10 Places You Should Stop Taking Photos

Our "me, me, me" mindset has led to massive influxes of tourism in certain Instagram-worthy locations that has, over time, helped to ruin landscapes and disrupt culture. For your next trip to these swoon-worthy locales, pack your walking shoes and considering turning your phone off to unplug and enjoy the scenery in real life. 

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Wild, swimming pig on Big Majors Cay in The Bahamas.
Nejron Photo/Shutterstock

Big Major Cay Island, Bahamas

After rolling in the mud, who wouldn’t want to take a dip in crystal clear water? The swimming pigs of the Bahamas have got it figured out. But, in 2017, seven pigs died from over-ingestion of sand that was mixed with food thrown on the beach. Increasingly, the famed pigs are relying on humans for food, a result of an influx of tourists likely throwing food on the beach for the good-natured pigs. Another factor that potentially contributed to the deaths of the swimming pigs is climate change; their natural water source had dried up after a particularly dry January that year.

But, because the swimming pigs have become so popular on social media, “copycat attractions” have sprung up all around the Bahamas, raising the concerns of animal rights activists, according to the Sun-Sentinel. Bottom line: Trying to snap photos of these cute piggies, and attracting even more attention to them, is potentially causing more trouble for them than it’s worth.

Check out the famous tourist destinations that are actually worth visiting.

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Open orange poppies bloom in Walker Canyon in Lake Elsinore California during the 2019 superbloom

Lake Elsinore, California

A mountain near this small California town experienced a wildflower superbloom this year. After a wet winter, the superbloom brought an explosion of poppies to the area—tourists and selfie-sticks in tow. City officials protested that their town was not suited for the mass influx of people, about 150,000, and ordered a #PoppyShutdown. Main roads turned into parking lots, and one city employee was even hit by a car while helping to direct traffic in the small town of just 60,000 people.

Here are eight places you’ve never considered visiting—but should!

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Maya beach with original long tail boat near phuket, Thailand

Maya Bay, Thailand

Ecologists must have jumped with delight at the fact that this bay is closed until 2021. Daily visitors skyrocketed from 170 people to 3,500 from 2008 to 2017 after the movie The Beach popularized this beautiful beach, but all of these visitors did serious damage to the surrounding environment. During the next two years, the beach will be allowed to fully recover. Unfortunately, it might be too late for these places that have been ruined by tourism.

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view of the wild beaches of the Pedra do Telegrafo, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Pedra do Telégrafo, Brazil

This jaw-dropping spot is home to a feature that, when cropped a certain way, looks like people are dangling off a rock formation. If you visit the Pedra do Telégrafo, it will be tempting to fool people into thinking you have daredevil strength. The only thing foolish about this is that there’s solid ground just five feet below the formation.

Mother Nature can take credit for creating these gorgeous rock formations.

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Aerial view of Rio's Rocinha favela, on a sunny afternoon.

Rio de Janeiro’s Rocina favela, Brazil

Brazil’s favelas, shantytowns found in Rio de Janeiro, are packed, tenement-like communities that are the home to thousands of people. They have been made infamous by video games like Modern Warfare, showing illicit scenes of drugs and violence. But they are also home to creative and resourceful individuals. This juxtaposition attracts tourists who want a more rustic experience, giving rise to favela tourism. Although it sometimes benefits the village with additional cash, is it really ethical?

We’ve rounded up the best beaches in the world!

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Angkor Wat in Cambodia is the largest religious monument in the world and a World heritage listed complex
Sean Heatley/Shutterstock

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

As one of the largest religious buildings in the world, Angkor Wat has immense importance and attracts immense tourism. It’s understandable to want to photograph the gorgeous structure, but don’t forget where you are—a temple with huge symbolic significance.

Here are the Canadian UNESCO World Heritage sites you need to visit.

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Horseshoe Bend, Colorado River. Grand Canyon, Page, Arizona. Sunrise,usa.
lakkana savaksuriyawong/shutterstock

Horseshoe Bend, Arizona

Before it was the glorious structure it is now, this natural feature was glazed over by sand dunes. Over time, the dunes formed into sandstone rock and a river ran through it. Some portions of the site are protected by railings, but most are not, as an average of 12 deaths occur at the Grand Canyon each year. There have been multiple cases of people tragically falling 800 feet to their death—like this 14-year-old girl and 33-year-old-man. So before you try to push to the front of the crowd for the best photo, be mindful of where the ground ends.

Learn the secrets to taking great travel photographs.

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Santorini island

Santorini, Greece

The expansive views of the whitewashed square and dome-shaped buildings overlooking the sea come with a price. And, now, it’s a price that locals can’t afford to pay, with rising rents and cost of living, as well as increasing pressure on local infrastructure.

Have you heard of these remote natural wonders?

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Sheikh Zayed Mosque Left Wing Corridor with Pool, The Great Marble Grand Mosque at Abu Dhabi, UAE
Artit Wongpradu/Shutterstock

Grand Mosque, United Arab Emirates

Like Angkor Wat, you should try to understand the cultural and religious significance of the location instead of snapping photos of it. It’s a mosque, so when you visit, be sure to cover up with long, loose-fitting clothing that covers your ankles and head.

Get to know the rude manners that are actually polite in other countries.

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Holocaust Memorial in Berlin

Holocaust Memorial, Berlin

The Holocaust Memorial, intended to be a place of somber remembrance, instead sees tourists taking smiling selfies. To combat this, artist Shahak Shapira created the project Yolocaust in 2017 to illuminate the absurdity of people taking smiling photos at the memorial. During the project, Shapira photoshopped black-and-white photos of Holocaust scenes into the background of modern tourist photos to highlight the disrespectful nature of the selfies. The project was taken down after just a week, with the artist explaining that the project had served its purpose.

Next, wander through these gorgeous travel photos from around the world.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest