The world is your oyster, for the most part, but there are some places you probably want to steer clear of. Safety is one good reason to avoid travelling to a place, but there are also some places you might choose to stay away from because it’s not so safe for the place itself—for environmental or other reasons. Here are a few places, among others, that you probably shouldn’t visit.
Where it’s dangerous
Ciudad Juarez, Mexico
Mexico has gotten a bit of a bad rap in recent years after news stories about drug cartels and associated violence. While this doesn’t affect the entire country, you’ll want to steer clear of the Juarez region along the country’s northern border, south of New Mexico. Murder rates have been on the decline in recent years but the city is still a major hub in the drug trade and it’s still the most violent city in Mexico.
Mogadishu has been the site of civil war for more than two decades. Things seem to be improving ever so slightly, now that the city is under the control of a transitional government. Turkish Airlines even flies in there now. But it’s still an unstable and dangerous place where terrorist threats and violent crimes persist. Foreign Affairs advises against all travel to Somalia and Mogadishu in particular.
North Korea might be one of the weirder countries out there, but you’d be wise to fight the urge to go and see it for yourself. For one thing, you can’t easily enter the country on your own and instead would need to go as part of an organized tour. Second, right now the governments of Canada, Australia and the U.S. all advise against travel to North Korea because of their nuclear weapons development program and “highly repressive regime.” Enough said.
Tip: Always check with travel.gc.ca to read up on the latest national and regional travel advisories, which can change at any time.
Where you might cause more harm than good
Vang Vieng, Laos
Inner-tubing along the Nam Song River has become a major draw for backpackers travelling around Southeast Asia. Lots of makeshift bars have popped up along the riverbanks but they’ve caused a lot of erosion and littering along the shore. But beyond the environmental impact, the onslaught of partying backpackers to this small town has had a negative socio-cultural impact on the locals who tend to frown upon alcohol and drug use, which is now all over the town. While tourism is important to this area, skip the tubing and instead explore the area’s caves.
Monkey Beach, Thailand
Boat tours are popular on the island of Koh Phi Phi and many of them head to the beach where The Beach was filmed, but they often also stop at a little spot called Monkey Beach. Here, a bunch of resident macaque monkeys greet tourists who hop out of their boats to feed the monkeys. The monkeys have come to depend on the tourists who feed them all sorts of things from chips to candy to beer and then snap photos of them. This relationship is obviously not a good one for the monkeys and all for a photo op for tourists. It’s actually a bit depressing to witness. Support the wildlife of Thailand by visiting or volunteering at a reputable conservation or sanctuary.
Tip: Always do your research. If your travel plans involve wildlife or environmentally sensitive areas, ensure that your presence won’t leave any undue impact on the area.