Travel Bloggers Tell All: The Worst Places They Have Visited

Living in today’s society, we are lucky to be able to put our stuff into a bag, throw a dart at the map and head off (practically anywhere!) in search of adventures. We expect everywhere we go to be wonderful – and a million and one blog/travel posts tell us that the world is amazing. (And it is!) But what about the worst places we visit? Do we sweep them under the rug thinking, maybe it wasn’t so bad – or do we not want to share them as negativity doesn’t really fit with social media’s thirst for beautiful, wanderlust inspiring destinations?

These Travel Bloggers share their worst places with me, and decided if they would ever go back to give it another go – you may be surprised by a few!

Would you go back to somewhere that didn’t thrill you the first time?

Travel Bloggers Tell All

Hands up, who has picked a destination based on what they had heard? It’s those destinations that people rave about as  a “must-see,” – they shout from the rooftops that “its amazing!” and declare “how could you go to ______ without visiting ______?! So you booked it, excited to experience everything you had heard about – and it turned out to be the worst place you have ever visited?

I’m thankful that, on the whole, I have loved (almost!) everything about everywhere I have been. But there is one place that I absolutely hated. It was, and still is a ‘must stop’ on any south east Asian itinerary and firmly on the backpacker route through Laos. Can you guess where it is yet? That’s right, I’m talking about Vang Vieng.

1.

Vang Vieng, Laos

The town that sold it soul to the backpackers

Travel Bloggers Tell AllVang Vieng in Laos is categorically the worst place I have ever been to. After entering Laos from the North of Thailand, we stayed in Luang Prabang, which was just beautiful. The whole town is a UNESCO heritage site and its easy to see why – amazing temples, uncrowded un-touristy streets, stunning scenery and beautiful people living a simple life. Just incredible…

…Then you get to Vang Vieng. It’s a small town in the middle of the country, made famous because people could float down the Mekong river in a rubber tube, peacefully taken by the current as you gaze at the lush green mountain landscape. Unfortunately it became the most unlikely party town in Asia when ramshackle bars popped up along the banks of the river offering cheap drinks, rope swings and thumping music form lunchtime to the early hours of the evening. Backpackers (mostly western) flocked to this tiny town and taking the tubes would spend all day going from bar to bar on the lure of cheep – or even free- drinks at every riverside bar they passed by. Queue a stream of drunken backpackers falling about in the streets every afternoon, and cafes throughout the town practically refusing to serve Asian cuisine in favor of burgers, chips, pizza and pasta – all the while replaying episodes of Friends, all day and night. These cafes were decked out with ‘relaxation areas’ – think loads of cushions laid out like day beds – the problem was that not only were they grotty and stained but they absorbed the smell of the sweat of the hundreds of people before you who have laid sprawled out detoxing after the night or nights before. Eeww.

And then there is the drugs. Not immediately obvious, the town is riddled with them. From being offered the ‘special’ pizza menu to a full blown drug list – often at ridiculously cheap prices that it is no wonder young backpackers are drawn in.

Following multiple deaths (from dodgy rope swings across the river, with a little help from drink & drugs) the Laos government stepped in and dismantled a lot of the bars on the river – but, for me, the damage has been done.

Would I go back to Vang Vieng? No – It’s quite difficult to get to, for very little return – and I know there are so many other beautiful places in Asia, so sorry Laos – I loved you, but not your party town.

2.

CANCUN, Mexico

WHere PARADISE ISN’T ALL THE BROCHURES SAY IT IS

Shared by Joy @ A JAUNT WITH JOY

Cancun

“It’s hard for most people to believe, but I actually hated Cancun. My boyfriend and I went in September 2011 and the water was nothing like what you see in the brochures. The party atmosphere was too much. The streets were trashed and everybody was grossly drunk. We couldn’t escape the constant noise of construction on sky rise hotels. We actually had plans to stay there for a week, but after only two days we decided to move on to Playa del Carmen for a much better party vibe and that gorgeous teal water we had been promised.”

Would Joy go back to Cancun? Yes. After talking to a few Mexican friends about our Cancun experience, they all agreed that the September season was not a good one if wanting beautiful beaches. Because it’s Cancun and everybody else seems to love it, I would definitely give it a second chance in a better season.

3.

Naples, Italy

where trash lines the streets

Jennifer @ WORLD ON A WHIM shares her experience:

Travel Bloggers Tell All

“The worst place I have ever been to was Naples, Italy.  While I was in Rome, I had an extra couple of days and thought it would be an excellent idea to check out the South of Italy by visiting Naples.  Please know this was a completely spur of the moment decision and not one that I had researched.  Consequently, I had not arrived in a beautiful locale like Positano, but in an extremely dirty train station.  I walked around for a few hours and sat down to have the famed tomato sauce on my pizza, but I could not even enjoy because the waiter was aggressive and insistent on taking me home for the evening.  I decided to leave early the next morning; on the bus ride to the train station to get back to Rome, I had a man steal my wallet from my purse.  Luckily he lost his footing and dropped my wallet.”

Would Jennifer go back to Naples? I would go to Naples as a gateway to Pompei and Capri, but I would not recommend the city as a place to visit solo or for a relaxing vacation.

4.

PATONG BEACH, Phuket

THE SEEDIEST PLACE IN THAILAND

Shared by Dominic @ FLASHPACKING DUO

Travel Bloggers Tell All

“Thailand, a beautiful picture postcard setting with turquoise waters and rich culture, and then you suddenly see those florescent lights above welcoming you to Patong beach.

The only description we could come up with after three very long days of walking Bangla road was this; Amsterdam Red Light district meets Benidorm. Now the beach wasn’t much to go on as it was mainly a construction site and we couldn’t see past the jet ski’s and other cliche overpriced activities on this once serene beach.

 Then the night rolls around bringing with it the night crawlers. The streets filled with men leering at the young Thai girls dancing on the bars, following their guide to the ever allusive ping pong shows. The near dead walking the streets and frequenting the bars to full-fill their dirty deeds exploiting the young girls of Thailand. Expect to see no shame from this seedy town.”
Would Dominic go back to Patong Beach? No – after one night we were dying to get back to the Thailand we all know and love. Bangla Road is a special place that you have to see with your own eyes to know there are far better places to go in the future.

5.

COSTA RICA

WHEN A COUNTRY JUST DOESN’T STACK UP TO ITS NEIGHBOR

Shared by Gemma @ GemmaJaneAdventures
Travel Bloggers Tell All Costa Rica
“Costa Rica has an exotic reputation, a country filled with promise, wildlife, and excitement. But it failed to impress me. Don’t get me wrong, there was plenty to do and I enjoyed activities I did there, like going white water rafting for the first time. There wasn’t just one thing either… I was tired from spending 4 months traveling in Central America already, I was traveling alone after my travel partner left, It was the start of the rainy season. Mostly though, It just didn’t compare favorably to Guatemala and Nicaragua, both countries I loved traveling in. Compared to them, Costa Rica felt geared up for holidaymakers from the USA, rather than budget backpackers. As well as making things more expensive and touristy, it also felt more difficult to get to places, such as nature reserves, without spending a small fortune on a tour. I felt I could do the same (or better) things for less money, and easier in Guatemala and Nicaragua, so sorry Costa Rica, but I didn’t love you.”
Would Gemma go back to Costa Rica? Maybe one day – when I can be a rich(er) holiday maker too!
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The verdict

So, there you have it – a short selection of the Worst Places in the world to visit.

Have you been to any of these places? Do you agree with the experience’s described above? Is there anything you would add? Or did you think the complete opposite? I’d love to hear about your travel experiences – good or bad – let me know your thoughts below!

Happy Travels 🙂

Note:  All views expressed are those of the listed authors and are not stated as facts.

39 thoughts on “Travel Bloggers Tell All: The Worst Places They Have Visited

  1. mark says:

    We also had a bad experience in Naples. We had our backpack stolen on the train. Goodbye camera with 3 weeks of photo’s, goodbye Samsung galaxy, and worse goodbye apartment key. Lucky we were able to contact our Airbnb host to arrange to get back in the apartment. Be very cautious in naples

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  2. Eloise says:

    I’m going to Cancun in 3 months so I’m glad Joy said she’d go back! Well, we’re actually flying to Cancun but we don’t really plan to stay for long there. Not my style, even from the brochures.
    Great article idea!

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    • Vicki says:

      Thanks Eloise – I hope you enjoy Cancun – I haven’t been anywhere in Central America yet! But i’ve made a note about when NOT to go through Cancun!
      Happy Travels 🙂

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  3. Kirsty @ My Home Truths says:

    I’ve only been to Naples on this list but that was over 20 years ago. It was dirty and the car traffic and parking was atrocious. I did not have a terrible experience there but i think there are many other places to visit in the south of Italy that live up to the hype.

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  4. Paula says:

    We visited Naples in 2010 and really did not enjoy the experience either. I feel like perhaps we were just there at a bad time or did not give it enough of a chance so I would try it again if I was in the area. It just felt dirty and pretty unsafe. It was the only time in all my travels that someone tried to grab my bag while they rode past on a motorbike.

    Alternatively, I visited Vienna for 5 days in 1999 as a solo traveller with a broken heart and really did not enjoy the city at all. I never wanted to go back but last year I did stop in for a day on a stopover and I loved it and kicked myself I did not have longer to stay. Some much can come down to your headspace at the time of your visit.

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    • Vicki says:

      Hi Paula, thanks for stopping by and sharing your experiences! Your so right that it can be down to headspace at the time of the visit – it really can make all the difference. I’m glad you tired Vienna again, I quite liked it – beautiful buildings and great for a day trip out to the Wachau Valley for wine tasting!
      Happy Travels 🙂

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  5. Meg Jerrard says:

    Thanks for putting this list together – I do believe that whether or not you enjoy a destination is varibale on a lot of different factors, and that it’s a very personal opinion. Though i do agree with Naples – we didn’t really enjoy our visit there at all. Granted, is a great place to base yourself for trips around Italy, and even though I found the city itself to be dirty, I would still recommend it as a base for day trips to places like the Amalfi Coast etc, and you can’t visit Italy and not try Napoli pizza!

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    • Vicki says:

      Hi Meg, you’re right that it can all depend on where you are personally on the day for how you feel about a certain destination, and that for everyone that disliked a place – there are others who love it! Travel is such a personal thing – why we travel and where we go – and everyone has an opinion. At the same time, Naples seems to be synonymous with ‘dirty’ – but its a gateway to other amazing places, so maybe it’s just something we have to live with!

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  6. Kylie Purtell says:

    I haven’t been to too many places so it’s hard for me to comment, but something I found funny was this… My husband and I travelled to the US in 2010 and we absolutely LOVED New York. Hands down, it is the one place I must get back to before I died, I just loved everything about it. However, the place we weren’t so impressed with was Vegas. I suspect it had a bit to do with the fact Dave was just getting over a cold and I was in the middle of one, but of all the places we visited in the US, Vegas was the worst.

    The thing is, my sister and her husband traveled the US a couple of years later and they were the complete opposite! They really didn’t like New York but they love Vegas and have been back just to go to Vegas for two weeks, which I just cannot fathom! How can anyone not like New York! What do you do in Vegas for two weeks? I think Vegas is better if you’re there with more than one other person, both times my sister & BIL went there they were with 3 or 4 other people, so maybe that’s the difference? That and not having a cold, I’m sure, lol!

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    • Vicki says:

      Hi Kylie, Thanks for stopping by. Your probably right about Vegas – I traveled with a group and it was so much fun! And as for NY – when I was putting this article together, 3 separate people said NY was the worst place they had ever been! Thank you for sharing your story – its always great to hear other peoples opinions!

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    • Jennifer says:

      Vegas is definitely a place you need to go to when feeling well! I’m not so sure about going with many other people, though, because then everyone’s vying for going to the place they want to. Some things I would definitely keep in mind are to have a plan for parking (valet’s a good option), stay at a nice enough hotel to get proper sleep, and thoroughly look into reviews of food. The Wynn buffet was pricey, but it was definitely worth it and unforgettable. I also recommend Le Reve – the BEST show I have ever seen, an experience I’ll never forget. Las Vegas can certainly seem unhealthy (drinking, smoking, sexism, etc)., but knowing the best places can make it unforgettable. Also, I highly recommend going to Jean Philippe’s at either the Bellagio or Aria. I’ll never forget the dessert I had and Vegas is the only place to get it (sadly).

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  7. Zita says:

    Oh wow! That picture of Naples just blew my mind! Gross!! I only stopped there briefly on my way to Pompeii.
    I don’t think I would go to Cancun just based on it’s reputation as I am not a big partier anyway, hence why I also didn’t go anywhere near Patong when I was in Phuket!
    For me, I would have to say New Orleans…. I am not sure why, can’t really articulate a specific reason but I just couldn’t warm to it and enjoy my time there.

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    • Vicki says:

      Hi Zita! Thank you for sharing! I think sometimes we get a weird vibe from somewhere that we just can’t shake, even if it seems out of the ordinary. I like to think its our self-preservation gene, that we just know instinctively if somewhere is just not for us.

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    • Vicki says:

      Hi Amy – there’s definitely a drunk and disorderly theme! I find it reassuring that a lot of travelers don’t like that type of travel. Its just a shame that some places are worse off because of irresponsible backpackers/travelers!

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  8. Marek says:

    I had similar feelings about Costa Rica when backpacking through Central America. I escaped Costa Rica after a week due to higher than expected costs, but I’ve heard many great stories about its beaches and wildlife. My first love in this region is Guatemala butI feel like I need to go back sometime to Costa Rica with more money and different expectations…

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    • Vicki says:

      Hi Marek, thanks for sharing! I haven’t done any of Central America yet so its nice to hear people’s recommendations. Looks like Costa Rica will be off my list for a while purely from a budget perspective!

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    • Vicki says:

      Hi Gemma – thanks for contributing! I’ve really enjoyed the conversation that has flown from this – it great to hear other people’s thoughts – and I think asking people to comment, they have felt more comfortable saying they didn’t like somewhere, where they might not have had an outlet before.

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  9. Suzanne (PhilaTravelGirl) says:

    I have friends who RAVED about Naples so I added it on my way to Capri for 5 nights. I didn’t experience that photo of the trash but I wrote a post entitled “Naples – Gritty, Chaotic and Beautiful (Just Like Life)” – it definitely isn’t a great place to compare with the Amalfi Coast, Capri and other tourist centric cities – its a city of people operating in the madness of the Italian system. I was solo and appreciated the underground tour, the various restaurants, hated the pizza and then found a local college kid who did my private bike tour who made me see a different side of the city as we pedaled around and were serenaded on Italian television. Would I tell someone to add it to their first time visitor list – nope but we can’t hide from real life – for those that want to live like locals do – Naples is the place to do it.

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    • Vicki says:

      Hi Suzanne, thank you so much for sharing! Your’re right that we can’t hide from life – I think sometimes our expectations of destinations are too high (from too much Photoshop/media editing etc) and that its OK to visit somewhere that isn’t what you expected/wanted, but then enjoy the experience and take in all you can from it. I’m hearing mixed reviews on the pizza thing though – i’ll have to try it for myself one day!

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  10. Beth | Adventuring the Great Wide Somewhere says:

    What do these spots all have in common? It seems they were killed by their need to cater to tourists (especially rich tourists!) rather than retain the local charm. I’m a little sad to read Costa Rica didn’t impress, since it’s probably the next big-ticket vacation I’m booking, but then again, Gemma has a point. I’ve heard the neighboring countries are just as beautiful, and so far unspoiled by tourism.

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  11. Alexandria says:

    I totally felt like this about Venice the first time I went. The mobs of tourist were unbearable and totally killed the gorgeous aesthetics of the city. I went a second time during a less popular month and was able to enjoy it a bit more.

    Sad to hear about Cancun! I’ve been meaning to head that way. I’ll take your friend’s advice and avoid the crowded summer months. 🙂

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    • Vicki says:

      Hi Alexandria! Thank you for sharing your experience. I’m sorry to hear Venice wasn’t all that magical the first time, but good on you for going back and giving it another go!

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  12. Sally. says:

    Oh my gosh I can’t believe that photo of Naples! It literally looks like a dump. Somewhere I wouldn’t return to is Warsaw, Poland. I just felt very unsafe there and the moment I arrived someone was lying on the floor with police poking him with a stick. Plus you’d hear sirens every 5 minutes, a noise I’m not accustomed to hearing thankfully.

    Sally ~ DiagonSally

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  13. Emylie says:

    I didn’t like Vang Vieng that much either. Full of backpackers, and the locals seem fed up with them (although I believe it has gotten better in the last couple of years). I would definitely go back to Laos though, still a beautiful country with many more wonderful spots to discover! (ie the North is especially amazing). Nothing to compare with Vang Vieng.

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    • Vicki says:

      Hi Emylie, thanks for stopping by! I’ve heard that Vang Vieng has cleaned up its act a bit and hope that is the case because your right, the rest of Laos is beautiful. I loved Luang Prabang and would go back there in a heartbeat (which is a big call to say I don’t like going to the same place twice!)
      Happy Travels 🙂

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  14. Tracy says:

    I’m glad I stumbled onto this post – we’ve got a trip to Italy coming up and have been trying to decide whether to set up base in Naples or Sorrento – sounds like Sorrento, then!

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  15. ben says:

    …umm, we are all different, looking for different thrills and excitement.

    Some places we enjoyed, others might find it boring and vice versa. If many people raved about a place and you didn’t have a good experience there, it’s really too bad you alone didn’t have a taste for it …keep that in mind.

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    • Vicki says:

      Thank you Ben for your comment. I think if you read the post carefully it says the views expressed are personal – and are not seeking to influence others, just advise people of their experiences as a flip side to all the positive things the media says about a place. Everyone is entitled to an opinion – as you say. Negative opinions are not widely shared in social media – but it doesn’t mean those opinions matter any less.

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  16. ben says:

    Besides all the Idiotic Tourists who goes to Laos Vang Vieng to jump to their deaths in the river, I love Vang Vieng. The scenery is so beautiful and laid back, how could you not like such a place. One of the most beautiful places I’ve been to. Infact, experiencing Vang Vieng was the highlight of my Laos trip. Before my trip to Laos I didn’t know there was such a beautiful place like that in Laos.

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    • Vicki says:

      Hi Ben
      Thank you for your comment. I too think Laos is beautiful – but its natural beauty is marred by the ‘idiotic tourists’ as you so rightly call them – just like the post says 🙂

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