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Top 10 Surprisingly Dangerous Vacation Destinations

VO: Rebecca Brayton

Script written by Clayton Martino.

There are some countries to avoid traveling to, but not all unsafe places to travel are obvious. Whether you fall into the Grand Canyon, encounter natural disasters in Java & Sumatra, Indonesia, or embark on a hike ill prepared and succumb to the elements on Mount Washington, these are some unexpectedly deadly tourist destinations. WatchMojo counts down ten tourist hot spots you may be surprised to learn are dangerous.

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Script written by Clayton Martino.

Top 10 Surprisingly Dangerous Vacation Destinations

You may want to think twice before booking a trip to one of these locations. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 surprisingly dangerous vacation destinations.

For this list, we’re looking at popular travel sites that have surprising dark sides. We’re considering the violence and crime found in these places, as well as any natural dangers. If you didn’t see a spot you thought would be on the list, be sure to check out our video of the Top 10 Dangerous Vacation Destinations.

#10: Caracas, Venezuela

Founded in the mid-16th century, Caracas is home to several impressive landmarks, including the Federal Capitol and Teresa Carreno Cultural Complex. Unfortunately, attempting to see these beautiful sites could potentially cost you your life. The sad truth is that Caracas is currently overridden with very active drug gangs. That’s one of the reasons why it has one of the highest per capita murder rates in the world. Street muggings and theft? That’s common, too. With all that activity, most of the crimes end up unsolved. So a lot of people ask if checking out the sights is worth risking their lives.

#9: Grand Canyon, USA

This is one of the world’s most famous tourist attractions, with some five million people flocking to this natural wonder every year. While it is a beautiful sight, it’s still a massive canyon with a depth of over a mile. Is it any wonder that it can be quite dangerous? In fact, since the late 1870s, around 600 people have died there. You might think that most of these were from on-the-ground causes, like falling over the edge or drowning in the Colorado River. But surprisingly, the most deadly event occurred in the air: in 1956, two planes crashed into each other, killing 128 people. While most of these deaths have been freak accidents, it’s still wise to take caution when visiting the Canyon.

#8: Acapulco, Mexico

One of Mexico’s oldest and most popular resort locations, in the 20th century Acapulco became a popular vacation magnet for the rich and/or famous. While recent years have seen the development of more luxury high-rise hotels, the early 21st century has also seen an increase in drug-related violence. Gang wars have plagued the city in the 2010s and it currently has one of the world’s highest murder rates per 100,000 people. Staying inside the resort is still safe for the most part, but tourists should take extreme caution when venturing into the city.

#7: Java & Sumatra, Indonesia

Java and Sumatra are both beautiful islands off the coast of Indonesia. Both feature lush tropical rainforests and warm, tropical climates, making them great destinations for those trying to escape a harsh winter. All this nice weather can come at a cost, however, as natural disasters are disturbingly common in this particular area. In 2004, a tsunami caused by a magnitude 9.1 earthquake killed over 170,000 people. There have been other significant earthquakes since then, and this area is also prone to floods and landslides.

#6: Outback, Australia

Nothing says Australia quite like the Outback, or so claims Australia’s national tourism site. The Outback is home to a number of popular tourist destinations, and it’s a big business. The Northern Territory generated almost one billion dollars from enthusiastic tourists between 2015-16. But the same things that make the Outback so appealing – its wildness and its wildlife – could end up ruining your vacation. Don’t like snakes? Better stay away, mate, because the Outback is home to some of the most dangerous snakes in the world. The conditions can also be extremely harsh; particularly the powerful sun, and every year people die in the Outback from exposure.

#5: Guatemala City, Guatemala

With its year-round warm weather and colorful history, the capital of Guatemala is a great spot for people wishing to avoid the crowds of other popular tourist destinations. This location can be risky for a number of reasons, however. For starters, Guatemala is plagued with drug violence and has an extremely high crime rate – and much of that occurs in this City. It also tends to get hit by a range of natural disasters. In 1976, for example, a magnitude 7.5 earthquake killed over 20,000 people, while in 2005 devastating mudslides followed a hurricane that struck the country. For these reasons, travelers need to take caution when visiting this Central American city.

#4: Mount Washington, USA

The highest peak in the northeastern United States, Mount Washington is an extremely popular site for hikers, and features a number of different trails to reach the summit. It’s also one of the most dangerous hikes in the world. Since the mid 19th century, nearly 150 people have died on Mount Washington, thanks to a combination of erratic weather and bad preparation. The weather on the mountain can change instantly and catch hikers off-guard. Therefore, if you’re planning on hiking this picturesque mountain, don’t underestimate the risks. It’s essential that you prepare for all types of weather conditions.

#3: Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town is the most popular international tourist destination in South Africa, thanks to its stunning beaches and beautiful natural features, like Table Mountain. It’s also home to a number of cultural attractions, like the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, which is one of the city’s top tourist destinations. Cape Town can be extremely dangerous, however, thanks to its staggering poverty and high crime rate. A Mexican Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice Report named it one of the ten most violent cities in the world, registering around 2500 homicides in 2015. This is why travel sites suggest that tourists should not travel alone, and should avoid going out during the night if possible.

#2: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The host of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics, and also the most popular tourist destination in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro is certainly beautiful, but it’s also quite dangerous for tourists. While people visit for the magnificent beaches and Carnaval, it’s advised that you avoid travelling there alone, and stay surrounded by people when it gets dark. While the city’s homicide rate isn’t that terrible compared to the rest of the country, theft and assault are quite common. Add in the poor water quality and risk of the Zika virus, and it is essential for travelers to take caution when visiting Rio.

#1: Naples, Italy

As one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, people have been living in Naples for thousands of years. While the scenery is beautiful, many consider a journey to Naples a trip that isn’t worth the trouble. As one of the poorest cities in Europe, street crime is fairly high. Worse, organized crime has long had a stranglehold on the city. Among other things, this led to the Mafia’s use of the area as a dumping ground for industrial and nuclear waste. Naples is also located between two volcanic regions – Mount Vesuvius and the Campi Flegrei, the latter of which showed signs of reawakening in December 2016. An eruption would potentially result in millions of deaths.

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