High-Risk Holidays: The World’s Most Dangerous Places

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Exploring the world’s most exotic destinations often requires a taste for adventure. However, some locations have inherent risks that even the most intrepid travelers should weigh carefully before visiting. This article profiles 12 of the world’s most dangerous places where natural disasters, disease outbreaks, civil unrest or terrorist threats are ongoing concerns.

While these locations’ natural wonders and cultural experiences may be alluring, visitors should exercise extreme caution. Some areas on this list may be inadvisable for all but essential travel. For those willing to accept a higher degree of uncertainty in exchange for a memorable trip, proper planning and risk mitigation can help ensure your journey is more rewarding than reckless.


Acapulco, a major city on Mexico’s west coast, is considered one of the most dangerous destinations in the world. Located in the state of Guerrero, the city has struggled with high rates of violent crime for years and currently has a Level 4 “do not travel” advisory from the U.S. State Department.

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Once a glamorous resort town frequented by celebrities in the 1950s and 1960s, Acapulco’s tourism industry has declined significantly due to safety concerns. The city has one of the highest murder rates in Mexico, with gang violence and organized crime posing serious threats to visitors and residents alike.


Brazil is a popular tourist destination for its beautiful beaches, vibrant culture, and bustling cities. However, visitors should exercise caution due to high crime rates, especially in major cities like Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

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According to travel risk experts, Brazil has some of the highest crime rates in the world, with violent crimes like armed robbery, carjacking, and assault being particularly common in urban areas and tourist destinations. The U.S. State Department rates most of Brazil as Level 2, indicating that visitors should exercise increased caution.

Cairo, Egypt

Cairo, Egypt, is considered by many to be one of the most dangerous cities in the world for women and foreigners. According to a recent report from the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Cairo ranks as the most dangerous city for women due to high rates of sexual violence and harassment as well as repressive cultural expectations.

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Political tensions have eased in recent years. However, crime remains rampant in Cairo. Petty crimes such as pickpocketing, scams, and muggings are common in crowded tourist areas and public transit. Violent crimes, including armed robbery, carjacking, and assault, also pose serious risks, especially at night.

Guatemala City, Guatemala

Guatemala City, the capital of Guatemala, is a dangerous destination, according to the U.S. State Department. Political instability, high poverty rates, narcotics trafficking, and frequent violent crimes like armed robbery and carjacking pose serious risks to visitors.

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Criminal gangs are active in Guatemala City and along the borders. Violent crimes such as murder, rape, and assault are prevalent. The U.S. State Department warns travelers to exercise caution when walking or driving at night and to avoid displaying signs of wealth like expensive watches or jewelry that could make them a target. Using ATMs in isolated areas is not advisable.


The Hawaiian islands are a popular tourist destination known for pristine beaches, lush landscapes, and vibrant culture. However, certain areas of Hawaii can pose risks to visitors. The Big Island, particularly, warrants caution due to the active Kilauea volcano.

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According to the U.S. State Department, the volcano’s ongoing eruptions have caused earthquakes, lava flows, toxic gas, and fissures, prompting a state of emergency. While alluring deals may arise to visit Hawaii’s largest island, travelers should exercise increased vigilance if journeying there.


India is a country of extremes, with immense beauty and deep poverty existing side by side. However, the risks associated with travel to India are quite real and concerning for tourists. Experts say health and safety issues pose the greatest threats to visitors.

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The U.S. State Department has issued a Level 2 travel advisory for India, urging increased caution due to crime and terrorism. Pollution, disease, and lack of access to quality medical care are significant worries. Air pollution in major cities like New Delhi and Mumbai frequently reaches hazardous levels, and water pollution facilitates the spread of diseases such as typhoid and hepatitis A. Rare but life-threatening diseases, including the Nipah virus, also exist.

Israel and the Middle East

Given the region’s long history of violence and political instability, Israel and surrounding Middle Eastern countries can pose risks for travelers. According to experts, tourists should exercise caution and remain vigilant about their safety if visiting the region.

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The U.S. State Department currently rates Israel as a Level 2 (“exercise increased caution”) destination and advises Americans to be aware of their surroundings due to terrorism and the potential for civil unrest. Parts of the West Bank and Gaza are considered unsafe for most travel. Within Israel, certain areas like the Gaza Strip border are particularly dangerous.


Madagascar is a large island nation located off the southeastern coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. While the natural scenery and wildlife appeal to tourists, the political and economic instability pose risks. Political turmoil and high unemployment have increased crime rates, especially in crowded airports, bus stations, and markets.

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Highway banditry is common, with violent robberies and carjackings. In addition to crime, Madagascar faces periodic outbreaks of plague, a bacterial disease spread by rodents and their fleas. An outbreak in 2017 resulted in over 2,700 cases and 170 deaths. The plague season typically runs from September through April, with the highest risk in rural areas.

Malaysian Borneo

Malaysian Borneo, the largest island in Asia, offers pristine rainforests, secluded beaches and exotic wildlife. However, its political instability and threats of violence make it a dangerous place to visit. According to the U.S. State Department, there are kidnapping threats targeting foreigners, especially in coastal and diving areas.

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The long-ruling government faces challenges from opposition groups seeking independence or autonomy. Around election time, there are often outbreaks of violence that could endanger tourists. For a safer visit, tourists should exercise caution, register with their embassy, and avoid political gatherings and isolated areas.


The Philippines can be a dangerous place to visit due to terrorist activity, crime, natural disasters, and health hazards. The southern islands of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago are especially dangerous, as the ISIS-affiliated Abu Sayyaf terrorist group operates there known for kidnappings and beheadings. According to the U.S. State Department, Americans should exercise caution if traveling to the Philippines.

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Manila, the capital city, also poses risks like pickpocketing, scamming, and violent crime. It is safer for tourists to avoid driving themselves and instead use reputable taxi services or ride-sharing to get around. Upscale hotels typically have better security, so tourists may want to avoid budget accommodations.


Russia remains a dangerous destination for travelers due to ongoing political tensions, threats of terrorism, and police mistreatment of foreigners. According to the U.S. State Department’s travel advisories, Russia currently warrants a Level 3 rating, indicating visitors should “reconsider travel” to the country.

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While iconic cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg attract tourists hoping to glimpse the nation’s colorful architecture and history, travelers should exercise extreme caution. Rumors of planned terrorist attacks persist, and police officers frequently target American citizens for harassment, extortion, and unjustified detention.


The Middle Eastern nation of Yemen is extremely dangerous for tourists and travelers. The U.S. State Department warns that no part of Yemen is safe from violence. Terrorist groups frequently plot and carry out attacks targeting tourist locations, public transit, shopping areas, and other public spaces.

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These terrorist attacks have occurred for years, and the threat of violence is ongoing. In 2015, the U.S. embassy evacuated Yemen, leaving no official American presence in the country. Yemen has been embroiled in a civil war since 2015 that has caused a dire humanitarian crisis.

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Charlotte Clad

Written by Charlotte Clad

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