It happens to everyone at some point. You get excited to visit a place that has been absolutely raved about, and when you arrive you find it to be a complete letdown. There are different ways of dealing with this situation.
Get a change of scenery
Our first arrival to Bangkok was not an enjoyable experience. It was initially one of the biggest travel letdowns I had experienced. There were some interesting temples and some good food, but the rest was so underwhelming. I was really disappointed. When we left the country to visit friends in Malaysia, I was quite ready to be out of there.
The second time we were there, we visited after staying in Ayutthaya for almost 2 weeks. We really liked it there, and we returned to Bangkok with the hope that the second time around would be better. And it was! We stayed in a different area, and things just meshed better.
In Lisbon, neither of us was particularly enjoying the city. I think a lot of it was the neighborhood we were living in. It had a lot of rundown, decrepit buildings, and the area just felt depressing. One day we took the tram to visit a market that had been recommended, and we found a gorgeous park and a neighborhood that had a completely different vibe. It felt fresh, cheery, and inviting.
As we explored more of Lisbon, we found that for us the city’s charming areas were found on the other side of the city. I think if we had spent more time in that part of the city we would’ve had a completely different experience. For now, Lisbon is a bit of a letdown, and I’m quite eager to head north later today.
Sometimes it’s more difficult
I think the biggest travel letdown I’ve had yet is Bali. For years I’ve seen so many people absolutely rave about that area of Indonesia. But our experience was completely opposite. Sure, there was lots of beauty to the area, and the people are wonderful (except for the touts in the more developed areas), but everything else was just, well, meh.
We hate moving around a lot when exploring a new area, but we kept doing so hoping that we were just missing something. We were kind of stuck, too, because our outbound flight was leaving from Bali so we couldn’t just pick up and go elsewhere in Indonesia.
In 3 weeks’ time, we stayed in four different cities making sure to focus on areas that wouldn’t have quite the level of tourism we had already experienced.
In the end, we just didn’t care for Bali.
And that’s really okay. I mean, not every place is going to be liked by everyone. I know people who don’t care for Paris or Prague. I personally can’t understand such blasphemy, but we’re all different.
Calling it quits
One of the things I love about spontaneous travel is being able to just up and leave. We try to give an area more than just a first impression. We explore it, ask locals for tips and suggestions, reach out to friends, etc. Sometimes, like with Bangkok, you’ll find something to turn your thoughts around, but sometimes no matter what you do it just isn’t your place.
I think it’s silly to force yourself to stay in a city that you don’t enjoy. Give it a few days, and if nothing changes for you get out of there! This is where advance planning has screwed me before. When you’re kind of stuck in an area because of airplane tickets or something, it can make things worse.
Hopefully, you can find a nearby city that’s easy to get to so you can catch a break. If you can’t, though, try to focus on every little positive you can: “This mini market has really great oranges!”
Yeah, sometimes it’s a real reach, but it can help you keep your sanity while you endure the wait to escape.
What’s been the biggest travel letdown you’ve experienced?