As you contemplate all those “where to go in 2018” lists, here’s a twist: a list of places to avoid in the new year – with Beijing and Missouri among them.
US travel guidebook publisher Fodor’s has produced the “where not to go” list, which includes places plagued by overtourism, pollution and destinations with safety issues. They range from a US state to bucket-list wonders of the world. Here are the 10 places Fodor’s suggests we avoid.
Beijing and the Great Wall of China: The Great Wall may be one of the great wonders of the world, but Fodor’s cites the deterioration of swathes of the structure as a reason to stay away. Sadly, perennial bucket list favourite The Forbidden City gets the same treatment, due to Beijing’s air pollution.
Missouri, USA: Fodor’s put Missouri on its no-go list after the American National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) reported that black people were more likely than whites to be stopped by law enforcement officers there. It cited the death of a black man who died in a jail cell after being detained without arrest as an example of institutional racism there.
The Galapagos Islands: Ecuador heavily regulates tourism in the Galapagos as part of its environmental conservation policies, but Fodor’s says the islands’ fragile ecosystems remain vulnerable to tourist footprints.
The Taj Mahal, India: In 2018, the Taj Mahal’s dome will get its first thorough cleaning since it was built 369 years ago. A mud paste has been used to clean other parts of the monument, and Fodor’s says that “unless your dream Taj Mahal visit involves being photographed standing in front of a mud-caked and be-scaffolded dome, maybe give it until 2019 at the earliest.”
Phang Nga Park, Thailand: Fodor’s says “the rush to paradise has overwhelmed” some of Thailand’s beaches with pollution and overuse. Successful recovery initiatives are in progress, but Fodor’s recommends taking “the road less littered and enjoy a tropical vacay away from the fray.”
Myanmar: Just a few years ago Myanmar was on every globetrotter’s list, having opened up to tourism after years of isolation. Now Myanmar is one of the world’s pariahs because of a violent campaign against the ethnic Rohingya minority. Fodor’s noted that the United Nations has labelled the atrocities “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”
Mount Everest: Fodor’s says the pursuit of bragging rights from a trip up Mount Everest just isn’t worth the danger (six people died climbing there in 2017) or the cost (US$25,000 to US$45,000).
Honduras: The murder rate in Honduras has dropped in the last several years but it’s still among the deadliest places on earth. Fodor’s says travellers should stay safe and spend their money elsewhere.
Cuba: Americans are still permitted to visit Cuba, but new rules from the Trump administration are complicated and the mysterious illness reported among American embassy workers in Havana is worrisome. Fodor’s urges caution.
The places that don’t want you to visit: Too many tourists in places like Venice and Amsterdam have resulted in a local backlash against visitors. Fodor’s says travellers should just stay away.