The world’s tourist traps and how to avoid them

What constitutes a tourist trap? Forbes Traveler’s Chris Colin argues that it’s a place that eclipses the genuine article. Postcard racks block the actual view, and prices are considerably higher than they might be a few miles (or blocks) away. They leave you drained financially, asking yourself, “Why did I do this?”

How do you spot a tourist trap? Colin suggests that anywhere a cruise ship docks is a good indicator. Also, double-decker buses tend to deposit large numbers of camera-toting tourists. Fisherman’s Wharf and sections of China’s Great Wall are good examples of tourist traps. I also think of Koh San Road in Bangkok, Thailand, a backpacker’s trap (although I love it, I’m sort of ashamed to admit) filled with bootlegged-CD stalls, bland pad thai, and restaurants showing the latest bootlegged DVD.

But you shouldn’t avoid all places overrun with tourists. Sometimes it’s a matter of wandering a bit further, or coming at a different time of year. I know the pad thai gets a lot better just a few blocks away from Koh San Road, and that the Grand Canyon is less crowded on weekdays.

Thanks to Mamabrarian on Flickr for the photo she titled “Existential Tourist Trap.”