The Worst Countries to Travel as a Woman

Female travelers might want to avoid these countries

It's a weird world if you're a woman. On one hand, women are in places of power like never before in modern history, from female leaders like Angela Merkel and Cristina Fernandez de Kirchener, to industry-leading musicians, movie stars and other celebrities, to activists like Malala Yousafzai, who really need no labels associated with them.

At the same time, women face a number of challenges in today's world, particularly in developing countries where the legal system does not protect them or, in some cases, actively works agains them. While it's tempting to think that horrible fates only befall women who live in a particularly country—not that this would make them any less horrible—the fact is that some places in the world are also not particularly safe to travel as a woman.

Here are the worst places you can travel if you're a woman.

  • 01 of 05

    Saudi Arabia

    Kingdom Center shopping mall in Riyadh
    Ali Al Mubarak/Getty Images

    Saudi Arabian women made news in recent years by showing the bravery to protest the conservative nation's female driving ban, which has reportedly led some of the country's top clerics to consider lifting the ban.

    On one hand, you probably wouldn't drive if you visited the Kingdom—and in 2018, the new Saudi prince announced a gradual rollback of the ban. But on the other hand, a woman can't be in public without a male relative in Saudi Arabia, local or foreign, so you might want to go elsewhere for your next trip to the Middle East.

  • 02 of 05

    Brazil

    Brazil Women
    Brazil is one of the worst places to travel as a woman, in spite of – or maybe because of – its association with beach babes. Werni via Pixabay

    It might seem strange to think of Brazil as one of the worst places in the world women can travel—the country had a female president just a few years ago, to say nothing of how much the world has come to associate Brazil with beautiful, bikini-clad women.

    Unfortunately, Brazil's macho culture (and some other factors, to be sure) have led to a disproportionate amount of this country's endemic violence occurring to women. This violence only occasionally extends to tourists, but affects Brazilian women of color (who are already disadvantaged under the country's system) at alarmingly higher rates than those of European-descended Brazilian women.

  • 03 of 05

    India

    Woman in India
    A number of challenges face female travelers in India. Robert Schrader

    Although India is full of some of the world's most amazing travel treasures, its inclusion in the travel press in recent years has mostly been due to a string of tourist rapes. Local women tend not to fare much better, particularly in cities like Mumbai and Delhi, whose metro has attracted criticism regarding its safety for female riders since it opened in 2010.

    India's current prime minister has created a lot of controversy since his election in 2014—the one that most directly affected tourists was the calamity of invalidating a portion of the country's currency in 2016. Unfortunately, the Modi government has put forth only vague plans to address the issue of violence against women in India.

  • 04 of 05

    Kenya

    Woman in Kenya
    From Maasai to travelers, women in Kenya are likely to face violence of some kind, according to officials. Robert Schrader

    In general, tourists in Kenya need to be wary of the possibility of petty theft, muggings and car-jackings. However, women travelers need to be extra vigilant, due to the prevalence of sexual violence in the African country.

    Kenyan women rose up in huge numbers in late 2014, protesting the fact that a local woman was assaulted due to the length of her skirt, but violence against women remains a huge problem in the East African nation, which is better known as a safari destination. 

    "Women of all ages, education levels, and social groups, in rural and urban settings are subjected to violence in Kenya," says a recent U.N. report on the subject.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Morocco

    Woman in Morocco
    Women in Morocco are liable to face harassment – especially tourists. Robert Schrader

    Egypt tends to get the most press as an unsafe destination for female travelers, especially in the wake of the 2011 revolution and the high-profile rape of journalist Lara Logan, but in North Africa in general, women—especially Western ones—face a great deal of street harassment. Morocco is a particularly relevant example for female travelers, given its skyrocketing popularity in recent years.

    There are various explanations for this, namely the fact that in Muslim countries like Morocco, unmarried women generally don't roam the streets without a male guardian or relative, and certainly not wearing the sorts of clothes visits from Europe and North America.

    While this is obviously not an excuse for sexual assault, women who traveler to Morocco (particular those who travel solo, or who are unmarried) should be extra careful not to find themselves alone around groups of local men.