The Worst Travel Destinations in the World

We're constantly being informed of the Must-Visit travel locations nearly everywhere we go these days. We could be reading a magazine or surfing the internet and we'll come across a plethora of adverts offering us great rates for tickets to all of that particular year's hottest vacation destinations.

But what about the other side of the proverbial coin? For every light casts a shadow somewhere and the same can definitely be said for travel, as for each luxury hotel there is damp squalor, for every high-end performance rental car there is a wrecked shell of a burnt-out vehicle, for every tourist attraction there is a smoking crater, for every relaxing shopping district there is a war-torn street and for each cheerful local there is someone too afraid to leave their home.

The measures by which we determine if a country is a "bad place to go to" include - apart from the obvious: streets littered with corpses, houses caked in fecal matter and the like - the Failed States Index, an index depicting the relative stability of a country and the Corruption Perceptions Index, an index detailing the "degree to which corruption is perceived to exist among public officials and politicians" (a chart comparing previous years can be found at Wikipedia here). Both Indices are updated for 2009.

So here they are, a roll call of some of the worst places to visit on the entire planet:


Burma (also known as Myanmar) might look nice from a cursory glance at the place from a tourist's perspective, but this would only be because the government has around 800,000 in forced labor in order to prettify all of the tourist attractions, streets, buildings and other pieces of infrastructure.

When its citizen's aren't being oppressed, then they're busy manufacturing opium and heroin for national consumption and export. In fact, Burma is one part of the Golden Triangle of opium production, meaning that it basically produces such a ridiculous amount of drugs that it gets a cool name. Also, the US embassy in Rangoon (the largest city) released a report that stated that "exports of opiates alone appear to be worth about as much as all legal exports", which basically means that business is good.

Add to that a tendency to imprison, persecute and generally just beat the crap out of monks (and murder them, dumping their bodies in the jungle), combined with the fact that the government (a military government, nonetheless) has placed the leader of the opposition political party under house arrest since 1989. It's easy to see why Burma/Myanmar ranks unfavorably on both Indices.


North Korea

Everybody's favorite single-party state (where no other parties are permitted to run in the election, a sort of "guaranteed win" for the only party around) where their president (or Eternal President) is a man who died 15 years ago and the literature and arts are all state-controlled.

North Korea and its isolationist policy has always seemed a mystery to outsiders, with the North Koreans very much deciding to keep everything to themselves, at the expense of personal freedom and even the truth in some regards, what with most things being state-controlled (such as the North Korean "version" of World War II, which the US "started" by invading them).

Not content with stealing any individuality that might arise within a North Korean, the government attempts to build a ridiculously large army with them. The KPA (Korean People's Army) is the collective name for the North Korean military force, which consists of 1.21 million people, the fifth-largest army in the world, with the highest percentage of personnel per capita in the world, resulting in 1 enlisted soldier for every 25 citizens in the country.

Not a particularly fun place to visit (it has been dubbed a "Stalinist theme park" with no mention of the outside world and its own version of history) unless you enjoy suppression, military dictatorships and lots of concrete, not to mention the fact that any outside visitor needs a "representative" or "tour guide" from the government with them at all times and even with said guide, there's still a chance that you could be shot if you wander off in the wrong direction.

Although if those are the kind of things you'd enjoy, be prepared for a lengthy period of complicated paperwork to get into the country, with even further stipulations (but mainly outright denial of access) if you're from the US or South Korea.

North Korea


The sixth most populous country on the planet (and home to the second largest Muslim population in the world) has certainly had its fair share of military rule and political turmoil. The country also faces tremendous problems when it comes to poverty and illiteracy, which contributes to the other growing problems it faces year after year.

Political troubles are rife, not least of all when it comes to political leaders. For example, if we take, Benazir Bhutto, former prime minister of Pakistan and then subsequently leader of the opposition party, had two assassination attempts on her life, with the second one being successful and both attempts costing 160+ people their lives.

Pakistan Pakistan

Democratic Republic of Congo

One of the many, many dark hearts of Africa and in pretty bad places on both Indices. Despite the abbreviation sounding like a friendly neighborhood doctor, DR Congo is far from friendly and quite possibly far from having any neighborhoods, when you come to think of it.

The rape and sexual violence alone has been described as the worst in the world and the general populace is treated to almost unimaginable brutality from just about every angle. Children are often recruited into armies to serve as child soldiers - if they're lucky, otherwise they're kidnapped in order to be forced to work as sexual slaves.

DR Congo has it all, if by all, you're actually looking for murder and rape on the grandest of scales, as a war has been fought there since 1998 and despite peace treaties being signed in 2003, there is still widespread bloodshed in a conflict which has to date taken more than 5.4 million lives.



At number 4 on the Failed States Index and pretty near the bottom of the Corruption Perceptions Index, you can tell that Chad isn't going to be the most happening of places. Well, things are happening, but you can guarantee that none of them are good.

Because of the Darfur crisis in Sudan, hundreds of thousands (around 280,000) of refugees are spilling over into Chad, taking up residency in camps where they can, which only adds to the problem of internal conflict and the general destabilizing of the country. Combine the Sudanese refugees with those coming in from the Central African Republic (around 55,000) and Chad's own internally displaced persons (over 170,000), then you have a lot of people with not many options left.

So, as well as a tremendous number of displaced persons and refugees, you're dealing with poverty on an enormous scale, with Chad being amongst the poorest countries in the world, coupled with the fact that political violence is rife, with coups d'état being a regular feature in the political landscape of the place. Chad doesn't sound like a whole lot of fun if you're after something to do other than being poor.



Fresh in the minds of the majority, you'll be forgiven for not listing Iraq high on your list of places to visit before you die, despite it being hailed as the birthplace of writing and the wheel, as well as once being called the "cradle of civilization" when it was known as Mesopotamia.

Iraq is supposed to "be getting better"; however the grim reality is most likely far from the case. By now most people are aware to some regard of the scale of violence that has taken place and indeed still takes place to this day. Explosions, killing, bombs (suicide or otherwise) are a daily occurrence for those unfortunate enough to be involved in, well, pretty much anything in Iraq.

If you did want to visit Iraq, then there's no shortage of sand and sun, but you might end up being kidnapped in order to prove some warlord's particular point of view on something or other and held for a ransom that most likely still won't stop you being on the business end of an axe.



The largest country in Africa and a permanent contender for the worst performer on both Indices, Sudan has never really been a great place to visit, not least of all because of the conflict in Darfur which basically just involved people killing each other, a time when mass murder and rape was happening on everyone's doorstep.

Total casualties for the conflict are up for debate, with the Sudanese government claiming 19,500 people were killed, while non-governmental organizations claim that the number is nearer 400,000. The same goes for the number of estimated displaced persons, with the Sudanese government saying that 450,000 have been displaced by the conflict, whereas the UN estimate puts that figure closer to 2,000,000.

A country populated with idiots that believe the name of a teddy bear is worth getting up in arms about, simultaneously demanding a person's execution, is no place that anyone should want to spend their time. If a country is so willing to murder and kill over so little, then it really isn't worth saving. But oh wait, that's impossible anyway, so no worries there.



Perhaps the single worst place in the entire world and so deadly that possibly even the mere mention of Somalia will warrant your death, it comes in at the worst places on both Indices, making it both the most "failed" place in the world as well as the most corrupt. Go figure.

The good news just starts to flow in once you hear that Somalia has had no form of central government since 1991, with fights between warlords erupting left, right and center, costing many lives. But since is life is cheap in this war-torn wasteland where anything goes, it doesn't really prove to be too much of an issue, at least in terms of expenditure.

Speaking of expenditure, if you were crazy enough to actually want to try your hand at survival in Somalia, you'd have to do it with enough armed guards to populate an entire village, or maybe even a city. Otherwise you're as good as dead and at least this way you'd probably have a chance to escape before you were raped and murdered.

If the country itself wasn't bad enough, then you have the piracy problem which has been a pretty big issue in recent years, what with their tendency to capture ships and crew, asking for ransoms in order to fund yet more piracy and buy even more weapons from Yemen and Mogadishu (Somalia's corrupt capital). Some of the time the crews are even capable of defending themselves, resulting in the death of pirates, yet still they carry on with their nefarious deeds, believing they are protecting their waters from foreign fishermen and the like. What a wonderful place.


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