“The fact that I can’t have you, makes me want you even more,” says a famous quote and this is exactly why there are certain travelers nowadays whose travel bucket list consists of places that are considered taboo or prohibited. For some reason, this group of globetrotters is highly restricted destinations – the longer certain places are closed to the outside world, the stronger and deeper their appeal.
While regular travelers are always on the lookout for promising vacation spots to try out, adventurous taboo-destination-seeking travelers are not interested in popular spots that appeal to the crowd. Instead, they get giddy with excitement when the State Department start issuing travel warning and travel bans.
Travel companies across the globe are observing a steadily growing demand for such destinations and it appears that the trend will continue in the years to come.
Are you one of this new breed of travelers who are captivated by forbidden destinations? Are you dreaming of visiting taboo places, so you can completely imbibe the “You-only-live-once” mantra?
If you answered ‘yes’ to both questions, we are excited to present to you our list of 25 destinations that are frowned upon, high-risk, or downright taboo to even consider visiting. What are you waiting for? Read on.
24 24. Antarctica
Antarctica – the coldest, driest, and windiest continent -- used to be the most unspoiled destinations on Earth but it has been steadily attracting a growing number of tourists in the past years. Avid travelers are attracted by the fact that Antarctica is the only place on the planet with no permanent inhabitants.
This means that visitors can experience spectacular scenery and untouched natural environment unlike any other. Think about Winter Wonderland and Frozen coming to life with bonus attraction of seals and penguins.
23 23. Kosovo
The Republic of Kosovo is impacted with a serious image problem. The majority of the world see Kosovo as a place plagued with conflict and organized crime, not to mention a haven for criminals and drug-traffickers but perception is different from reality.
In fact, records show that the crime rate in Kosovo is so much lower than many European countries like Sweden and Ireland. If you want to know the truth, visit Kosovo and witness spectacular views, beautiful mosques and architecture, and experience Kosovo’s coffee and deserts.
22 22. Congo
Many countries discourage their citizens to travel to the Democratic Republic of Congo because of incidences of crime and civil unrest. But if you decide to take the risk and visit Congo anyway, you will be greatly rewarded as its rainforest and wildlife are unlike anything you have ever seen.
Note that Congo is home to the second largest rainforest in the world and you can experience unexplored flora and fauna in the Odzala-Kokoua National Park where you can even encounter forest elephants and gorillas.
21 21. Afghanistan
Afghanistan is high on the list of “Do Not Travel” countries because of a high and ongoing threat of political tensions. This is unfortunate because the country is rich in historical treasures.
Examples of these amazing treasures are the Kabul Museum which was once one of the greatest museums in the world, the Herat Citadel which is believed to stand on the foundations of a fort built by Alexander the Great, the Minaret of Jam, the Gazar Gah, and the Babur’s Gardens, which is the largest public gardens and the loveliest place in Kabul.
20 20. China
China earned a bad reputation for manufacturing products of poor quality, eating cockroaches and rats, poor sanitation, and bad mannered Chinese tourists because of numerous social media posts and videos highlighting these things.
While many travelers are put-off, it does not change the fact that China has historical, architectural, and natural treasures that cannot be found anywhere else in the world such as the Great Wall of China and Forbidden City in Beijing, The Terracotta Army in Xi’an, the Yellow Mountains near Shanghai, the Potala Palace in Tibet, and many others.
19 19. Cuba
Cuba became a taboo destination because the United States government adopted economic sanctions against the country when it was governed by the Communist Party and prohibited American citizens from traveling here. While the ban has been lifted, not many people are still not keen on traveling to Cuba.
If you decide to break convention and visit, you will surely have a grand time especially in the exciting city of Havana where you can have your fill of white-sand beaches, lively music, warm hospitality, and of course Cuban cigars.
18 18. Egypt
Due to continues plotting of some attacks in Egypt particularly targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, shopping malls, and other public venues, travelers are sternly warned about going to Egypt. While the warning may have credit, it would be a shame for avid explorers, particularly those who are interested in early civilization, not to visit Egypt at least once.
Egypt is home to historical treasures and religious monuments such as the astounding Pyramids of Giza, Luxor’s Karnak Temple and the Valley of the Kings, Islamic Cairo, and many others.
17 17. Iraq
Due to threats of terrorism and armed conflict and high-risk for violence and kidnapping, American citizens are currently advised not to travel in Iraq. However, despite Iraq’s image of a smoky battlefield, charging tanks, and uncontrollable violence, the country offers numerous sights that only Iraq can offer.
It is important to note that Iraq is the Cradle of Civilization, thus, it can take visitors on an incredible journey in history. Iraq boasts of 7,000-year-old Erbil Citadel, gorgeous castles, mosques, monasteries, and structures built by Persian kings and monks.
16 16. India
Many tourists do not think of India as a “vacation spot” considering the number of people fighting for space (it’s the second most populous country in the world), awful traffic, and its socio-economic situation.
However, you cannot consider yourself an avid global trotter if you fail to visit India because it offers more than tourist attractions like the Taj Mahal in Agra, The Holy City of Varanasi, and the Golden Temple of Amritsar, but an incredible travel experience that you will remember long after your visit.
15 15. Libya
Various governments around the world are warning their citizens against traveling in Libya because of crime, terrorism, civil unrest, and armed conflict. But it shouldn’t stop you from going if you are looking for extraordinary adventure and ancient structures.
Libya boasts of ancient treasures like the old port of Sabratha which was built by the Phoenicians in 500 B.C., the Tadrart Acacus which is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Cyrene which is the most seasoned Greek urban communities in Libya, among others.
14 14. Burma (Myanmar)
Because of its history of serial human-rights abuses and displacement of ethnic villagers and forced labor, Burma was accorded economic sanctions by the U.S. and the European Union which eventually led to tourism boycott.
Fortunately, this is no longer the case and travelers are now free to visit Burma, albeit with caution. Burma visitors can experience the unique watery world of Inle Lake, explore various Buddhist sites like the Shwedagon Paya, and marvel at its beautiful landscape.
13 13. Colombia
Many tourists are discouraged to visit Colombia because of its reputation for violence, narco-trafficking, crime and kidnapping, and other crimes. But if you can get past the reputation, you are in for a treat because Colombia offers beautiful beaches, rainforests, historical places, vibrant energy, and warm people.
Visit San Andres and Providencia Archipelago and you would be treated to beaches with water that boasts of white sands and water in seven shades of blue as well as diverse marine life.
12 12. Iran
Considering the risk of arbitrary arrest and detention of U.S. citizens, the U.S. government warns against citizens visiting Iran, particularly those who are U.S.-Iranian dual nationals. Nonetheless, Iran is the go-to-place if you are wanting to experience the charm of the ancient Persian Empire.
Iran boasts of countless UNESCO World Heritage Sites – 23 of them cultural and one national. Some of these heritage sites include the Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran, Arge-e Bam which is the largest adobe building in the world, the Gonbad-e Qabus tower, and many others.
11 11. Turkey
Travelers are encouraged to reconsider traveling to Turkey because of terrorism and arbitrary detentions. But if you don’t mind the risk, the country will compensate you with a rich historical land, spectacular scenery of beaches and mountains, and some of the best food you will every taste.
Visit the fairytale-like region of Cappadocia to witness fantastic topography combined with human history. You can also tour the ruins of Ephesus which is known as the grandest and best preserved classical ruins.
10 10. Guatemala
Guatemala is not a popular tourist destination because many countries discouraged their citizens from traveling here because of the prevalence of violent crimes like armed robbery and murder. While there is credence to the warning it does not negate the fact that Guatemala is a destination that will let travelers experience both the old and new worlds.
The country has a rich and unique culture, diverse history, and natural beauty. It also offers thrill-seekers with a chance to test their will, strength, and endurance by going deep into the jungle to see the ruins of El Mirador up-close.
9 9. Ukraine
Globetrotters are advised to exercise extreme caution when traveling to Ukraine because of crime that targets foreigners and civil unrest. Considering this warning it is not surprising that Ukraine struggles to attract visitors. If you are unperturbed with the warning, however, you will surely experience something different as the country has a lot of things to offer considering that it is one of the largest countries in Europe.
Take a selfie at the Black Stone House, one of Lviv’s most famous buildings which were built in 1588 and explore the city for magnificent churches, museums, and vibrant atmosphere.
8 8. Saudi Arabia
Travelers want freedom which is probably why Saudi Arabia is not on the bucket list of many explorers as the country is known for very strict rules that apply to both citizens and visitors alike. Women can be arrested for improper dress and even by traveling alone.
But if you are curious about Islam or truly adventurous at heart, exploring the rich country of Saudi Arabia will definitely give you a memorable experience as the country boasts of the most revered Islamic sites and other attractions.
7 7. Russia
Russia is the largest country in the world, hence, it is not surprising that it offers a wide array of travel experiences. But because of terrorism, travelers are advised to reconsider visiting the country.
But how can you resist a trip to Russia when the country offers you Mount Elbrus which is one of the Seven Summits, the Valley of Geysers which is the second largest geyser in the world, the Saint Sophia Cathedral which is the oldest church building in Russia, and so many other scenic spots.
6 6. Lebanon
Ask any tourist and Lebanon would be far from their places to travel because it is known for crime terrorism, and outbreaks of violence. Nonetheless, a trip to Lebanon would give you an Indiana Jones-like experience considering the numerous archeological and historical sites that can be found here.
Examples of these are the Al Bass Archeological Site, the St. George Crypt Museum, and the Main Square which features fine Arab architecture including the Mosque of Emir Fakhreddine Maan built in 1493.
5 5. Morocco
Considering the high potential for violence particularly against U.S. citizens, Morocco has earned a bad reputation as a tourist destination. Nevertheless, Morocco is a country that will allow adventure-seekers to experience a wide variety of ventures from serene coastal villages, colorful-painted towns, remarkable adobe forts, snake charmers, and refreshing glasses of mint tea.
Morocco will give visitors a taste of the best of African and Arab worlds with its own unique culture that fascinates writers, artists, and photographers for decades.