Get Out: The Unfriendliest Cities in the World

For every five-star review of a travel destination on TripAdvisor, there’s the opposite. The reasons range from locations that look better in pictures to over-populated city centers filled with scam artists and hucksters to over-priced meals served with a side order of attitude.

I know, I know. It’s hard not to sound like an entitled Westerner, traveling on vacation with a short fuse and no time to appreciate a culture different from my own. I think it’s very important to note that every traveler is different and therefore, finds joy in different things. Over-crowded for one may excite those hoping to get lost in the anonymity of it all.

I do think with the endless barrage of paid-for travel blogs and high-gloss tourism campaigns, it’s important to highlight some negatives. If only to prepare yourself for what’s in store. And if you think all travel destinations are happy to accommodate SLR-toting tourists, you probably haven’t done much traveling.

So, without further adieu, it’s time to venture off-resort, into some of the unfriendliest cities in the whole wide world.

Frankfurt, Germany

Frankfurt, the fifth-largest city in Germany, has a reputation for being culturally and ethnically diverse.

Despite all of that, Frankfurt has a reputation for housing one of the worst airports in the entire world. So bad in fact, that Frankfurt’s main airport earned itself a three out of 10 (based on 441 customer reviews) on SkyTrax. The most prominent complaints include rude and unhelpful staff, broken toilettes, frequent delays, and exceptionally long lines.

Beijing, China

Beijing is one of the hottest tourist destinations. China’s capital city boasts countless historic landmarks, various art districts, and curious foodstuffs. There’s a lot to take in, no doubt.

If you’re a western tourist, however, there are quite a few negatives that you may have to emotionally prepare yourself for. With a population breaking the 20-million mark, expect to have to battle it out for sidewalk space. Overpopulation also means pollution. Though the city’s air quality has improved dramatically, it isn’t West Virginia.

Baltimore, Maryland

Coming in at number eight on Travel and Leisure’s list of “the world’s unfriendliest cities” is Baltimore, Maryland. Not even popular tourist destinations, like the Maritime Museum and Patapsco Valley State Park, could save Baltimore’s troubling reputation.

What reputation is that? Despite Baltimore’s “Charm City” moniker, it’s still one of the most dangerous cities in the U.S. Baltimore is home to drugs, rampant poverty, and shockingly high rates of violent crime.

New York City, New York

The city that never sleeps is a must-see for any adventure-ready traveler. But, an abundance of attractions doesn’t make the city any less unfriendly.

Ranked as number six on the unfriendliest cities in the world list, the Big Apple has a reputation for unhelpful locals, overcrowded streets and roads, and price tags that would make anyone clutch their pearls.

Still, though, the tourists come in droves. NYC tourism hit record highs in 2017 and I wouldn’t expect that to slow down any time soon.

St. Petersburg, Russia

The same survey that called New York overpopulated and Baltimore crime-ridden accused St. Petersburg locals of being cold and unhelpful. In fact, even the travel process is a touch more convoluted than it is in most modern cities.

If you’re hoping to travel anywhere in Russia, not only will you need a flight and a place to stay, but you must apply for a tourist visa ahead of time. And sure, some of the locals may be hard and unhelpful, but you could certainly chalk that up to a culture.

The Guardian sent a reporter there and she had a great time. So, if you’re hoping to see St. Petersburg, don’t change your plans just yet.

Monte Carlo, Monaco

Monte Carlo, situated along the French Riviera, is a hotspot for Formula One racing, gambling, and five-star hotels. Although you are sure to have a great time exploring the city and rubbing elbows with the world’s elite, don’t expect a warm welcome.

Monte Carlo is expensive by design, which makes experiencing the city on a budget incredibly difficult. Monte Carlo also attracts some of the wealthiest vacationers and locals from all over the world. As such, it has a reputation for being snotty and elitist.

Caracas, Venezuela

Caracas is Venezuela’s largest city. So, you’d expect that it would attract a large number of tourists year over year. Unfortunately for the local hotel economy, the city is in a bad way.

For starters, the cities infrastructure is shoddy at best. Comically large potholes — referred to locally as “mega holes” — underserved ferry service, and an alarming number of airline emergencies.

The city also has an international reputation for high violent crime rates, corrupt law enforcement, kidnappings, and identity theft. It’s enough to cause even a seasoned world traveler to hesitate.

Detroit, Michigan

Newscasters can rarely go a day without reporting on something bad, strange, or ugly going on in the Motor City. Detroit has had a few bad bounces over the years. Beginning with the rapidly declining local auto industry, continuing with a sky-high crime rate, and hopefully ending with bankruptcy.

Though Detroit has a long way to go to get better, it’s still got plenty to offer. A vibrant music scene, great restaurants, and an abundance of entertainment. Crime is still an issue, yet the Motor City continues to roll.

Here’s hoping that the city makes a full recovery.

Prague, Czech Republic

The Czech capital has a reputation for its rich history, awe-inspiring architecture… and rude locals? It certainly appears that way.

Word on the street is that the vendors, cab drivers, hotel staff, and locals are rude on average. Poor service, an abundance of street-level scams, and cab drivers that insist on inflated prices. It’s a bummer, really. But it’s part of the city’s culture, I suppose.

Go to experience the sights, sounds, and taste of the city. Just don’t expect a warm welcome, great customer service, or thanks for stopping by.

Miami, Florida

Miami has long been regarded as a modern paradise. Sandy beaches, warm weather, a vibrant culture, and leagues upon leagues of very pretty people. But, like most things, all is not as it seems.

In reality, Miami has an unflattering reputation for being one of the rudest cities in America. An obnoxious party culture, snobby locals, expensive price tags, and the oppressive heat all contribute to the city’s international avatar.

But hey, a couple of Jager bombs can make just about anything seem perfect.

Hanoi, Vietnam

The capital city of Vietnam, Hanoi is made up of roughly eight million people. And, if you pay attention to the bloggers on the interwebs, each and every one of them is rude and ungrateful.

Blog after blog after blog after blog. They all describe the same sentiment: Hanoi — and Vietnam in general — is decidedly not tourist-friendly. Why? The secret to Hanoi’s one-star reputation is the seemingly endless array of scam artists and hucksters. Overcharging for goods and services, vendors refusing to return the correct change, aggressive sellers… the list goes on.

It’s safe to say that if you’re hoping to hit up Hanoi, you should expect to be on high alert.

Las Vegas, Nevada

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Or so they say. The only thing that doesn’t stay in Vegas is any semblance of civility.

I know that may sound harsh, but we’re talking about a city specifically designed to send you home shirtless and broke. The casinos are pumped with oxygen to keep you alert and flush with alcohol to do away with your inhibitions. Heck, they don’t have clocks or windows because those may prevent you from staying.

Want to step outside of the casino and go for a stroll down the strip? Expect to be bombarded by pornography hocking locals, aggressive show promoters, drug dealers, and anyone else looking to make a quick buck. It’s exhausting and, for better or worse, all part of the Vegas experience.

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