If you’ve ever wanted to visit Thailand’s beautiful Koh Tachai, go now: the island is being indefinitely closed this fall due to overcrowding.
And it’s not alone.
Phrases like “off the beaten path” and “hidden getaway” have been rendered moot in 2016, which can have grave consequences for remote areas that weren’t built for big traffic. With that in mind, here are five spots worth visiting before it’s too late.
The Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Pollution and rising ocean temperatures are causing the death of the 7,000-year-old Great Barrier Reef, which has lost half of its coral cover in the last 30 years. Scientists predict its extinction by 2050. If you want to see the spectacular array of marine life, visit to look — but not touch — as the coral is easily damaged.
The Dead Sea, Israel
The world’s saltiest sea might disappear within 50 years. The Dead Sea has shrunk by a third over the past four decades. Neighboring countries are drawing water from its main source and mineral mining and cosmetics companies are draining it for its resources, causing it to diminish at a rate of three feet each year. The proof is in the restaurants and hotels that now stand a mile from the shore. If a solution isn’t found, you may never enjoy this buoyant water.
Cinque Terre, Italy
The Cinque Terre villages of Liguria are renowned for their dramatic cliffs and picturesque harbors, but they’re paying the price of mass tourism in the form of mudslides and rockfalls. The National Park system has imposed a yearly quota on tourists walking the cliff-top paths to reduce the number from 2.5 to 1.5 million. Get tickets ahead of time if you plan on hiking these famous romantic trails of the Italian Riviera.
Pyramids of Giza, Egypt
The last remaining Wonder of the Ancient World, the Pyramids attract millions of tourists each year, resulting in pollution and erosion. Cairo’s unrestricted development and sewage from nearby slums has been causing irreparable damage. Camel and horseback tours are now banned, and the government plans to limit access by foot in the near future.
Taj Mahal, India
The magnificent marble mausoleum welcomes up to four million tourists a year … and experts fear that popularity is causing its steady erosion. The minarets are tilting, foundations are turning brittle from the Yamuna River and cracks are appearing throughout. Rumor has it that UNESCO and preservation groups are urging India to close the site. You may be looking at this Indian landmark from afar four years from now.