Places You Shouldn’t Visit in 2020
There are plenty of "Best of" travel lists out there filled with suggestions for relaxing on tropical beaches or touring some of the world’s most famous sites. However, before you book your next flight, you should know which world-famous destinations are better left unexplored.
Whether they are overhyped, dangerous, unwelcoming or simply too expensive, these destinations earned spots on our list of top places you shouldn’t visit in 2020. Read on to learn how your next trip stacks up.
Mount Everest, Himalayas, Nepal (Southeast Ridge Route)
There’s almost nothing more annoying than waiting in line. What could make it worse? Waiting in a line of 200 people while your oxygen supply thins. Believe it or not, this has become a reality for many Nepal-bound climbers, thanks to the growing commercialization of Mount Everest.
New Delhi, India
New Delhi, an urban district in Delhi, boasts some of India’s most beautiful historic sites and museums. However, a joint study conducted by Greenpeace and IQ AirVisual named New Delhi the most polluted capital city in the world in 2018.
Niagara Falls, Niagara, Canada
To be fair, Niagara Falls is definitely worth the stop — as long as you have another final destination in mind. The 188-foot cascade of water is jaw-dropping, easily landing the falls a spot on the greatest natural wonders of the world list. But the town of Niagara? Not so much.
All press is good press — until that press goes too well. Although the Netherlands’ beautiful, canal-filled city of Amsterdam garners about $91.5 billion a year through tourism, the city and its residents feel more overwhelmed than grateful.
Koh Tachai (or Tachai Island), Thailand
Like most Thai marine parks, Koh Tachai, an island in Similan National Park, is closed every May through October for monsoon season. But in 2016, the park didn’t reopen. The beautiful beaches had been overrun with 14 times the number of people experts said the beaches should hold.
Although New Delhi, India, has surpassed Beijing in terms of poor air quality, that doesn’t mean the Chinese capital now has fresh air. In 2016, Beijing announced its first red alert for smog. Since then, the city has more actively addressed its infamous pollution problem.
Reader’s Digest named Madagascar one of the most dangerous travel destinations in the world, citing the country’s crime rate. Unfortunately, the people of Madagascar are suffering due to high rates of unemployment, which has led to an increase in crimes, such as robbery, highway carjacking and mugging.
Los Cabos, Mexico
Comprised of the tourist towns Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, Los Cabos was the most dangerous city in the world in 2017, according to USA Today. With 365 homicides reported in 2017, Los Cabos jumped from not making the list — with a relatively low 61 reported homicides in 2016 — to topping it.
Ibiza is known as one of the Mediterranean’s hottest party islands. Like any good hotspot, it offers a multitude of beach clubs and nightclubs. In 2007, the local government even passed a law requiring all hotels to be five-star institutions.
A Travel + Leisure poll found Moscow to be the unfriendliest city in the world. Atlantic City, Los Angeles and New York City ranked just below Moscow, so if you’re local to one of those cities, maybe you’ll have a thick enough skin to visit anyway.
After the Arab Spring, many tourism companies suspended operations in Egypt, causing the amount of travelers to dip between 2012 and 2015. Today, as tourism regains a foothold in the area, popular sites, such as the nearby Great Pyramid of Giza, are surrounded by metal detectors and bag checks.
Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Known as Africa’s oldest national park, Virunga has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site for good reason. The landscape encompasses snow-capped mountains, vast expanses of savannah and lush tropical forests that are home to mountain gorillas, African bush elephants and lions.
After decades of isolation, Cuba saw the opening of a U.S. embassy in Havana for the first time in about half a century. Although President Barack Obama thawed the United States’ relationship with Cuba, the tourism boom that followed may not have been in the island’s best interests.
Thanks to its natural oil reserves, Venezuela was once one of the wealthiest countries in South America — until corruption and strife took hold. Despite the unrest and high crime rate, Venezuela is trying to usher visitors to its beautiful beaches.
Although the readers of Condé Nast Traveler consistently vote Italy the best country to visit, it’s important for tourists to remember that there’s more to the Mediterranean nation than Venice, the birthplace of overtourism.
With unparalleled natural beauty, Myanmar has been touted by the likes of Fodor’s and Lonely Planet as a prime vacation destination. However, the country has been plagued with a number of human rights violations, from the Burmese Army’s use of child soldiers to human trafficking and slavery.
The Galápagos Islands are home to flora and fauna that can’t be found anywhere else on Earth. Sound like a must-see travel destination? Think again. Centuries of isolation have made the species on the Galápagos — as well as the islands’ fragile ecosystems — very vulnerable to outside interference.
This next destination may be an obvious "no go" for most travelers, but — believe it or not — some folks need this warning to be repeated. Before Otto Warmbier’s death, The Guardian reported that an estimated 800 Americans were still visiting North Korea annually.
St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Sure, "Meet me in St. Louis" has a nice ring to it, but the Gateway to the West isn’t necessarily the place to be right now. Home to renowned museums and beloved sports teams, St. Louis has also been dubbed one of the most dangerous cities in the country.
Machu Picchu, Andes Mountains, Peru
Machu Picchu, Peru’s most well-known Inca citadel, is one of those destinations everyone puts on their bucket list. Unfortunately, this wonder of the ancient world wasn’t built to sustain the more than 1.2 million tourists that trek to the archeological site annually.
Boracay is known for having some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. But those beaches were closed to tourists in 2018 by the president of the Philippines. According to Fodor’s, an estimated 1.7 million travelers visited the island within a 10-month period, raising major infrastructure concerns.
Rapa Nui (or Easter Island), Off the Coast of Chile
Rapa Nui — often known to Westerners as Easter Island — is facing the preservation issues that accompany overtourism. The island tops many bucket lists, thanks to its famed stone sculptures, or moai. The purpose and origin of the 887 stone figures remain a mystery.
Honduras is known for offering some of the best diving spots in the world — filled with beautiful coral reefs and unique creatures like manatees and whale sharks. However, this natural beauty is marred by Honduras’ crime rate.
Turkey is in the midst of rebuilding its tourism industry, but as recently as 2016, political violence led to 300 people killed in the streets of Istanbul during an attempted coup. A national state of emergency lasted two years and led to upwards of 50,000 arrests.
Montego Bay, Jamaica
Jamaica is known for serving up quality rum and all-inclusive resorts. Unfortunately, tourists who travel to Montego Bay will most likely be confined to sipping drinks in their resort of choice due to the high crime rates and the city’s recent increase in homicides.
Although it joined UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites back in 1979, Dubrovnik only recently emerged as one of the Mediterranean’s top tourist destinations. Unfortunately, according to Fodor’s, locals claim the Old City’s historic cathedrals, fortresses and buildings have swelled with Disneyland-level crowds.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
In 2016, Rio de Janeiro hosted the Summer Olympics, budgeting a whopping $14.2 billion for expenses. Instead of repurposing the added infrastructure for tourism, much of what was built for the 2016 Olympics now sits abandoned. To make matters worse, in 2017, record homicide rates caused many potential tourists to reconsider their visits.
According to The Telegraph, Greece may be on the brink of an overtourism crisis — one of the few economic-adjacent crises the country has avoided in recent years. In 2018, the country hosted an unprecedented 32 million visitors, whereas back in 2010, that figure was 15 million.
Nestled between mountains and the sea, Barcelona is a must-visit for many tourists. Well, for too many tourists, perhaps. In just 16 years, the number of visitors jumped from 1.7 million in 1990 to upwards of 8 million in 2016. As one of Europe’s most densely populated cities, Barcelona simply has no room for expansion.
Komodo Island, Indonesia
Named after its famous residents, the two mile-long Komodo Island is part of the Lesser Sunda chain of Indonesian Islands. The island’s Komodo National Park is home to upwards of 4,000 of the world’s largest lizards — as well as beautiful volcanic hills, mangrove shrublands and coral reefs.
Leptis Magna, Libya
Founded by the Phoenicians in the 7th century BC, Leptis Magna was later reshaped by the Roman Empire. Located in the present day city of Khoms, just east of Tripoli, Leptis Magna is now one of the most well-preserved Roman cities left in the world, and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Plymouth, Montserrat, Leeward Islands (West Indies)
Back in 1989, Hurricane Hugo swept through the Caribbean, damaging the British Territory of Montserrat in the Leeward Islands. Less than a decade later, the territory in the West Indies — and, in particular, its capital, Plymouth — was changed irrevocably after a volcanic eruption.
Many travelers want to set foot on each of the Earth’s continents, and who could blame them? It is certainly a cool feat to check off the ol’ bucket list. But researchers and environmentalists have a real fear that tourists — especially larger groups of them — could do irreparable damage to the planet's last wilderness.