International travel is as easy as packing a suitcase and hopping on a plane, allowing people to explore countries all over the world with ease. While there’s always a degree of risk involved – the same as you’d experience in your own city – there are some places that tourists tend to avoid due to war, unrest, and crime. However, there are a number of cities around the world that are both incredibly dangerous and desirable vacation destinations. Here are the 9 most dangerous places to travel to, so if you’re planning on traveling to one of them, be sure to be aware of the risks and take reasonable precautions.
Ciudad Juarez, Mexico
Millions of tourists visit Mexico every year, but the violent organized crime makes it a more risky destination for travelers. Mexico’s issues with drug trafficking are well known and Ciudad Juarez is one of the nation’s most violent cities. Police corruption is a significant problem, as officers are often employed or paid off by drug cartels, which means that many crimes go unpunished.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Many cities in Brazil have high crime rates, and none are more dangerous than Rio de Janeiro. Yet, Rio remains the most popular tourist destination in Brazil, attracting upwards of 1.2 million travelers every year. The city is actually safer than it was a decade ago, but street crime is still common in many areas, especially at night. Political tension and the accompanying demonstrations are a concern, so check your country’s travel alerts before you book a trip. It’s possible to enjoy the lush rainforest and white sandy beaches, but use common sense and take reasonable precautions.
Caracas is easily the most dangerous city in the world to visit. The capital city of Venezuela continues to face an epidemic of violence, in part because of poor political and economic environment for residents. Street crimes such as muggings and theft are common, as are murder by firearm and kidnappings, making this an undesirable destination for most tourists. Backpackers continue to visit the nation because of the beautiful landscapes and cheap cost to visit. Many other cities in Venezuela also have incredibly high crime rates, but the capital has the second highest murder rate in the world, giving it the top spot on the list of most dangerous places to travel.
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Although Guatemala, a Central American nation in the Caribbean, hold many tourist attractions, it’s a nation plagued with drug-based violence, as well as human and arms trafficking. It has a high murder and low solve rate, and other common crimes include street robberies, bus holdups. and carjackings. If you’re planning on visiting Guatemala, it’s advisable to remain in safer regions and avoid Guatemala City.
Bombings, gunfire, and other violent events are common in Iraq. This country has been on the “do not travel” list for Americans for many years and Baghdad remains a dangerous place. This is another war-torn country that has been decimated by insurgent and United States military attacks and is not likely to be safe anytime soon. Since the violence in Baghdad usually consists of unpredictable outbreaks of terrorism, it’s not a place that people should visit without a good reason.
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
This city has ranked as one of the world’s most violent for several years now. According to many sources, it has the highest homicide rates in the world – 169 per 100,000 people. Arms trafficking is another big problem, and illegal firearms are prevalent throughout the city. Most tourists only face opportunistic crime such as muggings and theft. The Maya ruins and golden beaches may be a draw, but this is a city that tourists would do well to take serious precautions in.
Kabul has been one of the most dangerous cities in the world for many years. It is still a war zone, although U.S. troops prepare to exit the country. Terrorist attacks, including many bombings remain common. Like Baghdad, Kabul is a city where violence can erupt at any time. Afghanistan is the most dangerous country in 2019, according to the Global Peace Index.
Cape Town, South Africa
Due to the prevalence of poverty and social unrest in this city, it suffers from an extremely high violent crime rate, mostly related to drugs and gangs, with an estimated 100,000 people in over 130 different gangs in 2018. Although many tourists are drawn to South Africa because of its natural beauty and proximity to nature preserves packed with wildlife, Cape Town can be a dangerous place. The safest way to enjoy a visit to this city if to avoid the more dangerous neighborhoods and don’t travel alone at night, especially if you are a woman.
Not long ago, this city was considered a safe and luxurious resort area. While tourism to Acapulco is still permitted, gang violence and drug-related murder has made this a dangerous area for travelers and those who live there and the area has seen a huge decline in tourism since 2014. Recent statistics reveal that this city – called Mexico’s “murder capital” – has one of the world’s highest murder rates -142 per 100,000 people, making it one of the most dangerous places to travel to. People visiting Acapulco are advised to not leave the safety of the resorts where they are staying, as most crime occurs in surrounding areas.