When it comes to tourism, a lot of people prefer to visit very remote locations that are not frequented by travellers. Experiencing extremely different cultures and environments can certainly be a great way to spend your vacation, especially if you are a free spirit that wants to see everything, but often there are risks involved too.
And, no, we don’t mean nasty sunburns, spicy food, or having a drink too many. There are some potentially harmful, sometimes even life-threatening, dangers that you must be mindful of. For example, robberies, kidnappings, and assaults are not as uncommon as one would think. They can happen to anyone, even in broad daylight.
While male travellers are definitely not entirely safe, in most cases, women have it even tougher. A lot of heavily-patriarchal countries can not only be risky, but downright dangerous for a lone female traveller. Others have such high crime rates that no tourist should even think about going there.
So, in case you’re planning to go abroad for your next vacation, here are 15 countries that white women shouldn’t set foot in. At least not alone.
Some of those are popular tourist destinations that gather millions of foreigners each year. But under all the beautiful tropical beaches, exotic fancy cocktails, and glamorous wild nightlife, they hide a dark world of peril.
So, for all you lone lady travellers out there, here is a list of 15 countries that are dangerous for white women, complete with a thorough explanation of the many dangers of each one.
15. The Democratic Republic of Congo
Congo isn’t the most popular tourist destination out there. However, it is home to some very rare animals, such as the bonobo and okapi. It also boasts a unique culture, especially considering that there are still some pigmy tribes that practice their traditional way of life.
But among those unique characteristics also lives a pretty high crime rate. According to the American Journal of Public Health, 1150 women are raped in Congo every day. This makes for more than 400,000 rapes annually, the worst rate in the world, according to many experts in the field.
But women are not the only one at risk. According to a 2012 research, published in Oxford University Press, concluded that at least 4 to 10 percent of rape victims in Congo were men. What’s more, according to the Human Rights Watch, 65% of rape victims in Congo for the past 15 years were children. About ten percent of them were under 10 years old at the time.
14. Saudi Arabia
There are very few reasons for foreigners to visit Saudi Arabia. But when they do, they are putting themselves in a very delicate situation. One mistake could put a tourist behind bars for a very, very long time. Once again, men have less to worry about. Women, on the other hand, will have a very hard time doing anything without a male guardian or sponsor in the country.
First, and foremost, all women, no matter of their country of origin and religion, are required to wear the abaya. This is a traditional black robe worn by Saudi women. A headscarf is not mandatory for foreigners, but its lack will often cause some conflicts with the religious police and local men. Women are also not allowed to drive or ride bicycles. This means that they will have a very hard time moving through the country on their own.
Visitors should also be extremely careful with taking photos. If you’re caught photographing any government property, such as a bus station, airport, or any other government building, you could be charged with espionage. The punishment for this crime is death, usually carried out in the form of a public beheading. And no, we are not joking.
The beautiful island of Jamaica is home to gorgeous beaches and peculiar rainforests, but also a place where crime is a very serious problem. The little island is not under threat of terrorist attacks or strict laws, but violence and shootings are a common occurrence in larger urban areas, such as Kingston and Montego Bay.
If you go to Jamaica, you should stay in the resorts, as they are relatively safer than the rest of the island. That being said, the U.S. Department of State also warns that “sexual assaults occur with alarming frequency” and most of them happened inside gated resorts.
The U.S. Embassy in Jamaica has received more than a dozen reports of sexual assault against American citizens in a twelve-month period. It is believed that resort staff is responsible for most of these cases. Date rape drugs are also not uncommon on the island, so tourists should be on the lookout for them.
Brazil is not just the bright colors of the carnival and the hot Copacabana beach. Behind this facade of welcoming sights and places, there is a growing problem with violence and gang warfare.
Armed robberies, sexual assaults, and carjackings are prevalent in Brazil, including around popular tourists spots. All urban centers are locked in a constant war between gangs and the police, and street shootings are not as uncommon as they should be.
All of the above is happening in large city centers, and it only gets worse the further you go from the tourists destinations. The U.S. Department of State warns travellers that they should never go to the favelas, the local slums. The violence rate in these areas is so high that even a police escort can not guarantee your safety. Any foreigner that sets foot in the favelas is at risk of not walking out of them.
Colombia is a country famous for its crime syndicates. However, they are not the only concern there. Ever since the 1960s, there has been an unofficial civil war raging all over Colombia. The government has been battling paramilitary groups, crime organizations, and left-wing guerrillas for over 50 years now.
At the beginning of the century, the conflict was at its bloodiest, which made Colombia extremely dangerous. Kidnappings for ransom were one of the main sources of income for guerilla groups and other outlaws. Today, the number of kidnappings has dropped significantly and they’re mostly carried out by low-level criminals, but are still a threat to tourists.
Drugs are also extremely common throughout the country. This include date rape drugs, so travellers should be mindful of shady-looking individuals around nightclubs and other venues.
Overall, Colombia is becoming safer with each passing year, but it’s still a country ridden with crime. The tourism in the country is slowly picking up, but Colombia still has a long way to go before it becomes safe for foreigners.
Egypt is a magnificent country with rich history. There are so many things to do and see there, so it only makes sense that tourism is responsible for about 20 percent of the foreign currency that enters the country. However, since the Arab Spring in 2010, crime has also been on the rise.
Most of the criminal activity in Egypt consists of petty crimes, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching. But harassment and sexual assault of women have also been a serious concern for the past few years. According to the U.S. Department of State, these can “range from lewd comments and gestures to indecent exposure and inappropriate physical contact.” This only tells a part of the story, though.
The threat of gang rapes and abuse of women, be they locals or foreigners, is always present in Egypt. According to the New York Times, victims don’t always manage to get help, since there are a lot of conservative Islamist elected officials, which claim that the victims of these horrible crimes are to blame.
Mexico is famous for being the closest a country can get to a modern Wild West. Despite constantly making the headlines for all the wrong reasons, the country’s tourism is at an all-time high and it keeps growing. Last year, over 11 million international tourists visited Mexico, over 7 million of which were from the US.
But Mexico is not just beaches and margaritas. The homicide rate, especially that of women, is among the highest in the world. This June, The Guardian reported that the country has reached a 20-year high of its monthly homicide rate with 2,186 murders committed in May 2017.
In 2014, Reuters reported that violence against women is “a pandemic.” This includes kidnappings, rapes, and murders. Most of the victims are from areas that have been hit hard by the long-standing drug wars.
Kenya is popular among tourists, thanks to its safaris and wildlife tours. However, venturing outside the regular tourist areas can become quite dangerous.
Sexual assaults are common in Kenya. The victims are mostly female – both local and foreigners of all classes and education levels, but men can also be targeted. Sexual violence in Kenya is prevalent in both rural and urban areas, so we advise you to never travel alone.
Robberies, pickpocketing, and scams are also not uncommon. These can happen anywhere and at any time, but public transport seems to be the most likely place, according to the U.S. Department of State.
Some regions of Kenya are also under constant terrorist threat. Terror attacks in the country are often aimed at targets of Western interest in the northeastern parts of the country, near the border with Somalia. Hotels, public transport routes, nightclubs, and shopping areas are also often targeted, so travellers should do their best to avoid them.
India has a lot to offer to tourists. The Taj Mahal, a huge number of temples, a colorful culture, and sights that you can’t see anywhere else. However, it’s a developing country with lots of problems.
The Indian culture is highly patriarchal. This means that a lot of areas of the country can become risky, if not dangerous, for women of all ages. Back in 2013, Business Insider reported that tourism in the country dropped by 35 percent after a series of sexual assaults against foreigners. One of those cases included a tourist being drugged and raped by the son of a hotel owner where she was staying, so travellers should be careful no matter where they are.
Minor crimes, such as pickpocketing and scams, are also common. These are usually targeted towards foreign tourists, often travelling alone.
6. The Bahamas
Despite being a popular destination for anyone seeking that Caribbean feeling, The Bahamas is anything but safe for tourists. The U.S. Department of State warns that the criminal threat level for Nassau and Paradise Island “is rated as critical.”
The most common crimes against tourists are armed robberies and sexual assault. According to a 2012 report by the United Nations, The Bahamas is among the countries with the highest incidents of sexual assault. Most of them happen around popular tourist destinations and after excessive consumption of alcohol. As for robberies, the U.S. Embassy in the country has received numerous reports that foreigners have been robbed at gunpoint or knifepoint, including in broad daylight. Most of the reports indicate that downtown Nassau is among the most dangerous parts of the country.
Turkey is home to a very colorful culture, developed over centuries of turbulent past. What is now Istanbul was established by the Greek about 2,600 years ago. It was later taken by the Roman empire and in the 14th century, it was conquered by the Ottoman. The city didn’t just go through a few names, but it also accumulated a vast number of impressive feats of architecture and engineering that tourists nowadays flock to.
However, the country also struggles with the current authoritarian regime and the long-standing patriarchal way of life. This makes violence against women a serious problem there, and one that has been around for quite some time, according to Human Rights Watch.
Furthermore, Turkey is heavily impacted by the war with ISIS. The country is constantly under threat of terrorist attacks by the Islamic State and last year, there have been several rockets fired at Turkey’s borders. The latest attack came on New Year’s Eve, when an armed assailant opened fire in an Istanbul nightclub, killing 39 people and injuring at least 70.
4. The Philippines
The Philippines is home to a lot of peculiar sights and colorful local culture, but it also hides a lot of dark secrets. Pretty much everyone there owns a gun or a machete and weapon ownership is regulated extremely poorly.
As you can probably guess, this is a recipe for disaster and a huge portion of the crimes committed in the Philippines involve some sort of a firearm. This includes armed robberies, kidnappings, and a plethora of other violent crimes.
WorldNomads.com also warns that alcohol-related crimes are common. Bar brawls often escalate, due to the number of firearms that might be present on sight and this isn’t helped by the fact that local alcohol is extremely potent and consumed in large quantities.
When travelling to the Philippines, foreigners should also be mindful of spiked drinks. People are often drugged, so they can be robbed or sexually assaulted afterward, so never accept a drink you haven’t watched being made and always travel in a group.
The Indonesian island of Bali is known for its beautiful beaches and great atmosphere, but tourists should definitely be mindful when going there. First of all, there are plenty of diseases raging on the island, from rabies through Dengue Fever.
However, these are somewhat easy to avoid, unlike crime. Theft, armed carjacking, and credit card frauds are widespread in Indonesia and popular tourists spots are not an exception. Spiked drinks are also common, with the U.S. Department of State warning that some cases have lead to poisoning and even death.
In the past years, there have also been several terror attacks in Bali. The targets were mostly bars and nightclubs, so be extra careful when visiting those.
To top it all off, don’t even think about doing drugs in Indonesia, even if it’s just marijuana. The country is extremely strict in this regard and you definitely don’t want to end up in an Indonesian jail, since they are among the worst-maintained in the world.
Morocco is a country, which can be described as turbulent at best. Ever since the Arab Spring, tensions have been high and there has been a constant threat of terror attacks. Most targets are buildings associated with Western governments and culture.
Terrorism threats aside, common crime is also not uncommon in Morocco. Foreigners are often targeted due to their appearance of affluence. This includes robberies, theft, harassment of women, and assaults. Usually, areas frequented by foreigners are somewhat safer, thanks to the more notable police presence, but travellers should still have their guard up.
To top it all off, The Economist reports that sexual violence in the country is rising and not only towards women. Homosexuality is banned in the country and it can lend you in jail. As for wearing skirts, this can get you behind bars for public indecency.
Somalia is way too similar to old-time Caribbean pirate havens. When it comes to crime, there is a little bit of everything there. Kidnappings for ransom, armed robberies, and unauthorized armed roadblocks are a common occurrence. However, they’re just the tip of the iceberg.
There are also the constant threads of pirates in the waters around Somalia. Terrorist groups, affiliated with Al-Qaeda and ISIS, can be found in great numbers in the country. This means that terror attacks are not uncommon, too.
The worst thing about it is that U.S. citizens can’t rely on their country for help, as there is no U.S. embassy in Somalia. Travellers are warned that they will have to rely on their own resources or they will have to travel to the nearest country with a U.S. embassy in order to get any assistance.
If travellers find themselves near the Somalia-Kenya border, they’re at even greater risk. Cross-border violence is common, with Somali terror groups often organizing large-scale attacks against Kenyan military and government targets, including foreign aid camps.
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