But the results showed that Arlington, Texas, was one of the most unfriendly tourist destinations in the United States.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, given its reputation for rudeness, New York was the second least welcoming, and Las Vegas swinging into the third position.
If you remember the movie Hostel, which was released in 2005, it was set in this unfriendly tourist destination, and painted a picture of a crooked police force who disregarded the safety and security of tourists.
When the film came out, the Slovakian government registered a formal complaint against the movie, saying it could damage the country’s budding tourism industry. But, it turns out that an unflattering work of fiction is the least of this country’s concerns.
Travelers who are visible minorities visiting Slovakia tend to find themselves the victims of racist threats and xenophobia.
Amsterdam’s head of marketing recently made it abundantly clear that the city is overflowing with tourists. He continued to say that cities are suffering due to tourism. And many locals don’t wish to live in the historic centers any more.
While speaking at the World Tourism Forum, he also mentioned that Amsterdam hasn’t needed to spend a single Euro in marketing the city any more. They simply don’t want to have more people.
Instead, they wish to increase the quality of visitors: they want people who are interested in the city and its history, not who want it as a backdrop for parties.
Sadly locals feels this way because they see a lot of visitors who don’t respect the character of the city. Low cost carriers also create issues.
If you do decide to visit this city, make sure you pack your camera because there’s lots to see and do, and you’ll surely want to snap many photos to cherish the memories!
Have you ever been to any of these unfriendly tourist destinations? Be sure to tell us about your experiences in the comments below.
On the other hand, USA Wanderers has many more great reads about where we DO recommend you visit! For instance, check out: The 6 Most Sociable and Friendly Cities in the World