10 Seemingly Safe Vacation Destinations That Are Actually Dangerous

By Brandi Walker on March 24 2020 in Travel

In 2018, South Africa experienced a staggering 30 murders per 100,000 citizens. Photo by Tobias Fischer on Unsplash
In 2018, South Africa experienced a staggering 30 murders per 100,000 citizens. Photo by Tobias Fischer on Unsplash
  • Between 2013 and 2015, there were 3,121 tourist deaths globally.
  • 50% of all tourist fatalities in the three years between 2013 and 2015 occurred in Asian countries.
  • Armed robbery, terrorism, and natural disasters are some of the leading causes of tourist deaths.

A vacation should be a time to unwind from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. However, that dream vacation could quickly turn into the stuff of nightmares. According to a report published by The Global Epidemiology of Tourist Fatalities in 2017, there were 3,121 tourist deaths globally in the three years between 2013 and 2015. Out of all the tourist fatalities, nearly 50% occurred in Asian nations. Tourist fatalities result from several causes ranging from terrorism, armed robbery, natural disasters, or illness from exotic diseases.

If you are planning your next holiday vacation, keep an eye out on the following seemingly harmless locations.

10. Madagascar’s Antananarivo

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Perhaps more famous for 2005’s delightful animation, Madagascar has gained a niche as one of Africa’s top tourist destinations. Political instability and rampant corruption in the country have, however, led to high rates of unemployment, which acts as a catalyst for crime. Antananarivo, the country's capital, experiences violent crimes such as robbery, assault, and vandalism. If you are planning on visiting the island paradise, do your research and find a safe part of the island you can visit.

9. The Bahamas

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The beautiful archipelago paints a perfect picture of pulchritude. With more than 700 islands, the Bahamas offers some of the world's best beaches. There is, however, a bit of a dark side to the sunny paradise. Violent crime has been on the rise in recent years, particularly in Nassau, the capital city. Additionally, the wet weather creates the ideal conditions for the spread of Dengue fever and the Chikungunya virus.

8. Mindanao, Philippines

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The Philippines is the second-largest archipelago in the world, with over 7,100 individual islands. However, the southern region of the country is not so safe to visit. Mindanao, one of the nation's largest islands, houses the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), which is an ISIS-affiliated terrorist group. The group claims to promote independent Islam and is known for its ransom kidnappings. If you want to make the Philippines your next travel destination, endeavor to avoid the southern region.

7. North Korea’s Pyongyang

Photo by Chintung Lee on Shutterstock.com

Probably one of the most authoritarian nations in the world, North Korea has a reputation for its no-nonsense policies. In 2016, American college student Otto Warmbier was detained in North Korea for 17 months on the charge of subversion. He was later released but was found to be in a vegetative state, and he subsequently died in June 2017. All the tours are escorted and controlled by Kim Jong Un’s government. Additionally, the stringent ban on cell phones means you can forget about using your friendly pocket device.

6. Acapulco, Mexico

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What was once a travel haven for tourists, the town is now a shadow of its former self. Now deemed the murder capital of Mexico, Acapulco has a level 4 travel advisory placing it in the same league as North Korea and Syria. Lots of gangs operate from the town, making this a no-go zone. Consider saving your money for better options in Mexico like Cancun and Puerto Vallarta.

5. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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Brazil had the honor of hosting the 2014 FIFA Men’s World Cup as well as the 2016 Olympics. Tourists landed in the country in their thousands, ready to embrace the sporting bonanzas. There were plenty of travel advisories from several nations, particularly on security matters and with good reason. Rio is considered one of the most dangerous cities in Brazil, thanks to the high number of favelas in the city center. Violent crime is common in the city, more so at night, with pickpocketing, muggings, and kidnappings becoming a norm.

4. Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia

Photo by Daniil Silantev on Unsplash

This glamorous peninsula is famous for its ridges of volcanoes and its beautiful nature. Laying in the crater of Maly Semyachik is one of the world's most beautiful lakes with its bright turquoise surface. But that is as far as the lake's beauty goes. The acidic nature of the water makes the lake one of the most dangerous places to have a dip. If you are planning to visit the world’s largest country, stick to the capital, with its picturesque and colorful architecture.

3. The City of Bogota in Colombia

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Colombia is famous for its coffee, flowers, fruits, and, of course, Shakira. It is also infamous for its ongoing violence among the four major Colombian cartels. Several smaller groups known as Bacrims make the city of Bogota a dangerous place to visit. Tales of armed robbery, pickpocketing, kidnappings, and drug-related crimes all give Bogota a bad reputation as a tourist destination. Paramilitary presence and guerilla groups add to the risk factor.

2. The Port of Moresby, Papa New Guinea

The settlement areas within the Port of Moresby harbor serious crime. Both firearms and machetes are the order of the day during robberies and carjackings. Add sexual assault to the list, and you have enough reason to steer clear of this city. If you love having an evening stroll, then think twice. Walking after dark is especially dangerous around the port and other urban areas. Criminals opt for roadblocks outside the town to halt and loot cars and attack the occupants.

1. Cape Town, South Africa

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In 2018, South Africa experienced a staggering 30 murders per 100,000 citizens. Cape Town led the way in the number of gang murders with the police recording over 2,800 murders in that year alone. Daily shootings are frequent and continue escalating due to turf wars between warring drug trafficking gangs. Underlying issues, including rampant corruption and rising unemployment rates, allow the gangs to continue their reign of terror over the townships. This ever-present plague of insecurity has made Cape Town lose its appeal as a top tourist destination.

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