For long we have seen pictures of dreamy destinations that make us swoon over their postcard-perfect sunsets and quaint locations. With each popular destination on the internet, our bucket list keeps increasing with all the places you keep scribbling down on it. With so many countries to visit, most of us build high expectations for our future trip while we save and plan for the next trip.
However, sometimes the reality of a destination doesn’t even come close to our expectations of it. The reason is simple enough. Like you, millions of others who have access to these pictures are also inspired to travel to these beautiful and pristine locations. Places that are heavily promoted as being perfect sadly turn out to be dirty or overcrowded due to mass tourism. Have a look at the reality behind some of the most recommended destinations in the world and tips to avoid the crowds if you do visit them!
One of the world’s most beautiful museums, it can take days to experience the true beauty of this treasure house. Among paintings from some of the world’s most famous artists, lies the beautiful Mona Lisa by Da Vinci which steals the hearts of many tourists. The reality sadly is that can happen only if you manage to get a glimpse of it.
Tip: Plan a trip to Paris during the off-season, especially winters to escape the crowds. Holidays and weekends, however, are not recommended for a visit even during the off-season.
Great Wall of China
Built to protect the crucial northern border of China, this architectural marvel is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Stretching for more than 13,000 miles from east to west, its historical significance is just one of the reasons to visit it. If you are however expecting to stroll down a deserted path that will give you a quiet walk down the countryside, then be prepared to be surprised.
Tip: Go to the end parts of the wall such as Jinshanling, Huanghua Cheng or Zhuangdaokou where the crowds start thinning out. It will be a bit of a walk to reach there, however, you will be able to take a picture without the tourists around.
Machu Pichu, Peru
The mysterious Inca Valleys sits on top of a high mountain in the Sacred Valley. Visiting one of the most beautiful countries in the world may sound like a dream, however, the feeling does not stay for long as thousands of other visitors queue up with you to admire the view from this mountain tip.
Tip: Avoid the high season(June-December) and take the early morning train if you are not keen on walking the Inca trail to reach there before the crowds. An alternative place to visit is Choquequirao, which is yet unexplored by tourists.
Taj Mahal, India
Overlooking the reflection pool in the foreground, the Taj Mahal is a timeless architectural masterpiece. However, with foggy winter mornings and millions of people trying to take a photo on the famous “Diana Bench”, be prepared to get pushed or waiting for hours to take the perfect picture.
Tip: Reach as early as 5 pm, just before the sunrise to take a perfect picture with the early morning rays shining down on the glorious monument.
Arashiyama Bamboo Forest-Japan
Walking through a magical forest made of bamboos that seems to touch the sky is a timeless experience. Sadly, with its proximity to the Kyoto city centre, it is also one of the most visited sites in Japan.
Tip: Reach early before sunrise or walk at the very end of the forest to escape the crowds. To watch the forest light up in all its glory, make a visit during the annual Arashiyama Hanatouro Illuminations Festival when the paths are lit till 9:00 pm(December), however, visiting the forest during the night during other times is not recommended.
Angkor Wat- Cambodia
The Golden Hour at this ancient temple is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Cambodia. When the early rays of the day shade behind the temple in various hues of orange, the sight that awaits you is breathtaking. However, it may not be the sunrise you would have been hoping for with hundreds of other tourists trying to push you around for getting the perfect shot too.
Tip: Reach there as early as 5 am before the crowds and carry a flashlight, snacks and an insect repellent while you wait for the sunrise. Also, instead of the large lake at the temple, go to the smaller lake nearby to get a good spot for the perfect picture.
Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy
A trip to Italy is incomplete without paying a visit to the Leaning Tower of Pisa for most people. Most of us have seen pictures of people posing while trying to balance the leaning tower in a picture-perfect moment. However, with millions of tourists trying to replicate the same pose, finding a secluded spot for taking the perfect picture might be more difficult than you would have imagined.
Tip: Book your tickets at least 15 days in advance to escape the crowds and hour-long lines for visiting the tower.
The Greek island’s villages are famous for its romantic sunsets and famous windmills. With its cheap economy and affordable tourism though, it has become so overcrowded that authorities have decided to cap the number of people to visit the island to only 8000 every day this year.
Tip: Skip the tourist season! If you do visit in the peak season, avoid touristy areas such as Oia and head to quieter locations such as Finikas or inland villages such as Pyrgos and Katherados to name a few.
A visit to Venice is said to be incomplete without experiencing the gondola ride to see the city’s famous canals from the water. However, with over 20 million tourists a year, a gondola traffic jam is not an uncommon sight. With a 40-minute ride costing around anywhere between £70-£90, it can be an extremely expensive ride as well.
Tip: Venice is a collection of 118 islands, skip the crowded parts and go island hopping instead. Some recommended options are Murano, Burano and Torcello.
A final suggestion? Do your research well before setting out for your dream destination to escape these tourist traps while visiting these popular destinations.
‘Curated by Neha Bhise’