Anyone who has travelled before knows that going to another country almost always poses some risk. That's why travel insurance exists.
But some countries are a little more dangerous than others, and some even more so for female travellers.
That's why the government of Canada releases travel advisories for countries it knows are particularly risky.
Below are the top ten most dangerous tourist destinations countries for women on the government of Canada's Travel Advisory list.
There were a lot of other countries that sat higher on the list in terms of danger, but were countries I would not consider "tourist destinations," so I didn't include them on this list.
There were also other tourist destinations on the travel advisory list, but that didn't pose a threat to women specifically, so they've also been left off the list.
So, without further ado, counting down from 10 these are the most dangerous tourist destinations for women to travel to.
The Travel Advisory site warns everyone to "be careful at night in entertainment areas throughout the country." This is especially pertinent during full moon parties on islands like Koh Phangan.
"Robberies, injuries, drug abuse, unwarranted arrests, assaults (including sexual assaults) and deaths" often can happen during these parties. There have been noted cases of sexual assaults against women in Thailand.
The government also notes that travellers have been "the targets of drink spiking," where victims are inevitably sexually assaulted or robbed or both.
In every country where there is a risk of drink spiking, the government warns Canadians: "never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum, or cigarettes from new acquaintances.
If you suspect that you have been drugged, seek medical attention immediately.
The government of Canada warns women that when travelling alone, in particular, you may be "subject to certain forms of harassment and verbal abuse."
There are also threats of kidnapping in certain remote areas of Morocco, particularly in areas that border Algeria and Mauritania.
When out shopping in markets, tourists have been "forcibly taken to stores and intimidated into making purchases."
For this reason, the government of Canada advises women to "stay on major roads" and exercise caution at all times.
8. Sri Lanka
When travelling in Sri Lanka, women are often the target of unwanted attention, thus the government advises women to exercise caution, especially when travelling alone.
There is also a risk of foreigners being targeted with spiked food and drink in Sri Lanka.
Similarly to Thailand, be wary of accepting things from strangers, as these items "may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery."
7. Trinidad and Tobago
Whether travelling by boat or plane, women should exercise caution. The island of Trinidad sees violent crimes including "armed robberies, assaults, and sexual assault." These crimes happen most frequently in the capital, Port of Spain, where there is a high tourist population.
Cruise ship passengers should be "very careful" in this area while walking around off-ship. Often crimes are gang and drug-related and thus a simple matter of wrong place, wrong time, as the Travel Advisory explains.
Many of these crimes tend to increase during the annual Carnival celebrations in February or March and during the Christmas holidays.
Moreover, there is not a lot of visible police presence in most areas of Trinidad.
6. Costa Rica
Unfortunately, the rate of drug-related violent crimes, including homicides, "is on the rise in Costa Rica," the government of Canada explains. Drug trafficking is prevalent and local drug use, including the use of crack, is a serious problem.
Female travellers are at risk of sexual assault even at beach resorts and in taxis, particularly in the San José area. Incidents have been reported and the risk is increased when a woman is travelling alone.
It is common for women to be subjected to forms of "harassment and verbal abuse," and they are advised never to walk alone at night. Even male travellers run the risk of robbery and violence when walking around after dusk and in isolated areas.
The government of Canada notes that while violent crime against foreigners is not frequent, it is a "concern" in Costa Rica.
That said, Canadians have been the victims of violent crimes in Puerto Limón and Puerto Viejo.
As with many destinations on this list, women travelling within Brazil can face some forms of harassment and verbal abuse. The government of Canada advises women not to travel alone at night or in remote areas.
Assaults are "frequently perpetrated in unofficial taxis and incidents of sexual assault against both male and female foreigners have been reported, sometimes involving the use of sedatives."
Apparently, armed robberies happen regularly, even during broad daylight, and often occur at restaurants or on trains where criminals perform hold-ups
Victims have been seriously injured or killed when resisting perpetrators, who may be armed or under the influence of drugs.
For this reason, the government advises Canadians to "exercise a high degree of caution at all times, avoid travelling alone, especially at night, avoid parks or downtown areas as well as poorly lit and isolated streets, and if you are threatened by robbers, don't resist."
According to the government of Canada, "sexual assault occurs frequently in The Bahamas, particularly near hotels, in hotel rooms, in casinos, on cruise ships and on the beach."
In some cases, victims are drugged. Criminals will take advantage of foreigners, whether in a taxi on cruise ships.
In addition to crimes in Paradise Island, "armed robberies, burglaries, purse snatchings, theft, fraud and sexual assaults," are common crimes committed against travellers in Freeport and Nassau as well.
The Travel Advisory notes that robberies also take place at cruise ship terminals, in and around popular resort areas, and even in daylight hours.
Crime tends to increase during the holidays and often preys of the ignorance of tourists.
- Be wary when embarking on jet-ski rides with licensed or unlicensed operators, as several incidents of sexual assault have been reported
- Avoid excessive consumption of alcohol and avoid using drugs
- Don't accept rides from strangers or from unlicensed taxi drivers
3. El Salvador
There have been incidents of sexual assault against foreigners in El Salvador, both at beach areas and border regions. The Travel Advisory warns travellers to be cautious with new acquaintances "offering friendship, hospitality, or assistance."
While that seems like an overly cynical way to travel, violent crime is a serious problem throughout the country and there are many reported cases of homicide, assault, and rape.
There is a presence of street gangs, so the government advises travellers to be discreet, and "avoid travelling alone, especially if you are female."
The government also advises not to take drinks from strangers due to "incidents of sexual assault" which have involved the use of sedative drugs.
So if you are travelling in El Salvador, avoid leaving your drinks or food unattended in bars or nightclubs and avoid excessive drinking so you can keep your wits about you.
Moreover, if you are a victim of sexual assault, the government advises that you report it to police and contact the Embassy of Canada to El Salvador in San Salvador.
The government notes that there have been reports of sexual assaults at resorts carried out by resort staff and, in some cases, by other tourists. Women travelling alone are often harassed.
Be wary of spiked food and drinks and never accept things from strangers "as they may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery."
Women should refrain from excessive drinking, where one can lose their ability to fend for themselves. This is especially pertinent at all-inclusive resorts. Despite most hotels and resorts being well guarded, it is important to ensure that your hotel room doors and windows are secure.
Be particularly vigilant if you are staying at "smaller or isolated" establishments with less security. Compounds that are "gated and guarded" are considered the safest accommodation option in Jamaica, according to the government of Canada.
The advisory again warns Canadians to "be wary of 'friendly' strangers," who will then attempt to take advantage or exploit you as a tourist.
In Egypt, women, particularly foreigners, are frequently subject to "unpleasant male attention." This can quickly escalate to verbal abuse and sexual harassment.
Other forms of unwanted attention can also include "staring, inappropriate remarks, catcalls, and touching." Crossing the border between Egypt and Israel is "strongly discouraged" due to high political tension in the area.
Despite most tourist sites being open, Egypt still remains unpredictable at this time and is less safe than in general than it was "before January 2011." The government warns that there is the potential for violence to escalate rapidly, particularly when large groups of people are involved.
Egypt has a special police force for tourists, though, and officers can be seen in public wearing a distinctive armband that reads: “Tourism and Antiquities Police.” They are most easily located in hotels and at tourist sites.
The government advises Canadians to carry identification at all times, but not your original passport. Photocopy your passport and other identification in case of loss or seizure.
The government of Canada has put together a "Woman's Safe-Travel Guide," on their site, with tips and advice for a variety of situations for women planning a solo trip abroad.
These advisories should help you better choose where to take your vacations and if it is the kind of place you should travel to alone as a woman at this time.