Visiting countries and cultures that are completely different from your own is rewarding. Travel to foreign shores gives you a broader insight and understanding of humanity. You reflect on who you are. It can be life-changing. The world is always changing too.
Some areas also have long reputations for being unsafe destinations for tourists. Always check with your own country’s travel advisory services before you go anywhere. Some regions may not have your own consulate, embassy or diplomatic support if you need it.
Here are 25 of the world’s most dangerous places where it is best not to be a tourist at this time.
1. Aleppo, Syria
Aleppo was once Syria’s largest city and a hub of ancient history, arts, culture, sports, and education. The city was at the front line of the Syrian civil war that began in 2011. Parts of the city were under siege for many years. The city is on the mend, some of the evacuated population are returning to rebuild their lives. Nonetheless, Syria is still a war zone, and not safe for foreigners to travel to.
2. Kabul, Afghanistan
Kabul is the capital of Afghanistan, and possibly the most elevated capital in the world. At one time, its bazaars, palaces, and gardens were on the backpacking trail. The city is extremely dangerous now, especially for western travelers. The city is a site of regular bombings, attacks, and kidnappings.
3. Juba, South Sudan
Although a site of stunning animal migrations, South Sudan in Africa has been in a state of war since 2013. Due to ongoing armed conflict and violence in the city of Juba, it is not safe to travel there. Foreigners in South Sudan at present are being advised to leave as soon as they safely can.
4. Sanaa, Yemen
The political situation in Sana’a or Szanaa in Yemen is currently extremely unstable. The Old City of Sana’a, one of the country’s four World Heritage sites sustained bomb damage in 2015. Foreigners are not advised to this city. There is a very high risk of being a target for terrorist activity and kidnapping.
5. Kinshasa, The Democratic Republic Congo
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has a long political history of change and conflict. Travelers used to trek into the eastern border of the Virunga Mountains to see gorillas. It is no longer safe to do so. Kinshasa, on the south-western border, is a large expansive capital city.
6. Khartoum, Sudan
Khartoum, the capital city of Sudan, is where the white and blue Nile Rivers meet. Some areas of Sudan are in a state of emergency due to conflict. Curfews and restrictions on movement may be imposed in and out of this city.
7. Islamabad, Pakistan
Founded in the 1960s, the capital of Pakistan, Islamabad is a relatively new city. It’s a big one and known as much for its high standard of living as being within an area with ancient history. Pakistan is a high-risk area for terrorist attacks. It can be especially unsafe around religious holidays and elections.
8. Pyongyang, North Korea
Travel to Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea is not advisable. Despite recent steps towards political reconciliation, the country is still considered high risk. Foreigners face restrictions, and punishments can be severe for inadvertently offending local practices.
9. Bogota, Colombia
Colombia’s capital, Bogota, is in the center of the country. The city has some great architecture, arts, and, of course, fine coffee – but it does have a name for street crime. Outside of this city, many areas of Colombia are currently unsafe for tourists.
10. Caracas, Venezuela
Caracas, the capital of Venezuela has been a site of sudden and violent protests in the past few years. It is also said to have one of the highest murder rates in Latin America and the Caribbean coast. Many other countries discourage non-essential travel to most of Venezuela. Especially close to drug trafficking areas on the Colombian border.
11. Aswan, Egypt
Egypt, particularly Cairo and the pyramids in the north, is a country that is on many people’s bucket lists. Many of the popular tourist areas have become increasingly unsafe for visitors. There are political tensions and reports of assaults on foreign men and women. Aswan is the capital of the Aswan province in the south.
12. Mexico City, Mexico
Mexico City, home of Aztec and Mayan ruins and almost nine million people. It has had a reputation in the past for being a dangerous place. So, like any big city, you need to use your common sense and caution. There has also been recent seismic activity in the area – earthquakes are a very real danger.
13. Mumbai, India
Mumbai, previously Bombay, on India’s west coast is the capital of the state of Maharashtra. A megacity with a population of around 12.5 million, it is the most populated city in India. There is terrorist activity in India, and vigilance against scams is advised. Women, in particular, should be careful about personal safety.
14. N’Djamena, Chad
N’Djamena, the capital of Chad in central Africa is interesting – only about a quarter of the capital is urban. The rest is agriculture and farming based. Travel to this area, and elsewhere in Chad is not currently recommended. This is due to carjackings and crime towards both foreign expats and tourists.
15. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
The capital of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh, is inland. However, it has been hit by long-range missile attacks from Yemen. Saudi Arabia as a whole is also at risk of terrorist attacks. Potential targets for terrorists are tourists, religious sites, and other busy locations.
16. Mandalay, Myanmar
Mandalay, the capital city of Myanmar (Burma), isn’t an old city as far as some cities go. But it is home to plenty of temples and places to visit. The city is relatively safe, although it does have a name for local drug trading. Elsewhere in Myanmar, there are areas of serious civil tensions and unrest.
17. Yerevan, Armenia
Yerevan, the capital city of Armenia, has picturesque views of Mount Ararat. The city has seen modernization over the past few decades since the collapse of the Soviet Union. This city is considered safe to visit, although be aware of tourist scams. There have also been political protests in the city in recent years. Elsewhere in Armenia, some borders are subject to armed conflict.
18. Kingston, Jamaica
Kingston, Jamaica’s capital, and largest city is notorious for its violent crime. Some Kingston neighborhoods are synonymous with gang activities and no-go zones for tourists. The city also hosts the Bob Marley Museum in the peace-loving musician’s former home. In tourist areas be sure to protect your valuables and cash.
19. Odessa, Ukraine
Odessa, the third biggest city in Ukraine, is on the coast of the Black Sea. The city has a long history of being a resort, and popular designation for tourists. In 2014, the city was a target for bombings. Travel to the eastern regions of Ukraine and the Crimean peninsula isn’t recommended.
20. Jerusalem, Israel
Jerusalem in the Middle East has been a site of disputes over territory for centuries. Historically, the city is spiritually significant to followers of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Both Israel and Palestine claim Jerusalem as theirs and the conflict is ongoing.
21. Kaliningrad, Russia
Kaliningrad is physically separate from the rest of Russia. The Oblast is between Lithuania and Poland on the Baltic Sea. The area has only been accessible to tourists for around 20 years. Its location and Russia’s recent use of the area for military purposes has caused concern.
22. Gaza, Palestine
Neither the Gaza Strip, the city of Gaza, or the waters of the Mediterranean Sea off the coast are safe for tourists. The volatile situation in this Palestinian occupied territory is complex. Israel and Egypt control its borders.
23. Acapulco, Mexico
Is diving from the cliffs of Acapulco on the southern coast of Mexico on your wish list? This is a city of extremes, with tourist hotels on the coast and shantytowns in the hills. Internal tourism to Acapulco is popular with Mexicans. However, international tourists have dropped over the last decade due to incidents.
24. Sofia, Bulgaria
From Bulgaria’s capital city, Sofia, it is easy to get to Vitosha Mountain – a hiking and skiing destination. Its pre-Soviet areas are also a destination for history and art buffs. The city is also a center for the Bulgarian Mafia and crimes such as theft are common.
25. La Paz, Bolivia
La Paz in Bolivia, South America, is home to the Bolivian government. Tourists are attracted to its many museums, festivals, markets, crafts, and surrounding mountains. Unfortunately so are pickpockets, bag slashers. Street scammers also use decoys and accomplices to mug tourists.