Travelers Talk About The Most Dangerous Places They've Ever Visited

Travelers Talk About The Most Dangerous Places They've Ever Visited

All travel entails a degree of danger, discomfort, and risk. Some might even say that's part of the fun. But some destinations present challenges that go above and beyond -- so far above and beyond that it spoils the whole experience.

These world travelers recently went online to talk about the most dangerous places they've ever visited. These stories shouldn't stop anyone from making their own way, but it never hurts to know what you're getting into.

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22. First Class Doesn't Mean Much Sometimes

I had a first class ticket on Siberian airlines. (I needed the flexibility and it was only $50 more.) This entitled me to sit in a comfy chair behind a rope barrier while waiting for the flight. The others had to sit on benches looking disgruntled.

The airline staff could only communicate in bestial grunts. I was told where the bathroom was with a sneer and jerk of the head in towards the door. The door had no lock, the mirror was broken, no toilet paper and a stinking porcelain hole in the floor, no flush but a tap with a hose connected...

The plane was a converted bomber complete with glass rear gunner position. There was no preflight talk; what could they say? there was no emergency oxygen to drop down, no fold away table, no escape chute, no life vest. Just do up the seat belt and take off.

It was snowing at our destination. Landing took four attempts. The plane just kept tilting and bucking in the violent crosswinds. The plane was so sideways as it approached the airport that I could see the runaway out my window. Then we would snap to another angle and all I could see was white.

For the last attempt the pilot said something in Russian that ended with a long sigh. I didn't know what he said, but behind me a man began shouting something and I could hear women crying and shrieking. I looked over to the stewardess. She was staring down at her hands clenched in her lap. "Oi," I shouted, "whats happening?" She looked up tight-lipped and shook her head.

The passenger next to me, an elderly guy, reached over to hold my hand. It was then that I thought, "This is it". My stomach turned to water. My mouth went dry. I squeezed the old guy's hand.

The plane began a tilting crabbing motion, bouncing my iPod in my lap. I picked it up and decided to choose some music to die to. I scrolled all the way to 'W' without making a choice. Thinking I was short of time I picked the WHO, "Love reign over me." It finished and the plane was still in the air. I didn't know how high for it was all white out the windows. I picked "My generation" thinking the line "hope I die before I get old" would be appropriate.

The plane made it down safely.

Later, I was told the pilot said, "I don't have enough fuel to divert. We are landing. To could get rough. God bless you all."

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21. (Nearly) Taken

I was almost abducted in Beijing. I'm female, and I was 18 at the time. It was years ago, during my summer vacation.

I was alone with my luggage on a very crowded and commercialized street (like Times Square kind of busy) waiting to meet some old friends, and a van pulled over. These people just tried to snatch me into their van. Onlookers were just standing there watching and filming with their cameras and cellphones. I heard someone was calling police but no one actually tried to help me to get away at all.

It seems like a long story but everything happened really fast. My friends showed up just in time. They yelled at the abductors from afar then, rushed over to punch them. After a chaotic fight, these people just took off. The police never came. My shirt was torn, my luggage was broken.

When we went to the police station to report the incident, the policemen just told me it happens more often than I'd think, and a young girl shouldn't stand by the street alone at night. Till this day, I'm scared of Beijing. the streets and the coldness of bystanders. I never thought such thing would happen in a country's capital.

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20. Happy Holidays

Yes, Bogota, Colombia.

I checked into my hotel and decided to go for a walk. Almost immediately I was “befriended” by a young guy who looked friendly enough.

We walked down the street for maybe half a kilometre with him explaining in reasonable English the sights Bogota had to offer. Suddenly he pointed upwards and announced "here is the Hilton Hotel, the city’s tallest building." I naturally looked up and he snatched a gold chain from around my neck and ran off.

I gave chase and he ducked down a side street. But he wasn’t much of a runner and I caught up with him after another 100 yards. Suddenly he stopped, turned, smiled sheepishly and gave me back my chain.

It was only after he ran off after collecting a kick in the groin from me that I realized how deserted this side street was. I hurried back to the main road and made my way back to my hotel. Afterwards I realized that he was probably leading me into a trap where his gang was waiting to rob me further. But for some reason they weren’t there! I reckon my luck was in that day.

The next day I ventured out again, this time to the Zocalo (main square) where I figured I’d be safer. Suddenly a posse of armed police arrived and opened up with submachine guns at a fleeing figure on a nearby rooftop. Clearly a thief who had been spotted. I don’t think they plugged him and he rapidly disappeared from view.

Happy holidays in Bogota.

Graham Stephens

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19. I Left My Heart

San Francisco. I lived there for about a year.

I saw a lot of stuff there that I hope to never see again. The place is riddled with crazy people and fiends, and it's incredibly sad. It's like all America's social problems have collected in one place.

Everyone I knew who grew up there has been robbed at least once in their life.

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18. Why Won't They Talk To Me?

South Korea.

I didn’t speak very good Korean, but I had a pretty awesome friend with me who was what the Japanese refer to as ‘Haifu’, part Japanese, part Korean. He was a pretty interesting guy.

We had just gotten out of Incheon Airport when we saw a taxi. My friend hailed it and the guy drove up to us. My buddy tells him where we are going and I think that everything is fine, right up until I try to get in the taxi with him. The taxi driver *refuses* to let me in his car, which sparks an argument that ultimately makes my friend red faced and quite upset. He steps out of the taxi the driver speeds off. I ask him what happened, and he shrugs and says that this guy is a jerk and we’ll just have to get another cab.

We’ve just walked into a bar around Yeoui-dong and sit down after a long day of walking around and my friend says that he’ll grab us a brew that we can only get at the bar. Well, he’s not gone for two seconds before I see a group of guys start talking with him. He’s looking at them and mumbling something in Korean, but his face is beginning to get red the way that it does when he’s angry. He comes back with the drinks and I ask him whats wrong, which he shrugs off and says that there’s nothing wrong. We stay for one beer before we skip out on his insistence.

Then we go to this nightclub, and they won’t let me in.

We talk to these girls, but they’re not giving me the time of day (which would have been fine if they had just ignored me, but they pointed and laughed, which was not cool).

We tried to get dinner but my food came out 45 minutes later than everyone else’s food.

People won’t sit next to me on the trains or busses.

They won’t look at me or will ignore me when taking orders.

I can’t take a taxi very easily.

And thinking back, I should have guessed why this was, but I didn’t then mainly because I didn’t speak the language. But my honest and true friend did. He tried to shield me from it for as long as he could. I finally pulled him aside and asked what was going on, because while we were in Japan he has spoken so highly of his father’s birthplace, but we’d been having a terrible time since the moment we got off the plane and we’d only been in this place for a week.

Racism. I'm black, and that's the reason for all of this.

He apologized profusely, though he really shouldn’t have, because he had been amazing. He tried to explain to me that over here, it wasn’t viewed so much as racism because it was so normalized. White was right, and black was disgusting. Savage. Less. He was honestly disgusted by how terribly I had been treated since we landed, and he had honestly never realized that this was how things were here.


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17. Oh Look: A Woman

Had a rough time in Marrakesh, Morocco. I wanted to love it and there were some interesting and fascinating parts, but most of my time there was a struggle punctuated by some terrible experiences. As a woman I was harassed pretty blatantly. We were also chased by an angry group of men who tried to intimidate us into buying over priced goods, got away but it was scary. Saw an angry mob follow and harass and abuse a local woman who I think was intoxicated, and a kid tried to steal my bag. After a while I was just exhausted by the negative experiences.

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16. This Is What Poverty Does To People

Jamaica. Never again.

I went with a friend to an all inclusive resort. It was fine as long as we stayed on the resort. As soon as we stepped off the grounds the scamming started.

“Hey, man! You want some smoke?”






“You want a woman, man?”


“You want a good Jamaican meal? I bring you home and my mother will cook for you.”

“No thanks - I just want to be left alone.”

“Hey, man, Respect!”

Walk down the road. Two minutes later: “Hey, man! You want some smoke?” Exact same conversation. It was constant.

I went to an outside bar during the day with my friend. A bunch of guys come over to talk. We’re being polite and friendly. One guy says, “Can I sit and have a drink with you?” “Sure, sit.” Another guy shows up with a bag of aloe Vera (he saw my red skin). “Thanks,” I say. “Two dollars,” he says. Okay, two bucks for something I don't want. Whatever. Just be friendly.

We get up to leave the “guard” says I have to pay for the guy’s drinks. I never said I was buying -- just that he could sit. “You must pay,” says the guard with the night stick. Okay, let’s jus get out of here.

“Hey, man! I get you a taxi. He's my good friend.” The “good friend” charges me $15 for a $10 ride , then asks me for a tip.

Never again.

Don Slish

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15. Don't Tour The Favelas

Rio de Janeiro. In particular, the Rocinha favela while it was still controlled by the cartels. Granted, I was on a tour of the favela, but I was held at gunpoint at one point while they verified with the guide that I wasn't a cop.

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14. Home Isn't Home


I went to Somalia with my family because my parents wanted us to visit and to see the country and the culture they come from.

I hated being in that country.

People in Somalia would just stare at me all day because it was strange for them to see a Somali girl not wearing hijab. Women in Somalia would usually go outside covered practically head-to-toe.

Relatives of my father would pity my parents, because I was an unmarried 20 year-old woman. They would, of course, then blame it on the fact that I was born in a western country. Then they would go on and laugh at my parents, because they paid for my education; my relatives thought it was an absolute waste since I was just a girl.

People thought it was a disgrace that Female Genital Mutilation wasn’t performed on me, and they would wonder what kind of men would want an unclean girl like me.

There was not a day in Somalia where I didn’t face sexism. All of it just made me hate the country and the Somali culture.

I’m never going back to that country, even if it is where I came from.

Ruweyda Ahmed

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13. The Hitchers

I've been to 50 countries, worked on three continents and hung about the seedier parts of numerous cities. The least welcoming city and the one I'd least like to revisit is Marseille.

Aged 21 I hitchhiked there with a friend. France is poor pickings for hitchhiking and it had taken 3 days to get from Belgium. And we actually wanted to go to Cannes. We were dropped off around midnight and were looking for somewhere to sleep.

This was a trip done on the cheap and a hotel was out of the question. Parks, motorway bridges and beaches across Europe had accommodated us.

As soon as we got out of the truck a gang of men accosted us and tried the "you owe us money" routine. It was scary with pushing and shoving but they weren't quite brave enough to stab us. We eventually ditched them by seeing a cop, smoking on the steps of a police station.

Never had I been so happy to see one. With my 15 word French vocabulary I asked for directions to the road to Cannes. He took a big drag of his Galois, blew the smoke in my face and pushed me hard in the chest. I took that as instructions to go forth and multiply.

Lovely. We decided to forgo Marseille's charms and hitch out. Three days we spent at a motorway junction. Occasionally people stopped 200 meters past us, only to roar off laughing as we ran up the slip road. Others threw water, or worse, from the cars as they passed.

Jon Jones

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12. Jungle Of Mine

I went on a guided tour of the Vietnamese jungle. We had to walk in a straight line behind our guide because there were traps and unexploded mines untouched from the war.

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11. Starting A Country From Scratch

South Sudan. There were anti-aircraft guns and child soldiers at the airport. There was no electricity, no roads, no running water, no banking or waste management system and no security. Everywhere smelled of burning rubbish. I went to a briefing at the Ministry of Agriculture. The minister said, basically, "There is no agriculture in is country because all of the farmers are huddled in refugee camps, for fear of being attacked by rival factions. And even if they were able to grow crops, we'd have no way to distribute them because we don't have roads. Any questions?"

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10. Dead Men Don't Run

Countries with a tough reputation that I've been to are Libya, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia(all pre-Arab Spring), Russia, Latvia, Turkey and also India.

But Russia is the only country where I saw a body on the street, in the middle of summer. A few days later we walk past that street again, and the body's still out there, just under a tarp. My dad asks the cop what's going on and he says, "Well, the body won't run anywhere," and left it.

I also saw roads getting resurfaced while there was still trash and debris lying on it. Now, I know there's a street in Moscow with a coke can embedded in it.

Most of the buildings are also run down; my dad's company gave him a flat where the balcony fell off and where an armed guard/driver was necessary.

Moscow, by far, made me feel the least safe out of anywhere else I've been.

I found India to be much safer and better developed than Russia and Indians to be way more friendly and approachable.

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9. Cold Welcome

The Philippines.

Manila, specifically. I pulled in while deployed in the navy and you could smell it before you saw it; sewage and garbage and the pollution of a huge city all mixed in together in 100 degree heat. There were rafts of trash miles out into the bay before we even docked.

We were greeted by a large group of protesters on the pier. They didn’t want us and we didn’t want to be there. It set the tone for the whole experience,

Inside the city was a bizarre mix of abject poverty and gratuitous wealth. Kids would flock taxis at stoplights trying to sell candy and trinkets and grab at your pockets, but the mall (I can’t remember what it’s called, it’s massive and famous) was like any other fancy mall in America with expensive department stores, food courts and the A/C blasting.

Manila sucked. Cebu was beautiful though.

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8. Right Here At Home

Camden, New Jersey.

This town has one of the highest violent crime rates in the country. It looks like a war zone.

My husband drives heavy haul tractor trailer and had to drive through Camden. There are NO POLICE, the city can not afford it. You are on your own.

He ran every red light. You just don’t stop; it could cost you your car and or your life. (He’s heard stories about crazies and thugs jumping onto the trucks at red lights.) A working girl saw him slow down and ran after his truck in the middle of the street in broad daylight yelling, “Hey baby, stop!” Very young pregnant girls walking the streets, gangs. You can literally buy a “house” for under $15,000

Don’t go here.

Dana Bateman

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7. Being A Female Traveler Can Be Tough

I'd have to say Indonesia. I started in Jakarta, where staff at my hotel broke into my room while I was sleeping and stole my money, credit cards, camera, and phone from my purse. I had to stay at that hotel for another night until I could get a wire transfer from my parents as I had no other source of money. That evening, a male hotel employee kept pestering me, calling my room, being way too friendly, etc. I had no way to lock the room from inside and was fairly concerned, but luckily I met a nice big Canadian guy at the hotel restaurant who agreed to make sure the hotel employee in question saw him going into my room that night. Luckily, it worked.

Travelling down Java was really one long string of touts and ripoffs. Yogyakarta was supposed to be nice, but coming out of the train station, my first impression of the city, was like playing American football with waves of horse drivers, taxi drivers, and motorbike drivers trying to intercept me from all sides.

I finally reached Bali and discovered that Ubud is nice and all, but SO touristy and so packed with souvenir sellers and still more touts. I spent my last night in Indonesia in Kuta, which is best not even mentioned...

Throughout all this, I was groped twice by men I didn't know and generally had to fend off a lot of sexist jerks. Pretty much nothing about the country left a positive impression on me, although I would like to believe there are nicer parts of it that I just didn't see since I was mostly on the main tourist trail.

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6. At Least There Was Toilet Paper

El Salvador. Got off a bus at midnight in San Salvador and had to walk past people with shotguns and machetes only to find a hotel that asked if I wanted the whole night or by the hour. And there was a roll of toilet paper on the wall behind the bed.

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5. The Problem Is When The Crime Becomes Organized

Russia, due to the sheer intimidation factor and the intense crime. Nearly everyone there seemed to be involved in local crime, and there were CONSTANTLY armed, hammered men going about the streets at night, fighting with each other. We saw what were presumed to be mafia men round up two stumbling men and break their knee caps in front of our apartment. We saw dogs eating a body in an alleyway. Men with guns held us up while we were driving when they found out I was from America (which is funny, because I was born in USSR originally as a kid).

The worst part was that the crime wasn’t just petty street crime; it was organized, so people can’t retaliate because other gang or mafia members will come after them. It was like totalitarian, seriously messed hp. People get dragged out of their apartments and are never seen again. The police don’t do anything.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a place where crime just was so dominant in people’s lifestyles. I’ve been to Africa, Middle East, and India. Nowhere shocked me as much as Russia.

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4. It's Almost Impossible To Visit Anyway

Saudi Arabia. If I had to name a country that doesn't embody the spirit of Islam (I'm Muslim), I would say the kingdom. The environment over there, especially due to the incompetence, laziness, and entitlement of government employed workers, detracts from what should be a rewarding and spiritual experience for those who go on religious pilgrimage. You absolutely do not feel welcomed there. And to top it off, I hated the repressive atmosphere (and the influence of Wahhabism).

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3. Going Nuclear

I lived in Russia for a year in college.

On a long weekend, a buddy and I decided to take a train up to Murmansk to check out the Cold War nuclear submarine pens. We heard they were abandoned subs and these huge concrete caverns caved into the arctic hillside.

So we load up with drinks and snacks and jump on a train headed north from St. Petersburg where we lived. It's about a 12 hour ride. We drink, shoot the breeze with some locals, and pass out.

At about 5am, we heard a guard banging on our compartment door asking for documents. Not abnormal as doc checks are pretty routine when pulling into a new city on Russian rail. Upon producing U.S. passports, the guard gets bug -eyed and starts yelling at us in Russian. This was fairly early in my stay, so I only picked up "you cant be here" and that "we had to wait with him when the train stopped." So my buddy and I are a bit spooked at this point. I tried asking why and the guard had no answer.

We pull into Murmansk and after everyone disembarked, we climbed out of the train, escorted by this guard. Awaiting us on the train platform were 4-5 more soldiers and an officer of some sort. At this point we figure we're in deep trouble and that they think we're spies or something. Well, we weren't far off...

The officer - bless his heart - spoke some English as he later told us he had studied in Moscow. He basically said that Murmansk was a 'closed city' and off limits to foreigners - especially those belonging to NATO countries - because Murmansk is still the home port of the Northern Fleet of the Russian Navy where they house multiple nuclear submarines to this day. He tells us we have to wait at the police station for questioning which, I figured, in the arctic circle about 500 miles from the nearest US embassy was not going to go well.

On our way to the police station I asked  if we could stop at the store to pick up some food and such since we were going to be a while. They actually agreed - so at this point I figured they weren't going to whack our balls Daniel Craig James Bond style. My buddy and I bought a bunch of drinks just because and shared with the soldiers as we sat in this 12x12 cell.

Basically we ended up getting hammered all day (in the middle of the day, mind you) with these dudes. Retrospectively we figured it's not every day that they get prisoners who aren't the town troublemakers, and even rarer that they have Americans.

Playing to his Russian patriotism a little bit, I eventually asked the officer if we could go see the sub pens that were abandoned cuz that's why the heck we came all this way anyways. He reluctantly agreed, and took us in a cool Russian military jeep around town. They booted us out of town and threw us on the next train back to civilization. Could have been way worse, undoubtedly.

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2. Doors That Don't Open

I had just flown into Mexico. There was a driver standing by the airport exit who approached me and asked where I was going. I was so burned out from travel I could hardly think straight. I told him the address of my hotel. He agreed to drive me, took my suitcase, and put it in the trunk of his car.

When the driver took off, I noticed he was going way too fast. I also noticed there were no handles on the back doors for me to get out of the car. That's when it occurred to me me that something really wasn't right.

I asked about the fare, how long it might take, but the driver wouldn't talk to me. He just kept saying "no problem." I started to panic, then I told the driver I forgot one of my bags with "expensive work equipment in it at the baggage claim." But he just kept saying "no problem."

I finally started screaming at him that I had to go back. He pulled to the side and in perfect English asked me, "What kind of equipment"? I told him a couple of MacBooks and other things. He made a quick phone call and turned around.

We went back to the airport. He pulled to the side, opened my door let me out (I was gonna go back into the airport and call a real taxi) and a security guard noticed him and started yelling for him to wait right there. The driver took off with my suitcase still in his trunk.

I really dodged a bullet. The cop told me there was a group of fake taxi drivers taking tourists from the airport, robbing them, and doing god knows what else.

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1. Mountain Driver

Nepal, 2012. We were picked up around 4:45am from our hotel in Pokhara, when we actually should have been picked up at 4am. Our itinerary that morning involved watching the sunrise over the Himalayas, so the fact that our driver was late was kind of an issue. En route to an adjacent mountain from which we were to watch the sunrise was the most terrifying drive of my life: the road was narrow, crumbly, and tightly lined with residences. Worse still, it was littered with blind curves that our driver would briskly honk his horn at as we barrelled toward them, to warn off any oncoming traffic screaming down these roads.

I felt that there was a very real chance we would just careen off of the edge of the mountain, and I was perfectly willing to miss out on the majesty of what we were going to witness if it meant living. Our driver was unperturbed, got us there with about 15 minutes to spare, sunrise was glorious and the Himalayas completely overwhelming.

A few days later, we took a plane back to Kathmandu. I don't know what kind of plane it was, but it had two propellers and fit about 10-12 passengers. It was raining, which is never fun when flying, and we had about 30 minutes to go before landing when the engines cut out. It was completely silent in the plane as all of the passengers leaned into the aisle to look into the cockpit, watching as the pilots flipped switches and did... something, I don't really know. I had enough time to sit back into my seat and think, well, hopefully we're high enough that we die on impact, when the engines roared back to life. Everyone exhaled as one, and the ashen-faced man sitting in front of my boyfriend made the sign of the cross. No one said a single word until we landed.

(This being said, everyone should go to Nepal if they find themselves able. We had an amazing time, brushes with death aside! It is an astoundingly beautiful country, filled with incredible people whose economy could use tourism dollars more than ever, post-earthquake. I would go back in a heartbeat if I could.)

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