Cities remain attractive places for tourists looking to have a taste of foreign foods and culture. But over the years, these cities have acquired an image overshadowed by crime, overpopulation, filth, violence, and corruption.
In the United States, for example, you immediately foresee trouble when you visit cities like East St. Louis (IL), Camden (NJ), Gary (IL) and Niagara Falls (NY).
In East St. Louis, homicides, shootings, arsons, and armed robberies are the norm. The city looks like it just came straight outta Mad Max.
Gary, Indiana, smells and has been nicknamed Chicago’s toilet. When you visit Gary, you’d think it’s a flipped porta potty inside a dumpster. Most of its residents are jobless, and violence is the norm.
Camden (NJ) and Niagara Falls (NY) have the same story: crime, unemployment, drugs, and filth. Tourists even opt to experience Niagara Falls from Ontario and not from the state of New York. But the blame is not only on American cities; Johannesburg, Manila, New Delhi, Paris, and Beijing are also terrible.
Joburg has crazy traffic, and its public transport is pathetic. It is a dystopia with dreaded security checks. Manila and New Delhi are filthy cities that smell throughout and can be better described as pits of inhumanity.
On the other hand, Beijing and Paris have been overrated over the years. Paris is full of pesky vendors and rude people while Beijing is polluted 24/7. Let’s look at these cities, and others, in detail:
15. MANILA, PHILIPPINES
It is one of the most densely populated cities in the world, and it is full of homeless people, stray animals, and street vendors. You may spot tons of naked children playing on the freeway.
The atmosphere is blanketed with a layer of ‘filth’ from Vietnam-era Jeeps that spew unbelievable amounts of thick fumes. Here, malls are the only attraction, but sadly, they are a testimony of the gap between the haves and the have-nots.
Half of Manila looks like it is still under construction and there is trash everywhere. The city is everything you can imagine in some dystopian novel. On your arrival, expect a terrible odor that is a mixture of burning diesel, rotting garbage, and sweat. The street food is awful, and the public restrooms are in a horrible state.
Then there is the traffic, which is slow and soul-wrenching. That is not to mention that the city has a very high crime rate.
14. CAIRO, EGYPT
Egypt is beautiful, but Cairo is a mess.
Think about Cairo as a ‘hole’ that is crammed with millions of people. The atmosphere is smoggy, and you will hardly see a blue sky because pollution has changed the weather pattern.
Traffic is not only horrible, but most drivers are rude and drive dangerously. Prepare to be stuck in long queues for hours while you endure the 30+ degree weather.
The Nile in Cairo is not as beautiful as you’d expect because it is heavily polluted. There have been numerous claims that foreigners should avoid Cairo’s water as much as possible; unless they don’t mind diarrhea.
The city has a high crime rate, and the police will rarely save your butt as they are corrupt. It seems like the residents and the aggressive vendors are primarily responsible for dragging this Egyptian city.
Cairo is also notorious for sexual harassment. Women often get harassed if they wear short-sleeved blouses or short skirts, and sometimes the situation can get out of control. Instead of Cairo, consider places like Aswan, Luxor, El Gouna, Sharm Al Sheik, or Hergada. They are more peaceful.
13. NEW DELHI, INDIA
A complete hell hole. Delhi even outdoes other horrible places like Mumbai, Varanasi, and Agra. There is insane poverty, and the city is absolute chaos.
Some travelers call it the worst place on the planet, and once you land at the airport, you are immediately met by the horrible smell that lingers in the city’s air. It is a tourist trap, and you should expect to be met by a wave of taxi operators who are aggressive and speak horrible English.
Crime is Delhi’s second name, and piles of garbage are everywhere because no one cares. This city is a pit of inhumanity that portrays human suffering, poverty, filth, and misery. Prepare for crowds, meanness, and persistent noise. It is greed and lust combined in one, and it is safe to call it the forbidden fruit. If you must know, the city is also ugly.
12. PATTAYA, THAILAND
Pattaya became famous as a favorite destination for American GIs who wanted a break from the Vietnam War. And it used to be a beautiful place.
But today, Pattaya is full of old white folks who walk around with girls young enough to be their granddaughters.
You have to haggle with taxi drivers, and you must be prepared to get stuck in traffic. While there are lovely things surrounding Pattaya, the city is mostly trashy and full of carelessly driven tuk-tuks.
Pattaya Beach is horror, and you can’t enjoy the sidewalk before you are accosted by prostitutes who tirelessly request for your ‘company.’ By Thailand’s standards, Pattaya’s beaches are lackluster, and tourists have to struggle to enjoy the sand as the entire area is filled with deck chairs and umbrella concessions. This forces people to squeeze in small areas. In a nutshell, Pattaya is a cesspool of sex trafficking, grime, and insane locals. The city is struggling to revive its lost glory but is still far from realizing that goal.
11. TIJUANA, MEXICO
Tijuana is mostly depressing because it looks and smells bad. Poverty is evident once you set foot in this Mexican city. On arrival, you will be confronted by kids selling gums; then some drug dealers will try to cut you a deal. If you are not game, they will try to offer you girls, if you are male, or try to sell you a gun.
The sellers are hostile. They will sometimes get aggressive with you by grabbing and pulling you into their shops to sell you God knows what.
Don’t be surprised when you find a fast food, pharmacy, and a strip club on the same street. But no one cares because even the Tijuana police are corrupt and will ask for bribes for ‘small favors.’
You have to get accustomed to the para-military police who patrol in trucks and don’t act surprised when you realize that a donkey has been smeared with boot polish to look like a zebra. Tourists like to pose for photos with zebras.
Tijuana is one of the most violent and dangerous cities in Mexico, and its drug and human trafficking problems have infiltrated San Diego.
10. EAST ST LOUIS, INDIANA, USA
Ford Heights, Roseland, Garfield Park, and Harvey all have a bad reputation, but East St. Louis wins as the worst place in Illinois. The city has a post-apocalyptic look that resembles something out of Mad Max and is full of people who burn trash while staring at you endlessly.
Do not be deceived by its lures, which include Oz Nightclub, the Casino Queen, and the strip clubs. East St. Louis is a hub for armed robberies, homicides, shootings, arsons, and carjacking.
The city is one of the most violent cities in the U.S, and its murder rate in 2014 was higher than that of Honduras. The FBI once dubbed it “the nation’s most dangerous city.” Sometimes, it is better referred to as a “war zone.”
Sadly, it was once a boomtown and was home to more than 80,000 people around the 50s. But the availability of cheap guns and the introduction of policies that encouraged segregation made it one of the worst cities in America.
9. BEIJING, CHINA
If there’s one thing that discredits Beijing, it is pollution.
This is one of the most populous cities in the world, and you should expect to see smog inside a hotel lobby. The air is so stained that you are likely to find the city not habitable if you are new. Smog is everywhere, and it makes it cumbersome to even see across the street.
While a pollution mask may come handy, it will still not prevent you from smelling like a coal furnace. The traffic is scary, and the drivers are the worst as they literally follow one another bumper to bumper.
The crowds will drive you insane, and no one seems to care about personal space. You may get groped three or ten times while walking down the street and you will not even realize. This is because different people run into you and shove you and nobody talks. The only form of communication is yelling.
Ever heard of split pants? In Beijing, toddlers use them to piss and crap in the streets. You’d better consider Shanghai or Taiwan because Beijing is overrated.
8. GARY, INDIANA, USA
Gary smells, which is probably why some people call it Chicago’s toilet.
In this Lake County city, there is a higher chance that you may get hit by a stray bullet or get r*ped because the city is full of gangs and all things characteristic of a ghetto America. The unemployment rate is high; there are abandoned buildings everywhere, and crackheads roam the city’s streets.
Gary lost its glory after the Great Recession that saw several businesses close down. The steel industry collapsed, and it has remained a ghost town as it continues to lose its population. The terrible smell probably emanates from the steel mills in the distance.
Violence and crime are the only things that thrive in Gary because most residents are jobless. Even the skies are full of doom.
The only good here is maybe the cheap housing and the ease of navigation.
7. JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA
Locals call it Jozi or Joburg, but do not be fooled by the sweet names or the espresso-sipping residents who sit in cafés around Maboneng.
Traffic is crazy in Jozi. Worse, the public transport is unreliable. The roads are full of ill-maintained minibus taxis that are mostly overcrowded and unregulated. Drivers don’t observe traffic lights, and this further strangles Joburg’s main arteries. There is a consensus that you should never brake at stop signs or red lights because you risk getting carjacked.
The city is also perilous, and its residents are disgusting beyond belief. There are always stories about home invasions, violent crimes, and murders. In fact, roaming at night is highly discouraged. You also need to get accustomed to awful security checks when you are leaving or entering a different district or area.
Johannesburg is a real-world dystopia. This is probably why it was used for the shooting of “District 9.”
6. CAMDEN, NEW JERSEY, USA
Camden was mostly known for the aquarium, and the city used to be great, but is now a dirty and ugly city. Most of its worthwhile attractions are concentrated around Rutgers University and the Riverfront, but walking in other parts of Camden is forbidden.
The rate of crime is so high that gas pumps have to be locked in cages because they can be dismantled. By around 8 am, expect only to find drug dealers and hookers loitering the streets. Around this time, gas stations, grocery stores, and most businesses remain closed.
Camden has become deadlier because of the high unemployment rate, and most youths have been left battling for territories. New York Times at one time even called Camden the poorest city in the U.S.A. In 2011, it was reported that the city’s murder rate was 30% higher than New Orleans, Louisiana and ten times that of New York City.
5. CIUDAD JUÁREZ, MEXICO
Ciudad Juárez used to be the murder capital of the world and competed favorably with some of the world’s deadliest war zones.
In Juárez, don’t be surprised to see dead bodies lying on sidewalks or hanging from overpasses. Once or twice, you may witness someone getting shot outside a restaurant, and the body will be left there for hours before authorities intervene. Ross Kemp, the British journalist who specializes in visiting dangerous places, even made a chilling documentary about Juárez.
Everything is filthy and falling apart in this Mexican ghost town that is feared even by cops. Most of its original occupants had to flee because they feared for their lives. Today, JUÁREZ is mostly run by criminals. Drug smuggling is the only thing that has thrived in here; mostly because it is controlled by dangerous cartels.
The city invited Pope Francis in February 2016 in a bid to revive its glory, but its dark past still lingers in the air.
Juarez is even scarier if you are a gringo.
4. PARIS, FRANCE
The museums and gardens are excellent, and you will love the Eiffel Tower and The Louvre. The architecture is stunning, and the French culture is world-class, but Paris is not all rosy; especially during summer.
You will find dog poop everywhere because dogs are allowed to defecate on the streets. In addition, the residents lack manners and are mostly rude.
In certain parts of the city, there is always an unpleasant smell lingering in the air, and it is combined with smoke because Parisians love cigarettes. These are the parts of the city where you need to be watchful of you may get mugged. And if you are lucky no one steals from you; the currency exchange stores will still rip you off.
Then there is traffic. It is mostly terrifying because the roads lack lines; therefore, drivers feel it is okay to honk every time to avoid collisions.
Tourists get harassed around the Eiffel Tower by vendors who sell all manner of things and people who insist that you have to sign their petitions.
Other travelers claim Paris is great and some people hate it because they experience Paris Syndrome.
3. NASSAU, BAHAMAS
While the Bahamas has some beautiful beaches, Nassau is a pit.
Visitors will always get bombarded by street peddlers who are inconsiderate and ill-mannered.
The city is filthy and full of rude people, and the divide between the rich and the poor is heartbreaking. On one side of the city, we have luxury homes that are owned by the rich and affluent; on the other side, which is just a five-minute drive away, poverty is conspicuous. This class division is as a result of corruption and drugs.
The island is ‘run’ by drug gangs who work together with the Bahamian government.
The crime rate is high, and the murder rate is out of control in Nassau. In fact, cruise passengers often claim they have been offered drugs once they get off a cruise ship. There have also been previous organized attacks on cruise ships.
Nassau is a confirmation that the “it’s better in the Bahamas” days are long gone.
2. NAPLES, ITALY
It comes third after Milan and Italy and has been renowned for its outstanding looks. But this half-finished metro has rubbish everywhere and is generally crappy.
Naples has ‘trash mountains’ that are 4-5 meters high on its roadsides. Several dogs patrol these roads and spend time digging through the trash.
There are beggars everywhere, and you need to be watchful, or you will have to fight off bag-snatchers. The traffic is crazy, and the drivers do not respect lights or stop signs. If you are new, you need to know that cars can’t be parked anywhere because they get broken into.
Expect hostility and overt threats from the locals, especially when you decline to tip a beggar, or you try to ignore everyone. The city is also full of underage prostitutes who are aggressive and will likely ruin your stay.
Naples is full of graffiti and is believed to be under the control of powerful gangs. The food is lackluster, and every business or taxi driver looks shady.
1. NIAGARA FALLS, NEW YORK, U.S.A.
The falls are impressive, but everywhere else around Niagara Falls, NY is pathetic and disgusting. The Canadian and U.S sides of Niagara Falls tell different stories. While the former is manicured and beautiful, the latter is unkempt and unfriendly.
Visitors often get surprised at how different these two cities are. The Canadian side looks safer, has great hotels, and boasts of manicured gardens. However, the American side is the opposite. It has a reputation for violent crimes and mob activity. In fact, in 2016, the FBI ranked Niagara Falls, NY as the most dangerous city in the state of New York.
The city has been paralyzed by crime, and the local infrastructures have issues, but the local government seems unconcerned. If you are a tourist, brace yourself for car parking scams and don’t be surprised by sights of litter-strewn streets, which are not very far from the falls. In 2015, a Japanese tourist was r*ped and sexually abused after she was given wrong directions to Rainbow Bridge.
The city has several landfills and has a persistent awful smell. Most tourists avoid the American side and opt for Niagara Falls, Ontario.
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