11 Countries We've All Lied About Visiting

Bali, Indonesia | © Thomas Depenbusch / Flickr
Bali, Indonesia | © Thomas Depenbusch / Flickr
Photo of Alex Jordan
Travel Expert23 May 2017

Everyone likes to sound cultured, and what better way to seem wise and worldly than recounting tales of adventures from around the world? Trouble is there are some places we all like to say we’ve been to, even if we haven’t. What harm is there in ‘borrowing’ stories of sun-soaked beaches and evenings spent in the shadow of some historical monument and passing them off as your own? Here are some of those must-visit places we’ve all ‘been to’


There are far too many people with stories from Phuket to be believed; those islands are tiny and literally halfway around the world. There’s no way everyone from the hairdresser to the next door neighbour has swam in the crystal-clear lagoons, set foot in ancient temples, driven a rickety scooter through lush rainforest, or revelled in the hedonistic mess of Bangkok.

Sunset - Ko Lanta, Thailand | © Thai National Parks


This surfer’s paradise is a must-visit for anyone with a love of the ocean and each year the tourism industry cashes in on young Americans, Europeans and Australians looking for a slice of paradise. Trouble is, the social cache of this heaven-on-earth is a little too alluring and you’ll find that every gap year student and surfer down on the south coast has a story of cutting loose in Kuta or catching a wave at Padang Padang.

Bali, Indonesia | © Thomas Depenbusch / Flickr


Quite possibly the hottest destination in the world right now. Speak to someone who says they’ve been to Cuba and you can practically feel the smugness coming off them. This is why the Caribbean island –famous for its colourful hot rods, cigars, rum and street parties – is suddenly (and suspiciously) one of the most visited destinations on earth.

Malecon, La Habana, Cuba | © Pedro Szekely / Flickr


This is one for the Americans (you know who you are) who can’t wait to tell you just how fun life is south of the border. Los Cabos, Cancun and Tijuana might be tantalisingly close and a party destination for millions of Americans each year but doesn’t mean you’ve been, even if your liver feels like it has.

Palace of Fine Arts, Mexico City, Mexico | © Lui_piquee / Flickr


If the Europeans thought they’d got away with it then think again. Just as Mexico is the cheap and cheerful party destination for young Americans everywhere, each year thousands of young Brits and central Europeans head to Greece. Alcohol-fuelled hedonism in Corfu, Crete or Mykonos during summer is a right of passage for many – besides you’ve seen enough Instagram shots of Santorini to know it’s all white houses and blue skies anyway.

Kalives, Greece | © VV Nincic / Flickr

United States of America

Most people have watched enough of the big screen to feel like they practically live across the Atlantic. When so much of Western culture revolves around the land of the free and the home of the brave, it’s no wonder then that many people feel the need to say they’ve been. Even if that trip to Central Park happened to someone else on the silver screen it doesn’t make it any less real. Does it?

Louisbourg Lighthouse, North America | © Dennis Jarvis / Flickr

The Netherlands

Picture the scene. You’re at a party and the conversation turns to good times abroad. You can’t say you’ve never seen the canals of this low-lying European treasure and leave with your head held high. Plus you’ve heard enough stories of coffee shops, reverential journeys through the back alleys and trips to questionable museums to pass them off as your own and earn the love and respect of your peers.

Kurhaus at Night, South Holland | © Christopher A. Dominic


Just the mention of this South American jewel is enough to get hearts racing and conjure the desire for a Caipirinha. Like Cuba, Brazil is one of the destinations for 2017, growing in popularity since hosting the 2014 World Cup. Synonymous with good music, great people and even better parties, this is somewhere we’d all like to say we’ve been.

Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil | © Laszlo Iyles / Flickr


In this new age of spirituality, where there’s a yoga studio on every street corner, what better way to show how enlightened you are than by recounting tales of mystical India. Visiting the land of sadhus, ashrams and gurus… is that an authentic story of finding yourself in the land where there’s a festival-a-minute, or did you just read Eat, Pray, Love and bend the facts a little?

India | © Nick Kenrick / Flickr


No self-respecting wanderluster can call themselves well travelled without a trip to the land of fashion, food and femme fatales. That incredible long weekend spent cruising up the Champs-Élysées, or cutting a trail through the snow-tipped peaks of the Alps? Pure fabrication and the result of a long lived love affair with a country that’s on everyone’s bucket list.

Nice, France | © Kristoffer Trolle / Flickr


Scandinavia is enjoying a moment and it’s seemingly impossible to escape its exports (Hygge being chief among them). So what better way to seem plugged in to today’s trends than by saying you too have experienced the raw power of nature and the eerie, overwhelming silence of northern climes – and basked in the glory of the Northern Lights – a sight surely on everyone’s bucket list.

Nærøyfjord, Norway | © Juan Antonio Segal / Flickr

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