When the travelling bug bites you, you want to explore as many countries in the world as you possibly can. If you have planned for that long pending holiday that can assist you to relax and let go of the problems you face at your job or at home, you may have wondered about the safety of where you plan to visit. Because holidays are something to be treasured, do not risk ruining them because of bad experiences. The bitter truth is, some nations are better for you to go than others. Earlier this year, the WEF (World Economic Forum) released the annual Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report that studies the travel and tourism sectors in 136 nations worldwide. The additional feature that comes along with the report is ranking the security of these countries. It does not account for petty crimes though; just the extent to which a country exposes businesses as well as tourists to safety risks via terrorism and violence. In no particular order, here are the twenty most dangerous countries that you can consider crossing off your bucket list. THAILAND The country’s southern provinces – Songkhla, Yala, Narathiwat and Pattaya – have gotten a bad reputation for security in the country in the last thirteen years. Pattaya has particularly suffered a spate of muggings by motorcycle operators, and there have been incidences of mugging of tourists by gangs in the area, mostly made up of young boys. More than 6,500 deaths have unfortunately occurred because of violence, and there is a martial law in the region.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO (DRC) This troubled country has had some unfortunate incidents with its political temperatures from its past, in addition to insecurity. The country has a high prevalence of armed bandits and groups in many parts, as well as the armed forces controlling the nation. Because of this, there is a high chance that travelers will come across armoured vehicles, attack helicopters and armed troops. The capital, Kinshasa, is particularly notorious for its crime, both in daylight and evening hours. If you are in the country, avoid taking pictures, do not trust anyone who offers you help, and avoid areas that the locals deem risky.
GUATEMALA Because this country shares a border with Mexico, this area is one of the most dangerous areas of the country because of the infamous and constant human trafficking and drug smuggling operations. The country also has the fifth highest homicide rate in the Caribbean and South America last year, as well as other crimes like armed robberies and carjacking. Robbery is gender-neutral in the country, so carrying a money belt for your valuables and using cabs and tour companies is the best way to protect yourself.
SOUTH AFRICA Because of the high crime rates, murders and rape incidents, many locals have resorted to armed guards to protect them, especially in the remote settlements and townships. Despite this, urban areas such as Cape Town still attract visitors due to their beautiful spots.
JAMAICA The country does not have a travel advisory yet, though shootings and violent crime are common in some areas of the country like Montego Bay and Kingston, and it can affect you even if you stay at a resort or a hotel.
CHAD This central African nation mostly suffers due to its proximity to Nigeria and Sudan. An unfortunate target of extremist groups such as Boko Haram, ISIS and Al-Qa’ida, these groups have not only targeted foreigners, but locals as well. Border crossings with Sudan and Libya are risky areas due to minefields and border conflicts.
BANGLADESH Right in the heart of the Middle East, the threat of terrorist attacks is rampant, in addition to extreme weather conditions, which put the nation at risk of natural calamities such as earthquakes, flooding and cyclones. The contrasting thing is that the Bangladeshi people are very friendly and hospitable. Even though this is the case, be guarded because incidences can happen without any warning.
LEBANON The verbal conflict with Saudi Arabia and the resignation of the Lebanese prime minister have led to the country getting into a political crisis. A country that has withstood the worst of extremist groups terrorism attacks, the country acting as a base for many of them. Even situations that seem minor such as protests and smaller disputes can sometimes turn violent. This situation does not really influence the overall safety levels, as the capital is one of the safest in the volatile Middle East and North Africa region, but keep you guard on even as you travel in the country.
MALI The capital, Bamako, frequently suffers from terrorism attacks, as well as the central and northern parts of the country. Most incidents occur at restaurants and hotels. An example is an unfortunate incident in 2015 in the capital that involved a number of people taken hostage and killed in a Radisson hotel.
UKRAINE Since the fighting between the Russian-backed army separatists and the Ukrainian army escalated, the South Eastern and Eastern parts of the country have become mostly insecure, with even civilians getting involved. This specifically applies to regions such as Crimea, Donetsk oblast and Luhansk oblast.
PHILIPPINES Foreigners are mostly the target of kidnappings, mostly in the southern Sulu Sea and the Sulu Archipelago, as well as incidents like the recent shooting and fire incident that occurred at a casino in the capital, Manila in 2017. Some spots to avoid in the country include Marawi, Joho province – where the Suhu archipelago is located, Basilan province – unless you have security personnel, Cotabato province, and the Metro Manila.
KENYA The country has many beautiful destinations to see and experience, but has lately suffered its share of terrorist attacks outside the capital, and terrorism threats still abound. There is also increase in violent crime in some areas of the capital city, Nairobi, with stabbings being common.
HONDURAS The nation has an infamous record of having the highest murder rates in the world, and the military as well as the police presence is wanting. The department of Gracias a Dios is heavily plagued with drug trafficking and crime issues as well. Most homicides in the country, approximately 70%, occurred in the districts of La Ceiba, Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula.
EGYPT According to Trip.com, this country is on first place on the list of dangerous places, with issuance of travel warnings by the U.S. Department of State. Extremist groups such as ISIS have been a serious threat to public venues in the country, and this includes tourism and recreational sites. The groups normally target various transport modes as well as women solo travelers, so the key to protecting yourself: do not go there alone.
NIGERIA There are two extremist groups operating in the country, Islamic State West Africa and Boko Haram. They are responsible for the kidnappings and violence that occur in the country, especially northern Nigeria. They also target areas having dense populations such as restaurants, schools, churches and hotels.
VENEZUELA Much of the social unrest in Venezuela is due to shortages of basic goods such as medicine, water, electricity and food. One of the highest crime rates worldwide is in this country; and this includes carjacking, murders, kidnappings and armed robberies. If you are a foreigner you are an easy target because the locals view you as having more money than them, and do not expect justice if robbed – only very few crimes end up being prosecuted. There is also a phenomenon called “virtual kidnappings”, where you fill certain forms. The locals advise against this because it is usual a fraud for gangs to collect information on their family members.
EL SALVADOR The country has one of the highest homicide levels in the world, in addition to the many gangs that infiltrate the country, also known as maras. These gangs engage in violent activities like drug and arms trafficking and extortion.
PAKISTAN The main problem in Pakistan is religious conflict, and it has had this problem for many years, with certain religious groups facing violence. The government has also forbidden foreigners from accessing certain areas in the country as well as greatly limiting the freedom of speech.
COLOMBIA Pablo Escobar may be long dead, but even though there was recent recognition of Medellin as the best tourist destination in South America, the country still poses a high risk for tourists. Armed gangs, drug trafficking, criminal groups and enterprises such as BACRIM, and robberies still occur throughout the country, while the capital sometimes suffers from acts of terrorism.
YEMEN The country’s capital, Sanaa, is the base of many rebel groups that target and detain mostly American citizens. The country also has a high prevalence of active extremist groups such as Al-Qa’ida. The other problem is the lack of basic amenities like medical assistance, water and food because of frequent air strikes and land mines. There is a lot of insecurity in the world today. Even when travelling to other parts of the world, make sure to take care of yourself, because bad situations can happen anywhere.