Active + Adventure

Controversial Tourist Attractions

by Bob Payne

Here's a question to ask yourself when your travels veer off the beaten track into more controversial territory, such as the site of a great tragedy (Chernobyl) or act of inhumanity (Devil's Island). Is going there a valuable educational experience, one that forces you to confront the causes and consequences of a terrible event? Or is it morbid voyeurism, enabled and exploited by slick tour operators and T-shirt sellers? More often than not, the answer isn't clear-cut—one traveler's idea of tasteless could be somebody else's war memorial where their grandfather so patriotically died. We've searched out six spots that have become tourist destinations because of their disturbing past (or present), to consider whether there's a lesson to be learned or if it's merely a case of tasteless tourism.

Published March 2010. Pictured: Tank at the Cu Chi tunnels, Vietnam.

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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