Wow - the original version of this article, entitled 'Cities You Really Hate' and published on 9 October, certainly ruffled a few feathers! We published a list of cities that our travel community had discussed as disappointing. Little did we know how misunderstood our humble list would be.
In recent weeks, the media portrayed our list as being 'Lonely Planet's list of the world's worst cities' or 'The worst cities to live in' or 'The most terrible places on earth'. None of this was close to the truth.
Our article was never meant to be an authoritative list of the 'world's worst cities', nor was it a poll on 'horrible places to live'. That's why war-torn areas, for example, don't appear: they're pretty unlikely to be high in traveller expectations.
The article is simply a broader reflection of community members' suggestions based on an earlier list of 'Your least favourite cities'. Via comments on this original article, the Thorn Tree, our Facebook page and numerous emails, travellers sent in suggestions for cities they thought should make the list instead. We took these suggestions, ranked them based on number and description, and replayed the feedback as a list.
While we may not agree with everything we receive, we do value community feedback and believe that it's important to give travellers' opinions a strong voice.
With that said, we want make it crystal clear that the opinions below do not reflect the 'official' Lonely Planet opinion of the cities. Given all the interest, we'll be featuring interviews and articles by Lonely Planet authors talking about their firsthand experiences with the cities mentioned in the next several weeks. Stay tuned.
And, for the record, here's the list that caused the misunderstanding in the first place.
Your 9 least favourite cities
- Detroit, USA - Because of the crime, pollution and crumbling infrastructure.
- Accra, Ghana - Ugly, chaotic, sprawling and completely indifferent to its waterfront location.
- Seoul, South Korea - According to one traveller comment, 'It's an appallingly repetitive sprawl of freeways and Soviet-style concrete apartment buildings, horribly polluted, with no heart or spirit to it. So oppressively bland that the populace is driven to alcoholism.'
- Los Angeles, USA - A highly contentious pick, placed here because of its 'uncontrolled sprawl, pollution, appalling traffic and ugly freeways', according to one traveller.
- Wolverhampton, England - So bad that we don't even have it on this site! Check out post 35 on this thread. Update: a lot of you have pointed out that this review is flippant, and you're right. We should have mentioned that many travellers had colourful anecdotes regarding Wolverhampton, most of which revolved around the industrial nature of the landscape and a generally gloomy aesthetic. In contrast, Tom Hall (our UK travel editor) has mentioned that he thinks Wolverhampton is 'a nice place'.
- San Salvador, El Salvador - Widely put forth by travellers as the grubbiest of the Central American capitals.
- Chennai, India - On our website, we describe it as lacking Mumbai's prosperity, Delhi's history or Bengaluru's buzz. Even the movie stars are 'not that hot.' We go on to describe some of its charms, but most travellers find it disappointing.
- Arusha, Tanzania - A gateway to natural wonder that has more than its share of rust. One traveller urges others to 'Get out as quickly [to the surrounding region] as you can.'
- Chetumal, Mexico - Combining mass tourism and outlying decay, Chetumal just doesn't charm you.