Most Dangerous Countries to Visit. When done right, travel can be adventurous, engaging, exhilarating, and breathtaking. Traveling transforms into a learning experience when you make an effort to step outside of your comfort zone in order to discover new locations, meet new people, and experience new cultures.
Some of such education could result from mistakes. An airline missing your luggage for a week-long vacation to London or a bus breaking down in a remote Mexican rainforest can teach you a lot about patience, how to handle difficult circumstances, and how to travel light.
However, traveling can also be risky, particularly if you end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. The U.S. Department of State’s Travel Advisories regularly updates its list of the world’s “danger zones,” which includes the most dangerous nations you should stay away from.
Since these are the riskiest, you can avoid the hazardous areas and keep the excitement of traveling on the upbeat side.
Most Dangerous Countries to Visit (Safe Substitutes)
North America: Watch Out for Haiti
On a scale of one to four, with Level 4 being the most dangerous and a “do not travel” recommendation, the countries are rated in the Travel Advisories list. In recent years, Haiti has been rated as having a Level 4 socioeconomic and political crisis, with kidnapping, crime, and civil upheaval being the main deterrents to travel there. When President Jovenel Moise was killed in July 2021, the issues reached a boiling point.
Add to that the fact that a second, equally large earthquake struck the nation in August 2021, and the economic situation has only become worse, with violent crimes and protests rising steadily.
Do Visit: Other Caribbean Islands
There are 28 countries in the Caribbean, the most of which are completely safe to travel to and are well worth the trip. Consider Saint Kitts’ sister islands as an example. Along with a plethora of gorgeous beaches, the rainforests here are particularly remarkable.
Another nation that draws tourists from all around the world is Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. In truth, Princess Margaret spent time there on vacation, as shown in the television program “The Crown.”
Use Precaution in Central America
The State Department advises Americans against visiting Nicaragua in Central America because of the country’s poor healthcare infrastructure and arbitrary law enforcement, which contribute to increased crime. San Salvador, on the other hand, has a greater rate of violent crimes. Honduras is on high alert owing to crime, although it is not pervasive throughout the nation, and tourist-oriented areas might be safer than off-the-beaten-path trips. The same is true for Guatemala.
If you do want to travel to these nations, be cautious of your surroundings, avoid nighttime travel and walking or driving, conceal any pricey jewelry or other obvious evidence of wealth, and only work with licensed tour operators and guides.
Now Safe: Mexico
The news is full of tales of tourists hailing a taxi only to be spirited away to a secluded location and left alone after being robbed in Mexico, as well as accounts of violent cartel fights. The risks are actual.
The U.S. Department of State maintains distinct advisories for various regions of this enormous nation, mostly because the most dangerous places are not actually visited by tourists. In more secure areas like Oaxaca, which is home to the city of the same name, you may still delve deeply into Mexican culture. Here, you can find 16th-century colonial structures that are multicolored as well as colorful cuisine in outdoor markets.
Oaxaca is a world away from congested tourist hotspots like Cancun and Puerto Vallarta. Here, you can experience a bustling central plaza, browse for handmade arts and crafts, and eat in small, authentic Mexican restaurants where nobody will even know what queso dip is. You won’t find beaches or all-inclusive resorts here because of the rugged terrain, but you will learn about the history of the area by studying the murals at Palacio de Gobierno.
Of course, it’s also worthwhile to visit Mexico’s coastal cities and beaches. Simply look up which are the safest.
South America: Watch Out for Venezeula
Venezuela is now experiencing political unrest, placing it in the State Department’s “Do Not Travel” zone. High rates of violent crime, a deficient healthcare system, political protests and rallies, as well as the arbitrary incarceration of Americans, are all prevalent in the nation.
Numerous Venezuelans are applying for refuge in neighboring nations due to the country’s severe shortages of food, medicine, water, and electricity.
Do Visit Bolivia and Argentina
Despite this, a good deal of South America is safe to visit, including Bolivia, Argentina, and some regions of Peru (although this advice has been increased owing to violence around the Colombian border).
Lake Titicaca, which rises more than 12,500 feet above sea level and is the highest navigable lake in the world, is shared by Bolivia and Peru. Make sure to try the guinea pig, a local delicacy that is served whole and skinned (not for the weak of heart!).
The business center of South America is located in Argentina’s cosmopolitan Buenos Aires, which is as dynamic and alive as any capital.
Use Precaution in Colombia and Peru
Despite the fact that Bogota is booming, you should use caution in Colombia and stay away from Arauca, Cauca, Choco, Narino, and Norte de Santander due to high crime and terrorism rates. In these regions, Popayan, Nuqui, and Cucuta are safer, but only if you can get there by car. All around the nation, protests are often organized, and in 2021, during a nationwide rally, looting and devastation occurred in a number of places.
Peruvian travel is likewise at a Level 3 advisory for identical reasons. Avoid traveling to the northern regions of Peru as well as to the Valley of the Apurmac, Ene, and Mantaro Rivers (VAEMR), which is home to the Shining Path, a far-left terrorist organization.
Now Safe: Falkland Islands
Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands in the 1980s after generations of British sovereignty there. They asserted ownership of the islands, which are located off the coast of Argentina. Although Britain prevailed in the brief conflict, the isolated Falkland Islands became associated with turmoil in the imaginations of Americans.
This is not accurate at all. These stunning, wildlife-rich, and extremely safe islands in the southern Atlantic Ocean carry a Level 1 travel warning. There is a lot of natural beauty to enjoy and discover in this area, from breathtaking beaches to maritime exploration and penguin colonies (after all, the islands are close to Antarctica).
Africa: Watch Out for Countries of Unrest
Several African nations are considered hazardous for travel by the State Department.
According to reports, “schools” in Somalia are being used as “cultural rehabilitation” facilities where people are being held against their will and subjected to severe physical torture. Terrorist and armed organizations in Mali have carried out attacks and kidnappings in nightclubs, hotels, restaurants, and other tourist destinations.
In the Central African Republic, kidnappings and murders of civilians are frequent, whereas in South Sudan, where political and ethnic conflict is so ubiquitous, journalists have been slain while performing their jobs. Particularly targeted in Libya, where kidnapping for ransom is prevalent, are American citizens and government employees.
Do Visit Namibia, Botswana and Zambia
Did the African warnings frighten you? Don’t be hesitant if you’ve always wanted to go on an African safari.
According to the State Department, Namibia, Botswana, and Zambia are in fully safe regions because they are far from the aforementioned threats. The nations, which are home to national parks and several wildlife preserves, give visitors the opportunity to observe lions, giraffes, zebras, elephants, and other animals in their natural habitats.
There are peaceful tribes of bushmen who continue to live the same manner their ancestors did for hundreds of years. For instance, consider the 80,000-year-old San Bushmen of Southern Africa. Children of the tribes are particularly enthralled by and like meeting outsiders. A cultural experience unlike any other can be had by traveling to a tribe.
Use Precaution in Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Congo and Guinea-Bissau
Aside from the nations designated as being completely unsuitable for travel, there are a number of other nations with higher security threats that Americans are recommended to think twice before visiting.
Armed robberies are frequent in Niger, where crime and terrorism are at higher levels. This is also true of Nigeria, a neighboring country where piracy and civil unrest are on the rise. The northern Nigerian states of Adamawa and Borno are not recommended owing to terrorism.
Chad is risky due to the minefields along its borders with Libya and Sudan, as well as the carjackings, muggings, and other crimes that are also present in Mauritania.
Keep an Eye Open in Egypt and Ethiopia
Recently, Level 3 travel advisories have also been issued for Egypt and Ethiopia, primarily due to terrorism. Terrorist organizations have targeted Egypt’s tourist attractions, transit hubs, and diplomatic buildings. Furthermore, the U.S. Embassy in Egypt has “limited ability to assist dual national U.S.-Egyptian citizens who are arrested.”
It is not advisable to travel to Ethiopia at the moment because various other regions are experiencing armed conflict and civil upheaval. The Addis Ababa state of Ethiopia appears to be stable.
Now Safe: Morocco and South Africa
The State Department has recently advised increased care in Morocco due to instances of tourists being attacked and mugged. However, no terrorist acts were reported in 2019, even though the African nation increased the number of arrests it made in 2018.
You should continue to exercise caution and keep your guard up when you are in the markets. Additionally, you should respect locals and avoid traveling outside of densely inhabited regions unless you are with a tour company. Moroccans don’t like having their pictures taken, and they anticipate that visitors will hide their flesh.
This knowledge will allow you to travel securely to this nation, which is home to towering mountains, vast desert, and the busy city of Marrakesh, which Winston Churchill once referred to as “the last paradise on Earth.” The same can be true for South Africa, where a Level 2 travel advisory is also in effect.
Oceania: Watch Out for Papa New Guinea
A Level 3 travel warning has been issued for the picturesque islands that make up Papua New Guinea owing to criminality, civil turmoil, and volcanic activity.
Travelers should stay away from isolated areas of the nation such as Southern Bougainville, The Highlands, and those.
Use Precaution in Indonesia
Although Oceania still has a low level travel advice, Indonesia does have a Level 2 alert from the U.S. State Department urging extra care.
Although in Central Sulawesi and Papua, civil unrest is also causing some trouble, the extra safeguards are necessary due to terrorism and natural calamities like tsunamis, volcano eruptions, and earthquakes.
Visitors are urged to use caution in crowded places, nightclubs, pubs, shopping centers, and dining establishments.
Now Safe: New Zealand
The terror assault on a mosque in New Zealand in March 2019 left a lasting impression on a nation known for its friendliness. Even though the incident served as a stark reminder that such atrocities can occur in even the most idyllic locations, the nation reacted fast to make sure that visitors would still feel safe and welcome, including by putting into place a successful gun buyback program.
Travelers who enjoy the great outdoors and want to hike, mountain bike, kayak, fish, and other outdoor activities will love the country’s stunning natural scenery. Visitors should make an effort to meet and connect with the Maori, who love to showcase Polynesian dances, music, and traditions, while Wellington, the country’s capital, and Christ Church, an interesting metropolis, both offer numerous modern conveniences.
Use Precaution in Touristy Cities
In Europe, terrorist attacks on unaware tourists have risen over time. Larger cities like Paris and London used to be the focus of alerts, but more and more attacks are happening in places like Munich, Nice, and Manchester.
Use cautious when traveling through Western Europe, especially in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Belgium; be aware of your surroundings; and keep an eye on the news for any alerts.
Do Visit Eastern Europe and Scandinavia
In Eastern European nations like Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Croatia, Hungary, and Slovakia, which are all seeing a surge in travel as more daring Europe-lovers expand deeper into the continent, terrorist acts do not occur.
Switzerland has remained on the safe list and has not been the target of any terrorist attacks thanks to its well-known gendarmerie, neutrality, and riches.
Scandinavian nations are likewise included on the State Department’s clear list, with the exception of Denmark. Enjoy the natural splendor of Sweden, Finland, and Norway, which are renowned for their outdoor recreation. Numerous people flock to the area in the winter in an effort to see the northern lights.
Europe: Watch Out for Russia and Ukraine
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, both nations are now on the Level 4 “do not travel” list. The U.S. Embassy can only provide limited assistance to Americans traveling in Russia’s European or Asian regions, and they should be aware that American credit and debit cards are no longer accepted there.
Of course, until military assaults and civil turmoil subside, travelers should stay away from Ukraine due to the ongoing armed war there.
Now Safe: Singapore
Singapore has a reputation for having stringent restrictions, but as of October 5, 2022, visiting this city-state is entirely secure.
Given the diversity of its cultures, it is particularly fascinating and a haven for foodies seeking for Indian, Chinese, and Singaporean cuisine. Don’t forget to sample the Singapore Sling in one of the city’s renowned, old-school hotels.
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