Backpacking and Beyond · Female Travel Hack · Hacks For Wanderlust

How To Survive Tourist Sites 101

No matter how much you consider yourself a sophisticated advance level traveler and not just a mere tourist, some places that you dread because they’ve been recognized to be “too touristy” are just plainly unmissable. Sites, landmarks, and sceneries that serves such huge importance in history or even in the modern day hype, they just happened to be non-negotiably must sees. Whether you’re checking things off your UNESCO World Heritage Sites bucket list, or simply just giving in to your guilty pleasure (such as), the most touristy of all tourist spots can be quite a challenge. Swarmed with tourists with selfie sticks, over-commercialized with overpriced food and merchandise, and filled with phony attractions, it’s hard not to ask yourself if it’s even worth it. But fret not, because, in this post, I’ve written down a list on how to properly maneuver yourself around the hundreds of sightseers and how to smartly navigate your way around the hot spots. I’ve also included some general common sense knowledge too because let’s be real, sometimes when we’re out and about, we tend to forget the most basic things of all.

1.) Go the extra mile on your research. 

-Read reviews on how people did it– whether it’s DIY, with a personal guide or with a group tour. Find out what worked for them and what didn’t. Tripadvisor gives very reliable subjective reviews. Don’t snub the idea of group tours, some happens to be way cheaper and way more convenient than going DIY.

-Read blogs to gather some tips and secrets such as hidden spots. Look at their photos and get ideas and inspiration on how to shoot yours and what angle to aim.

  Found this quiet beach away from the crowd by reading blogs

-I sometimes like to look up Instagram photos as well by using their hashtag and places feature. I usually find the most photogenic secret quiet spots from lurking around random people’s feeds.

-Brush up on your destination’s history. It doesn’t hurt knowing a thing or two. It makes appreciating it even more satisfying when you have an idea about how it came to be.

2.) Set your timing. 

-Obviously, holidays and the weekends is when it’s extremely packed.

  Waiting for the sunrise at Angkor Wat

-If you do your research right, you’ll get an idea when is the best time to go. The earlier is always better, but some places like the Angkor Wat where it’s known for the majestic sunrise, it’s impossible to catch it with less than a hundred tourists in the morning, and it’s usually more quiet and peaceful at sunset.

-Lunch time is also a good time to deal with less tourists so try to eat a heavy breakfast or have an early lunch so you can roam around freely at noon.

-Since it’s different for every place, ask locals or other travelers for advice.

3.) Do not compromise your comfort.

-Wear comfortable clothes. Remember that your comfort can highly affect how your day will be. You don’t want to waste your time because you can’t climb up the hill where it has the best view just because you’re wearing the wrong shoes.

-The weather can also affect your mood and disposition so plan your outfit right to make the most of the day.

-Have some blister bandaid gels (or any bandaid) ready for emergencies.

4.) Navigate yourself away from big groups.

  Sunrise selfie fail in Sagada

-Unless you’re in one, you do not want to be stuck next to them. Not they they intend to hog and linger in a spot for too long, but they come in a package so expect them to.

-Watch out for Senior citizen (especially Asian) group tours. Apparently, tourist etiquette isn’t followed by everyone, so not only will they ruin your photos, but some can get really quite annoying and very inconsiderate. I don’t think they mean to be rude though. But unless you’re okay with photobombers and being interrupted with their loud chatters while you’re indulging in the scenery, try to go past them. Also, I’m Asian. My family can get exactly like that. So just trust me on this.

5.) Bring the basic necessities to avoid paying tourist price.

 Ruins of St. Paul’s

-The stores and restaurants around the tourist area are always known to have tourist prices. Walk a few blocks away from the vicinity and the place with the most locals are most probably going to be the cheapest (and most delicious) ones around.

-Bring a bottle of water and some light snacks to keep you stocked up for the day.

-Bring whatever you think you may need such as Kleenex, an umbrella, sunblock, an extra shirt, etc. Saving a few bucks is always a good thing!

-Bring change just in case some roaming vendors actually have something you really like. It’s also necessary for some bathroom emergencies (especially in SeaAsia where paid bathrooms are common).

6.) Be mindful of other tourists.

  My shameless temple tripod selfie at Bantay Srei Temple

-Just like you, these people are here for the same reason as you. So be considerate.

-Especially on a busy day, be reasonable and don’t linger too long at a certain spot when you’re trying to take pictures.

-Move away to avoid photobombing. Just because others can be inconsiderate doesn’t mean you have to be too.

-Watch your stuff! You’d be surprised to know that sometimes, locals aren’t always the ones to be wary of.

7.) Indulge yourself!

  Already committed to being a tourist at The Grand Palace, Bangkok

-For most people, visiting a world known site is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Enjoy this moment. Savor in the beauty. Learn as much as you can. Ask questions if you need to. Take countless photos to make the memories last.

-Get off your social media. This is not the time to be on it. Immerse now, gloat later.

-Don’t let the hundreds of other tourists ruin this for you. Yes, it can ruin a place’s authenticity, but as I’ve said, you’re all there for the same reason. So cherish the fact that you’re out there exploring the world and let the energy of being surrounded by hundred others turn into a positive light. After all, you’re all just victims bitten by the incurable travel bug.

36 thoughts on “How To Survive Tourist Sites 101

  1. Great info.
    We will be embarking on a trip in 2 years with our family and we have begun researching already – it is so important.
    It is also important to invest in a pouch (yes as funny as they look) or something that can be held close with your personal items. You can never be too careful.

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  2. Greats tips! I always want to feel like a local when I am touristing! lol But, I honestly feel like it’s a better experience that way. Great tips and tricks! I love how you have actually experienced everything you show here! Great post! Thanks for sharing!

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  3. I love it! You’re being real and honest – and sharing how to deal with them. I met some travelers who absolutely hate touristy sites because of the crowd. I get it, but it is also how you deal with it. We need to turn it into positive and not let it ruin our trip.

    When I was in South Korea last summer, man….SO many people! It was only frustrating because it was hot, humid and too people people were in the way for taking photos. What’s funny is when I went to South Korea earlier this summer at the same attraction where I had most difficulty (N Seoul Tower), it was…..different. Less! Way too few people – and that? I actually didn’t like the quiet vibe, haha (it depends where though). I like lively, energetic people which give me more positive vibe feelings – as long it’s not to the point when I can’t walk through type of crowd haha. Is that weird? I don’t know if I make sense.

    Anyways, good post! It will help readers to realize to not let the crowd, weather, etc ruin their day!

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    1. Thanks Stacey. It really is mind over matter. And oh no, me and my husband are actually trying to catch the cherry blossoms next spring (just in time for our 2-year anniversary) and I’m sure that will be ridiculously packed with tourists. Any experiences on that? I’m starting to do my research on the festivals but it seems like the dates are really unpredictable.

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  4. I so agree with everything you wrote…
    and I hate having pictures taken with a lot of people around that actually cover the panorama…
    ….and about tourist prices.. I usully try to avoid the most ‘touristish areas’ but I just came from Budapest and near a castle I was sooo hungry ..well guess what.. a wurstel and 2 portions of fried potatoes 25euros) I was speechless 🙂 my pocket still hurts 😀
    anyway .. I love this post, thanks! )

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  5. Great tips! I felt super frustrated visiting Machu Picchu and that was in 2008, before selfie sticks and really before Facebook took off in popularity! I don’t do well in crowds so I think that going in the low season will always be my best bet 🙂

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  6. Great tips! Especially agree about carrying around the necessities… It’s such an easy and silly way to waste money! And far too many people neglect tourist etiquette. 😦

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  7. “Get off your social media.” Totally, nothing worse than being stuck behind someone who is insisting on checking themselves in on facebook – and then complaining that there’s no free wifi!!
    PS apologies for not commenting previously!

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    1. No need to apologize! It was hard for me to avoid social media at first especially I wanted to share my experiences with people so much. But it came to a point where I was like, I’m doing this for myself, not them.

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  8. Great tips here. Being prepared with comfortable clothes, the correct shoes & band aids is important. I try to enjoy the famous landmarks and immerse myself. Groups can be hard. Time of day is a good thing to think about and I usually opt for very early to beat crowds and queues. Doing things during lunch is a good tip. Thanks for sharing

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  9. Great advice. During my travels in Europe I enjoyed the sights of the smaller cities and towns much more than the major ones due to the lack of crowds… but that being said there are things you just have to see, and dealing with the crowds is a necessary part of that.

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