Please don’t forget that you can join our community on Facebook Group to practice this topic “a crowded place you have been to” at any time.

a crowded place you've visited

About this topic: A crowded place you have been to

In my honest opinion, this is one of the more difficult “Places” type topics, but don’t worry! I’m going to write about this topic to give you a fighting chance to do well with it, just in case, it’s your topic in the IELTS Speaking test (Part 2).

In terms of what to talk about, it’s hard to recommend any specific places because it could be anywhere, and it varies from country to country, right? For example, in England cafes are rather quiet, but in Vietnam, cafes are extremely busy.

So, let’s look at some potential places we could talk about if this was your topic in the test.

Public transport/stations (trains, busses, airports, etc)
Events (music concerts, film screenings, business events, education fairs, etc)
Festivals (traditional, new year’s, music, etc)
Popular cafes, restaurants, bars, etc
Parties, celebrations, etc
Workplaces, schools, etc
Public buildings (library, museum, swimming pool, etc)

A few of these examples are transferable to other topics this season, such as Cafes, public buildings and public transport.

As always, it’s best to practice talking about something that you can also talk about in other current topics. (I call these “Transferable subjects/examples

I remember a bit over 3 years ago, I was preparing for my 2nd IELTS test (November 2016), and I could talk about my father for 12 current topics that season, GREAT!

For more Part 2 topics, please click here.

Moreover, you can always talk about these 5 things with “Places” type topics:

  1. Location
  2. Quality
  3. Frequency
  4. Recommend
  5. Return

When you talk about “Location” – estimate the distance from your home or workplace. Mention if the place is in a convenient location, or if it’s a long journey away.

When talking about “Quality” – there are so many things we can mention. It could be the quality of the furniture, building, services, goods, facilities, atmosphere, etc.

“Frequency” – how often you go there, or how often you went there. So, I always try to mention frequency when talking about either a Place or a Thing/Object/Person and use a good expression of frequency or adverb of frequency.

You might be wondering what I mean by “Recommend”. Well, would you recommend it to a friend? And why. Do you think they would like it? If you’re both like-minded people, more often than not they would like it too, right?

“Return” – would you go back there? Would you like to go back there? Have you been back there since? Would you like to go back there with someone else? Who would you like to go back with?

Suggested language, definitions and examples in use.


Crowded -> busy, packed, jammed, overfilled, overcrowded, swarming, chock-full, congested, teeming, heaving, awashed

Informal synonyms:

Full house (noun, when the people attending fill the venue to its capacity)

Bursting/bulging at the seams (informal, phrase, used as an adjective: somewhere/something so full that it could overflow)

Wall-to-wall (phrase, used as an adjective: to express a great extent or number of…)

Chockablock (informal adjective, British English, basically synonymous with “crowded” or “busy”. We can use this in other contexts too though, such as “my schedule is chockablock on Friday”)

Beehive (metaphor, used as an adjective, beehives are usually crowded places for bees, so we say the same about places)

If you went there to meet someone, remember to use these useful phrasal verbs: (past participles) Met up, hung out, got together

Phrases, expressions, idioms & collocations:

Room to breathe – “There was no room to breathe in the cinema last weekend” (colloquial expression, space to breathe)

Packed like a tin of sardines – “The people on the last train home were packed like a tin of sardines” (common idiomatic expression, a tiny space between) – Note, we use this for “people” in a crowded “place”

Tighter than two coats of paint – “Everyone was tighter than two coats of paint at the concert” (uncommon idiomatic expression, same meaning)

Elbow room – “There was no elbow room at the party last weekend” (informal noun or collocation, enough space for…)

The/a sea of (people) – “I couldn’t see past the sea of people at the concert” or “There was a sea of people at the concert”

Pressed like olives/grapes – “We were pressed like grapes on the bus home” (idiomatic expression, tight space between)

Swing a cat – “There wasn’t even enough space to swing a cat” (British English, phrase, self-explanatory after reading the example)

Thick as hail – “It’s thick as hail in there, be careful” (expression, crowded)

Toe to toe – “Everyone was stood toe to toe” (expression, crowded)

Highly/Heavily populated – “That district is heavily populated” (collocation, many people)

Awfully, extremely, terribly, exceptionally, frantically + busy (collocation)

Huge, large, sellout, sold out + crowd (collocation, used for a concert, gig or event (a gathering of people for a purpose)

Example answer:

Gosh, this is a sensitive topic because I’m the kind of person that tends to avoid places that are teeming. However, if I had to talk about a busy place today, it would have to be AEON Mall’s supermarket.


So, if you didn’t know already, AEON Mall is a dead famous shopping centre here in Hanoi. It’s not exactly in the heart of the city, actually, it’s a bit out of the way for most people. Luckily, it’s just a stone’s throw away from my home, so I always go there to buy my groceries ‘n’ other stuff.

(topic & cue card)

Anyway, during the week there aren’t so many people there, it’s relatively chilled actually. That being said, over the weekend it’s absolutely heaving like a beehive. Honestly, sometimes there’s no room to breathe in the supermarket, especially by the check-outs. I feel sorry for the staff there, they do a great job dealing with the queues that look like a sea of people. I guess when there’s no elbow room it’s a sign of a great place to be, right?


I’d have to say it’s the best place in town by a long-shot. It has absolutely everything, you know? (filler/redundant language) From designer fashion brands to home appliances and everything in between (spectrum), everything is sold at a reasonable price, too. I suppose that’s why it’s so popular nowadays, I remember 4 or 5 years back, it wasn’t as jammed as it is in recent years (comparison).

(frequency + recommend)

I probably go there twice a week, though I don’t really keep track of that because I’m there every other day. (expression of frequency, estimation, phrasal verb). I think my friends are sick to death of hearing me talk to them about it, every other time I see them I’ll say something like “Hey, guess what I just bought from AEON MALL!(quotation, use style of speech hacks)

So yeah, anyway thanks for listening. That’s a place I’ve been to that was totally packed.


End of post comments:

Thanks for reading down to the example answer.

Did you notice how much transferable language I used? I tried to highlight as much valuable language as possible for you.

As always, thanks for reading & supporting my blog, please feel free to share it on Social Media!

You cannot copy content of this page