It already looks like 2023 is going to be a year of “revenge travel,” with people who were cooped up during the pandemic taking the long-overdue dream vacations they’ve been saving up for.
However, while most of the world is open again and operating like before, not every attraction survived the pandemic unscathed. Some have taken advantage of the pause in tourism to remodel or upgrade infrastructure, while others have said goodbye forever.
Ahead of making your next travel plan, here are the places you need to cross off the list for 2023 – and in some cases beyond. For each spot, we have included a backup destination to explore instead.
Train Street, Hanoi, Vietnam
“Train Street,” the Instagram-beloved road in Vietnam’s capital, had long been a source of controversy. The Old Quarter street became famous for the trains that would shuttle along the tracks just inches away from homes and shops. The spot became popular with tourists who liked the thrill of posing on the industrial tracks with coffee shops in touching distance.
However, despite their vintage look, the tracks are still very much in use. Overtourism on Train Street became not just an annoyance but a legitimate safety issue, as trains sometimes had to re-route at the last minute to avoid people.
Although the Hanoi government had ordered some of the tourist shops that had opened up on Train Street to take advantage of the foot traffic to close in 2019, the area remained popular. Finally, in fall 2022, all businesses on Train Street had their operating licenses revoked and barriers were erected to keep people out.
Plan B: Hanoi’s historic quarter, much of which was built by the French during the Colonial era, has plenty of postcard-pretty walkways. Head to Nhà Thờ Lớn Hà Nội (St. Joseph’s Cathedral) and begin exploring from there. There won’t be any trains rumbling past, but there will be plenty of motorbikes.
The Underground Museum, Los Angeles
The brainchild of artist couple Noah and Karon Davis, the Underground Museum developed a reputation for championing work by artists of color.
Occupying a few small storefronts in the lesser-known Bernal Heights neighborhood, the museum was also a bookshop, organizing space, and community center, and persevered following Noah Davis’ death in 2015.
However, the pandemic was hard on the Underground Museum. Despite high-profile celebrity fans and supporters like Beyonce, Tracee Ellis Ross and John Legend, the museum shut its doors in 2022.
It’s unclear exactly what happened, or whether the museum will re-open elsewhere in another format.
“We simply do not have any answers right now. So, we will also be closing the museum until further notice. During this period, we encourage you to engage with the incredible art spaces all over our beloved Los Angeles,” Karon Davis wrote in a statement on the museum’s website.
Plan B: The free California African American Museum in Exposition Park also highlights work from Black artists. Art lovers can heed Karon Davis’ advice at L.A. institutions like The Broad and LACMA.
Jurong Bird Park, Singapore
Asia’s largest bird park announced its closure in August 2022 after more than 50 years of operation in Singapore.
However, there’s good news for its fans. The park isn’t disappearing – instead, it will join several other famous Singaporean wildlife and nature attractions to create a new eco-tourism hub in the northern reaches of the city-state.
The new experience is called the Mandai Rejuvenation Project, and the aviary – renamed Bird Paradise – is due to open in 2023. Other parts of the project will open through 2024 and 2025.
Plan B: Spending time outdoors in reliably warm Singapore is easy. The Singapore Botanic Gardens are the country’s lone UNESCO World Heritage Site, while those who want to get up close to animals can visit The Live Turtle & Tortoise Museum in the Yishun area.
The Dublin Writers’ Museum, Ireland
Wilde. Beckett. Yeats. Some of the most significant authors in English-language literature came from Ireland, and the Dublin Writers Museum in the capital celebrated that literary heritage.
Like so many tourist attractions around the world, the museum closed in March 2020 for what was supposed to be a temporary shutdown.
However, that turned out to be the end of the story.
Failte Ireland, the Irish national tourism body that owned and operated the museum, announced in August 2022 that the museum would be permanently closed, saying that it “no longer meets the expectation of the contemporary museum visitor in terms of accessibility, presentation and interpretation.”
Plan B: Goodbye, Dublin Writers Museum, hello MoLI. The Museum of Literature Ireland opened to much fanfare in 2019.
A partnership between the National Library of Ireland and University College Dublin, it is home to Irish literary artifacts like the first copy of James Joyce’s “Ulysses” (the museum’s nickname is a wink to the novel’s heroine Molly Bloom) and makes a point to highlight lesser-known figures as well as authors who write in Irish.