If you love to travel, but want to avoid the sorts of tourist traps that will waste your time, money, and energy, as they also try your patience, be sure to steer clear of these 10 world-famous tourist traps.
While taste is always subjective, these tourist attractions get plenty of criticism. Many of us have already been to at least one of these tourist traps, if not more.
While tourist traps admittedly have some degree of cheesy charm, they are generally crowded and often overpriced. They overpromise and underdeliver. They leave a lot of tourists with bad tastes in their mouths.
10. Hollywood Walk of Fame, USA
As of November 2019, only 18 percent of reviewers at Trip Advisor give this famous and supposedly glamorous tourist trap a five-star rating. 26 percent rate it “very good,” while the remainder, which is 56 percent, consider the Hollywood Walk of Fame “average,” “poor,” or “terrible.” Some descriptions from unhappy visitors include the words, “gross,” “dirty,” and “tacky.” One reviewer found that the iconic Los Angeles attraction smelled like urine.
Most people already know what this tourist attraction is. For the blissfully uninitiated, it’s a boulevard embedded with bronze plaques featuring the names of Hollywood stars. The plaques are surrounded by pink and gray terrazzo squares.
E.M. Stuart is credited with dreaming up the whole Hollywood Walk of Fame concept in 1953, as a means of maintaining La La Land’s glamour and mystique. During the summer of 1958, the first 8 plaques were presented to the public and the rest is history..
These days, tourists are encouraged to spend about 60 minutes strolling the boulevard. They may find their favorite star’s names on plaques and then pull out their phones to take pictures.Tourists fight the crowds while being confronted with a surprisingly seedy array of local characters, some of whom are disguised as superheroes. The superheroes definitely aren’t licensed by Marvel or whatever.
In 2010, the LAPD arrested faux Spider-Man, faux Batman, faux Catwoman and range of other unlicensed costumed performers while said performers were at the Walk of Fame, hustling for attention and tips. Despite the crackdown, the characters still rove the area and are generally at their highest concentrations at Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue, near TCL Chinese Theatre, which was originally known as Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.
Sure, many tourists come to the Hollywood Walk of Fame knowing full well that it’s a tourist trap, but the payoff, such as a few pics to share online, really isn’t worth the downside of spending time at this lowbrow location. If you decide to go, manage your expectations beforehand or you may be in for quite a disappointment.
9. Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy
Italy’s Leaning Tower of Pisa has elements of absurdity and novelty that are appealing, but it’s still a tourist trap. Is it ever. The grandeur of the tilted structure is readily apparent, even from a good distance, but the expense and hassle of actually going inside this dramatic-looking medieval relic during a holiday in Italy is a serious downside…it’s actually the main reason why this attraction is considered one of the world’s most famous tourist traps..
The construction of this Italian tower began in 1173. It’s situated in the city of Pisa and used to have a lean of roughly 15 feet. Construction was undertaken which reduced the lean to approximately 13.5 feet. The structure is a bell tower which began to tilt as its foundation started to settle. The foundation was uneven and this is what triggered the leaning issue in the first place.
The white marble and stone building was part of a cathedral complex and its distinctive lean happened before construction was complete. When war broke out, construction lapsed for a hundred years. A century later, construction of the structure resumed. The gap in the construction process is believed to be what keeps this tourist attraction from toppling over. The foundation settled fully during the century-long break..
Some tourists recommend taking pics of the Leaning Tower of Pisa from a distance, rather than paying for a fairly pricey tour. Most people pretend to hold the tower up while they pose. If you do opt for a tour, be aware that you’ll be on the clock. You’ll have just 30 minutes to climb up and down, accompanied by up to 39 other tourists in your group.
You’ll need to climb 294 steps during your tour, so make sure you’re up for the physical exertion. Some people find the climbing process dizzying and disorienting. It’s generally less crowded at this tourist trap in the morning, before throngs of tourists arrive via tour buses and cruise ships.
8. Dunn’s River Falls, Jamaica
If you want an outdoor adventure that includes heavy crowds, a challenging and possibly frightening climb, and plenty of aggressive vendors, touring Dunn’s River Falls in Ochos Rios, Jamaica may be worth your while.
As with all tourist traps, some people love this attraction and some people hate it. Detractors don’t like how commercialized the Jamaican site is and how they are parted from their money while they’re there. They also feel rushed as they try to explore.
No one disputes that these terraced river falls are beautiful. They were featured in the James Bond flick, Dr. No back in 1962. The terraces are the steps that visitors climb to get to the top of these 180-foot waterfalls.
The terraces are right in the falls. They’re wet and slippery. Tourists are encouraged to hold hands with others as they climb, for the sake of safety, but they are also pushed from behind sometimes, to speed them through the experience. Getting pushed in the water may frighten them or throw them off balance..
The concept of climbing a waterfall, rather than gazing at a waterfall from a distance, is definitely exciting in theory. However, the drawbacks of this crowded attraction often make the reality of climbing Dunn’s River Falls something less than serene and romantic.
One tourist who posted at Trip Advisor reported seeing people slip and fall as they tried to climb. Some injured tourists were allegedly bleeding due to their falls.
Another big problem is that the climb eventually funnels tourists into a bustling marketplace where they are pressed to hand over money. Some tourists feel scared in the marketplace because there is so much hard-sell from local vendors. It’s impossible to get away from the attraction without being confronted by pushy vendors. Vendors or panhandlers sometimes try to intimidate tourists by standing in front of them, so they can’t pass.
Aggressive vendors and panhandlers are common near Jamaican tourist attractions, and they’re very prevalent at Dunn’s River Falls. If you climb these falls, be cautious. Keep physical safety in mind. Then, protect your possessions carefully as you try to exit the site.
7. Blarney Stone, Ireland
Now, it’s time to talk about an Irish attraction that lands on most roundups of worldwide tourist traps. Tourists flock to the Blarney Stone in Ireland and some live to regret going there. The experience doesn’t always live up to their fantasies.
As the legend goes, when you kiss the Blarney Stone, which is a limestone made from calcite, you’ll get the gift of gab. The Blarney Stone is situated at Blarney Castle & Gardens, in Cork, Ireland. Cork is definitely a town that draws in the tourists. Many want the gift of eloquence that the Blarney Stone is purported to provide, so they head for Blarney Castle & Gardens in droves.
Kissing the Blarney Stone isn’t the most comfortable experience. You can’t just walk up to it and give it a smooch.You will need to lean over backwards, with your belly up, while gripping a railing, as you are perched on a parapet walkway.
Plenty of famous folk have leaned backwards and kissed this one hundred percent Irish stone, including Mick Jagger and Winston Churchill.
In 2009, CNN described the Blarney Stone as one of the world’s germiest attractions. 400,000 people have puckered up and kissed the stone. If you’re germ-phobic, this tourist trap may be the stuff of nightmares. Even if you’re not, the crowds, expense, and discomfort may make you wish that you never took the plunge.
The mystical power of this stone is linked with its origin story. It’s reputed to be an oracular throne of Irish kings. However, there is more than one origin story and no one knows all of the secrets of the Blarney Stone. Those who aren’t given to magical thinking may find that kissing a rock is just plain dull.
6. Costa del Sol, Spain
Want to soak up the sun in Spain? If so, you may feel motivated to head for Costa del Sol, where so many tourists go. This is a vacation game plan that you may want to reconsider.
The region, which is situated in the south of Spain, within an autonomous community known as Andulusia, attracts herds of sun-seekers who are fleeing chillier locales. Costa del Sol is a particular favorite with northern Europeans, who understandably crave sun.
Since the region, which is comprised of coastal towns and communities, is such a draw for tourists, it’s just too crowded and too touristy. Prices are high, traffic is torture, and tourists who fry on the beaches generally don’t embrace the culture of the area. For some tourists, this type of atmosphere might be appealing, but those who seek serenity and authenticity may want to go elsewhere.
Costa del Sol does have its good points, including wonderful beaches, plus the amazing Picasso Museum in the city of Malaga. Overall, Costa del Sol, which means, “coast of the sun” is a little too infested with souvenir shops and restaurants serving up bangers (sausages) and fried bread.
5. London Dungeon, England
This South Bank tourist trap caters to juvenile tastes and is best avoided. There are much better things to do in London, so keep a wide berth from London Dungeon. It’s filled with sets that feature dead bodies fashioned from rubber, which are used to highlight the grisly and lurid “realities” of different historical events, including the Black Death and Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror.
There are carnival rides inside of this attraction. That’s always a bonus, isn’t it, or maybe not, depending on your tastes? But it’s just not enough to make this attraction worthwhile. Introverts should be warned that stand-up comedians who earn their paychecks at London Dungeon will give them a hard time while they explore the attraction. Thankfully, they aren’t allowed to actually touch you.
If you’ve got a taste for cheesy attractions, London Dungeon may be right up your alley. Everyone’s different and horror fans in particular may find this attraction inspiring, but it is considered a bona fide tourist trap by tons of people. There is also the chance that those who have warped senses of humor will find this attraction unintentionally hilarious.
4. Times Square, USA
Times Square is filled with noise, lights, and frenetic Big Apple energy, but it’s also a tourist trap. Situated in the Midtown part of New York City, it’s formed via the intersection of Broadway, 42nd Street, and Seventh Avenue.
Since Times Square is so often featured during New Year’s Eve ball drops, and showcased in films, on television, and in print, this is a New York City tourist trap that you may not have the strength to resist. Surrender to the desire to hang out in Times Square if you like, but be aware of the pitfalls.
The key drawback is that it’s crowded with tourists just like you. Hundreds of thousands of visitors hit the area daily. Plus, you’ve seen buildings, people and lights before. The novelty of standing in Times Square may wear off quickly.
Another issue is that there will be many people trying to sell you stuff while you hang out there. These people may be rather annoying. Overall, many tourists find that it’s not the most fun place to hang out in. Prices for food are high, too.
3. Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, Thailand
This famous floating market sounds beautiful and idyllic, but it’s a tourist trap, just like the other attractions on today’s list. Damnoen Saduak is 100 kilometers from Bangkok, Thailand and it’s a place where throngs of tourists flock to look at wooden boats that are filled with produce and other items.
People may buy what they need from the boats without getting in the boats. Customers may stand on dry land while they make their selections. Tourists may also be sailed around to search for bargains. Some boat tours of the floating market cost a bundle, so tourists beware. The floating market is noisy and typically besieged by package tour participants.
This attraction is located within the district of Saduak, in Ratchaburi Province. It features a labyrinth of narrow canals. The market developed after King Rama IV ordered the construction of a 20-mile canal which would link two rivers (Mae Klong and Tha Chin). Once the canal was complete, floating markets began to appear.
Today, Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is basically just for the tourists. That’s kind of the problem. These days, a lot of souvenirs are sold at the market and some tourists are disappointed, because they can’t find things that they really want to buy. Many also complain about how bad the canal smells.
2. Epcot, USA
When most tourists visit Epcot in Orlando, Florida, which used to be called Epcot Center, they know what they’re in for, but that doesn’t mean that many don’t leave disappointed.
This theme park is situated within Walt Disney World and it opened during autumn of 1982. A lot of its attractions were centered on advances in technology. This theme park just has a way of underwhelming kids of all ages.
There are some fun places to drink booze in each fake country showcased within the park, but drinks served are plenty expensive. Plus, a pub crawl may not be what you’re looking for from your Epcot experience. Also, the fake nations are a bit mired in shallow stereotypes.
Rides at the park also tend to be a disappointment, but that may change in 2021, when the Guardians of the Galaxy “Cosmic Rewind” roller coaster ride, which is currently under construction, is slated for completion. The roller coaster will be an enclosed thrill ride that Disney’s powers-that-be hope will revitalize Epcot.
Obviously, upper management is well aware that this theme park needs a shot in the arm and Epcot visionaries are hard at work trying to take the park out the tourist trap category. Renovations have been taking place at the park as of fall of 2019, based on feedback from Epcot visitors, and some tourists found that the renovations made it harder to enjoy the park, because some stuff wasn’t accessible.
1. Great Wall of China
Visiting the Great Wall of China sounds grand, adventurous, and so amazing, but the real-life experience of spending time at the Great Wall is, for some tourists, truly dismal, due to the cost of tours and general overcrowding.
Most of the Great Wall that stands today was constructed from 1487 to 1505, during the Hongzhi emperor’s reign. Before this reign, Ming Dynasty rulers consistently took care of the Great Wall, which was a defense against a second Mongolian invasion. Composed of signal towers, walls and passes, the Great Wall of China is a national symbol, but it is a fun place for tourists? Maybe not so much.
Still, it’s the Great Wall, right? It’s a tourist trap with great significance. So, what’s the problem with this epic attraction, anyway? It’s historical, its scale is massive, it’s stunning, et cetera. What could be the problem?
Well, it’s a very busy attraction. It is so crowded. There’s often a traffic jam situation happening, which can be very frustrating for tourists. Hitting the Jinshanling portion of the wall may be the best way to avoid the biggest crowds. The Badaling portion often gets the biggest crowds.
We’re not saying that people shouldn’t see this wonder. People just need to be prepared to join throngs of tourists.