Travel writers make their trade out of helping tourists navigate unknown places. Still, even the most savvy traveler tends to make the occasional gaffe while on vacation.
This is where CNBC’s travel agents share the biggest mistakes visitors make in the cities they call home.
A stroll through Singapore
“Trying to stroll around Singapore is a huge mistake. If you cover just a few miles that you would love to walk in most cities, you end up drenched – either from the heat or from tropical weather.” Regardless of whether Google Maps shows your destination is not far, take a taxi or the MRT [Mass Rapid Transit] Train. They’re both cheap and luckily air-conditioned. “
—Christian Barker, Australia
See everything in New York City
“New York is a huge travel destination with a multitude of options, and that makes a tourist’s time in the city precious. Unfortunately, I’ve found that many visitors – especially first-time visitors – try to squeeze too much into a trip to their Midtown hotel to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, then speed up to Uptown to tour part of Central Park, before seeing a Broadway show that evening.
The view of Lower Manhattan from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade.
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“Rather than packing an itinerary for 12 hours each day, I recommend picking a handful of sights to explore. And leaving some unplanned blocks of time as the moments you’ve only heard of in New York are almost over . ” always unplanned.
“For example, don’t try to see the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in one day. You will be so exhausted – you won’t appreciate any of Liberty and then head to nearby Ellis Island and its immigration museum, or dedicate a day to Central Park and the surrounding areas – the park is bursting with beauty in every corner and nooks and crannies of its 840 hectares.
“Remember, New York is not going anywhere. The city will be ready and waiting to welcome you back.”
—Tracy Kaler, United States
“Stick to the script” in Jamaica
“I’ve nested in Jamaica for the past six months and vacationed here many times over the past 20 years. Now that I’ve spent time here, I realize how much I’ve missed – and how many tourists miss.
Jamaica is the kind of place to stray from the script.
American travel writer
“So many come to the island and hardly venture beyond their all-inclusive resort or stick to the tours that the hotel offers. Heavy sigh. Jamaica is the kind of place to stray from the script if you haven’t gone to a beach only locals know about, or if your taste of Jamaican cuisine is limited to the typical jerk chicken or pork, try a restaurant outside the hotel and the tourist area.
“Dunn’s Rivers Falls is fine, but there are spectacular waterfalls without the crowds. Negril and Montego Bay get all the press, but make your way to Portland. Jamaica is full of secrets. Do a little digging before your trip, be it from your social media groups or friends of friends. Find an insider who will give you the skinny. “
—Sheryl Nash-Nance, United States
Be a morning person in Melbourne
“Stroll around Melbourne on Saturday morning at 9:00 am and you might be wondering if aliens abducted most of the population overnight.
Melbourne’s most popular coffeehouses are busiest after 9 a.m.
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“The only people in museums and galleries at 10 am are families with young children. Instead, we tend to pile up the other end of the day and meet later – brunch should never start before 1 p.m. – and go to the footy [football match], linger over dinner, meet for a drink, then maybe see a show. It’s not uncommon for a headliner to take the stage in a pub … at midnight.
“If you got up at 7 a.m. and filled the day with activities, you won’t make it to the encore. Relax, get a good night’s sleep and make sure you see the best of Melbourne – it glows after dark. “
—Carrie Hutchinson, Australia
I miss the quieter side of Hong Kong
“I’ve lived in Hong Kong since 2005 and many first-time international visitors still assume it is mostly a concrete jungle when it is actually made up of 261 islands. There are stunning secluded hikes, beaches on par with the French Riviera.” can accommodate, cascading “Waterfalls, jungle-covered temples and great snorkeling spots … there is so much more than just skyscrapers here.”
—Chris Dwyer, United Kingdom
The view along the Dragon’s Ridge, a popular hiking trail in Sheck O Country Park on Hong Kong Island.
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“Hong Kong was my expat home for 20 years. I have always asked myself why visitors – be they tourists or business travelers – make the city a shopping and dining paradise. The ‘Pearl of the Orient’ has so much more to offer just requiring tourists to be on the MTR. climb [Mass Transit Railway] or a minibus and get off at one of the many landscape parks.
“After living in the city for a long time, I started kayaking to get a new and different perspective on the place. There is much more for tourists to explore, discover and enjoy. “
—Petra Loho, Austria
Worries about street food in Bangkok
“Bangkok’s reputation as one of the world’s most incredible culinary destinations is largely due to its street vendor offerings. The street chefs produce a fantastic selection of Thai classics and conjure up everything from Chinese-inspired stir-fries to spicy salads, spicy curries and grilled meat.
A seller cooks street food in Bangkok, Thailand.
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“Despite the fame of the street dining scene, some visitors are squeamish about the hygiene standards in these places. It doesn’t have to be. Every street vendor stall that’s worth its price – fish sauce with blindingly hot bird’s eye chilies – has freshly cooked food.
“Look out for long lines of local guests and you will know you are on a good cause.”
—Duncan Forgan, United Kingdom
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