bokur yemen soldier

Although international borders themselves aren’t very thick, they often outline the boundaries of security for whole nations in our minds. Typically, entire countries aren’t dangerous but once they’re associated with the word, booking a trip to one of them doesn’t seem like a sane decision. For those of you who enjoy adventure without risking your life, these are the regions I’ve traveled to that you can carefully visit, in countries that have an unsafe reputation.

Socotra Island, Yemen

I’ve written quite a bit about Socotra Island, because if there’s any reason to travel to Yemen, this archipelago is it. Socotra is technically a part of Yemen but it’s nearly 300 kilometers (~190 miles) off the mainland’s coast. There’s so little crime on Socotra that it doesn’t even have a police force. Despite this, due to its nominal connection to Yemen, Socotra remains one of the most neglected tourist destinations in the world.

socotra island yemen dragon blood tree

Kiev, Ukraine

Actually this advice goes for much of western Ukraine, which is unaffected by the conflict in Donetsk and other eastern regions. Here’s the longer version to the question: is it safe to travel to Kiev right now but in short, outside of the capital city’s Maidan, you’ll see life has returned much to normal.

kiev ukraine maidan

Erbil, Sulaymaniyah, Iraq

Despite their proximity to Syria and territory captured by ISIS, these heavily fortified cities have stayed protected within the areas controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Both cities have international airports but before you go read more about safety in northern Iraq, what it’s like to travel there, and this digital pocket guide to traveling in Iraq.

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sulaymaniyah iraq

Most Places South Of The Border, Mexico

Mexico is a country whose economy is booming and crime rate is falling in areas tourists are most likely to visit; though maintains a reputation of lawlessness. Much of this has to do with a series of highly publicized kidnappings as well as the murder of 43 students in 2014. A large percentage of these crimes are related to local drug trafficking, away from tourist areas so you can discover the ciudad under Mexico City and swim in enchanted cenotes without fear.

oaxaca mexico

Hurghada, Egypt

The political turmoil in Egypt has crippled the country’s tourism industry. You may be weary of visiting Cairo but the biggest worry anyone has in the Red Sea resort town of Hurghada is whether there’s a good wind for surfing that day. (The answer is usually, yes.) Turkish Airlines has direct flights from Istanbul to this paradise town that might not look anything like you imagine when Egypt comes to mind.

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hurghada kite surfing

Texas, United States

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the United States has a homicide rate on par with Yemen. The high murder rate in Yemen and the United States shouldn’t be entirely surprising as those two countries have the first and third highest gun ownership rates per capita in the world. The surprising part is that a quarter of America’s 20 safest cities are located in the Lone Star State known for its cowboy culture.

don't mess with texas

You Can’t Put A Border Around Safe

Just as you can’t put an imaginary line around dangerous, the same is true of safe. Although both the Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan and Somaliland in the horn of Africa are considered safe, they’re not ideal places for inexperienced or unprepared travelers. Sometimes it’s best to cancel your travel plans because of unfolding circumstances in places that were safe or take a look back at somewhere like Sarajevo whose recent history might be keeping you away needlessly.

What are some of the safest places in “dangerous” countries you’ve visited? I’m curious to hear your comments below!