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Don't visit these 10 countries: personal experience of a girl who has visited every country in the world

'16.10.2023'

Alina Prikhodko

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Lexi Alford set a Guinness record, becoming the youngest traveler to visit every country on the globe. In all 196 countries. During her travels around the world, she discovered several places so dangerous that she recommends that only intrepid travelers visit them and that ordinary tourists stay away, as reported by Daily Mail.

The 25-year-old Californian has nearly half a million subscribers on her YouTube channel. Lexie Limitless, created a video in which it listed the 10 most dangerous countries for inexperienced tourists - places where there is a risk of kidnapping, where violent crime is common and where the presence of armed guards is mandatory. One of these countries, she says, is not worth visiting at all, “unless you have a violent desire to die.”

Lexi has visited each of these countries in recent years and has no regrets: “Each place has taught me something new about the world and forced me to become a better traveler.” She compiled a list of 10 places, ranked in reverse order from least to most risky.

10 North Korea

Photo: IStock

Lexi says travelers can visit North Korea - a country ruled by the dynastic dictatorship of the Kim family since the 1940s - on a “highly regulated” government tour, although she notes that these tours do not provide the opportunity to “explore the country on your own and find out what's really going on there."

“If you go on a tour like this, expect to be fed pro-government propaganda and only see parts of the country that the regime wants to see. Your money from the tour will go directly to the Kim regime and his cronies, not to the North Korean people.”

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Listing the dangers of visiting North Korea on such a tour, she says: “If you cross the line in the eyes of government overseers, the consequences will be very serious. If you go on such a tour, you must be aware of the rules and your actions at all times. For example, when it’s time to go to a hotel in the evening, it’s better to stay there until the morning, until it’s time to leave.”

Lexi notes that there is an alternative way to see the country. She recommends visiting the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on the border between North and South Korea, where you can visit North Korean territory in the blue buildings along the demarcation line between the two countries.

9. Bangladesh

Photo: IStock

Explaining why she doesn't recommend Bangladesh to inexperienced tourists, Lexi says: “Unfortunately, there is a very high rate of petty crime and violent crime such as pickpocketing and robbery. This happens in every country, but be aware that since there are few other tourists here, you will attract a lot of attention every time you are on the street and become an obvious target.”

“Bangladesh often proves to be an uncomfortable and challenging place for women to travel, especially solo travelers, as sexual harassment is more common here than usual.”

These problems may be exacerbated by the country's dense population, she said. “Bangladesh is just very crowded. If you are claustrophobic or intimidated by crowds, this is definitely not the place for you.”

“To make matters worse, the country is experiencing political instability due to unrest in neighboring countries and constant terrorist attacks, including attacks on foreigners over the past five years or so. In addition, Bangladesh unfortunately suffers from various natural disasters quite frequently, the most common being extreme monsoon floods.”

In general, she notes that the country lacks a developed tourism infrastructure, which makes travel much more difficult. However, for experienced travelers there are many great reasons to visit the country. “Bangladesh has beautiful nature: rivers, jungles, the world’s largest mangrove forest,” says Lexi, adding: “The country is cool and there are so many kind people in Bangladesh.”

8. Libya

Lexi said that Libya is one of the only countries in the world that you can't visit without hiring a tour company. Technically, it cannot be visited as a tourist, as Libya does not currently issue tourist visas.

She managed to visit the country in 2019, receiving a “business visa”. “When you arrive, you have to tell immigration officials that you are in Libya to work in the oil and gas industry, which is very inconvenient,” she explains.

The country has been plagued by military and political instability since the overthrow of former ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Listing the dangers that travelers face, Lexi says: “At a low level, the risk is the inability to move freely due to fighting that could occur at any time. At a high level of risk – kidnapping for ransom, political influence or simply death during the conflict.”

She notes: “Despite the stressful situations that can arise from simply getting into some of the more difficult to reach countries, such as Libya, it is always worth it. You will be rewarded with a unique, colorful culture and beautiful landscapes.

Lexi's highlight was visiting the “well-preserved” ruins of Leptis Magna, an ancient Roman city on the Mediterranean coast. Lexi says: “Not only was it an impressive sight to see first-hand, but it was also a surreal feeling walking around the place all alone – something you definitely won’t experience at the Colosseum in Rome or the Acropolis in Athens.” However, she notes that she currently does not recommend visiting this place for either experienced or novice travelers.

6. Central African Republic

Photo: IStock

“Central African Republic (CAR) is the only time in my life that a commercial aircraft was forced to land in a tailspin to avoid a missile strike. It really sets the tone for the journey.”

The girl notes that although the country has several national parks and small cultural villages that may be of interest to tourists, most of the country is “virtually inaccessible due to armed conflicts over control of roads throughout the country.

“As soon as you go outside of Bangui (the capital), there is immediate danger: armed militia groups are basically setting up illegal checkpoints to assert their control over the region, and thus harassing foreign travelers and aid workers.”

Lexi also notes that “primary transportation and communication lines in the country are so limited” that embassy staff may not be able to reach travelers in need of support in the time required.

5. Somalia

Photo: IStock

While in Somalia, Lexi stayed in a hotel with armed guards and checkpoints at the entrance. “Kidnappings and terrorist attacks are the greatest danger here, so you are not allowed to go anywhere without an armed escort, which you must hire.”

She notes that the state of Somaliland within the country is somewhat safer for travelers, but even there she “by law had to have an armored car and a guard with her at all times.”

The highlight of her trip was a visit to Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland. She visited the Laas Geel caves on the outskirts of the city, which contain “some of the oldest and best-preserved rock art in the world.” Lexi noted that it was an amazing sight.

4. Syria

Photo: IStock

Lexi says traveling within Syria has become “virtually impossible” as political tensions have escalated in the country in recent years due to the ongoing civil war.

“Before the war, the country had good tourism infrastructure, but much of it has now been lost as large parts of the country have been reduced to ruins.”

Syria is the only country where I personally know someone who was kidnapped and held by the government. Fortunately, my friend was rescued after several months in a Syrian prison. Many other travelers were not so lucky.”

“Even if you are an experienced traveler, you should not go to Syria in the foreseeable future,” the girl advises. She hopes this will change in the future because “Syria has such an amazingly rich culture and history.”

3. Mali

Photo: IStock

“This is not a typical tourist destination because the risk compared to the reward is not worth it.”

“Large areas of Mali are under the control of Islamist rebels who adhere to extremely strict Sharia law. This makes it particularly unsafe for solo female travellers.” Let's also say that politically these groups are not very friendly towards American and European tourists.

“I heard first-hand from the European military that Mali is one of the worst places on the planet where you can be kidnapped because it is almost impossible to rescue a person there.”

However, as Leslie notes, extreme travelers will be interested in visiting the “mysterious” UNESCO-listed city of Timbuktu and the Great Mosque of Djenne.

2. Yemen

Photo: IStock

Lexi spent a week in Yemen when she was granted a visa to enter the country as a working photographer. She explains: “There is no infrastructure for tourists on the Yemeni mainland, and it is impossible to even get a tourist visa here.”

Reflecting on her time in the country, which has been engulfed in civil war since 2014, Lexi says: “Yemen was one of the most interesting countries I have visited. I met the kindest people here, but at the same time it seemed to me the most dangerous.”

“Not only is there no US embassy here, few countries have embassies here at all, and there are virtually no law enforcement agencies other than the Yemeni military. It feels like you're in the most lawless version of the old Wild West movies."

At the same time, the traveler notes that a safer way to “get acquainted with Yemeni culture” is to visit the island of Socotra, located near the coast of the mainland in the Indian Ocean. Describing the Yemeni island as “an amazing place with an incredible diversity of landscape,” she notes, “The island is somewhat autonomous from mainland Yemen, and they welcome tourists.”

However, Lexi notes that “traveling [to Socotra] comes with many risks, so I would only recommend it to experienced travelers.”

1. Afghanistan

Photo: IStock

Afghanistan is another country where Lexi has stayed in a hotel with armed guards to ensure her safety.

“I really enjoyed my time in Afghanistan. “Afghanistan has all the makings of a world-class tourism destination: colorful traditions, amazing local cuisine, historical sites dating back thousands of years, and, most importantly, kind people every step of the way who have so much hope for their country.”

However, she notes that after the hard-line Islamist Taliban group returned to power in the country in 2021, “the situation has completely changed.”

“Now this country is completely inaccessible to even the most extreme travelers for the foreseeable future. Unless they have a death wish. I would like everyone to be able to see the beauty of this country, but at the moment it is too risky.”

How to prepare for your trip

“Before you can get permission to board a plane, you have to jump through countless bureaucratic hoops, often requiring months of planning and hundreds of dollars in approvals.”

Lexi uses social media to connect with locals who can give her directions to the country. She advises contacting locals or people who have also recently traveled to the country (key word: recently). This is where the power of social media lies in providing valuable connections with locals and travelers who have contacts in the country for visa purposes.

“In each country, I conducted extensive research to understand the current political situation and stability in each place. This included learning which areas were considered the most dangerous and trying to avoid those places.”

Traveling with an accompanying person is her rule when visiting dangerous countries. In dangerous countries, she prefers to hire a local guide or guide. It's always better to have a local with experience to help you navigate some areas you shouldn't go to. It is important to coordinate with local guides on site to ensure your safety throughout your trip, starting with being picked up directly from the airport and dropped off at the end of the trip.

How to stay safe once you arrive

Lexi says that when it comes to adventure travel, it's important to have common sense and a sense of confidence.

She uses the term “common sense” to refer to all the safety measures and self-awareness that also apply in everyday life:

  • Don't walk alone late at night;
  • do not be intoxicated and do not lose control of yourself;
  • make sure someone knows your whereabouts;
  • always have a travel plan.

“Body language is the only truly universal language! Stand up straight, keep your head level, look into your eyes and don’t forget to smile.”

Intuition is your best companion on a solo journey. If you have an idea and your intuition begins to shake, listen to it. The most important thing you can do when traveling solo is to be present, think critically, and enjoy the adventure.

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