From sad as shit McDonald's burgers to bad sex with an ex, there’s a lot to be disappointed with in life (cue the disappointed fan face). So obviously, when it comes to travelling to a new place, it kinda sucks when your excitement is overshadowed by just how overrated that place can end up being sometimes.
Whether it’s shitty food, roads or vibes, we’ve all probably experienced a very disappointing getaway at some point in our lives. Now, a viral Reddit thread is here to remind us that we’re not alone.
In a thread that has more than 6,500 comments and 5,800 upvotes so far, Reddit user yu/0_7_0 asked people about the city they were most disappointed in. And people had a LOT of disappointment to share, from concerns over safety to terrible food to just places that are undeservingly hyped.
Right at the top was Atlantic City, which has time and again taken the top slot for being one of the most overrated places, especially among tourists who expected it to be an East Coast version of Las Vegas.
“Atlantic City. It's waayyy dirtier and run down than I thought it'd be,” said reddit User_492006, igniting a series of hard relates right after. “It feels like a ‘Mom can we have Disneyworld?’ ‘We have Disneyworld at home’ kind of place,” agreed AltinUrda, while another user described it as “biting into an apple only to realize it's an onion.”
Another place that users felt was just massively overrated was Marrakesh, Morocco – they called the country out for catering to the white gaze and losing all sense of authenticity in the process, they said.
“It [Marrakesh] would have been amazing before about 2000, but now it just feels like a Disneyland version of their culture to cater to western tourists. Ali Baba costumes pretending to be desert nomads,” said a user named legshampoo. “Half of their ‘handmade goods’ are just cheap shit from China. And you can’t walk 20 feet without being approached by scammers. Like, literally every block. The entire city just feels like a facade to attract dumb tourist money.”
Users were also quick to call out Niagara Falls, often called one of the greatest wonders of the world, for also becoming a tourist attraction that no longer made a visitor feel as if they were one with nature.
"I didn’t know the falls would be in a city. I thought it would be a national park. The whole place just felt like a giant shopping mall,” said user youburyitidigitup. While most users did agree with this point of view, it also sparked an interesting conversation around what led to the segregation of national parks in the U.S. “The urbanization of Niagara Falls actually inspired conservationists into lobbying for the national park system,” remarked Reddit user zneave.
Dubai was another city that came under fire for what users thought was supreme superficiality.
“Decided to spend 10 days there while passing through. Had enough of it after 24 hours. Too many f$#&!&# malls. No culture,” said user wric84. A user named mal1k7 also pointed out how Dubai was built on labour imported from neighbouring countries. “That country was built on the blood and souls of cheap labour from Pakistan, India, Sri lanka, Bangladesh,” they said.
Others also felt that Bali, once a beautiful beach paradise, has now also become an Instagram-driven tourist centre with no soul.
“Bali changed so much the last 10 years. It used to be so beautiful and amazing… now it is full of ‘digital nomad’ douchebags and overpriced food and crap,” said user HippoNo9775. “I remember when it was just a cool surf spot with cheap eats.”
Many users also had a bone to pick with Beijing, which they felt was not just an overhyped destination but also rampant with racism.
“I arrived at the end of a trans-Mongolian rail trip seeing so many incredible places and I think it was just a huge anticlimax,” said a user named Teapigs1984. “Was intimidated by the level of armed security everywhere, had to fight off so many scammers, didn't enjoy being touched and laughed at when on the subway (I'm a very white European with curly hair). Overall just found it really challenging despite some amazing sights.”
In response to their rant, another user called thisis2022 recounted his story of facing untoward stares and soft racism for being Black. ”I stepped out of a train in Beijing with my brother and everybody was staring at us like we bitchslapped [their] mums. At least 10 people didn’t even ask and just started taking pictures of me, such a fucking weird experience considering I was 14.”
In fact, racism seemed to be a recurring theme, emerging as one of the key factors that made an experience abroad unbearable.
“Every time I go to Paris, I learn how to say, 'I'm sorry I don't speak French, I am a stupid American' in French. Parisians love it,” said a user with the name nabbitnabbitnabbit, referring to a city considered as unwelcoming to foreign visitors. “Without that phrase, I'd have a miserable time in Paris."
But it wasn’t just the racism that made many travel experiences feel weird and unsafe. In some cases, users actually opened up about facing dangers on the streets of a new city.
“Got shot 5 minutes after arriving in Rio,” said a user named VerySpecialCognac, who later added an edit to clarify what exactly happened.
“After a seven-hour road trip from Sao Paulo with two friends, I nearly got carjacked at a gas station. Several shots fired, only one hit. My Brazil friend got me to a ‘backdoor doc’, stayed there the whole night and drank pitu with him. Great guy and his stories are wild.”
Another user, who went by the name Drulock, called out Myrtle Beach, a city in South Carolina, USA, for having a lot of “meth and murder” besides just being really cheesy for no reason.
This user, like many others, also felt that finding a city overridden with squalor made for the worst experience. “New Orleans,” they added. “The food was great, the music was great but the city was awful, it smelled of piss and vomit everywhere we went.”
Some felt the same way about Manila in the Philippines as well. "Traffic was horrible, and it was so dirty,” said a user named Bigjay_37. “Nice buildings, but the entire experience was stressful."
Naples was another destination that was called out for being as “sticky as a McDonald's table.”
Many also complained about how unsafe the Italian city was. “I visited Naples as a (F19) student in the late ‘80s,” recounted a user named WoodSteelStone. “As I exited the train station, two men offered me money for a pint of my blood, which they proposed would be taken in a white transit-type van nearby.” Others agreed that the city felt extremely unsafe, especially for women travellers.
Ultimately, this Reddit thread is like any other review: You don’t always have to believe them, but it helps to stay informed. The facts are not universal, of course, but crowdsourced travel wisdom has been found to be way more powerful than “expert” reviews. Of course, it also threatens to make the idea of travelling itself feel like too much of a hassle. To put it like reddit user almc0418:
“Damn this thread makes me not want to go anywhere ever lol.”