USA Today Ranks Penang Hill As Asia's Worst Tourist Trap & 3rd Most Overrated Destination

According to the article's authors, the list is to help travellers avoid the case of "destination letdown".

Cover image via Ramdzan Masiam/New Straits Times & New Straits Times

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Penang Hill, a famous attraction in Penang, has been included in USA Today's list of the top 100 tourist traps in the world

In an article titled 'Top 100 Biggest Tourist Traps Worldwide', the American daily newspaper listed Penang Hill as ninth, making it the only destination in Asia to secure a spot in the top 10.

According to the USA Today list, seven of the top 10 tourist traps in the world are in the US, while another two are in Iceland and Canada.

The only other Asian tourist spot in the top 25 of the list is the Tegallalang Rice Terraces in Bali, Indonesia, coming in at number 12, which makes Penang Hill the top tourist trap in Asia.

According to the article's authors, Glen Luke Flanagan and Robin Saks Frankel, the list is to help travellers avoid the case of "destination letdown"

The list was made by their analysis of 23.2 million Google reviews of the 500 most popular tourist attractions in the world, spanning 65 countries in six continents.

For each attraction, they looked at how frequently the reviews mention the terms "tourist trap," "overrated", and "expensive", and made three lists.

Penang Hill was also ranked number 14 in the article's 'Most Overrated Attractions Worldwide' list.

It comes in as the third most overrated Asian destination after the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove in Kyoto, Japan and Tegallalang Rice Terraces in Bali, Indonesia.

Most of the other expensive and overrated destinations listed are in North America and Europe.

Penang Hill's funicular train.

Image via Ramdzan Masiam/New Straits Times

However, Penang's Tourism and Creative Economy Committee chairperson Wong Hon Wai begs to differ

According to New Straits Times, Wong said the number of reviews taken into account proves the inaccurate review published by the US newspaper.

"The data collection is monolingual and without other major languages that is used in the region such as Bahasa Malaysia, Mandarin, Tamil, Arabic, and others.

"The bad reviews are about two dozen and it does not take into consideration the many other good reviews about Penang Hill, which has far more numbers than the bad ones," he said.

Compared to the other destinations in North America and Europe with tens of thousands of reviews, Penang Hill was ranked based on only 3,737 Google reviews. It had only 21 mentions of "tourist trap" and six mentions of "overrated".

He added that 47 million visitors had visited Penang Hill since 1923, which translates to over a million annual visitors

"The numbers of visitors speaks for itself. Having said that, the Penang government will always look for improvement and a new cable car project is already in the pipeline.

"This will give tourists a new experience in the future," he said.

Meanwhile, in June, a main road in Penang was listed as one of the most beautiful streets in the world:

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