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Do Not Travel To These Destinations In 2023, According To The U.S. State Department

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Planning your vacation for 2023? Many travelers are eagerly planning out their getaways for next year as they plan out how to use their refreshed vacation time. As we head into the end of the year, there are currently over 15 destinations you shouldn’t travel to, at least according to the U.S. State Department.

When planning your 2023 vacations, it may be worth considering the risks if any of your planned destinations are on the U.S. State Department’s Level 4: Do Not Travel list.

Burma hot air balloons

One thing we should point out before digging into the countries on the Level 4 list is that this is simply the State Department’s recommendation. Just because a country is on the Level 4 list doesn’t mean that you can’t travel there; it just means that the State Department recommends that you don’t travel there.

The decision whether or not to travel to an area listed should be considered extensively, and each traveler should decide what is best for themselves.

Below, we have listed all the current destinations that are considered Level 4, their reasons for being included on the list, and a few reasons why some travelers still choose to visit.**

Moscow

**To be clear, we are not saying travelers should ignore the State Department's advice; we are simply highlighting some of the reasons travelers choose to do so.**

Mexico… Sort Of

It’s no secret that destinations like Cancun, Tulum, and Los Cabos top the lists of American travelers’ favorite destinations. As such, it may alarm travelers to find Mexico on this list. However, the State Department treats Mexico a bit differently than the rest of the countries on its list.

Namely, Mexico is assessed on a state-by-state basis rather than looking at the country as a whole. This makes sense, as Mexico is quite extensive, and safety varies broadly based on location within the country.

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Mazatlan beach

Below are the Mexican states that are on the U.S. State Department’s Level 4 Do Not Travel List. Included with each state is their reasoning for being on the list, as well as exceptions within the state:

  • Colima State
    • Crime and Kidnapping.
    • Exception: Tourist areas  and port areas in Manzanillo
  • Guerrero State
    • Crime
    • Exception: Downtown tourist areas of Taxco
  • Michoacan state
    • Crime and Kidnapping.
    • Exceptions: Lazaro Cardenas city center and port, Morelia
  • Sinaloa state
    • Crime and Kidnapping
    • Exceptions: Mazatlan’s Zona Dorada and historic town center
  • Tamaulipas state
    • Crime and Kidnapping.
  • Zacatecas state
    • Crime and Kidnapping.
    • Exception: Zacatecas City proper
Young Woman Lying At The Beach In Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico, Pacific Coast

When looking at the rest of the list of Mexican states, travelers will notice that nearly every state in Mexico is listed at a Level 2: Exercise Increase Caution When Traveling or higher.

However, this should be taken with a grain of salt for travelers heading to Mexico for vacation. Those visiting Mexico to stay at a resort and enjoy a week or two in the sun are extremely unlikely to fall victim to a crime, especially if they plan on sticking to their resort and reputable tourist outings.

Israel… Sort Of

Similar to Mexico, Israel gets a special classification on the State Department’s site. In Israel’s case, there are certain areas that are classified as Level 4: Do Not Travel, while the rest of the country is classified as Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution. The State Department says travelers should not travel to Gaza due to terrorism, civil unrest, and armed conflict and classifies it as a Level 4 area.

Why Some Still Visit: Many travelers choose to visit Israel for a trip to the Old City of Jerusalem, steeped in history. A visit to Israel is filled with ancient history not found anywhere else in the world.

Jerusalem

Afghanistan

The State Department says you should not travel to Afghanistan due to armed conflict, crime, civil unrest, kidnapping, and terrorism. The U.S. embassy closed in August 2021, and the U.S. government is unable to provide help to citizens in the country should they be unjustly detained or worse.

Why Some Still Visit: Historical sites in Bamiyan Valley or Band-e-Amir National Park are popular choices for locals and visitors alike.

Band-e-Amir National Park

Haiti

Sharing half of an island with one of The Dominican Republic, a popular tourist destination, Haiti is considered unsafe for travel by the U.S. State Department. The reasons cited are crime, civil unrest, and kidnapping. Recently, on October 7th, 2022, the State Department authorized the departure of non-emergency government employees from the area, as well as family members of U.S. government employees, showing that they consider the country a legitimate risk to employees’ safety.

Why Some Still Visit: Haiti is often visited for many of the same reasons other Caribbean destinations are, including beautiful beaches like Cadras beach, nature escapes like Bassin Bleu falls, and exclusive small islands of the mainland like Amiga Island.

Haiti Beach

Yemen

Yemen is considered an unsafe destination, and there is an active civil war going on in the country. The U.S. embassy ceased operations in 2015. As such, the U.S. is unable to provide emergency services to citizens in the country. Landmines, kidnapping, armed conflict, health risks, terrorism, and civil unrest are all cited as reasons the State Department recommends travelers avoid going to Yemen.

Why Some Still Visit: Though the country is not recommended for travel, it is still home to an UNESCO world heritage site, The Old City of Sanaa, one of the oldest cities in the world.

Old City Of Sana

Venezuela

Venezuela rarely gets any good press. Additionally, the State Department’s reasoning for putting it on its Level 4 list doesn’t give it a good look either. Terrorism, wrongful detentions, poor health infrastructure, civil unrest, crime, and kidnapping are all cited reasons why travelers are recommended to avoid going to Venezuela.

Why Some Still Visit: Locals to the area and travelers who don’t heed the State Department’s advice enjoy visiting the world’s highest uninterrupted waterfall, Angel Falls, and El Ávila National Park, accessible from Caracas by cable car.

Angel Falls Venezuala

Syria

Syria is not recommended for travel due to kidnapping, risk of unjust detention, armed conflict, terrorism, and civil unrest. The U.S. embassy hasn’t operated in the country since 2012. As a result, the U.S. is unable to provide emergency services to citizens in the country.

Why Some Still Visit: Home to ancient ruins, castles, and mosques, Syria is full of history. Like Yemen, it is home to one of the oldest cities in the world, the Old City of Damascus.

Old City of Damascus

Sudan

Sudan is not recommended for travel due to kidnapping, terrorism, armed conflict, crime, and civil unrest.

Why Some Still Visit: Ancient ruins like the Meroe Pyramids or the Gebel Barkal are a popular choice for travelers who choose to go to Sudan, and the country is home to two Marine National Parks, which have extremely diverse habitats.

Meroe Pyramids in Sudan

South Sudan

South Sudan is listed as a Level 4 country due to armed conflict, crime, and kidnapping.

Why Some Still Visit: Nature lovers flock to Boma National park. The popular park is home to one of the largest mammal migrations on the planet.

Mammal Migration

Somalia

Somalia is a level 4 country due to kidnapping, health issues, crime, terrorism, civil unrest, and piracy.

Why Some Still Visit: Laas Geel, outside Hargeisa, is home to some of the oldest cave paintings in the region. Depictions of cattle with their shepherds adorn the ancient walls.

Watching camels in somalia

North Korea

The State Department recommends travelers avoid North Korea due to the critical threat of wrongful detention in the country. The U.S. cannot provide emergency services to its citizens in North Korea because it does not have any diplomatic relations with the country. Tourism in North Korea is extremely strict, and travelers can only see the country on a guided tour. They will only be alone when in their hotel room and when entering the country.

Why Some Still Visit: Most people who travel to North Korea do so out of curiosity more than anything else, hoping to glimpse what life is like in the country.

North Korea

Libya

Libya is a Level 4 country due to kidnapping, civil unrest, crime, terrorism, and armed conflict.

Why Some Still Visit: The country is home to many ancient sites from both the Greek and Roman eras, such as Cyrene, an ancient Greek city,  and Leptis Magna, an ancient Roman city. There are also many opportunities for tours in the Sahara Desert.

Sahara Desert

Iraq

Iraq is on the list for no travel due to terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, armed conflict, and Mission Iraq’s limited capacity to help U.S. citizens.

Why Some Still Visit: Iraq is home to many ancient ruins and buildings and is full of historical sites like the Erbil Citadel and the Ziggurat of UR.

Ziggurat of Ur

Iran

Iran is a Level 4 country due to kidnapping and the wrongful detention of U.S. citizens.

Why Some Still Visit: This country is home to some truly stunning architecture, like Golestan Palace or Nasir al-Mulk Mosque, both displaying captivating colors and mosaics.

Golestan Palace Iran

Burma (Myanmar)

Burma is on the list for no travel due to armed conflict, civil unrest, areas with landmines, wrongful detentions, and inadequate healthcare resources.

Why Some Still Visit: The country is home to countless temples, pagodas, and monasteries, and one of the most unique ways to see them is by taking a hot air balloon ride over the city of Bagan.

Bagan hot air balloon ride

Russia

The State Department says travelers should avoid travel to Russia due to its “unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine by Russian military forces.” They also cite harassment against U.S. citizens, arbitrary enforcement of local law, limited flights in and out of Russia, terrorism, and the Embassy’s limited ability to assist citizens in the country.

Why Some Still Visit: Many travelers head to Russia for its unique architecture. Russia is home to many interesting buildings, but one of the most famous is certainly Saint Basil’s Cathedral.

Mosque in Russia

Mali

Mali is a Level 4 country due to kidnapping, crime, and terrorism.

Why Some Still Visit: The Great Mosque of Djenne, Boucle du Baoule National Park, and Djinguereber Mosquea are all reasons people visit Mali despite its place on the State Department's list.

Great Mosque of Djenne

Central African Republic

The Central African Republic is a Level 4 country due to kidnapping, civil unrest, crime, and the Embassy’s limited ability to help citizens in the country.

Why Some Still Visit: Visitors head to the Central African Republic to get a unique glimpse at nature. Visiting the Dzanga-Sangha Reserve, Manovo-Gounda St. Floris National Park, and Les Chutes de Boali provides unique views of natural landscapes and the animals that call them home.

Dzanga-Sangha

Burkina Faso

The State Department lists Burkina Faso as a Level 4 country due to kidnapping, terrorism, and crime.

Why Some Still Visit: Like the Central African Republic, Burkina Faso is a place for nature lovers. The Reserve de Nazinga, Les Cascades de Banfora, and Mare aux Hippopotamus are all popular areas for viewing wildlife and natural scenery.

Mare aux Hippopotamus

Belarus

Belarus is a Level 4 country due to the risk of detention, arbitrary enforcement of laws, and the buildup of Russian military along its border with Ukraine.

Why Some Still Visit: Belarus hasn't really marketed itself as a tourist destination for most of its existence, and travelers heading here can look at soviet-era buildings, tour Belarussian castles, and visit one of the country's many lakes.

Belarus Castle

Ukraine

Ukraine is a Level 4 country due to the ongoing invasion of Russia. However, for those brave enough to visit, the country did launch war tourism opportunities recently.

Why Some Still Visit: Ukraine has a lot of natural beauty to explore, like the largest canyon in Europe, and it is also home to many UNESCO world heritage sites like the wooden churches of the Carpathian region

Wooden churches ukraine

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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com

Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.


Jose

Tuesday 18th of July 2023

Add the United States to this list with its countless murders in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles, its permitted robberies and police that look the other way that are so scared these days to do anything against violent criminals.

Tom

Monday 14th of November 2022

Myanmar is safe enough if you avoid the no go areas, generally along the borders with all its neighbors. Unfortunately, civil unrest has re-emerged in some regions that were considered relatively safe between 2013 and 2020. Another reason to avoid Myanmar at the present time, is to boycott the country for its strict Covid rules. Almost every other Asian country, barring China, has abandoned quarantines, mandatory vaccines and post arrival testing to enter. Myanmar still maintains all of these - although us purebloods can now enter but under the condition of a quarantine between 3 and 7 days (depending on the source).

Dee

Monday 14th of November 2022

Socotra in Yemen is fine. So is Iraq. I’ve read that major areas in Libya are fine as well. And Myanmar, from what I understand, is generally fine (with curfew) and you should just be avoiding about 5 states. Mexico and Israel are silly, although it’s time the US designates Israel what it is - an apartheid country.

covidvaxinfo

Monday 14th of November 2022

nice list! Sudan is the only interesting to me -- checking out Meroe...but it's just a freakin' desert and not worth the hassle / expense to see a few pyramids...I'll just queue up some youtube videos. Some places need to be in person, some by video is enough.

Mike

Monday 14th of November 2022

@covidvaxinfo, Myanmar is actually very pretty ots a shame they lost thier democracy

Rachel

Monday 14th of November 2022

U.S State Department Level 4 Do Not Visit:

Washington, D.C Risk of unjust detention, armed conflict, terrorism, and civil unrest as confirmed by US citizens currently still unjustifiably detained by their own government for almost 2 years.

Kristen

Monday 28th of August 2023

@C. Bradbury, don’t forget book burning homophobia as well! I used to go there on vacation, but I will no longer give that state any of my money. I don’t want to line the pockets of racist, bigoted anti-women’s rights homophobes.

C. Bradbury

Monday 17th of July 2023

@JM, I could not agree more. Florida has turned into a racist 1950's version of the southern United States. There is not one thing I want to see in Florida. From their narcissist Governor to the extreme right wing politicians running Florida, it has become everything I do not need to see. I am surprised that people are not fleeing that ridiculous place, why anyone would want to live there is beyond me.

T J

Sunday 7th of May 2023

@HEALTH FREEDOM, Sherri and JM - I’m with you both. Rachel’s friends in DC need to be held accountable for their crimes - it’s a simple and justified process. As for travelling anywhere in the US, your two mass shootings per week are off putting.

JM

Tuesday 25th of April 2023

@Rachel, You mean the violent anti-democratic insurrectionists who attacked Capitol police and tried to find elected politicians to harm them? I would avoid the state of Florida for fear of being shot or not taught the true history of the U.S.

Sherri Stevens

Wednesday 16th of November 2022

@Rachel, never will I have any desire to go back and visit Wa.D.C. close to where my now deceased father was from. In fact, no desire to ever fly back to the E.Coast. Viva Mexico sooooon!!