In 2010 don’t go for the obvious. Choose some alternatives to the most visited, most wanted and hell crowded destinations, and head for the places where you won’t get tangled up in the commercialized tourist web. Check out which five places should absolutely be avoided in 2010, and where to go instead.
5. Angkor Wat. Cambodia.
Exploring Angkor Wat, the historical Khmer ruins in Cambodia, is a must for every backpacker and tourist traveling around South East Asia. As a result, the site is becoming more of a tourist trap than a gem to discover. 2 million visitors head for Cambodia every year, of which more than half stop at Angkor Wat. After the 2009 recession that brought a considerable decline in tourist numbers (it was actually the best time to go…if you were able to afford it), 2010 is again brining an increase in tourist arrivals to South-East Asia.
Instead of Angkor Wat, go and see the unexplored sites of nearby Myanmar, which boasts 2,000 ancient ruins such as Ananda Temple built in 1105! Another less-traveled and less-crowded Khmer ruins can be found in northeastern Thailand – the latter site has been chosen one of the 2010 alternatives to well-worn tourist tracks by Wanderlust Magazine.
4. Prague. The Czech Republic.
It is a charming city, but hordes of tourists and stag weekenders have been gradually and quite successfully killing the magic of the town. Today, the historical capital of the Czech Republic is considered overrated, commercialized and tacky. While visiting the town, you have no choice but to be packed in among other tourists, fiercely photographing every corner of the town.
To cap it all, since the introduction of the euro in neighboring Slovakia the prices of many goods, accommodation and tourist attractions went up on the Slovak market in 2009. Due to the growing purchasing power of the Slovaks the number of Slovakian tourists coming to Prague and the Czech Republic has increased significantly. Also, a staggering number of international visitors tends to choose cheap Czech Republic over the euro-zone countries. The Czechs plan to introduce the euro in 2012. It’s true that Prague might become more expensive, but at least there is a chance the crowd will be smaller.
3. Shanghai. China.
If you are planning a trip to China in 2010, avoid visiting Shanghai if it’s possible. With its population of 20 million residents, this huge metropolis already has enough people to make you feel squeezed like sardines in a can. Add to it at least 70 million people that are expected to visit Shanghai between May and October 2010 to see the World Expo – this year the city will be absolutely bursting at the seams and the public transportation and tourist infrastructure might not be able to handle such large numbers of people.
Unless you plan to visit the Expo, better head for Beijing in 2010. The capital is not as tacky as Shanghai and has a lot more interesting historical sites to see.
2. Peru and Machu Picchu.
Of course Peru is an amazing and beautiful country, but the days when the nation would boast of unbeaten tracks, wild nature and unspoiled destinations are gone for good. With such tourist magnets as Machu Picchu or the historical town of Cusco, Peru is on the spotlight, with a number of visitors growing by around 10% year by year (according to UNWTO’s data).
Moreover, from April 2010 the Machu Picchu trail will be reopened after heavy rains that occurred at the beginning of the year, probably causing a massive return of tourists who were forced to withhold their trip to the site. With over 2,500 tourists visiting the Inca ruins every day, the site is more than crowded.
1. South Africa.
It goes without saying that unless you are a soccer fan, traveling to South Africa in 2010 means lacking any common sense. While the country is nervously preparing for the world’s biggest football event – World Cup 2010, you better stay away from it for a while. South Africa expects to see 3 million visitors during the event, but these are very restrained estimates. The country’s public transport, telecommunications, tourism and sporting infrastructure will be at the football fans beck and call, so there might be a serious shortage of services left for other travelers. And, of course, the prices will go up to ensure as much money stays in during FIFA as possible. Better head for South Africa in the following years – the impressive infrastructure built for the World Cup will still be there, but fewer people and lower prices are guaranteed.
For some time any other African tourist destination would be a better option than South Africa.