Not-so Dangerous Destinations

“You’re going where?!” my father asked when I told him of my plans to go to Colombia. The Colombia he knows of, the one from the 1980’s, is filled with cocaine, street violence, and Pablo Escobar’s thugs. The country’s days as a dangerous destination are gone, but its stigma still remains.

Colombia isn’t the only now-safe country still considered by the masses to be too dangerous to visit. Forbes Traveler has put together a list of other destinations that aren’t as dangerous as you might assume.

Along with Colombia, the list includes places many experienced travelers wouldn’t think twice about visiting – Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Laos, Sri Lanka, and Ethiopia are all included – plus a few a little farther off the beaten path, like Haiti and Tajikistan. The list also includes two spots that become a lot more dangerous if you travel there illegally: Cuba and North Korea.

There’s no such thing as a completely safe destination, but still most of these spots have earned their reputations. At one point, they were lands of famine, war, and strife. Now they’ve become safer, though in some (like Haiti and certain parts of Colombia, for example) problems continue and there are still areas you should not venture.

If you plan on visiting one of these “not-so-dangerous places”, do your research and be sure you know what you are getting into. The bad reputation in some of these places can mean lower travel costs and few tourists, but there may still be an element of risk.

Croatia’s Plitvice Lakes National Park

Most people who visit Croatia stay close to the shore and enjoy the beautiful medieval cities that lace the coastline. If you spare a day or two, the Plitvice Lakes National Park is well worth the trip. Located in the north half of Croatia, about an hour from the coast stretching to the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, it was here where the former Yugoslavia War officially started. The Serbian rebel forces held the park during the conflict from 1991-1995. Along the way, you can still see many of the residential buildings with bullet holes in their facades. It is hard to imagine the war started 15 years ago.

I finally went to the park this summer and loved it. Although the main drag is smothered with tourists in July and August, the park is quite large and when hiking, one can get away from people pretty easily. The waterfalls, combined with the turquoise color of the water, are unbelievable.