Walking around Chinatown in New York City can be overwhelming with vendors calling out to everyone who passes by, while hundreds of tourists are corralled down the sidewalk to purchase their “I Love New York” t-shirts.
Being treated like cattle where the locals see you as nothing more than dollar signs is not how one should spend their vacation.
But while all these tourist hot spots are being flooded with fanny-packs and selfie-sticks, there are some destinations ready to give you a sincere welcome and unforgettable memories.
Overtourism is a serious concern among some of the most popular getaway spots like France, Amsterdam, and Spain.
National Geographic reports on some heavy-hitters in the tourist industry and their plans to limit high traffic:
“This year, destinations are putting the brakes on overtourism like never before: Venice announced plans to charge for entry, Bruges capped cruise ship numbers at two per day, and Paris declared intentions to ban tourist buses from the city center.”
In response, countless tourists are making the switch to more remote areas of the world to enjoy a moment that isn’t elbow-to-elbow with a stranger.
Places like Lisbon are becoming increasingly popular over their Iberian Peninsula neighbor after Spain began discouraging tourists from planning their summer vacations in the Gothic quarter or the olive-laden town of Seville.
But couldn’t these less-visited vacation hubs just become the next trampled-on destination, begging for the days before every nook and cranny was posted on Instagram?
Justin Francis, CEO of Responsible Travel, sure thinks so!
He states, according to National Geographic:
“Places marketing themselves as ‘undertouristed’ will be the overtourism disaster zones of the future unless they adopt more responsible approaches to tourism planning.”
So don’t hop on the bandwagon just yet.
Check out some these alluring corners of the world instead. They offer the same essence as your favorite hot spots, but with alot less selfies.
Have you dreamed of scaling the Andes Mountains to catch a glimpse of the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu?
Well, so have thousands of other people. Machu Picchu is one of the most famous ancient ruins in the world, receiving around 5,000 visitors a day until they recently capped it off to 2,500 tourists a day.
But this doesn’t mean you have to make a new life goal entirely. Just change which ancient site you go see—you’ll get all the same history with none of the waiting.
Kuelap is an ancient settlement in the south Amazonas of Peru on top of a mountain. Its beauty and intricacy is parallel to that of Machu Picchu, but surpasses it in architecture.
There are 400 stone houses at the site. The hike is a doozy, but don’t be discouraged if you haven’t been training for the past year because you can reach Kuelap through the newly built cable car.
Comparable to Venice with its quaint Italian charm, Trieste has far less visitors while offering even more lure.
Take a brief train ride from Venice away from the crowds to a truly more romantic destination full of possibility.
Trieste is a port city which lies between the Adriatic coast and the Slovenia border, giving the small city a rich cultural influence.
Get all the food and wine you’ve grown to love from Italy, but branch out and try some new flavors that you’ve not had the privilege of experiencing yet.
Kep Province, Cambodia
Cambodia is a highly-traveled country with numbers only expected to rise. According to the Khmer Times, Cambodia is the third most visited nation in the ASEAN.
Most of these people are flocking to areas like Phuket for its beaches, seafood, and hospitality.
However, if you can forgo being waited on hand and foot, Kep offers all the same vacation highlights and is a well-kept secret among the locals.
With the jungle behind you, the beach in front of you, and all the local seafood you can ever wish for, you will definitely not miss the other tourist traps!
We’ve discussed how Lisbon is advertising itself as an ‘undertouristed’ destination perfect for the bored traveler.
But all the hype could make Lisbon the next Barcelona, so try the small city of Guimarães instead.
Equipped with castles and gilded churches, this home to the first Portuguese king, Afonso I, is a perfect place to bask in the grandeur of architecture and the simplicity of the culture.
Bruges may be more frequented, but Brussels has more heart. The Belgium capital has medieval architecture, authentic cuisine, craft brews, and most importantly – chocolate.
Being less touristy, the city is hustling and bustling with locals going about their day – and not trying to scam you for a buck at every corner.
Check out The Art and History Museum or experience a hothouse. Whatever you decide to do, it will be among breathtaking buildings that are sure to never disappoint.
It may not be as glorious to tell your friends you visited a city no one has ever heard of, but the memories and pictures will speak for themselves.
These destinations may not be on a top 10 list, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less intoxicating.
Please let us know in the comments section if you’ve been to any of these destinations, or if you’ve become tired of the overcrowded hot spots.