Travel destinations

15 of the most dangerous travel destinations in the world

Hawaii National Park, Hawaii

The islands of Hawaii sit just above a fault line, which has made it one of the most active volcanic regions in the world. Exploring volcanoes may seem appealing to thrill seekers, but it’s important to remember that not only extremely hot lava is a hazard, but also dangerous gases and ash.

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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The culture and sights of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, make it an attractive destination for those looking for a lively vacation. However, Brazil as a whole has high unemployment rates which have caused many people to look for work in Rio, and they are not always successful in finding opportunities. This has led to high crime rates in the city.

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Bangkok, Thailand

From awe-inspiring beaches to rich culture to thriving nightlife, Thailand has a lot to offer visitors. However, crime in the capital Bangkok is rampant, with many crimes involving scams and thefts targeting tourists.

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Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands

Like many places on this list, Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands has sparkling waters and pristine beaches, but its troubled history makes it a dangerous place to visit. The area was used in a nuclear test by the US government after World War II, and 23 nuclear weapons were detonated there up to 1958. While the reefs still attract tourists, the area still has dangerous levels of radiation.

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Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite National Park is an iconic piece of Americana and a popular attraction for those seeking waterfalls, forests, and mountain views. The top of Half Dome in Yosemite – a granite dome more than 8,800 feet high – saw 140 search and rescue missions, 290 accidents and 12 deaths from 2005 to 2015 following ambitious visitors choosing to take the treacherous rise, according to Business Insider. While the falls seem like an obvious hazard for those who choose to tackle Half Dome, climbers at this height should also keep in mind that they are more susceptible to lightning strikes.

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Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

The Cliffs of Moher in Ireland offer impressive views of the Atlantic Ocean and the west coast of the island. However, many have died from getting too close to the edges of the cliffs while admiring the view. Anyone visiting should exercise extreme caution and maintain a safe distance from the steep cliff drop-offs.

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Death Valley, California

Death Valley’s name is not as imposing as the heat. It holds the title of the hottest place on earth, with summer temperatures that can often exceed 113 degrees Fahrenheit (45 degrees Celsius). The California desert set a record on July 10, 1913, when the temperature peaked at 134.1 degrees Fahrenheit (56.7 degrees Celsius). The heat (and rattlesnakes) can make the area unsafe for tourists, especially those straying from the roads. Anyone traveling in Death Valley should stay on marked routes and pack plenty of water for hydration.

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Mount Everest, Nepal

Climbing Mount Everest is often considered one of the greatest feats a human can accomplish, as the mountain is home to the highest peak in the world, with an elevation of over 8,800 meters. Reaching these dizzying views often comes with big risks, and as climbers ascend the mountain, they face increasingly severe conditions, including low oxygen levels and freezing temperatures. More than 300 people are believed to have died on Mount Everest, according to Newsweek, and it is estimated that around 200 bodies have still not been recovered due to the difficulty and danger of removing them.

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The Danakil Depression, Ethiopia

Another dangerously hot tourist destination is the Danakil Depression in Ethiopia, with high temperatures driven in part by geothermal activity. This activity creates surreal, brightly colored views, but these glistening pools are often boiling hot, and the chlorine and sulfur gases emitted are toxic to anyone who ventures too close. When visiting this desert, it is imperative to stick with a knowledgeable tour guide in order to avoid these dangers.

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Kingston, Jamaica

At first glance, Jamaica is the epitome of tropical paradise, but with high levels of poverty and crime, particularly in the capital, Kingston, visitors should exercise caution. Tourists are advised not to stray far from their resorts, exercise caution when walking at night or in poorly lit areas, and remain aware of their surroundings.

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Acapulco, Mexico

Acapulco, located in southwestern Mexico, is a resort town with gorgeous beaches and brilliant blue water, but it’s seen a crime boom – including homicides – in recent years, which has caused many potential visitors to reconsider their trips.

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Mount Washington, British Columbia, Canada

Mount Washington, located on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada, is an attractive destination for those wishing to enjoy a mountainside ski resort, as well as for hikers and mountain climbers. Climbing any mountain comes with some risk, but Mount Washington’s main threat is intense winds, which can reach 203 mph, and temperatures that can drop below -40 degrees Fahrenheit/Celcius.

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New Smyrna Beach, Florida

New Smyrna Beach is a surfer’s paradise, but Florida’s warm beach waters are also teeming with sharks. This has earned it the nickname “Shark Bite Capital of the World” because Volusia County, where New Smyrna Beach is located, has more shark attacks than anywhere else on the planet, although thankfully the most are not serious, according to the International Shark Attack File (ISAF).

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Pripyat, Ukraine

When the Chernobyl nuclear power plant collapse occurred in 1986, Pripyat, Ukraine (which was part of Russia at the time), quickly turned from a quantitative community to a ghost town, with residents being forced to evacuate to avoid fallout. While many are still willing to risk their lives to see the eerie, abandoned city up close, radiation levels in the area are still high enough to be dangerous.

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Ilha da Queimada Grande, Brazil

The name Ilha da Quiemada Grande, also known as Snake Island, is its own warning of the dangers that lurk on the small, temperate island. It is home to thousands of golden lancehead vipers, one of the most venomous snakes on the planet. Recognizing the danger the island poses to visitors, Brazil has closed it to the public.

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Statistically, you are unlikely to die of unnatural causes when traveling abroad. According to the US State Department, more than 56 million American citizens boarded international flights in 2018, but only 724 died of unnatural causes while outside the country.

Time reports that motor vehicle and bus accidents claim the most Americans abroad, along with other unnatural causes of death including drowning, suicide and terrorist actions. However, crime is also a concern in many parts of the world, with international tourists often finding themselves vulnerable when browsing in a new place and, potentially, in an unfamiliar language.

The following tips can help travelers stay safe abroad:

  • Keep valuables, including your purse or other bag, in front of you. This keeps them within sight and reach, even if you may be distracted by local sights.
  • Leave big-ticket items, including jewelry and electronics, at home so they don’t attract unwanted attention from target-seeking thieves.
  • Be careful when talking to strangers and be slow to trust those you don’t know with personal information. You should also not accept food or drink from strangers or follow them away from your destination.
  • Make sure you have appropriate travel insurance. Although your health insurance may provide some cover abroad, it is unlikely to be sufficient to cover major events. You will also need to insure your personal belongings in case they are lost, stolen or damaged during your trip.

In the slideshow above, we’ll take a look at 15 of the world’s most dangerous tourist destinations according to Armormax, and what makes them risky choices for a getaway.

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