Top 5 most dangerous roads in the world

 

You don’t hear this travel-related expression often anymore, but it used to be quite common. Safe roads are a thing of the present, as the past was filled with trails that could literally get you killed. But even to this day, there still are a few destinations you should stay away from. That is unless you’re an adventurer. If you’re curious what those are, read this article because it is never a bad idea to educate yourself.

 

Trans-Sahara Highway, Algiers

There’s a plan to build a network of highways across the African continent, to promote the much-needed economic development in the region, which frankly sounds like a fantastic idea. But it is still a plan, and it will take a few years until it becomes a dream come true.

That’s why the alternative route is the first road on our list. Traveling on the 2,800 mile-long partially sand covered route remains a daunting task. Not only are daytime temperatures scorching, but fuel and water are scarce along much of the way. Plus, with all the political turmoil in the region, it might not be a good idea to go on a solo expedition there.

 

Kolyma Federal Highway, Russian Federation

Another rather creepy road connects Magadan to Yakutsk. The 1,200-mile-long route is known in Europe and Russia as the “Road of Bones”. The story doesn’t end here. It was constructed between the 30s and the early 50s by thousands of convicts who were deliberately overworked and even starved to death, then buried beneath the road.

Over the years, it has fallen into a severe state of despair, as the Russian authorities have neglected it. The Kolyma road passes through some of the coldest inhabited places on Earth, with winter-time temperatures that drop to minus 70 degrees Fahrenheit. At times, the way is frozen solid. To ride here you will need a very thick motorcycle adventure jacket.

Karakoram Highway, Pakistan to China

Sometimes this cool road is considered the Eighth Wonder of the World since it was built at 14,500 feet above sea level and, of course, under very rough conditions. Construction on the Karakoram Highway began in early 1966 and was completed in autumn 1979, although it wasn’t opened officially until 1986.

This dangerous piece of land covers more than half of a continent and, in some places, it follows the famous Silk Road. It cuts through the most mountainous region on Earth, and it is beset with hazards like rock falls, landslides, frequent avalanches, and even flooding. But despite that, it is one of the most profitable commercial routes in modern history. Needless to say, it is not suited even for the sturdiest and the most expensive road bike.

 

Pan American Highway, Alaska to Chile

The Pan American Highway or PAH for short is not dangerous in its entirety. But in some key places, you for sure risk your freedom and also your life by using the PAH as a way of reaching Chile from the US. That’s because a big chunk of the PAH winds through the sketchy parts of Mexico and Central America, where drug cartels make the rules.

And in the gorgeous Panamanian section of the road, you have increased chances of encountering FARC rebels, who often take hostages to hold for ransom. Anyway, the PAH is around 30,000 miles long, and if you want to ignore all the bad stuff that’s going on, the scenery along the way is going to take your breath away.

Halsema Highway, Philippines

This is the last road we are going to talk about for the moment. Although it is one of the most hazardous stretches of road on this planet, it is also one of the most scenic and rewarding too. It was ordered in the 1930s by a man who went by the name Eusebius Julius Halsema, who was weirdly enough from Ohio.

The highway snakes along the dangerous slopes of the Cordillera Central mountain range, in an area loaded with volcanic rock formations. The 7.8 earthquake that took place in 1990 destabilized and broke some stony layers apart, and as a result, drivers are under the constant threat of rock slides and death.

 

 

Top 5 dangerous countries in the world

 

We were blessed enough to live in an era where traveling is possible at minimum costs and without losing too much time. There are countless ways of traveling from one state to another in just a matter of hours, while planes can take you to the opposite corner of the world in record times.

Probably this is why more and more people became obsessed with traveling to as many countries as possible, experiencing new cultures and boosting their personalities. Unfortunately, not all your favorite destinations prove to be safe spots, especially for foreign visitors.

Poverty, the lack of work opportunities and infrastructure combined with terrorist threats represent the main reasons why some countries, although beautiful, should be avoided at all costs.

Here is a list of destinations you shouldn’t consider for your honeymoon, at least for the moment.

 

Syria

Although there are still many other conflict spots on the globe, Syria remains the most dangerous country to travel to. Since the beginning of the Arab Spring in 2010 more than 10 million Syrians fled from the country, seeking asylum in other destinations around the world.

Europe seemed like the most welcoming environment, considering that neighboring countries like Saudi Arabia or the United Emirates of Arabia refused to offer them support and recognize Syrian people as refugees.

Colombia

Although there are many other war zones in the world, including Afghanistan, Iraq, South Sudan, and Somalia, Colombia remains one of the most dangerous countries to travel to. It’s not a war-torn area but it still possesses a life-threatening risk for travelers looking for adventures outside safe zones.

Medellin, the second-largest city in Colombia, was named South America’s greatest destination in 2016, but this doesn’t mean that it’s safe. Armed gangs continue to run the streets of Bogota as the crime rate increases year after year.

Robberies, kidnappings, and drug trafficking are still common, along with acts of terrorism, including explosions.

Although the country has been blessed with a rich history and picturesque sites, you should avoid traveling without a guide or wander the streets of Bogota at night.

 

Nigeria

Nigeria is consistently considered one of the most dangerous destinations in the world due to its terrorism problem. One of the world’s deadliest terrorist groups, Boko Haram continues to attack the state’s capital, Niger. Boko Haram pledged allegiance to Isis and tries to turn the country into a caliphate ruled by the sacred law of Sharia.

Both groups constantly target highly populated areas in an attempt to make as many victims as possible. Schools, churches, public squares, and even hotels and restaurants are amongst the most vulnerable places in the country. It is strongly advised to avoid trips to this country, at least until the war on terror is over.

 

Pakistan

Another country where terrorism is still a problem, Pakistan is not a safe travel destination either. The country is known for limiting the freedom of speech and forbidding foreigners to enter different areas.

It was consistently voted as the world’s most affected state by terrorism in the past 10 years and already counts for millions of refugees and immigrants.

Because of the risk of illegal immigrants, Pakistani people are often barred from entering developed countries, including the ones in the European Union and the United States. This is why, in a desperate attempt to flee the war zone, most of them decide to migrate towards other Asian and African destinations, including the United Arab Emirates.

Egypt

Formerly one of the most common tourist attractions in the world, Egypt has been avoided in the past few years because of the terrorist threats. Extremist groups, including Isis, continue to target public venues and tourist attractions, looking for as many casualties as possible.

The gates of Egypt remain open for tourists but it’s not advisable to travel there without a guide. All-inclusive resorts and private means of transportation can also become targets for terrorists or muggers.

There are other numerous world destinations in which you should take extra care. From Venezuela to Mali, Bali, Bangladesh, and even Ukraine, Thailand, Brazil or Jamaica – all these popular places may still pose risks due to the presence of robbers, armed gangs, and other criminals.

 

 

Top 5 most dangerous animals in Africa

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If you plan on spending your future vacation in Africa, you need to be aware of the possible dangers. Although it has become a safer destination in the past years, there are still plenty of things that could go wrong and turn your beloved holiday into a nightmare. However, with just a little bit of planning and some safety measures, you’ll have the time of your life.

One of the most popular concerns when traveling to Africa is related to animal and insect dangers. However, contrary to the general opinion, it is not the lion or most of the snakes that prove to be the most dangerous species. Here are the top 5 animals you should stay away from, no matter if you choose a five-star resort or a 2-person backpacking tent under a million stars.

 

Hippopotamus

Despite their vegetarian tastes, it is estimated that hippos are responsible for the death of 3,000 people per year. The male hippos are known for their aggressive behavior, but females can become extremely violent too, especially if you go near their babies.

These large animals defend their territories and can run at speeds of over 20mph, so it would be better to stay out of their reach.

African elephant

The elephant is the largest terrestrial mammal and statistics say this animal is responsible for over 500 human deaths per year. Most of the attacks occur in musth, the peak period of male sexuality when usually, testosterone levels are high. However, male elephants come just as aggressive in all stages of life, especially if you cross their territories.

Nowadays it is unlikely to see an elephant outside a safari or a protected wildlife reserve, so you don’t have to worry about that. Although you will be able to watch elephants on a safari closely, you will be kept at a reasonable distance from their natural habitats.

 

The Black Mamba

The largest snake in Africa doesn’t take its name from its color but more from the inky black lining in its mouth. It is extremely dangerous and can chase its victim at a speed of 12 mph, so it’s rather hard to catch it using a regular animal trap. Its venom is powerful enough to kill a dozen men at once. Once bitten, the human body will collapse in under one hour and the person will die in less than seven hours unless an antidote is provided.

Nile Crocodile

One of the deadliest animals on the continent, the Nile crocodile hovers underwater with only its nostrils remaining above. Crocodiles are considered to have the strongest bite of all animals and are very ferocious predators. They usually live between 70 and 100 years, so chances are they can make a few hundred victims during their life.

Thanks to their ectothermic metabolism they can survive for long periods of time between meals. However, when they do feed, they can eat as much as half of their body weight at a time. They mainly strike in water and are not as fast on land.

 

African Rhinoceros

This endangered species of animals is known for its bad manners. Rhinos are bad tempered and will not hesitate to attack you when they feel threatened. The weapon of choice is the rhino’s deadly horn. An adult rhino can weigh up to 6,000 pounds and can be as fast as 40 mph on short distances.

Unfortunately, these animals have been haunted by humans for the past centuries up to the point of their extinction. The attacks that rhinos caused on humans don’t even get close to the damage humans caused to these animals and their natural habitats. Sadly, the last known male white rhino died in Kenya, in March 2020.

 

 

Top 5 dangerous cities in the world

 

Traveling is a great opportunity of discovering new people and amazing places, but it does come with a series of risks that need to be assessed before you leave your comfortable and safe home.

For today’s article, we have prepared a list of five of the most dangerous cities in the world today. You might want to steer clear of these destinations if you want to travel alone, or if you have little to no experience when it comes to traveling abroad.

Here’s what you should know about these locations. One thing we do have to make clear, though, and it’s that we haven’t showcased these cities in any particular order. So, number 1 isn’t the most dangerous one.

 

Cape Town, South Africa

South Africa is a great destination for frequent and less frequent travelers. The country is filled with excellent sights, and most of the locals are friendly. However, what you definitely need to know about Cape Town is that it has about 65 homicides per every 100,000 residents.

Both the social unrest and the poverty make this destination highly dangerous for someone who doesn’t know the way around things. The high crime rate, as well as the fact that traveling alone at night is not recommended, might make this location unsuitable for your next adventure. It’s not like you could merely grab your LED flashlight and light your way through highly risky neighborhoods.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Brazil is a country of contrasts. From the very poor to the very rich, this country is where the famous Carnival happens every year, usually in the month of March. Unfortunately and similarly to Cape Town, which we’ve mentioned previously, this town also has a very high crime rate, especially in some areas.

Nevertheless, Rio is one of the most popular destinations in Brazil. Nowadays, it is a lot safer compared to how it used to be just one decade ago, but in some areas, street crimes are still more or less common. Common sense is the best way of making sure you remain safe all the time, so we suggest you avoid any dangerous neighborhoods if you’re resolute about going to Rio.

 

Acapulco, Mexico

In case you didn’t know, the U.S. State Department recommends against traveling to Mexico. Why’s that? There have been many cases where Americans were kidnapped and held for ransom from their families, and some of these situations were dramatic and even lethal.

Of course, Acapulco is a resort so it is very tempting in this respect, due to its breathtaking sights and the amazing activities you could engage in while you’re there. Unfortunately, drug violence is common even if the destination is visited by hundreds of thousands of people every year. It has a crime rate of 142 homicides per every 100,000 residents.

 

Karachi, Pakistan

Unless you are a journalist whose job is to investigate cases located in high-risk areas, we would recommend avoiding this city, and even Pakistan altogether. It’s filled with crime and political unrest, and terrorism is a common occurrence.

Gang warfare, suicide bombings, as well as assassinations are other crimes that happen somewhat regularly here. Because of all of these dangers, tourists are advised to avoid this location entirely.

San Pedro Sula, Honduras

This city has one of the highest crime rates in the world. Apparently, every year, 169 people are killed in San Pedro Sula out of 100,000 individuals. Illegal firearms can be found all throughout the city, making it highly risky.

 

Final tips

If you do have to travel to a place where you know you might get into some kind of trouble, it won’t hurt if you took some safety precautions. Always carry your valuables in a subtle way and avoid using your very expensive phone to take pictures of tourist attractions, especially in busy areas.

It wouldn’t be a great idea to travel to Kabul without a companion, so if you can take a friend with you, it would certainly put your mind at ease. Before you leave for a risky destination, make sure to do your research and find out just what city areas you’re supposed to avoid. Check the Internet to find out where the U.S. consulate or embassy are located so that you know where you should go if you want to find a safe haven in case you’re followed or in danger.

 

 

Top 5 most dangerous sharks out there

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If the ocean waves are calling you every time the surfing season starts, you need to be prepared. This also includes investing in some quality surfing gear and paying attention to ocean dangers, especially sharks.

But, even a harmless ride with your fishing boat can turn into a disaster if you’re not aware of the dangers lurking from the ocean waters. This list of the most dangerous species of sharks should be consulted periodically by all water sports enthusiasts, including fishers, surfers or divers.

 

The Great White

The subject of the famous movie “Jaws,” the Great White is considered the second most perilous sea mammal, after the Blue Whale. The animal is credited for 65 human fatalities since official measurements started being made, but you can rarely encounter it as it mainly prefers deep water.

However, unlike its depiction in the movie, The Great White shark is in fact, extremely intelligent and curious. Although it prefers the flesh of sea lions and seals, there have been reported around 250 unprovoked attacks on humans.

Females can reach an average size of 14 feet, while males are smaller, around 10.5 feet long. This shark can consume up to 30 pounds of flesh per bite, so there is a significant chance of internal organ failure or bleeding to death if you encounter this animal in the water.

Tiger Shark

The Tiger Shark is credited as the second most dangerous shark for humans, according to the International Shark Attack File. These ferocious ocean predators are known for their aggressivity and insatiable appetite. They are responsible for a large number of attacks in the waters of Hawaii, Australia, and the tropics.

Despite its large dimensions, the Tiger shark is very fast, and its razor-sharp teeth can even penetrate the hard shell of sea turtles. Just as the Great White, it only takes one bite for the Tiger shark to decide whether or not you’re a good meal.

Its curiosity is responsible for over 150 attacks on humans and the death of 27 people.

 

Bull shark

It is believed that the Bull shark is actually responsible for more than 121 attacks. It can be found worldwide in warm waters and is one of the few species that can be spotted both in freshwater and saltwater so you may encounter these sharks in rivers, along coasts or in the ocean.

There were bull sharks spotted swimming as far as 700 miles outside the ocean, in the Mississippi River, but also in the African waters or in Nicaragua.

Another particularity is that the Bull shark can be found in waters as shallow as those where humans swim or walk in them. It is very territorial so people might disturb its habitat without even knowing it.

Just like other species, female bull sharks are bigger than males, weighing up to 694 pounds. On average, a male shark weighs 210 pounds and is approximately 7.5 feet long.

Oceanic Whitetip Shark

This shark was once scattered in waters all over the globe, but in the past two decades, it was estimated that a decline of over 70% of its total population happened. The Oceanic Whitetip prefers warm and deep waters with temperatures higher than 64 degrees Fahrenheit.

This animal has a reputation of being the first to arrive when ships sink, and its encounters with humans were common enough during World War II.

 

Requiem Sharks

Requiem sharks are actually a family gathering around 50 different species. They can be particularly dangerous for fishers but not for those using a regular long fishing rod and reel. On the contrary, fish that are caught and struggle on a spear usually emit a low-frequency vibration that is quickly picked up by the sophisticated requiem sharks.

These animals are known to hunt alone or in groups, can smell blood from a long distance, and have big mouths with sharp and serrated teeth.

 

 

Where not to go in Jamaica

 

Jamaica is famous for its breathtaking beaches and holiday resorts. But this island has a long history of political conflicts, poverty, and repression. If you’re thinking of picking Jamaica as your next vacation destination, you might want to understand that, outside the guarded beaches and resorts, there’s a community that relies solely on tourism to survive.

Indeed, Jamaica has so many things to offer, from art and music to beautiful landscapes and cuisine.

Unfortunately, there are several media reports that talk about the high rate of crime in this area. Most of these crimes tend to happen in impoverished regions. Before embarking on your Jamaican trip, make sure you take all the risks into account.

 

Kingston and Montego Bay

It is a known fact that some of the places tourists should avoid are Kingston, New Kingston, Montego Bay, and any other urban centers, especially after dark. As much as possible, always travel in groups of two people or more to avoid being seen as an easy target.

Also, don’t use the public transportation because these crowded places are an excellent opportunity for thieves to steal your personal belongings. Don’t go out wearing expensive items, such as pricey bags or jewelry because these are too tempting for locals to steal.

Nevertheless, millions of tourists visit Jamaica each year because all-inclusive resorts here offer outstanding services without having to worry about safety. So, it’s best to say that you can go and have a tremendous Jamaican experience and see the real deal without being concerned about dangers.

Crime rate

Jamaica is one of the top countries with the highest murder rates in the world because of the violent gangs and drug issues. These crimes are a critical problem especially in Montego Bay and Kingston. It is all related to the fact that the locals attack each other for matters like gangs, drugs, poverty, and revenge.

Generally, crimes that target visitors in Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, and Negril involve pickpocketing and other robberies.

Occasionally, these injuries are armed, and tourists can become victims if they don’t give in to the thieves’ demands. However, to control crime in these places, special tourist police can be found. You can spot them by their distinctive uniform that consists of white hats and shirts and black pants.

 

Safety tips

To enjoy your holiday in Jamaica and have a wonderful time, lock all the doors and windows in your hotel room at night. Furthermore, keep your valuable items in a secure location like the in-room safe.

As far as eating goes, it’s best to serve your meals at the resort you are staying. If you venture outside, make sure you pack water and food storage containers so you can have a snack throughout the day.

Cyber theft

In addition, be extra careful with the way you handle your payments during your stay. Credit-card skimming is a significant issue in Jamaica and scammers can make a copy of your credit card information in no time, right after you give it to the restaurant personnel or shop assistant.

ATMs aren’t safe, either. Some units could be rigged, or individuals may keep an eye on you to try to steal your password when trying to withdraw money from the ATM.

 

Other aspects you should know about

Another thing you need to keep in mind is the sexual assaults that happen in areas located on the north coast of Jamaica. Since there are male prostitutes that offer their services to female tourists, it might be a good idea to avoid these well-known dangerous places for women.

Therefore, don’t go by yourself in risky areas of the Jamaican capital, like Mountain View, Tivoli Gardens, Cassava Piece, Trench Town, and Arnett Gardens.

If you plan on visiting Montego Bay, stay away from Flankers, Norwood, Rose Heights, and Clavers Street.

 

Places to avoid during flu season

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Preventing the flu is the best thing to do in a cold season, especially if your immune system is not what it used to be. Therefore, you have to know what places to avoid during flu season, to keep yourself protected from the germs. We have selected some of the most dangerous locations where you can easily get a cold.

  1. Public toilets

Actually, not the toilets are the problems, but the sinks. All the germs caught in a toilet get on the faucet when people want to wash their hands. Moreover, this place is the best environment for germs to spread, since it is a wet place. They cannot wait for you to get in touch with them.

 

  1. Restaurants

Even if the waiters clean the tables and the chairs in a restaurant, they usually do this with the same cloth, so the germs are not killed at all. You’d better avoid having dinner at a restaurant in winter and prepare something for your family at home.

 

  1. Malls

It may seem that a mall may be a perfect place to spend your Saturday or Sunday in since it is very cold outside and you definitely cannot go for a walk. However, this is the main reason for which these malls are full of germs. The shops are full of people during the weekends, and there is a high risk for you to get in touch with contagious individuals.

Moreover, if you buy something, you have to wash your hands after you touch the money, because the germs may live on a bill up to 14 days. Do not put your hands on your face after touching a dollar. Try to go to the malls in the morning, since they usually get busy only in the afternoon.

 

  1. Makeup & Perfumes

Be careful especially in makeup and perfume shops. While you are testing a lipstick, you can very well get a cold, since you do not know who has tested it before. Your husband also has to pay attention while testing men’s cologne, since the perfumes used as testers carry a lot of pathogens.

 

  1. Kindergartens

Of course, you cannot keep your child at home the whole winter, since you have to go to work and your daughter/son needs care. But teach your children not to get too close to other people and make sure they understand that washing their hands is often an essential thing to do during winter. Moreover, you can ask your doctor for vitamins which help the immune system of your young one to get healthier. Kids, and especially those that have not reached the age of 5, are more vulnerable to the flu.

  1. Offices

If you work in an office and you do not have your own desk, your keyboard and mouse are very likely to have germs on them, since other people use them, too. These germs may be taken from your own hands, as well, if you do not wash them before sitting at your desk. You should clean your keyboard and mouse regularly and do not forget about your smartphone! Studies say that phones have more germs on them than public toilets.

It is very difficult to avoid this kind of places because the ones that are riskier are those that we usually need to visit. You just have to keep your immune system strong and try to limit the number of times you are in contagious places.

In order to be healthy, eat as many fruits and vegetables as you can and get supplements, as well as vitamins. Wash your clothes regularly, especially your jackets and shoes. If you have a dog or cat at home, they will definitely play around your shoes and may collect the germs which, in turn, will affect you.

 

Where not to go in Thailand

 

Thailand is one of the most sought after travel destinations in the world. The Land of Smiles is loved by solo travelers and honeymooners alike and in 2017 it welcomed more than 30 million tourists. Its breathtaking nature, tolerant people and world renowned gastronomy make Thailand an extremely popular place for a holiday.

Moreover, many retired Westerners and digital nomads decided to call this south-east Asian country “home” because of the cheap cost of living at nearly Western standards. Businesses thrive and the expat community is vibrant, adding to the cosmopolitan atmosphere you can experience in cities like Bangkok or Chiang Mai.

Overall, Thailand can be considered a very safe place, much safer than many other countries in the area. Women traveling alone usually feel at ease in Thailand and generally families with children have nothing to worry about. However, like anywhere else in the world, there are places best to be avoided or at least where you should exercise some caution when visiting. Here are five of these not so safe places.

 

Deep South – Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat Provinces (also known as the three Southern Border Provinces)

You should really avoid these three provinces during your trip to Thailand as bomb and terror attacks are common here. Historically, this region belonged to Malaysia until it was conquered by the Kingdom of Siam (nowadays Thailand) in 1785 and it has been governed by Thailand ever since.

An insurgency movement led by different secessionist groups started not long after World Word II and it has become increasingly violent since 2001.

Violence occurs almost daily in the region, usually involving drive by shootings and small bombings. You shouldn’t be here unless you absolutely have to, not like you can pack your full gear in a hunting backpack and consider yourself ready for anything. There is serious unrest in this area and Thailand has a plethora of amazing places that are safe to visit so why take the chance?

 

Khlong Toei in Bangkok

The City of Angels is a truly amazing place that developed incredibly quickly and it’s generally quite safe. There are the usual bag snatchers and scammers that prey on innocent tourists, but Bangkok is considered a safe place even at night.

Khlong Toei, however, is the epitome of the word “slum” and, even though you can find slums neighboring skyscrapers everywhere in Bangkok, Khlong Toei is renowned for its extreme poverty. Although not particularly dangerous during the day, it isn’t a place where a solo female tourist should venture. Locals are somehow used to seeing tourists as the slum isn’t far from downtown, but the crime and drug abuse are off the chart in the neighborhood.

 

Koh Tao

Also known as “Turtle Island”, this is an amazing place, perfect for scuba diving. However, the island has been getting a lot of negative feedback lately due to a series of events involving violence against foreigners.

The case of the British couple murdered there some years back made the headlines and the conviction of two Burmese migrants didn’t help as it raised even more questions in international media.

Koh Tao still is a haven for backpackers and the island isn’t necessarily dangerous, although the gloomy nickname “Death Island” doesn’t make it as appealing as it used to be, and all that in spite of the stunning nature it’s blessed with.

Aranyaprathet

Although it’s not considered dangerous per se, Aranyaprathet is simply too much of a hassle. Meaning too much of a scam.

This small border town has been used for years by foreigners living in Thailand for visa runs which roughly means crossing the border to Cambodia and then quickly crossing the border back to Thailand. Thus a whole industry was born.

Unfortunately, this city is difficult to avoid if you plan on going to Cambodia by bus as it’s the most popular tourist route for travel between Bangkok and Siem Reap.

 

Pattaya

Roughly 2 hours away from Bangkok lies the city of Pattaya which evolved from the small fishing village it used to be in the ‘60s to the infamous Sin City of Thailand. Although North Pattaya still is a good place to go for a day trip at the beach, the rest of the city isn’t very family friendly.

If you do go to Pattaya, watch out for the well-known jet-ski scam and pretend you don’t see the trash on the beach.

 

 

How to avoid crime and scams in Bulgaria

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On the south-eastern edge of the European continent lies Bulgaria, a small country with an extremely beautiful landscape. The country’s culture, history and people are fascinating and especially after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Bulgaria quickly became a highly popular tourist destination, due to its close proximity and opening to the Black Sea, the reasonable prices and high-quality services.

The country’s location makes it an important gateway between Africa, Europe and the Middle East. Bulgaria is one of European Union’s external borders, which gives it relative stability, thus presenting a safe environment for all the businesses, organizations and tourists located within its borders.

From a tourist’s point of view, a lot of the scams that we are about to present to you below are well known, spread and practiced in a lot of destinations all over the Globe. However, a few of these crimes are extremely typical to Bulgaria; therefore you should carefully take note when reading the following information, especially if you are planning a vacation in Bulgaria.

Pickpocketing

It couldn’t be more obvious that pickpockets are drawn to large and preferably crowded masses of people. In those cases, victims have limited visibility and little space to move or react.

When in Bulgaria, be wary of your valuables when you are using public transportation as a means of traveling around. Busy trams or buses are good places for pickpockets to steal from tourists, so keep an eye on your bags, purses or wallets when traveling in such conditions.

These thieves can be as skilled as to relieve tourists of possessions even when they are standing on a street corner and waiting for the lights to turn green in order to cross to the other side.  

Other dangerous places where pickpockets wait for easy targets include crowded alleys or malls and shopping streets. Just before a pickpocketing takes place, a diversion usually happens. This may vary from someone bumping into you, to a fake argument or even a fight. Keep your eyes open and do not let yourself easily distracted.

Always be aware of what is happening around you, especially in your close proximity. Try not to let anybody get too close to you if you do not know them. If you must go through a crowded area and you have your belongings in a backpack, switch it and carry it in front of you. If the bus that you must take in order to reach somewhere else is jam-packed, it is a good idea to wait for a few minutes for the next one.

 

Old, Invalid Banknotes

The Bulgarian currency is called leva and the valid banknotes are issued after 1999. The simplest way to check how a valid one looks like and what its features are is to search it on the Internet, on the Official Bulgarian National Bank’s website.  

Scammers could try to give you invalid or old currency, relying on you not knowing the banknotes well enough. Pay attention to what you are being handed when you receive change at a shop or when you are exchanging money.

You must never exchange money on the street, no matter how good the rate is. Money should only be exchanged in banks. Tourists have reportedly received invalid banknotes all along the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast, so you must avoid these places when exchanging money.  

 

Absent Tickets

If you are traveling through Bulgaria using public transportation you should buy the tickets before getting on.

You have the possibility to buy the tickets from the driver, as well. However, it is nearly impossible to receive one, unless you pay the exact amount of change.

If the trip starts at Sofia Airport, and you plan to travel using public transportation, you must buy a ticket in advance, before you get on the metro, tram or bus.

Foreign tourists have claimed that after boarding the bus from an airport, the driver refused to sell them tickets due to the fact that the tourists didn’t have the precise amount of money needed. The bus departed and they received a fine because they did not have any tickets.

If you use the metro, keep in mind that tickets are valid only at the time and from the station where you acquired them.

 

Fake Taxis

Inflated taxi prices that drivers impose on tourists are a known scam and that can be experienced in large cities all over the world. However, in Bulgaria, you must be particularly wary because there are fake taxi companies.

The ones who try to scam you, fake the car’s stickers and impersonate other well known legitimate taxi companies, by changing only a character and a couple of digits from the phone number. If you are a tourist and you do not pay attention you may not see the difference and especially in Sofia, you risk to fall into their trap.

One of the safest methods to call a taxi is to ask the receptionist of your hotel or a waiter to do it for you. Also, you could use an official smartphone application.

Free Gifts

Some scammers will meet you on the streets or in any other public places and will wish to give you a small trinket, such as a tiny Crucifix, a ring or something similar. They will insist that you do not need to pay for it and that you should accept it as a symbol of good luck, or a blessing, or some other reason.

However, after you accept said gift, they change their attitude and charge you money in return. They will follow you and demand payment, refusing to take the item back, if you want to return it. Most tourists give in and eventually pay for the trinket, after getting annoyed past any limits. In order to avoid this scam, just refuse any object from strangers.

 

Inflated Restaurant Bill

The main Bulgarian cities greet tourists with a plethora of restaurants where everybody can enjoy the local dishes and culinary specialties. However, before paying your bill or personally handing over the money to the waiter or bartender, double check that the total amount is correctly calculated.

At times, you might find on the bill an extra portion of bread or a drink you did not order. More often than not, it’s not an innocent mistake, but rather it’s your waiter making a few extra levas. The way to handle such a situation is to politely show them the mistake. They will politely apologize and calculate your bill again.

 

Stray Animals

Sometimes, when you are taking a walk on the streets of any town in Bulgaria, you may see stray animals, mostly dogs and cats.

No matter how much you love animals, please resist your urge to pet, feed or take them into your arms. These animals can be dirty, so they can carry all sorts of diseases, lice, and other parasites. Moreover, they can become aggressive if you reach your hand towards them. They may or may not bite you for no obvious reason.

You should just keep a safe distance and simply not interact with any stray animals.

 

 

What Not to Pack in Your Carry-On to Avoid Getting in Trouble

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It is so much easier to travel with your carry-on luggage only! You don’t have to worry about airlines losing your luggage, or all those extra fees that certain airlines impose on your checked luggage.

We know that when you go on a longer vacation, it is almost impossible to travel with your carry-on luggage only because you need more space. But let us make it easier for everyone one of us, and let’s have a look at the things that you are not allowed to pack in your carry-on.

 

Meat, fruit, vegetables, and other agricultural products

If you are traveling internationally, bear in mind that most countries won’t allow you to bring in any meats, fruits, vegetables or any other agricultural products. Healthy snacks are allowed on the plane though, so you can take a fruit with you but make sure you eat it before your arrival.

If you haven’t had a chance to eat it, be aware that you have to show your fruit to a customs officer for inspection, especially if it’s something exotic. If you fail to do this, you can get a fine which most of the times is pretty steep.

 

Liquids over 3.4 ounces or 100ml

You can take in your carry-on any type of liquids, just make sure that all liquids are in containers of no more than 3.4 ounces or 100ml. And very important, all containers with liquids must fit into a clear plastic bag with a capacity of not more than 1 liter and measures approximately 20cm x 20cm.

Nowadays, you can buy travel-sized containers almost anywhere, and you can fill those with anything that you think you will need on your trips like your shampoo or your shower gel. Also, you can buy many products in travel sizes directly, like your toothpaste or your deodorant, and you no longer have to transfer them from the regular containers into the travel sized ones.

Strict lighter rules

According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA’s), one butane or Zippo lighter is allowed in your carry-on luggage. So yes, you are allowed to have a lighter in your carry-on, but make sure it is not one that imitates firearms and you don’t bring it out at any time. You can also carry a lighter in your pocket, but again you are not permitted to take it out of your pocket during the flight.  

I think that it only makes sense why airlines have this kind of restrictions; imagine how will people react if one of the passengers, at one point during the flight, decides to bring out a lighter gun. With all these terrorist attacks happening everywhere around the world, this action can lead to a massive panic on plane.

 

Sharp objects

It is perfectly understandable why airlines have come up with this restriction, as one can imagine a sharp object can be easily used as a weapon. That is why you are not allowed to carry in your carry-on luggage items like box cutters, ice picks, meat cleavers or utility knives, or swords. You can carry these sharp objects with you but make sure that you pack them in your checked luggage.

If you were wondering if you can put your scissors in your carry-on, the answer is generally yes as long as the scissors are less than 4 inches long, but if they are longer than that the answer is an absolute no. But do bear in mind that the final decision belongs to the officer, so you might want to think if it’s actually worth the trouble.