5 Bloggers Share Their Most Underwhelming Travel Destination

Nha Trang in Vietnam

We’ve all been on a trip (or several) that has been a total disappointment. This week, I’m sharing a collection of stories from five bloggers (myself included) on our most underwhelming travel destinations.

Anna from Slightlyastray.com

I like most places I visit. Of course, some places are love at first sight, and some need a bit of time to grow on me, but I can appreciate that every place has a unique culture, history, architecture, and food. I can find something to amaze and inspire me anywhere.

That said, there is one city that stands out in my mind that I truly wish I loved. Maybe I just didn’t understand it enough or didn’t have the right experiences. I’m not sure. But this is a city that almost everyone loves immediately. And yet, after one week of exploring it, I still couldn’t come around to it. No more suspense – I’m talking about Berlin (sorry Andrea, I know you love it too!).

View over the city from the Berliner Dome

In my week in Berlin, I did the touristy stuff like Berliner Dome and Museum Island. I visited the historical sites like Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, East Side Gallery, and the Holocaust Memorial. I ate the food (and seriously people, currywurst is NOT good!), explored the markets, and spent hours people watching. But I could not find the Berlin that everyone else seems to so passionately love.

Don’t get me wrong – I appreciate the significant, devastating history of the city. I admire it for being a city that has done a good job in moving forward and acknowledging its role in recent history. But it didn’t inspire me the way I had hoped for. I can’t really put my finger on why.

I know Berlin is beloved for its history, diversity, alternative lifestyle, and crazy nightlife. Perhaps too many people have hyped it up way too much and my expectations were sky-high. Or perhaps I just didn’t spend long enough to get to know it. Either way, I’d love to give it a second chance someday.

Going for the moody look at East Side Gallery

So you tell me… what did I miss? Why do you love Berlin?

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Candice from Freecandie.com

I can usually find a redeeming quality about any place I visit, but I’ll be happy if I never see Waikiki or Honolulu again. I had such a good time in Hawaii otherwise, but Waikiki – the major tourism hub on Oahu island – was a big letdown.

The tourists were outrageously disrespectful, first of all. I remember hiking the hill to Diamond Head, and being stunned by how many people were wandering into the ‘do not enter’ zones. A lot of these places are designated sacred grounds belonging to the Hawaiian people, so they deserve respect.

Secondly, it was hard to find shops or restaurants that weren’t chains. I set out one evening with the sole purpose of finding a local place to eat…and I wandered for hours. I ended up at Chili’s.

Everything just seemed hell bent on consumerism. Even the beaches were disappointing – they paled in comparison to the other Hawaiian beaches I had visited throughout my three-week trip.

Finally, two of my cameras were stolen the day before I was flying out. I lost half of my photography because I hadn’t had a chance to back it up.

On the other hand, I did meet up with another blogger friend in Honolulu, and spent a few days with her. We had a blast together, and we headed out of the city for First Friday celebrations in Chinatown (a big party at the beginning of every month). And once I got away from the city – especially on the North Shore -I started loving things a whole lot more. But Waikiki? Never again.


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Dan from Danflyingsolo.com

Maybe I did it wrong, maybe I came at the wrong time of year, maybe I had just hyped it up too much but… Dubrovnik, you failed me!

I, like most people who come to Dubrovnik, was beyond excited. It was my starting point for a trip with no plans other than to get my tent and I to Slovenia for a flight home ten days later. I arrived in the city from the airport and I knew instantly it was a mistake.

It was August, it was hot as hell and it was a Saturday. The imposing old walls were so back to back with people that I couldn’t bring myself to join the thronging queues to walk the ramparts. I tried to mill around and soak up the old town vibe, but all I took away was aggressive tourist crap sellers and a lot of being bumped into. Deflated, I grabbed a coffee and found a peaceful spot at the end of a pier, admiring the beauty of this historic city without getting smacked around by a selfie stick.

Recently, I got the chance to drive through Dubrovnik again as part of my Bosnia & Herzegovina road trip. From afar, I can’t deny its beauty. Those rooftops, old walls and crystal blues should be my idea of perfection, but in the middle of the July sunshine it looked like an ant camp. I could see people slowly walking around like they were in a chain. I was so glad to have decided to skip it after spending the last week surrounded by nature.

I’m not really sure what options there are in order for this incredible city to keep not just its beauty, but also keep functioning year round. Perhaps it needs to introduce a ticket system in the peak of summer like Cinque Terre is considering. Whatever the solution is, there is one thing I am sure of: next time I will visit in the off season and I do hope I get the magical Croatian experience I missed last time. I would suggest if you are considering a trip that you skip the height of summer, too!

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Michael from theunexamined.life

Not many people want to go on record saying that they straight up don’t like a city, but I don’t share their concerns.

I absolutely did not like Manila!

After traveling around Southeast Asia for five months at that point, I thought I had a general sense what to expect upon arrival. In reality, though, I had no idea.

I flew from Singapore to Manila (funny story, I showed up to the airport one day after my scheduled flight, so I had to buy another ticket. When traveling you have no sense of time – that’s my story and I’m sticking to it).

Makati City

I landed around 11 pm, and ran through the usual procedure of going through customs, buying a sim card, and finding transportation. I hopped into a cab and took the long ride to the hostel.

I stayed in Manila for four (long) days, and the general impression that I got was just chaos. I have been to other developing cities like Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City, but those cities have some sense of order, as crazy as that sounds.

Manila on the other hand is excruciatingly dysfunctional.

There is no mass transit systems like in Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur. The same could be said of HCMC, but the difference is that if you stay in central HCMC, you can walk everywhere you want to go (when I was there, Uber was not available, but now that’s changed and maybe that’s made the situation a little better).

So you’re forced to take a cab, or brave the Jeepney, which are colourful pick-up trucks (privately owned) that cram a lot of people in and operate like city buses. The problem is, there is no way for a foreigner to know where these things go. There is no map, and the drivers, usually older gentleman, don’t speak English. Even if they did, their general demeanour is “get in or get out the way.”

My biggest misadventure came on my last day in Manila. I had a flight at 6 pm that day, but there was a big political meeting in town (ASEAN, or something like that), so I decided to leave at 1 pm, just to be sure.

Thankfully I did, because the cab didn’t even make it to the airport. We came to a dead stop around half a mile away from the airport. Usually that wouldn’t be a problem, but there was a tonne of construction going on around the area.

To walk around it would have meant walking at least another half mile out of the way, which I would have done had I not seen this Korean couple trying to sneak through the construction zone (nobody was there). I did the only sensible thing at that point and I followed them into it.

I quickly learned that they didn’t speak English (I obviously don’t speak Korean), and so there the three of us were, sneaking through a construction zone, without being able to communicate.

I decided to stick with them for two reasons:

  1. We had to jump a few fences, and so I didn’t want to just toss my bags over, and possibly break something (aka teamwork).
  2. If someone would have tried to stop us, I’m pretty sure I could have outrun them both (aka every man for himself).

After a couple of jumped fences, and one highway precariously traversed, we arrive at our destination. A round of high fives ensued, but I quickly learnt that our timing was premature.

All flights had been delayed: theirs by two hours, mine by six.

The sad part is, the Philippines may have been my favourite country in the region – it has the friendliest people and the most beautiful beaches you’ve ever seen – but I absolutely did not like Manila.

The Philippines that I love – Siquijor Island

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Back when I was backpacking through Southeast Asia, I was fortunate to spend many months in Vietnam. I absolutely love the country and I frequently think of how much I miss it – especially the food and the beautiful town of Hoi An, which is one of my favourite places in the world.

Nha Trang, though? I’d never go back there.

The guidebooks bill it as a stunning beach resort. When I first arrived there, I was so happy to see the sea and couldn’t wait to spend some time there. I had booked one week in a serviced apartment, but once I saw how nice my accommodation was, I stupidly extended my stay to two weeks without having even seen the town. I honestly thought from what I read that it was my kind of place, so it seemed like a no-brainer to stay longer, enjoy the beach and catch up on some work.

The longer I stayed, the more I realised that I really didn’t like it there, though.

Po Nagar temple was one of Nha Trang’s redeeming features…but it’s not even in the city

First of all, it can be incredibly seedy. Every night when I was walking back to my apartment, random guys would ask me if I wanted cocaine and marijuana. I had never been asked this question anywhere else in the country. And the answer is bloody no.

Secondly, the city mainly caters to Russian tourists and is ridiculously touristy. Every other restaurant serves some form of Russian food, which is absolutely fine, but this is what I imagine places that cater to Brits on package holidays to be like. Trying dishes from different regions of a country is one of the joys of travelling, so I am always disappointed when I come across places like this.

Thirdly, the beach really wasn’t anything special.

Traditional Cham dance at the Po Nagar temple

Last, but not least, the locals were quite cold. After Nha Trang, I went back to Hoi An and remembered why I love that place so much. Not only is it ridiculously pretty and relaxed, the locals are lovely and welcoming.

So I’d never bother returning Nha Trang, but that’s okay – there are so many places that I want to return to that it’s actually good to come across ones that I intensely dislike once in a while!

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What was your most underwhelming travel destination and why?

  • Michael

    I also thought Nha Trang was pretty underwhelming. I was so confused about the Russian part though, I literally had not idea that Nha Trang was to the Russians, as the Caribbean is to Americans. Luckily for me though, I was there for three days, and not two weeks 😀

    • Andrea

      Haha, me neither! It was only when I started exploring that I realised. I was not expecting it to be so popular with Russian tourists. And yeah, I was SO happy to leave when my two weeks were up…Hoi An is so much nicer 🙂

  • Welp, me and Anna can’t be friends anymore, seeing as how Berlin is my fave city ever! Hahaha. Just kidding. If you ever come back, I’d love to show you around.

    I also didn’t love Dubrovnik. Split was way more my style.

    • Andrea

      Haha I said the same thing to her 🙂 I bloody love Berlin.

  • I agree with Anna, I found Berlin drab – I just didn’t get what the fuss is about. I did of course also find the history interesting but that was about it. I also didn’t like Manila and I only started liking Honolulu after going to more local areas and quieter parts of Waikiki on the third time I visited. I liked Dubrovnik but agree the sheer amount of tourists can be overwhelming! overwhelming

    • Thank you! Another person who just didn’t get the huge deal about Berlin!

    • The city is indeed drab, but to me, that’s part of the appeal. I found I didn’t start loving it until a few months in. 🙂

  • I can’t believe a place like Nha Trang exists in Vietnam. Openly offering drugs?? Wow. And so weird that all the restaurants are Russian.

    I was in Honolulu/Waikiki on vacation for a week, and I had a great time! I agree that Waikiki beach sucked and it was just crammed full with tourists, but it’s not that hard to go to the quieter beaches! And I found some good food to eat walking distance too.

    • Andrea

      Yeah, it was disturbing. I hated it there by the end of the two weeks. Such an odd vibe.

  • I’m with Dan – Dubrovnik was kinda terrible. So hot and SOOO expensive (totally not Eastern Europe or Balkans prices), and if you’re not a Game of Thrones super fan, then so much stuff will just be lost on you! But yeah, it’s beautiful. Annnd, so glad we chose to skip Nha Trang – we’d heard all that same negative stuff as we made our way south through Vietnam.

    • Andrea

      Yeah, you did the right thing to totally avoid Nha Trang!

  • I’m one of those people who tends to go to relatively non-touristy destinations anyway, so my expectations are always that much lower. Sometimes some places don’t even meet my baseline – Wat Phu Champasak in southern Laos is touted as a huge temple and complex but it’s merely a series of vague ruins in a wood, nothing really more exciting than that. Nice, but probably not worth the hassle to get there – save your temple-gawking for Cambodia!

    Some places underwhelm because nearby are similar places that do things so much nicer/better -> I was disappointed with the entire country of Togo because not only did Benin and Ghana have similar attractions that were much more accessible and, generally, ‘better’, I also found the people were friendlier.

    In terms of touristy travel destinations, I’m going to come out and say something rather controversial. London. Always overhyped, always touted as a ‘must see’ destination, but really it’s just an overpriced, overcrowded, unfriendly, overtouristy to a detriment, fairly ugly place, and there’s far more interesting and cultural places far beyond its borders! (ditto Paris, btw!).

    Dislaimer: I’m Northern British. I may be biased … 😉

  • Jennifer

    I was lucky to do Dubrovnik in March. It was cold and windy (even rainy!), but it was relatively empty, so that was great. I personally prefer visiting popular places like Dubrovnik or Venice off-season since you get to escape the crowds there.

  • Two Small Potatoes

    I’m not usually a city person so I expected to hate Berlin, but after one day there, I fell in love with its gritty quirkiness. Anna is so right though about not liking a place and not being able to quite put your finger on it. Nothing about Venice appealed to me, which really seems to freak people out when I admit it, and I was pretty disappointed in Cinque Terre, mostly because of the crowds. We spent a couple of days after that hiking and kayaking the Amalfi Coast and loved it! Even more stunning views and far fewer people.

  • Andrew and Karen Strikis

    Very interesting! We were the complete reverse on Vietnam, with Nha Trang being one of the surprising highlights (and we HATE touristy!) while Hoi An was a big disappointment (massively touristy and really uninspiring). Mind you, two weeks would have been pushing it massively in Nha Trang!

    We did love the beach at Hoi An though, as it was a great escape 😀 Just goes to show how different we all are!

    If you’re interested, this is our perspective on Nha Trang… 🙂 https://forkandfoot.com/things-to-do-in-nha-trang/