Traveling is as easy as getting a passport, applying for a visa, and packing your bags, right? Well, we all wish it was simpler than that, but instead, it gets worse! You need to plan where you will sleep, what you will eat, how you will interact with the natives, and most importantly, how you will ensure their safety. While it is true that each neighborhood has its own degree of security, some have more than others, and that is worrying.
From unpredictable weather to harsh cultural/political practices to outright insecurity, we take a look at the 10 most dangerous cities for tourists. Not to be confused though; these cities are vibrant, have incredible natural features, and are generally perfect for tourism. Its only disappointment is that you may have to fear a bit more for your overall safety. And if you think about it, maybe it’s the adrenaline rush that makes them more worth it.
Related: 10 Macabre Tourist Attractions
10 Kingston, Jamaica
Kingston, Jamaica is one of the places that you can visit on a tight budget and still get the most out of your trip. From museums and rainforests to magnificent natural harbors, you won’t run out of things to do. The city is also home to famous reggae artists like Buju Banton, Beenie Man, and the legendary Bob Marley. However, Kingston’s crime rate may have you singing to a different tune.
Statistics show that the country experiences around 49.4 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, with Kingston at the center. Security concerns in this region range from petty theft to gang violence and drug trafficking. If you plan to visit Kingston, Jamaica, or learn about the region, it’s safe to say that safety is not guaranteed there.
To improve your chances of uninterrupted fun, avoid walking at night, visit crowded places, and stay away from regions with known gang-related crimes. When you head to the beach, leave your valuables behind or you’ll become a target for petty thieves.
9 Nairobi, Kenya
Nairobi, Kenya is one of the few cities where you can find a national park at its heart. The city looks perfect for tourists, with museums, natural forests for hiking, and outdoor spaces for camping all in the surrounding area. However, it is recommended to be careful with some of the natives; they can always “sniff out” foreigners and nab them to make a killing (sometimes literally).
Other than that, the city has been the target of terrorist attacks against high-profile institutions and government facilities. Walking in public might not save you from this, as terrorists often target public spaces.
In a moment, you may be at peace, enjoying your journey. Before you know it, you are running or fighting for your life. The biggest challenge for tourists touring Nairobi is that you never know when something will happen, and something always does!
8 Rio de Janeiro Brazil
Rio de Janeiro is your perfect option if you love to party and attend festivals. Popularly known for football (soccer for Americans), the city is home to beautiful beaches, cutting-edge architecture, and a carefree lifestyle. You can also enjoy dancing samba, and Carnival, that’s something else! Have you heard of the Christ the Redeemer statue? It’s something for most tourists and worth exploring. You can also enjoy the view of the city from the top of Cerro Corcovado.
We can go on and on, mentioning thousands of things you can do in Rio. However, we should also mention that the city has one of the highest crime rates in the region, and you should approach it with caution. It has a high risk of theft, a medium risk of natural disasters, and pickpockets are always on high alert to rob unsuspecting visitors. Only 43% of Rio is considered safe, which means that overall the city is too dangerous to visit. You’d rather stay away and watch football on TV than visit the samba house and get robbed or robbed.
7 Tijuana, Mexico
You will love Tijuana, Mexico if you visit it on a short trip. The destination is also perfect for a day trip from San Diego. Here you can take pictures at the city’s Monumental Arch, learn about indigenous culture at the Tijuana Cultural Center, visit the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe, or watch Lucha Libre. Unfortunately, Tijuana would be a perfect tourist destination, but because of its security concerns. In 2022 alone, more than 138 murders per 100,000 people were reported here!
The city is full of con men, with neighborhoods that are home to gangs and cartels. Authorities also identified the region as a hub for drug smuggling into the United States. Visiting Tijuana means you can end up in the crossfire, either from the cartels or from the authorities. Cases of human trafficking have also been reported in this region; you don’t want to get kidnapped during a trip that was supposed to let you nap like a kid. The trick here is to avoid hotspots and minimize walks at night or in sparsely populated areas.
6 Baghdad, Iraq
When you hear Baghdad or Iraq, you immediately know that something has happened or is about to happen. Contrary to what you may have been told, the city has many places that you can visit during your trip. For example, you can visit the Baghdad Museum, the Al-Shaheed Monument, the Ottoman Castle or the Al-Rashid street market for shopping.
Unfortunately, the city is prone to kidnappings, armed conflict, terrorism, and civil unrest. You may be enjoying your shopping at the Al-Rashid street market and before you know it, find yourself in the middle of a protest or altercation. Baghdad, and the largest Iraqi country, have strict rules that foreigners may have a hard time abiding by. If you are planning to visit, it would be wise to stick to the generally safer regions of Baghdad, such as the Kurdish.
5 Cali, Colombia
If you are looking for one of the best places for nightlife, Cali, Colombia has to be among the first. It is one of the few cities where the clubs stay open until 7 am! When you factor in the weather and the fact that it’s generally more affordable than other cities like Medellín and Bogotá, you have every reason to visit Cali—or not. Endless nightlife comes with many challenges, chief among them a potential lack of security. Cali is home to drug cartels (remember the Cali Cartel?), gangs and thieves, people who aren’t afraid to kill.
It’s okay to overlook the unsafe aspect and enjoy the beauty and serenity of the city, as long as you take the necessary precautions. For example, you can avoid going from club to club if you go out at night. You can also visit alternative tourist attractions such as the Cali Zoo, El Gato del Río and the Ermita Church. Any destination that you can visit during the day is welcome.
4 Pripyat, Ukraine
At one time, the Chernobyl Power Plant and Pripyat were the most visited tourist destinations in Ukraine. Surprisingly, the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia has nothing to do with why this city was abandoned (well, maybe a little bit); Pripyat is now filled with radioactive waves that can be fatal. The area is contaminated and people exposed to the conditions may be digging their graves.
Pripyat’s habitability was caused by a catastrophic explosive meltdown from an extreme energy spike. Since then, nearly 400,000 people have been evacuated from the region. Today, only the brave souls reside in Pripyat, given its high level of pollution and extensive radiation levels. If you love visiting ghost towns with lots to see and do, Pripyat could be your perfect choice. However, you have been warned!
3 Caracas Venezuela
The National Pantheon, the Ávila National Park and the Los Caobos Park are beautiful places that you can visit in Caracas, Venezuela. It is also famous for its food and entertainment, restaurants with local food, museums, theaters, shopping malls, etc. You will find everything you can think of… as well as security. Don’t let the towering buildings fool you; Things can get complicated quickly in Caracas. The city has one of the highest crime rates in the world, and the situation doesn’t look like it’s going to change any time soon.
The natives attribute the decline in security in Caracas to the country’s dilapidated economy. The political stability of Venezuela is not something to write about either; demonstrations are a norm. So if someone isn’t trying to rob you to support their family or buy drugs, you might find yourself caught up in a political rally. The city is a good tourist destination; The same cannot be said for its safety.
2 Islamabad, Pakistan
Islamabad, Pakistan is home to world-renowned tourist attractions and places of worship such as Shah Faisal Masjid, Daman-e-Koh and Lok Virsa Heritage Museum. The city is also home to several parks and forests, with Shakarparian and Margalla Hills National Parks being the most popular. Traditional cuisines like halwa poori, chapli kebab and daal are worth trying. But then there is a big problem; security!
A 2022 report showed that attacks in Islamabad were on the rise, with hotels and recreational areas among the main targets. The measures to curb these cases of bad security are not friendly either. The region’s authorities have intensified security controls, including brutal force, countless checkpoints and maximum dehumanization. You don’t want to run into any of these on your vacation, do you?
1 Kabul, Afghanistan
Over the years, places like the Darul Aman Palace, Babur Garden, and the National Museum of Afghanistan have been major tourist attractions for people from all over the world. However, Kabul is constantly threatened by terrorist attacks, and the authorities are often brutal with their searches and peacekeeping missions.
Traveling in Kabul is not considered safe, especially since attacks are often abrupt and deadly. While the city is beautiful and perfect for sightseeing, you must be an incredibly brave soul to consider visiting.
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