25 places the US does NOT want you to visit
Travel is an integral part of many of our lives — or at least it should be. However, the U.S. government has recommended that some possible travel destinations be avoided. And whether that be for excessive violence or toxic pollution, we catalog here some of the places that the U.S. would rather you not visit.
Afghanistan is a place of intensely rugged mountains. This, in tandem with a sizable amount of civil unrest, makes the place an imprudent area in which to vacation. And, because of this and other factors, the area has become an area warned against for general travel.
When planning your upcoming vacations, you should look to places in which you can actually vacation. This for sure will strike from your list anything that includes “civil unrest” or mountains so rugged that to even look at them induces terror. Afghanistan checked many of these checkboxes. So, if you do intend on traveling there, we suggest you exercise caution.
2. Central African Republic
Like with Afghanistan, the Central African Republic of Africa has much civil unrest. And with these toppling and precarious infrastructures come many dangers to the public at large. These include things like robberies, kidnappings, and other uncouth and undesirable things. Because of this, the place has been rated as one of the more distressing places in which to travel.
So, again, while looking for places to explore or to frequent for the beach resort, this location might not make your immediate top 10. If it does, you might need to speak with some friends and family to convince you otherwise. Danger is not necessarily a prerequisite most would like to satiate for their worldly travels.
Haiti is home to some of the most historic events the world has ever seen. In fact, it is the home of one of the only successful slave revolutions to have ever taken place. However, because of the current unrest and governmental instability, the place is considered an unwise place for foreign travel.
Public demonstrations, roadblocks, and other difficulties pervade the tumultuous area. This, in conjunction with many of the other public turmoils that its citizens face, makes travel a choice that you should likely skip when planning your next Christmas vacation. And if it doesn’t — again — we recommend that you rethink your potentially reckless plans.
Iran, like other countries of the Middle East, has a rich history of ancient human populations and geology that archaeologists, paleontologists, and the like would love to study. However, because the area is somewhat dangerous for travelers, the area is a difficult one in which to visit with peace of mind. The problem can be especially severe for certain people.
There have, for example, been instances of U.S. citizens being arbitrarily detained and arrested in the area. Because of this, it is strongly advised that travel here is exercised cautiously. This is especially true if you’re an Iranian-American citizen. Here, there have been a few instances of unjust and unwarranted arrests. You would likely not want to be one of these unfortunate few.
Iraq is another of those places that experiences ample civil unrest. And, because of this, you should be wary as a prospective traveler. Potential hostilities amplify the possibility of seizure and capture — and being detained in one of Iraq’s prisons is not an experience you would likely want to have.
Given this dangerous potential, the area has been considered one in which travel should be exercised lightly. Anything unscrupulously planned might lead to some unwanted and unsavory experiences. Given that travel is most often exercised for the exact opposite reasons, one might reconsider Iraq as a fun and exciting tromping ground.
Mali, not to be mistaken with the other popular tourist destination, Maui, is an area in Western Africa. And unless you yourself are conspiring to up your ranks in the world of domestic and foreign terrorism, you might want to rethink this slightly inland African country as a hustling and bustling place to visit.
While the area is certainly hustling and bustling, it’s likely doing neither of these things in a way you would find amenable. So, rather than shell out the however-many dollars it’ll take to fly you and your significant other over there (prices on Google Flights range from $2,387 to $8,919), you might want to consider the area’s similarly named Hawaiian partner instead.
7. North Korea
Unlike some of the other areas on this list, tourism into the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is tightly and assiduously regulated. And because of this, even if you wanted to see the inside of the country that is always in the news, you would have some troubles. To get a pass in, you would need to jump through so many regulated hoops that your head would spin.
One of the major risks in the area is the threat of arrest. And, when you’re arrested in North Korea, you are not going to have a good time. The place is notorious for the treatment of its captives. This is especially true of journalists and the like looking to observe the place for an upcoming piece. So, if you are trying to give this place a visit, plan carefully.
Somalia is a country on the northeastern coast of Africa. And, like a few of the other countries on this list, the place is home to much social upheaval. And, again, like the other countries, social turmoil is not exactly a recipe for a good and thriving time. In fact, if you want anything closely resembling an actual vacation, you might consider striking this destination from your list entirely.
Somalia is home to things as steadfastly dangerous as kidnappings, robberies, and other undesirables. But more than some of these other countries, the shore is rife with modern-day pirates. And these pirates, as much as we would like to think of the flashy movies in which they are depicted lovingly, are brutal and dangerous. So, if you do want to travel there, be careful.
9. South Sudan
Civil war is often not cited as a reason to visit a foreign nation. And this is one of things that can be said of South Sudan. The area, home to ample carnage and mayhem, is one of extreme unrest. Given that this unrest entails many unsavory things for those who might be in the nearby vicinity, the region is not considered a vacation hot spot.
For these and other reasons, the area is not one that is recommended for visiting. Now, unless you’re a war correspondent for some news distribution agency (definitely not any of us), you might not want to consider South Sudan your next vacation spot. And, even if you did, getting there would be by no means easy. Travel safe.
Libya is a country in North Africa. Lying immediately adjacent to Egypt, the region has become predominantly Muslim over the past few centuries. It has also, however, become a place of great tumult. And, on your list of desirables for the routine vacation — scuba diving, snorkeling, fun restaurants — tumult likely doesn’t make the cut.
Because of this, you might want to reconsider this North African area as your next PTO-fueled haven. It might not, as you so adamantly hoped it would, make your next few weeks fun and desirable. Instead, they might make it wrapped in danger. Ultimately, however, the decision to go or not go will be up to you. We wish you luck.
Syria is one of the most war-torn places that currently exists on the planet. Several regions have been Balkanized between different groups fighting for local power. And, in case you were unaware, when central government collapses and different groups are fighting for a place at the top of the power food chain, the results are not good for those visiting or living nearby.
And, as you might have expected, this social and governmental tumult has induced the U.S. to recommend you not travel there. These recommendations are so strong, in fact, that you should take them extremely seriously. And, if you don’t, you might get a taste of this extreme unrest that you would really rather regret. Anyway, we suspect you’ll make the safe move here and ignore the place as an upcoming vacation spot.
Venezuela is located squarely in an area only marginally south of the equator. Given its tropical climate and natural beauty, the place might have piqued your fancy as a place for potential travel. However, in addition to the abundant natural beauty, the place is home to many hostilities. And, given the natural disposition we hold to avoid such hostilities, the place likely shouldn’t make your list of places to travel.
The area is particularly violent given the lack of police control in many areas. And, even when there is police control, it is diminutive and uncertain to say the least. If you’re looking for a safe place in which to spend your next vacation, then, you might want to strike this area from your upcoming vacation-to-be list. If you don’t, you might be sorry.
Yemen is another country in which travel is unadvised. Because the area is currently having to deal with unsavory things like civil unrest and domestic terrorism, the Gulf-bordering country is considered one of great danger for those who might like to drop a visit. And, accordingly, it is strongly advised that you do not book a flight and make your way there.
If you do, the dangers you face — wait for it — include everything from kidnapping to car bombing. While you might be safe depending on where you visit, you have to be exceptionally careful because of the area’s close proximity to those with aims anathema to ours. Terrorism is a scary thing, and likely something you’d rather avoid on your next trip overseas.
Millions of tourists visit Mexico safely every year expecting the experience of a vibrant culture and incredible views, but violent organized crime makes the country one of the more dangerous for tourists. While resorts are generally safe from the drug-related crimes like kidnappings, robberies, and carjackings, traveling outside of those touristy areas is quite risky.
The U.S. Department of State recently outlined which specific areas to avoid in an official warning for tourists. The Mexican government is working to reduce organized crime through additional supervision from federal police and military forces, but police corruption is another dangerous problem throughout the country. So, if you were thinking about taking a trip to Acapulco or Tijuana, you’d better be extra careful …
The world’s largest country is a tempting place to visit, with its enormous ties to many of our ancestors, vast and varying landscapes, and iconic architecture. Travel in Russia can be dangerous due to political tensions and criminal gangs.
What you may not know is that while LGBTQ culture exists in the country, and though it isn’t illegal, “promotion” of LGBTQ lifestyles is. Although Moscow and St. Petersburg are becoming more established tourist destinations, they are experiencing a rise in violent hate crimes against racial and ethnic minority travelers.
Egypt has several tourist attractions: the ancient pyramids, the Nile River, the endless deserts, and the beautiful beaches along the Red Sea. Tourists face threats of kidnapping and terrorism here and are advised not to leave the Cairo metropolitan area. Political instability could lead to protests and potentially violent clashes, which visitors should avoid.
If you plan to visit, you may want to brush up on their local laws … Did you know it’s illegal to photograph police stations, military barracks, or other public buildings? Crime in Cairo is moderate, usually only manifesting in crimes of opportunity like pickpocketing.
17. Snake Island
Everybody loves themselves a good island. They are normally surrounded by perfectly sandy beaches, draped in lush green forests, and feature piña coladas on tap at all times. Not so much on Snake Island. This remote island off the coast of Brazil is home to several thousand snakes. OK, big deal. Every island has snakes, right?
Wrong. So. Very. Wrong. The snakes that live on this island are so densely concentrated that you are bound to see one every couple of yards. Terrifying. What’s more is that among these snakes is the Golden Lancehead — one of the most venomous snakes on planet Earth. While the place isn’t necessarily a tourist hot spot (you can’t visit there without permission from the Brazilian government), we wanted to warn you about it anyway.
18. Valley of Death
Seeing as how the name “Death Valley” was taken, this peninsula is Russia decided on the more verbose Valley of Death. Still, however, the place is comparable to the United States’ very own Death Valley. While it’s located at a latitude far more northward than that of Death Valley, the place can be equally deadly.
Among the many things that make this place so dangerous are its high concentrations of poisonous fumes. These fumes are pumped up from local volcanoes and geysers that don’t stay settled for long. The inhalation of these fumes isn’t pleasant, often yielding dizziness, nausea, fever, and other symptoms you’d rather not experience as a tourist. Be on the lookout for that noxious Russian gas cloud.
19. Lake Natron
Some lakes are not the reservoirs of life, providing crucial H20 to the surrounding flora and fauna. Instead, some of these lakes are toxic death pits that provide nothing but death to those who touch them. Lake Natron in Tanzania is one such lake. The most dangerous thing about this surreal-looking lake is its outer crust of alkali soda and salt.
The toxicity of the concoction is enough to preserve birds, bugs, and any other creature that might find itself inside the lake. And, unfortunately, such a thing is a common occurrence: Because of the lake’s reflective surface, many birds and other animals find themselves careening into the lake. Let’s just try not to let one of these freshly calcified species be you.
20. Boiling Lake
When a lake is boiling, that’s probably a good sign that you shouldn’t go in. In the case of Boiling Lake in Dominica, this is especially true. Given that the lake is being heated by underwater volcanic vents, the waters within are quite hot. They’re so hot, in fact, that they would kill you almost instantly.
While the hike that leads you to the lake is beautiful, trouncing you through forest vegetation and sulfur springs, it is also extraordinarily dangerous. The moral of the story is this: If you see that a lake is boiling, you shouldn’t prepare yourself for a swim. Instead, you should keep a safe distance and err on the side of caution.
Chernobyl is not really a place that many intend to visit. Having been a town that succumbed to one of the greatest nuclear disasters to have blemished the Earth, the area has been abandoned for decades. Because of the dense radiation that now inhabits the town’s surrounding lands, very few things can grow in the area.
Even though dark tourism is on the rise, resulting in the growing popularity of Chernobyl visits, it’s not recommended that people travel here. The lingering radiation is poisonous to humans, often inducing harmful mutations that can lead to cancer. Despite this, many people still try and add Chernobyl to their list of places to visit.
22. Death Road
Anything with “death” in its name is surely bad. And Death Road in Bolivia is no exception. Because of the road’s narrow hairpin turns and drastically steep drops (sometimes descending a total of 2,000 feet), this road is considered one of the most dangerous on the planet.
But because of this, many people have sought it out just to see what all the hype is about. While for most people the journey is not a deadly one, for some unlucky drivers or pedestrians, it certainly can be. It is thought that something around 250 people fall from the road each year. If you do plan on traveling to the Bolivian Death Road, take it slow.
Trolltunga, also known as the “Troll’s Tongue,” is a destination in Norway that many have flocked to. With this picture, you can see why. Dangling precariously over a deep fjord, a fall to either side of this stone troll’s tongue will lead to certain death. What’s more unfortunate is that the heights where you’ll find this tongue will subject you to dangerous winds.
In total, the stone tongue stands around 2,600 feet above the ground. Many people, in an attempt to get the perfect Instagram photo, will dangle out over the edge and hope for the best. And, if they’re not careful, they’ll get something far worse than a bad photo. Let’s just hope that’s not you.
24. Elephant Kingdom
Some places, despite their name, are known for something drastically different than what you might think. The Elephant Kingdom in Chonburi, Thailand, is one such destination. While it is a place adequately described as a tourist’s playground, it is also a place with abundant — yet also terrifying — fauna.
The most fright-inducing of these faunas is crocodiles. There is, in fact, a crocodile farm in the so-called “kingdom” where tourists can board a small raft to feed the beasts. The only fear here is that one might fall in and be mistaken for delicious food. While the likelihood of this happening largely depends on your sense of balance, it’s certainly a factor. Keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle, folks.
25. Madidi National Park
National parks are, as you well know, designated as national parks so that people will come to visit them. They offer, in most cases, exquisite natural scenery that is set aside specifically to be preserved and admired. But some of these national parks, as we have come to learn, have a dark side.
The Madidi National Park in Bolivia is one such park. While the place is by all means scenically beautiful (and in fact has earned itself a title as one of the most biodiverse locations in the world), it is also discretely poisonous. Hosting everything from poisonous frogs to toe-chomping spiders, this place can turn a tropical paradise into a tourist’s nightmare.