He Said/She Said: Iconic Sights

He Said/She Said: Iconic Sights

Is the effort to see iconic sights worth it?  Crowds and costs increase the more touted the posterchild of a country is, but can you really visit Australia without seeing the Great Barrier Reef, skip Machu Picchu while visiting Peru, or say you’ve seen India without touching the Taj?

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HE SAID…

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What’s the first thing that comes to mind when I say “Egypt”?  Probably the Pyramids.  Television, movies and tourism advertising has permanently stamped an image association with many countries.  This is good and bad.  It’s good because we know of the country, even though it’s just one place, it’s probably better that we know something of it than nothing.  Iconic sights can also have a negative effect as they funnel people away from other sights in a country.

By training, Americans are list checkers.  Our childhood hopes and dreams are tied to our Christmas list, judged by Santa’s naughty/nice list, while our adult lives are guided by our to-do lists, process checklists and Netflix queues.  In terms of importance though, the ever popular bucket lists guide people to faraway destinations.  Only the most iconic of iconic sights make bucket lists, because photos of those are imprinted in minds.  These bucket lists, whether inscribed or not, that drive the popularity of iconic sights globally.

If you are going to India, don't skip the Taj Mahal

The reality is that these iconic sights have earned their way into our imaginations and onto bucket lists.  They are the places that stand the test of time and that we connect to.  They are what people ask about when you return home.  Sadly this causes many people to overlook more impressive sights.  Skipping them just because they are popular, expensive and crowded is silly, when in a country you should visit their iconic sights, but don’t forget to seek out lesser known places that will probably be more interesting, if not as impressive.

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SHE SAID…

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I admit it I’m a bit of a check-the-box kind of person and I see the value in keeping a bucket list.  However, I have found, after visiting so many of the world’s biggest tourist sites and most iconic attractions that they are the most painstaking and expensive to get to, crowded and offer the least representative view of the country as a whole.

As we were waiting in line to see the Taj Mahal at sunrise we spoke to a couple in their 70’s that admitted they were there to cross this one off their bucket list.  Similarly, places like the Terra cotta Warriors in Xian suffer this same problem due to their popularity causing throngs of people to descend upon these sites each year.  The high volume of visitors and the demand to see these special places not only makes for a hot and sweaty experience but an expensive one as well.  It’s simply the laws of supply and demand.

When visiting China, most people aren't going to skip the Teracotta Warriors

Due to the high ticket cost you will often find these attractions surrounded by “tourist friendly” restaurants and overpriced souvenir stalls.  While it might seem handy to pick up postcards while you’re out the surroundings of major attractions are not all that similar to the country as a whole or the places that your average citizen might frequent.  For some that’s no problem, but for me I like to get a little bit more under the skin of the places I visit.  So, while I will always recommend that you see the major sites of a place, after all it’s famous for a reason.  I also encourage you to get out and explore more than just the tourist spots.

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Comments

» Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) :
Jul 26, 2012

I never understand people who travel to places and then purposefully avoid going to well-known tourist attractions. I mean, I absolutely think it’s beneficial to get off the beaten track and see things that aren’t found in every guide book, but I don’t see the point of going to Paris and then refusing to see the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre simply because these spots are too trendy and well-touristed. I tend to think there is generally some reason why these places are so popular that will make them worth a visit, and to me, people who refuse to see things that are popular are no better than people who ONLY see things that are heavily toured. Like so many things in life, it’s all about striking a balance!
Read Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)’s awesome post Introducing our Dealbreakers

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About the Author

LOCAVORista: A curious adventurer exploring the culinary delights and local traditions around the world. Currently on a 3 year round-the-world trip discovering amazing cultures, must-eats and off-the-beaten-track destinations.

About the Author
LOCAVORista: A curious adventurer exploring the culinary delights and local traditions around the world. Currently on a 3 year round-the-world trip discovering amazing cultures, must-eats and off-the-beaten-track destinations.
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