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12 Most Dangerous Places in the World

You know not to plan a vacation for North Korea or Iraq, but there are still plenty of desirable locations where the traveling can be tricky—or downright deadly. Read through our list to keep your family safe.

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Taj Mahal, India


The radical disparity in wealth and class may explain some of the risk of scams and theft in this country. But according to John Gobbels, vice president and chief operating officer for Medjet (an international emergency service), it’s medical safety that actually makes India so dangerous. He explains that the U.S. State Department gives the country Level 2 travel advisory status. (Level 1 means you should exercise normal precautions; Level 4 is “do not go.”) India gets the “exercise increased caution” status mostly due to air pollution, typhoid, and food and waterborne infections. It also hosts the rare but life-threatening Nipah virus. If the Taj Mahal is a must-see for you, Gobbels recommends a visit with your physician before you go. In addition to getting vaccinated, you may want to take antimalarial medications and consider travel insurance. Check out these vaccination recommendations before you travel.

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Helicopter tour of Kauai, Hawaii
Pierre Leclerc/Shutterstock


Considering this destination is a prime hot spot for honeymooners, it might be surprising to see the Big Island of Hawaii as a dangerous place to visit. The eruption of a volcano has put Kilauea in a state of emergency, with toxic gas, fissures, lava flows, and earthquakes all a risk. You’ll likely see special airline deals crop up, but think twice before making this flight. Even if you find yourself at a dangerous destination, these funny travel cartoons will provide some levity! 

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Coast of the Pacific Ocean, Acapulco, Mexico


This beach resort town on Mexico’s Pacific coast isn’t exactly the white-sand party destination it once was. With a Level 4 travel advisory, Gobbels explains, it’s in the same category as places like Iran, Syria, and North Korea. Why so dangerous? It’s deemed as the murder capital of the country, with dozens of gangs operating in the open. Plenty of Mexico is still safe, though—here are the popular Mexico destinations where you can have a wonderful vacation.

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city view Israel.
Tal Terry/Shutterstock

Israel and the Middle East

Give the recent violence and unrest surrounding the U.S. embassy’s move to Jerusalem, the area can be a risky destination. Even though the opening ceremony for the embassy seemed like a celebratory time, 50 miles away in Gaza, violent protests erupted. Considered among the holiest places in the world, plenty of people still travel here, but the State Department warns you to be alert and prepared. If you do decide to go, Gobbels suggests enrolling with Smart Traveler, which allows U.S. embassies and consulates to contact you and provide aid in case of a violent incident.

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Colorful houses of Antenor Navarro Square at historic Center of Joao Pessoa - Joao Pessoa, Paraiba, Brazil
Diego Grandi/Shutterstock


When worldatlas.com ranked the 50 most dangerous cities in the world, 17 of them were in Brazil. If you go, it’s important to always be aware of your surroundings and diligent with your safety, warns Gobbels. “Crime is rampant in the cities, and you need to be especially careful if you travel anywhere outside the main tourist areas.” Your health could also be in danger: If you’re heading to the beach—even the famed sands of Ipanema—remember water pollution is a definite concern. One study found that just three teaspoons of the water could expose swimmers to a viral or bacterial infection. The sand can also hide infectious bugs, Gobbels explains, and that makes it risky for babies or toddlers. Check out the “forbidden island” in Brazil—it’s one of the 10 places on the planet that no one can visit.

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Pulau Mabul - Borneo - Malaysia
Paulo Henrique Vilella/Shutterstock

Malaysian Borneo

This island destination in Southeast Asia’s Malay Archipelago offers pristine beaches, a rich rainforest, and amazing wildlife from leopards to orangutans. The views may be beautiful, but the political climate makes it risky. The election season in early May prompted threats of kidnapping foreigners; spots on the island known for diving are among the most dangerous. Here are 11 things you can do to stay safe while traveling solo.

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Aerial view of the dense Madagascar rainforest


Compared to other African countries, the crime rate in Madagascar is considerably lower. That being said, political turmoil in this area has resulted in higher unemployment rates, which triggers robberies and muggings. This is especially true in crowded areas, like airports and street markets. There is also a growing trend of violent highway robberies, including car theft, for those traveling on RN7, RN27, RN10, and RN1B. Because of this, you should always move quickly and not remain idle or leave your car alone. It’s also important to note there was a 2017 plague outbreak in Madagascar that killed 2,700 people, with another predicted for September through April. Here are some more common tourist destinations that can be very dangerous if you’re not careful.

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CAIRO - DECEMBER 28 : View from Cairo Citadel in the morning Dec. 28,2017 in Cairo, Egypt.
Prin Adulyatham/Shutterstock

Cairo, Egypt

According to a recent report from the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Cairo is considered the most dangerous city for women in the world. Even though the political tensions are easing in this area, according to Gobbels, sexual violence and cultural expectations make it extremely problematic, for both locals and visitors. Though plenty of women’s rights organizations are pushing for security on the streets, it is taking time to be implemented. If you traveling there anyway, go with a trusted tour operator. Gobbels also suggests knowing the emergency number—122—and learning how to say ‘stop’ and ‘help’ in the native language. A whistle isn’t a bad idea either.

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Scenic tropical landscape, El Nido, Palawan, Philippines, Southeast Asia. Beautiful tropical island with hut, sandy beach, palms. Sea bay scenery. Popular landmark, tourist destination of Philippines


While much of the Philippines is safe, it’s best to avoid the southern part of the country—specifically the beach areas, according to Gobbels, mostly due to the increased number of kidnappings. (The U.S. State Department has issued a Level 2 travel advisory.) On one of the largest islands—Mindanao, mainly in the Zamboanga and Sulu Archipelago areas—you might come in contact with the ASG, an ISIS-affiliated terrorist group known for its kidnap-for-ransom operations. If you venture to the capital city of Manila, pickpocketing and sometimes violent crime are on the rise. Gobbels adds that it’s better to walk than drive if you explore these areas, since accidents are common in the country and emergency response services are limited. He suggests spending extra on hotels in safer areas: “Yes, you might try to score the best resort deal, but the more expensive hotels usually have better security as well, so in this case, go for the nicer properties,” he notes.

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GUATEMALA CITY, GUATEMALA - Sep 2, 2016: Metropolitan Cathedral at Plaza de la Constitucion (Constitution Square) Guatemala City, Guatemala
Diego Grandi/Shutterstock

Guatemala City, Guatemala

Currently, this Central American country just south of Mexico gets a Level 3 travel advisory from the U.S. State Department. Political tensions, high poverty, drug trafficking, the risk of carjacking, and armed robbery are just a few of the reasons to steer clear. Violent crime—including sexual assault and murder—are also common, thanks in part to the numerous gangs in cities and along the borders. If you do decide to go, make sure to invest in a hotel that not only has a doorman but a dedicated professional security staff. When you explore, always go with a security member from the Guatemalan Tourism Institute. It’s also best to avoid walking or driving at night, using public ATMs, and displaying any signs of wealth, such as wearing watches or jewelry.

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Moscow,Russia,Red square, St. Basil's Cathedral and monument to Minin and Pozharsky


While plenty of people dream of setting their sights on the colorful castles of St. Petersburg, the U.S. State Department advises giving the entire country a hard pass. While not all areas are risky, rumors of planned terrorist attacks and the fact that police officers may target American citizens for mistreatment or extortion have earned Russia a Level 3—reconsider your plans. If you do go, to stay safe you should steer clear of demonstrations, keep yourself updated on the local news, and remain alert in any area where westerners travel. By the way, do you know why you shouldn’t smile at strangers in Russia? Here are 12 things you should never do in different countries around the world.

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The U.S. State Department is clear about travel to this Middle East Nation: “No part of Yemen is safe from violence.” Because terrorist groups continuously plot and execute attacks, tourist locations, buses or trains, shopping malls and other public areas are threatened with bombs and armed conflict. This has been the case for years, considering the U.S. Embassy left its base in February of 2015, meaning there is no American protection on the ground. Next, check out these places that you might think are dangerous but are actually safer than you think.

Lindsay Tigar
Lindsay Aurora Tigar is an experienced digital editor and blogger in NYC. Her blog, Confessions of a Love Addict, has a large following around the world, and a book project based on the blog is under development. The New York Post named her New York City's most eligible single in January 2014. She was also selected as one of New York's most desirable singles by the lifestyle dating website Rachel & Chris and has partnered with several popular dating blogs to create viral content. She is part of the HerCampus Blogger Network and spoke at their summer conference on "How to Be a Powerhouse Blogger." She's a social media and digital media guru with large followings on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. She freelances for several sites, including Shape.com, eHarmony.com, AskMen.com, Engagement 101 and more. She's also the resident dater for Women'sHealthMag.com, writing weekly about her dating adventures in her "Dater Diary" column.