Janisa loves traveling and has been exploring Latin America since 2018. Here she shares some tips with fellow travelers.
What Makes a Vacation Perfect?
What do you think of when you think of vacation? You most likely imagine a few weeks filled with nothing but relaxation in some tropical country near the sea. Or, if you prefer to be productive during your trips, your perfect vacation may include visiting as many museums and historical landmarks as you can. We all have our definitions of a perfect vacation and there is one thing they all have in common: enjoyment. Vacations should be fun, even if you return home exhausted after having visited every single museum in a country in two weeks.
However, vacations should not make you feel as if you were visiting the sets for world news stories. Of course, there is a chance that a crime will occur even in the safest of countries, there are some that you should definitely stay away from, especially if you want to live to tell your vacation story. You don’t want to spend your entire time off work trying to avoid getting killed. That’s no fun at all and you may not end up succeeding. Below is a list of the worst countries to visit on vacation in 2018. Some of these may have been amazing vacation destinations in the past, but have become too dangerous for tourists in recent years. You will be missing out on some spectacular sights and experiences by not visiting these countries, but what really matters is the fact that you won’t have be live in fear during your trip.
Taking a Trip to Fear-Land
Top 10 Countries to Visit for Vacation
If you're short on time, these are the countries you should consider avoiding when going on vacation:
- North Korea
The Country: Niger is a country located in Northwestern Africa that was once a colony of France, along with many other countries in the area. The United Nations considers Niger to be one of the least-developed nations on the planet. Since it is located on the Sahara desert, droughts are common and so is poverty, due to the the nation’s level of development. Despite its extensive history, Niger most likely isn’t on top of travelers’ bucket lists. In addition, there are other aspects that make this country particularly unsafe for visitors.
Why it’s Unsafe: There is a high risk of being the victim of terrorism and kidnapping both inside and outside of the capital of Niamey. There is a high presence of armed militants in the country and extremely high crime rates. It is advised to to avoid traveling outside of the capital at all costs. As for the capital of Niamey, one should only travel there if it is absolutely necessary.
The Price for Playing it Safe: Although there are no beaches, Niger is still a beautiful country and would be worth visiting, had it not been for its extreme violence. Most worthy of mention is Agadez, which has been the home to the country’s sultanate prior to the land being occupied by the French. The town was built in the 15th century in a desert region, around 460 miles (740 km) from the nation’s capital. The town’s center has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2013 and has been prevalent in the area when it was safer.
The Country: Present day Iraq is located in the area that was once home to several of the earliest known human civilizations and has thousands of years of history. In its more recent history, the country has been controlled by Britain, gained its independence and participated in several wars. Up until as recently as 2017, parts of Iraq have been controlled by the armed Islamic State group. Nowadays, parts of Iraq are considered to be mostly safe for foreigners, however it isn’t unlikely for violence to take place in the country. For example, there has been an explosion that resulted in two deaths and ten injuries in Mosul as recently as the beginning of August.
Why it’s Unsafe: Extremist groups such as ISIS aren’t the only ones still posing a risk to civilians and foreigners. Coalition forces are still carrying out airstrikes against terrorist groups. In addition to terrorism, there is also a high risk of being kidnapped, which should convince travelers to choose another vacation destination.
The Price for Playing it Safe: Those choosing not to visit Iraq would miss out on the temples in Hatra, which was once the capital of the first Arab Kingdom. You also won’t get the opportunity to discover Samarra for yourself, also an Islamic capital city. Both of these are UNESCO World Heritage sites.
The Country: Venezuela is a breathtaking country located in the north of South America. There are beaches, mountains and jungles, enough to wow all kinds of travelers. Despite having immense oil deposits, a number of citizens are forced to live in poverty. 1.5 million citizens have fled the country since 2014 due to crises. Those planning to travel to Venezuela should seriously reconsider their travel itinerary.
Why it’s Unsafe: Crime rates are astonishingly high and Venezuelans themselves generally do not feel safe in their own country. A recent poll revealed that only 17% felt it that it was safe to walk in their hometown alone at night. There are high crime rates all over the country and there is inadequate healthcare in the country, even for tourists. You may also become the victim of crimes such as homicide, armed robbery, or kidnapping, should you decide to visit Venezuela.
The Price for Playing it Safe: Venezuela’s Angel Falls is probably known all over the world for being the highest uninterrupted waterfall on our planet. Venezuela is also home to nearly 1 800 miles (2800 km) of stunning coastlines and beaches.
The Country: Afghanistan is a landlocked country in Asia. It is a country that was once rich in minerals and wildlife. However, years of wars and Taliban rule, the country suffers from chronic instability, which has turned numerous citizens into refugees.
Why it’s Unsafe: There is a high risk of falling victim to crime, armed conflict and terrorism, should you travel to Afghanistan. There are also numerous occurrences of kidnapping, hostage taking and suicide bombings throughout the country. Terrorist groups often attack with no warning and tend to target tourist attractions and other public areas.
The Price for Playing it Safe: Both the Minaret of Jam and the Wakhan Corridor. The Minaret of Jam is 65 meters tall and dates back to the 12th century. This monument is located in a river valley in the province of Ghur. It is a very well-preserved structure that accurately represents the engineering and creativity of the 12th century. It is also a UNESCO site. The Wakhan Corridor is an isolated region of the country with breathtaking views. It was also once part of the Silk Road.
The Country: This little-known country is located to the south of Saudi Arabia and the country of Yemen was formed in 1990. Yemen is a predominantly Muslim country and militant groups have used its land for their bases. Most of the country is desert and it borders two seas.
Why it’s Unsafe: The country has been very unstable ever since the North Joined with the South in 1990. Since the Islamic groups have had their bases in the country, there is also a threat of terrorist attacks. In addition, foreigners may be kidnapped and detained for no reason by terrorists, criminals, tribesmen and even the police.
The Price for Playing it Safe: Sana’a may have only been the capital of Yemen since 1990, but its history goes much further than that. The region has been inhabited by humans for over 2 500 years and the city began getting attention from those wishing to propagate the Islamic faith in the 7th century. Sana’a is home to over 100 mosques, 6 000 houses and 14 ‘Turkish baths’ and all of these were built prior to the 11th century.
The Country: Chad is located in Africa and contains significant amounts of minerals in its territory. The country gained its independence from France in 1960 and has been an unstable and violent nation since then. Many of Chad’s citizens suffer from poverty, internal conflicts and inadequate infrastructure. Chad became known as an oil-producing country in 2003.
Why it’s Unsafe: Chad is a very violent country and terrorism is a threat. Terrorist attacks could occur at tourist attractions, as well as elsewhere in the country. Travelers visiting Chad will also be putting themselves at risk for kidnapping and carjacking. Chad also contains a number of unmapped minefields, particularly near the borders with Libya and Sudan.
The Price for Playing it Safe: Chad has a very picturesque landscape. Favorite tourist attractions include the lakes of Ounianga and the Ennedi Massif. Both are UNESCO world heritage sites. The Ennedi Massif is a sandstone, which contains one of Sahara’s largest rock art ensembles. The Ounianga lakes are located in an area of the country that receives very little rain annually. These lakes receive their water from an underground ‘fossil water’ supply and there are 18 of these lakes in total.
The Country: Somalia is located on the Horn of Africa and it is an unstable country. The country was formed in 1960. The country has suffered from military regimes, anarchy and unstable governments.
Why it’s Unsafe: Somalia is currently considered a high-risk country due to the high risks of terrorist attacks. There are also landmines throughout the country, which make it particularly unsafe to travel by road in Somalia. There is also a high level of criminal activity and kidnapping in the country.
The Price for Playing it Safe: Somalia is home to beautiful beaches and is swarming with wildlife. Had it not been for the violence in the country, Somalia would be a top travel destination for animal enthusiasts and those looking for a beach getaway.
The Country: Most recently Syria became known for its devastating civil war, started by ISIS, whose consequences were felt worldwide. Millions of Syrians became refugees and were forced to flee to countries such as Canada, the USA and parts of Europe. The region was inhabited by humans for thousands of years. Some also believe that what is present day Syria was among the first areas whose inhabitants shifted towards a farming lifestyle.
Why it’s Unsafe: Most of the country is still a war zone and the majority of these areas are not controlled by the Syrian government. ISIS is still an ongoing threat in the country. Those traveling to Syria will be at risk of falling victim to terrorism, civil unrest and armed conflict. Currently, violence is prevalent in all parts of the country.
The Price for Playing it Safe: Damascus was founded in the 3rd century BC and is currently the capital of Syria. This ancient city is teeming with different kinds of architecture from various periods of history. The Crac des Chevaliers is an impressive fortress constructed by European crusaders in the area and is definitely worth visiting.
The Country: Despite only gaining its independence in 1951, Libya is a country with a rich history. The land is rich in oil, which resulted in immense wealth for the country. More recently, however, numerous Europe-bound migrants began crossing the country, and this has also increased the threat of terrorism in Libya.
Why it’s Unsafe: Terrorism is currently a major threat in Libya. Foreigners are also at risk of being kidnapped while in the country.
The Price for Playing it Safe: Leptis Magna was once one of the Roman Empire’s most beautiful cities according to UNESCO, who have also added the ancient city to their world heritage list. This magnificent city was once home to numerous public monuments, a harbour, market place, shops and residential areas. Today, only ruins remain of this spectacular town.
1 North Korea
The Country: While the rest of the world is a mystery to the residents of North Korea, the country is a mystery to all those outside of it. North Korea is one of the few countries that still has a communist regime. Despite bordering China and South Korea, the country and its citizens are isolated from the rest of the world.
Why it’s Unsafe: There is a threat of potential missile or nuclear tests in the region, which make North Korea unsafe for its citizens and all those near the country. The country isn’t very dangerous due Kim Jong Un’s strict laws and severe punishments. In addition, the country has very strict restrictions for foreigners traveling to North Korea, so it is highly unlikely that the average tourist will get permission to visit the country on vacation.
The Price for Playing it Safe: North Korea is home to several breathtaking mountains and other places worth visiting, such as the Tower of the Juche Idea and King Kongmin’s tomb. The Tower of the Juche Idea is located in the capital of Pyongyang and was built for the 70th birthday of the President Kim 11-sung. Visitors can get a spectacular view of the city from the top of the tower. King Kongmin was the 31st Koryo king and his tomb is North Korea’s most well-preserved and elaborate. The tomb is a Unesco World Heritage site, along with the closest city of Kaesong.
© 2018 Janisa
Sp Greaney from Ireland on July 13, 2019:
Nice pros and cons list you've done on those countries. Dont think i'll be going there any time soon. Hopefully things change in the future.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 19, 2018:
I have no plans to vacation particularly in those parts of the world you mentioned. Hopefully, in years to come, they will once again be places that are safe to visit for those so inclined. It is sad that we have to consider safety when planning vacations or visits but it is the world we currently live in and it has been that way for some time.
Janisa (author) from Earth on August 19, 2018:
I completely agree with you. Something bad can happen to you in a relatively safe country and it is also possible to have a perfectly safe experience in a country that is considered to be dangerous. I currently live in a city that had the largest annual amount of homicides in Brazil a few years ago and I feel perfectly safe here, even if I walk alone in the evening.
I really hope that the countries in this list will become safer and more accessible for visitors in the future, since there are a number of them that I really want to visit.
Liz Westwood from UK on August 19, 2018:
Nowhere is 100% safe, but I agree that this list contains places that I would avoid. Times can change and maybe in the future they will become safer. I am a little wary as within a few days of returning from Tunisia a few years ago, there were shootings on the beach there. Then again there have been terror attacks in Madrid, Barcelona, Bruxelles, Paris and London, to name but a few.