It is not a discovery that overtourism has been affecting some of the world’s destinations in dire ways. From detrimental environmental consequences to the destruction of authentic local traditions, mass tourism can be more harmful than we care to admit. Some destinations are suffering from overtourism more than others.
While traveling can be relaxing and eye-opening, we should do so responsibly. Did you want to visit one of the following six destinations? Maybe skip it for now and try the alternatives instead. You might discover something new and magical without having to deal with the crowds.
Giethoorn, the Netherlands instead of Venice, Italy
With its winding canals, beautiful architecture, and diverse artistic heritage, it’s a small wonder that Venice is at the top of many people’s travel bucket lists. Unfortunately, as the entire world flocks to this city, Venice is suffering from the consequences. So, although the local tourist board has encouraged sustainable tourism, why not give it a break?
You can still enjoy the waters and floating boats in a charming city in Giethoorn, Netherlands. This “Dutch Venice” has a stunning fairytale atmosphere that will stir you. The canal system here was once teeming with farmers transporting their harvest.
Walk (or glide) through the town’s pretty cottages, waterfront cafes and museums, and charming waterways. Try to ride only electric boats instead of gas motors, and visit during the off-seasons. You can help prevent Giethoorn from ever having to suffer from overtourism!
Choquequirao, Peru instead of Machu Picchu, Peru
Machu Picchu is the most famous destination in all of South America. While it used to be the ‘lost’ Incan citadel high in the mountains of Peru, there is little doubt that many have now ‘found’ the secrets to this place. Did you know that more than 1.5 million people visited Machu Picchu in 2018?
Well, just two days hike from Cachora, Peru, is Choquequirao. The structure here is similarly grand and impressive, yet gets only a trifle the number of tourists. You can immerse in the spectacular sixteenth-century Incan architecture without the noise and masses.
Mount Meru, Tanzania instead of Mount Everest, Nepal
One might think that the world’s tallest mountain wouldn’t be on most people’s wish list, but it is. Unfortunately, unlike other places suffering from overtourism, the massive crowds in Mount Everest can be deadly. Yes, trash is lining up the snow-covered trails, but more people, tourists, and local guides are dying.
For those who genuinely want to climb tall mountains, there are other options out there. Opt for Mount Meru in Tanzania, which is the little sister of the equally famed Mount Kilimanjaro. It’s perfect for adrenaline-seekers and adventurers. You can even spot more wildlife here, while the unblocked landscape offers the most breathtaking views.
Morotai instead of Bali, Indonesia
It’s no secret that Bali is the most well-known tropical paradise in the world. Anyone who craves year-long sunshine and an island escapade will think of Bali. But, unfortunately, this Indonesian island is overcrowded with foreign and local tourists.
Instead, try Morotai, a lesser-known gem in Indonesia. The small island used to be an Allied base during WWII but is now an incredible home to numerous diving spots. Witness the diverse underwater ecosystem and swim with sharks. Not to mention the pristine beaches where you can sunbathe and soak in the sun!
Beng Mealea instead of Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Ever since Hollywood took Tomb Raider to Angkor Wat, there has been nothing short of rowdy crowds. It is the largest religious structure in the world, and the size of this place is unequaled. Yet, the Buddhist ruins are sinking under the pressure of mass tourism.
There are many temple complexes across Cambodia, but Beng Mealea comes close to Angkor Wat in terms of beauty and history. This 12th-century Hindu complex lies just over an hour’s drive from Siem Reap. Unfortunately, archaeologists haven’t restored most of the sites, but the ruins are still very much intact!
Koh Yao Noi instead of Koh Phi Phi, Thailand
After The Beach (2000) with Leonardo DiCaprio featured the beach, Ko Phi Phi in Thailand has 5,000 tourists every day. As a result, the once-pristine beach has turned into an overcrowded piece of land that just happens to be by the sea. Overtourism has wreaked its havoc, and now the government has temporarily shut down the area to allow for natural recovery.
Meanwhile, you can try Koh Yao Noi for a glimpse of Thailand’s stunning beaches. It’s a secluded area that is a favorite among locals. The island stretches for 8 miles and is home to only 3,000 residents. With crystal-clear waters and jungle treks, you can experience the time of your life here.
When it comes down to it, the places you choose to travel to matter. We need to start being sustainable tourists and making responsible choices. So, the next time you’re planning your global trips, try to choose lesser-known destinations instead of those already crawling with too many tourists.