We have covered the safest places, but what about the most dangerous places in Asia? Asia is a fun continent to travel to – full of chaotic cities with colorful markets and plenty to see and do. Whether it is Asia’s nightlife, culture, or wildlife, there is always something to lure you in.
Of course, being lured in is great! As long as the destination is safe to visit, or you are traveling well-prepared to deal with the common difficulties. You can still safely visit some of the most dangerous places in Asia with a bit of preparation. So, don’t think that a country being featured on this list is a blanket ban on visiting. Instead, you might want to research visiting more carefully or pick a safer country if you are a less experienced traveler.
In no particular order, here is our guide to the most dangerous places in Asia.
North Korea is widely considered one of the most dangerous places in Asia. Even gaining entry into the country can be difficult, with tourist visas scarce and unavailable for many nationalities.
US tourists cannot enter or obtain a visa, and entry with an American passport has been banned since 2017. There is a slim window of opportunity for US passport holders that are desperate to visit, involving receiving a special validation from the Department of State.
UK tourists can obtain a visa to visit North Korea. However, they have to follow specific registration procedures on arrival and should allow a minimum of two months for the application process.
When you arrive in North Korea, it is usually only possible to explore as part of an organized tour. Your guide decides your itinerary, and you may face serious consequences if you stray from the tour or your hotel alone. GOV.UK lists an example of a South Korean tourist being shot dead after venturing into a restricted military area in 2008. Restricted areas may not be obvious, and adhering to local customs is vital for your safety, so you must remain with your guide.
Pakistan’s safety reputation is on a gradual upwards curve, with tourism steadily increasing in the country. However, Pakistan is still not a country for inexperienced travelers, and even experienced travelers need to remain vigilant.
The UK advises citizens against either all travel or all but essential travel to Pakistan, with different areas ranked at their risk to travelers. For example, the city of Peshawar, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province, and the Balochistan Province are all absolute no-go areas. Traveling to Pakistan is relatively easy visa-wise, but planning and researching individual regions is necessary. You should also avoid visiting on holidays, as the risk of terrorist attacks and violence rises.
The main risks when traveling to Pakistan are theft, kidnappings, and terrorist attacks. In some areas, you can expect frequent incidents, and you should take care in public spaces and hotels. The Pakistan rail system also has a bad reputation, with a history of derailing trains, and road travel is often dangerous due to erratic driving and carjacking. It is best to visit Pakistan with a guide or part of a tour group to keep your trip as low risk as possible.
In short, traveling to Pakistan and having a safe trip is possible. But if you are risk-averse or want a holiday where you can relax and do normal tourist activities without considering safety, choose a different destination.
Afghanistan is an obvious addition to our list, although sadly was just starting to experience some tourism before the Taliban retook control in 2022.
As of 2023, Afghanistan is currently not suitable for any tourist to visit safely. All foreign diplomats have been withdrawn from the country, leaving no on-the-ground support for foreign nationals. The official UK government website states that they cannot offer any advice on safe routes to safe departure points, so assisted evacuation is limited – if not impossible.
The current political situation is described as volatile, with an ongoing high threat of terrorist activity. There are almost daily terrorist attacks, a very high risk of kidnapping, frequent road accidents, limited air travel, and legally binding customs.
Out of all of the most dangerous places in Asia, Afghanistan is the country you should avoid visiting the most right now.
Okay, most of Malaysia is extremely safe. Kuala Lumpur, in particular, is a fantastic city to visit and a popular stopover. However, the islands off the Sabah coast are one of the most dangerous places in Asia.
The islands are located next to mainland Borneo and are highly unsuitable for tourists. The biggest risks are terrorist attacks and kidnappings, with foreigners most typically targeted. Even the waters around the islands are deemed unsafe, and the ‘Regional Co-operation Agreement on Combatting Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia’ suggests avoiding the area completely.
While you should take moderate care throughout traveling Malaysia, we’d advise you to avoid the Sabah Coast and offshore islands entirely. Instead, stick to safer areas and enjoy the attractions and delicious Malaysian cuisine.
Bangladesh is another country that has a gradually improving safety reputation. However, unfortunately, it is still one of the most dangerous places in Asia.
To summarize briefly, Bangladesh is at high risk of political unrest, kidnappings, violence, terrorist attacks, and general crime.
If you are planning a visit, stay in tune with any upcoming political events and avoid holidays when the risk of incidents rises. GOV. UK particularly warns of a trend of kidnapping children and business people, which makes assessing the risk of traveling to Bangladesh easy if planning a family holiday or business trip to Bangladesh.
Like many of the countries on our list, some areas of Bangladesh are more dangerous than others. We hazard you against traveling to the Chittagong Hill Tracts and near the Myanmar or Indian border. In these areas, you can expect intensified crime levels and frequent violence.
Speaking of Myanmar, it definitely warrants a place on our list.
Myanmar has been an almost safe travel destination over the past decade, but in 2021, the Democratic elected government was overthrown by a military coup.
As of 2023, Myanmar remains under military control, and the political situation remains volatile and violent. Now, tourists are advised against all but essential travel. Foreign embassies are still operating in-country but cannot guarantee safety or assistance if the current stability breaks down.
In the words of the UK government, ‘if you decide your presence in Myanmar is essential, you should maintain a low profile and keep up to date with developments. This will involve being aware of and abiding by any curfews and restrictions around local customs. Breaching any rules will be met with consequences under Martial Law, and it is likely you won’t be able to contact an embassy or next of kin.
Otherwise, Myanmar’s general threats are theft, unmarked landmines, monsoons, hazardous road travel, and piracy. Which, all in all, easily makes the country one of the most dangerous in Asia.
Cambodia is undoubtedly fantastic. The temples of Angkor Wat and the history of the Khmer Rouge are the main tourist draws, although the south coast has gorgeous beaches as well.
Sadly, traveling to Cambodia is not without risk. The main risks in Cambodia are landmines, theft, piracy, and road travel fatalities. However, female travelers should especially note the high risk of sexual assault and drink spiking. If you are a solo female traveler looking to explore Asia alone, we’d recommend sticking to safer countries. Cambodia can be overwhelming if you aren’t experienced in traveling to countries where such hyper-vigilance is necessary.
Of course, solo travel is still popular in Cambodia, and the country is well-visited by backpackers completing a loop of Southeast Asia. Cambodia is definitely in our ‘safe to visit when prepared’ category. Research and select your destinations in Cambodia carefully, and take caution when exploring. But, after prepping yourself beforehand, you should have an incredible and safe time.
Analyzing how safe India does feel like asking how long’s a piece of string. If you ask this question, you are usually met with a pause and “it depends”.
In general, India is not an easy country to travel to, and you’ll need to feel confident avoiding things like scams, pick pocketers, and generally sketchy situations. However, the line between dangerous and challenging can seem thin – especially for travelers desensitized to traveling to challenging countries.
Really, it depends mostly on where you are visiting. GOV. UK advises against all but essential travel to the Pakistan border, Jammu, and Kashmir. When planning a trip to India, you should interpret this advice as a huge red flag and, to state things bluntly, a warning to accept any consequences of visiting on your own head.
Women are likely to find India more difficult to travel to because of sexual harassment. Sexual assaults are prevalent and often extremely violent, sadly making India dangerous for female travelers regardless of situational factors.
Solo travelers may also struggle more, seen as certain activities, like traveling on public transport, are ill-advised when alone.
Planning a trip to New Delhi in an organized tour? India should be fine. Traveling alone as a female to an area where all but essential travel is advised? India probably won’t be fine. Use your judgment, travel confidence, and government advice to guide you when traveling to India.
Our final addition to the most dangerous places in Asia might shock you. But it is actually tourists’ ignorance of the dangers of Indonesia that make it so dangerous.
Indonesia has many strict laws, and even in popular regions like Bali, there are many things to avoid if you want to stay safe.
Certain medications, like ADHD medicines, come with jail imprisonment or even the death sentence if you try to bring them through customs! While certain regions, like around Mount Sinabung as of 2022, are guarded exclusion zones due to volcanic activity.
When visiting Indonesia, you need to be willing to remain updated about all ongoing and possible dangers. The biggest risks are harsh drug laws, sexual assaults, spiking, theft, natural disasters, protests, and terrorist attacks. To keep your visit incident-free, research how to stay beforehand and proactively avoid common dangers.