Asia

This will be short and sweet: stay away from North Korea.  The end. 

In all seriousness, you couldn’t get into North Korea even if you wanted to; you would have to have special approval from the U.S. Department of State.  And they probably wouldn’t give it to you anyways. If you really want to know why, just Google it or turn on the news. 

Most other countries in what most of us consider Asia are considered very safe to visit, with a couple of outliers.  There are certain states to avoid in India, especially if you’re female, and China might give you some trouble at the border if you are a dual U.S. Chinese national, but for the most part you’ll find either no or Level 1 travel advisories for other countries in this area instructing you to use normal safety precautions when traveling.

The exceptions to this involve countries in the Middle East, as technically the are part of the Asian continent.  The Middle East is fascinating because you’ll have this little country with a Level 1 advisory that’s actually quite the tourist hub literally right next to a country with a Level 4 advisory warning against any and all travel.  The reason for this is terrorism – this is just how terrorism works – with pockets and strongholds in concentrated areas while leaving some areas untouched. Still makes me nervous. 

Most people won’t be surprised to find Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, and Syria under the Level 4 (do not travel) category, and I would heed this warning.  Israel, Kosovo, and Boznia/Herzegovina are pretty solid with Level 2 advisories (remember, Level 2 just means be careful), except for any country sharing a border with Syria because Syria is ROUGH right now.  

I was surprised to find Turkey with a Level 3 (reconsider) advisory because I hear so much about travel to Istanbul.  Right now Turkey, like several other surrounding countries, is struggling with the threat of terrorism but I think what earned them the overall Level 3 advisory is its shared southern border with Syria.  If traveling to Turkey, the further north you stay the better. Istanbul is a major tourist hub, so if traveling here be sure to stay alert in popular Western tourist locations. 

Russia has also earned itself a Level 3 advisory due to civil unrest, terrorism, and harassment.  Civil unrest and terrorism are especially worrisome in North Caucasus, Russia’s southern border with Georgia (for those who have seen Bridget Jones’ Diary, this is where Chechnya is).  So stay away from there. As for the harassment, well, given the current political climate with Russia this isn’t terribly surprising. 

For other helpful tips on how to travel safely in Asia, see my Safety Tips (click here) page.