When you travel the world something funny happens. You fall in love with the most unexpected places and the ones you think you’re going to love, are sometimes underwhelming. We’ve now got a long list of destinations we loved…and also some we hated!
We take recommendations from people all the time, that’s how we roll. We also like to keep an open mind about a destination before we go there, no matter what we may have heard beforehand.
To put this love/hate theory to the test, we asked our fellow travellers what their favourite places on the planet were…and where they would never venture to again!
Here’s what they shared with us!
Travellers Reveal Their Most Loved and Hated Destinations Around the World
Sharon | Where’s Sharon?
Loved: Riga, Latvia
We spent a week in Riga last summer and I was surprised by how much I loved it. In many ways, it is quite low key. It has a beautiful Old Town, but nothing on the scale of nearby Tallinn. It has some nice attractions, but nothing I would class as must see. It is not far from a beach town, but it doesn’t have weather that would entice me to swim. So why did I love Riga so much?
Because it felt real. It was beautiful and old without feeling touristy and recreated. The attractions are low key, but they are fun to explore. It’s also just an easy and cheap place to hang out and enjoy being in beautiful surrounds without any pressure.
Hated: Sri Lanka
We spent three weeks in Sri Lanka last year and there is much I did love about it. There are varied and interesting attractions from ancient temples on hill peaks to animal safaris. However, despite the small distances, it can be hard work getting around, especially with young kids.
My biggest complaint, however, is the food. I thought it was great for a few days then I realised everything tasted of the same burning spice and had no real flavour. I never realised how important food was to me when I travelled until then. By the end, we couldn’t wait to go as we were all so sick of the food that we could barely eat it.
Stefan and Sebastien | Nomadic Boys
One of the best places we’ve been to in our travels was Mongolia. It has one of the most incredible landscapes we’ve ever seen, particularly around the Gobi Desert. You have to take a tour (or at least hire a driver and jeep) because outside the main cities, there are no roads and it’s all land, animals and a few gers (yurts).
Our favourite was moment was watching a fiddler put the camels to sleep one evening at the family ger we camped with. He plays to them and the sound is soothing for the camels – it makes them cry and slowly puts them to sleep. This was to the backdrop of a really beautiful sunset.
Hated: Koh Tao, Thailand
One of the places we’ve not been too keen on was Koh Tao island in Thailand. We first visited Koh Tao in early 2012 and got our diving certification and totally fell in love with the island.
We returned 3 years later to get our advanced qualification and do more diving but something changed for the worse. Tourism had really mushroomed and it lost that cool backpacker feel it once had. Most of the coral was dying and the diving so underwhelming. It had turned more into a party island and the magic we had was ruined this time round. It’s however one of the cheapest places to obtain your diving qualifications due to the high number of diving schools there.
But if you want a better diving experience, we think the islands in Southwest Thailand around Koh Lanta are far better. Our most incredible diving experience to date was in the Komodo National Park in Indonesia – now THAT is mind blowing!
Silke | Happiness And Things
Hated: Ancient Olympia, Greece
You never know what you get when travelling. I have been lucky enough to have had mostly positive experiences thanks to careful planning (that’s the German in me!) but sometimes you do get disappointed.
I have to say I really didn’t enjoy Ancient Olympia that much, mainly because I lacked the imagination to fully understand what I was looking at and the scholarly guide books are no help either. To me it really is just a big field full of rubble and column fragments. On the upside you will find some lovely treasures in the attached museum.
Loved: Mdina, Malta
The best destination last year was probably Mdina in Malta, a city I had never heard of before and which proved to be just surprisingly charming and mysterious. It was just part of our day tour and I hadn’t really wasted a second thought on this last stop for the day. As it turned out Mdina is all a maze of narrow alleys and sun-baked courtyards, with a warm glow of sandstone walls, and the exotic Arab influenced architecture. To top it off, the city is located on a plateau surrounded by a deep natural moat, a view to behold when arriving by car from Valetta. Definitely a place worth visiting!
Dave Anderson | Jones Around The World
Loved: Palawan, Philippines
That Time I Fell In Love With Palawan
I remember seeing an article stating something along the lines that “Palawan was the most beautiful places in the world”. I think that is what initially sparked my interest in my backpacking trip through the Philippines. It was my top priority, and I planned two weeks to explore Coron + El Nido.
Let me make this very clear. I had very high expectations for Palawan…
And I was still completely blown away. Island hopping through this stunning archipelago is definitely one of the best travel experiences of my entire life. I met amazing people from all over the world, ate some delicious food (which the Philippines isn’t known for), and everything went perfectly smooth.
Thank you Palawan. Be back soon, I promise.
Hated: Koh Samet, Thailand
Okay…maybe HATE is a strong word. But my entire time on this Thai Island was just a huge disappointment. First off, getting to the island was much longer mission than we expected. As well, since the whole island is technically a “national park”, we had to pay a ridiculous fee just to stay here. As well, there really weren’t any affordable budget spots on the island.
My friend and I had been staying in some pretty crappy places recently, so we ended up staying at an overpriced hotel.
The whole island is separated into different areas, and it was really hard to explore. The costs for renting mopeds were ridiculously high compared to the rest of Thailand, and the “main beach” which where we stayed at wasn’t that nice.
I don’t know. Maybe I need to go back for a second chance, but too be honest — I doubt I ever will.
Koh Samet. You were a huge disappointment.
Crystal | Castaway With Crystal
Loved: Trinidad, Cuba
Everybody said to go to Trinidad, and when too many people tell me to go somewhere I instantly don’t want to go there anymore. On paper it sounded average; just a Unesco world heritage town with some done-up buildings and a lot of bars. Meh… But Trinidad was different. It had a certain magic to it with its smiling Cubans dancing on the streets with their neighbours everyday at sundown, roof top bars with views of the sunset over the sea, festivals in the main square with live music and 5c beers. I was absolutely in my element and I could have stayed for years…
Hated: Melbourne, Australia
Yes I’m from Sydney and no that’s not the reason I hated Melbourne. I actually quite liked it the first few times I flew in/out quickly and so I wanted to spend some real time there, get to know it and really get to the crux of what Melbourne’s about. After three days I was bored out of my mind. There are only so many cool cafes you can go to and pictures of graffiti you can take. Every night I was scouring info sites to try and find new things to do but I just ended up in Fitzroy every day. I started wishing I was going home sooner, something that’s NEVER happened to me before. When I finally boarded my plane out (but not before my flight was cancelled and I had to get on a later flight, gah!) I felt relieved and vowed not to head back there any time soon.
Deasha | TravelNFitness
Hate: Delhi, India
The moment I arrived in Delhi everything was overwhelming. It was one of my first travelling destinations outside of Europe so I guess I wasn’t as prepared as I could have been. From the moment I got of the plane everything seemed terrifying from the hundreds of men fighting for my attention and their cab fare, the smell of the city to the amount of cows and the resulting crap they left behind. We manned up and left the hotel after hiding for about 4 hours and were ripped off left right and centre, having never been to a third world country before we knew we had jumped into India head first. But we survived and it was an eye opening experience. If I went now with a better understanding things may be different.
Love: Koh Tao, Thailand
If you love diving, drinking, yoga, chilling out or anything in-between then Koh Tao is the island for you. It will meet you at any speed you want to go. I never made it to Koh Phangan or Koh Samui because I stayed here too long. There is a pub-crawl you can join 3 times a week (the third time is free) but if drinking isn’t your thing you can dive – I dived with Bull Sharks and it is still my most memorable dive. You can do yoga, you can hire scooters and drive around the island or you can sit and chill with a good book on the beach. I have never met anyone that didn’t love Koh Tao. They have some really good Thai food but if you are craving some English food you can even get a pretty good roast dinner. Many of the staff on the island also came and never left so if that does end up to be you you will be in good hands.
Claudia | My Adventures Across the World
I have already been to Argentina twice. And there will be a third and a fourth time, and many more. So much I love it that at some point after my first visit I even booked a one-way ticket to Buenos Aires, intending to move there and start a new life. Plans eventually changed, but my love for Argentina only increased with a second visit. What do I love about it? In one word, everything! Cities are interesting, lively, full of art and culture. The landscapes are breathtaking: from wild Patagonia to the majestic Iguazu falls, from Tierra del Fuego to the Andean peaks of the north west, at every turn Argentina won’t ever stop amazing me. Wildlife is fantastic. The people are charming (and culturally very similar to Italians, which to me is a bonus). The food is simple yet oh so tasty. Did I mention the great wines of Mendoza? Let me warn you: one trip to Argentina is never enough. It is addictive.
Hated: Bali, Indonesia
One place I am not keen to visit again any time soon is Bali. I spent a week there at the end of my very first trip to South East Asia in October 2015. I understand that this isn’t enough time to get an informed opinion, but I am all about first impressions and gut feelings. I just didn’t like Bali. I can’t understand what the big hype about it is. I found nothing romantic and poetic in the incredibly congested traffic. Most places I saw were terribly dirty and polluted and overly commercial. Nowhere I went I could escape the crowds and the scooters that zipped by, never bothered if I tried crossing the street. I found a bit more peace in Bedulu, a short drive from Ubud. But even that is not enough to make me consider a second visit in the near future.
Jon | Jon is Travelling
Loved: Barichara, Colombia
While travelling through South America I’d often get talking to people who had either visited Colombia or were soon planning to. I’d always mention Barichara as one of my favourite places and no one I talked to had been there or was planning on going there. It’s such a nice little town surrounded by beautiful countryside. The cobblestone streets and rows of white houses with terracotta roofs make it one of the most picturesque small towns in South America. There is a viewpoint above town where you can see a sweeping vista of mountains and countryside, and from there you can take an ancient path, the Camino Real, to a far tinier colonial town called Guane. If you’re travelling to Colombia make sure you don’t miss Barichara!
Hated: Hua Hin, Thailand
I’ll start this by saying that I didn’t visit Hua Hin with high expectations. My girlfriend was meeting some of her friends there and I tagged along as well, knowing full well (from research) that I probably wouldn’t like it. I was right. It’s a beach destination but the beach is average at best. The town itself isn’t a pleasant place to walk around and there didn’t seem to be much to do there. The highlight was probably going to the mall – something I never thought I’d say. Hua Hin is home to a lot of older expats and I can see the appeal. It’s a beach town in Thailand, which is close to Bangkok, has a good hospital and is geared towards older people. If you’re looking for that postcard worthy beach in Thailand, you won’t find it in Hua Hin, so be warned!
Chris | One Weird Globe
Arriving in Egypt was the only place I’ve ever been scrutinized for carrying tech (some flash drives, if memory serves). The country holding bucket-list places for many a tourist ends up charging tourists many times the price of locals to enter said places. Going inside anywhere required passing through a metal detector (and often a pat down; my wife escaped the pat downs by male security officers, which makes me question their effectiveness…). The pyramids, for all their splendour that has lasted millennia, are surrounded by camel drivers that failed to understand the word ‘no’ or ‘go away’ in their own language (‘la’ and ’emshi’, respectively). If there was a single vendor on the sands selling bottles of water, we missed them in the ~3 hours we were there… To be fair, we only saw Cairo, and of course Cairo ≠ Egypt… Still, my hairs prickled more often than I’d care to admit.
Tunisia, however, ended up being a pleasant surprise. They too had issues with security in 2015 (we went mere weeks after the unfortunate attacks at the Bardo museum), but security seemed far less annoying. Both are Muslim countries, but Tunisia ended up being far more moderate / open-minded. Tunis itself is on the edge of qualifying as a first-world city, and its French heritage means French pain is on the menu without the trademark pretentiousness. Get on the train to see a wonderful Roman coliseum that’s barely visited by foreign tourists, or take a daytrip to the UNESCO World Heritage site Carthage for Roman ruins galore.
Margherita | The Crowded Planet
Hated: Cebu, Philippines
My husband and I had wanted to visit the Philippines for years, after hearing rave reports of the country’s stunning beaches, islands and diving opportunities. However, nobody ever said they loved Filipino cities – and when we finally managed to visit the country’s last November-December, we understood why.
Our first port of call was Cebu City, the Philippines’ second biggest and capital of the island of the same name. I very rarely hate cities – despite being a nature girl at heart, I also enjoy sightseeing and exploring cities and I have a soft spot for big Asian cities like Shanghai, Bangkok and Singapore.
Yet, I hated Cebu. The city was dirty, crowded and didn’t seem to have much to offer in terms of sightseeing. Yes, there’s a church and a couple other historical sights, but besides that the main attraction is a MALL. Another reason why I didn’t like Cebu is that walking around is a nightmare – there are no footpaths and the traffic is terrible. I love exploring cities on foot so that was another letdown.
Loved: Malapascua, Philippines
The one saving grace of Cebu is that it’s a good jump-off point for some stunning natural destinations, like Malapascua Island. Malapascua is famous for its great diving – it’s perhaps the only place in the world where you can dive with thresher sharks! The island also has beautiful sunsets, beautiful beaches with crystal clear sea and a friendly, chilled out vibe, we spent six nights in Malapascua, in a rasta-themed hostel, and it was the highlight of our time in the Philippines!
Elaina | The Freedom Travellers
Loved: Amsterdam, Netherlands
When you think Amsterdam, you immediately think sex, drugs and complete debauchery. And don’t get me wrong, if this is your idea of a great holiday, then Amsterdam is the place to go!
During a six week trip to England, Victoria and I decided to take advantage of one of those budget European flights and check out this much talked about destination. Not sure what we’d find in Amsterdam, we were completely surprised with the quaint beauty this city has.
Amsterdam almost feels like a small village mixed with picturesque canals that you’d find in Venice, Italy. As soon as we arrived we fell in love, and enjoyed wandering around the little lanes, cruising around on our bikes, and eating at one of the numerous cafes that line the cobbled streets. We even enjoyed eating some of their baked goods that you can buy at one of their cafes! 😉
Hated: Koh Phi Phi, Thailand
Thailand is one of those countries that people both love and hate. And it simply boils down to the fact that it’s too popular for its own good. Millions of tourists flock to Thailand each year and unfortunately there aren’t many environmental regulations to keep the impact of tourism in check.
A destination that may be untouched this month, will be completely crammed with development the following year. So when tourists try and recreate a holiday that they had two years ago, when they go back it’s completely different.
Koh Phi Phi is a great example of this. I remember my first visit to Phi Phi around 18 years ago and it was magical. A pure tropical paradise. Now every time I go back there’s been more and more development to accommodate the sheer volume of tourists that visit.
Every time I go, the first day sucks, as I’m always reminiscing of how awesome it was previous time. However a day or so later when I get used to all the new shacks and buildings that have been erected around the island, I feel reinvigorated with it’s beauty and get to work creating new memories.
Have you ever fallen in love with a place that you weren’t too fussed about visiting in the first place? Or maybe you’ve hyped up a place in your head so much that when you got there it was a total let down?
Comment below and tell us about your LOVE/HATE travel experiences!
If you enjoyed our latest article: Travellers Reveal Their Most Loved and Hated Destinations Around the World. You should check out: Traveller’s Reveal Their Best Ever Holiday Locations.
Thanks for reading our blog! If you like what we do, connect with us on Instagram and follow our traveling adventures!
Elaina loves pandas! ??? We just got the word that we can now share our TV debut with you guys from our appearance in the Chengdu Challenge in China…stay tuned! Link coming soon so you can check it out…and laugh your asses off! ??? #Chengdu #China ??
A photo posted by Victoria & Elaina (@thefreedomtravellers) on