Let us give you some suggestions, we have put together a mini guide to 5 countries you might not think are safe, but are to visit on a gap year or backpacking adventure abroad...


1. Colombia

Cartagena, Colombia

Spend your gap year in Colombia? Seriously? Doesn't this country have high gang and crime rates?

Well, you will be surprised to know this is now one of the safest countries to visit in the whole of a South America gap year. If Colombia appeals, we advice you to vist before the tourist crowds start arriving.

Of course follow the usual safety advice and ask locals/travellers for tips but this country will provide no more challenges than any other.

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2. Guatemala


Guatemala has a bad reputation and also a high poverty rate but the chances are you will experience a magical and memorable experience.

This country really is a hidden gem, a lot less tourist than its Northern neighbor Mexico which makes visiting all the more special. There are lots of organised tours and also a reliable public bus service available - we highly recommend planning a trip to see places like Tikal and Atigua which are both spectacular.

If you are currently thinking about taking a gap year in Costa Rica and would like a cheaper more authentic experience definately consider Guatemala.

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3. Cambodia

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Despite a brutal genocide only a few decades ago Cambodia is now one of the most up and coming travel destinations in the world.

Ask anyone who has taken a gap year in South-East Asia and they will tell you local people are used to tourists in most locations and generally people will be open and friendly.

You can expect to see beautiful beaches, islands and also spectacular tourist sights like Angkor Watt in Cambodia which are some of the best ancient ruins in the world.

Cambodia is a lot less touristy than spending your gap year in Thailand which makes this country more appealing and if you stick to the tourist path you should have no issues at all.

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4. Brazil

Copacabana beach

These are exciting times to take a gap year in Brazil, with the Football World Cup and Olympics having being hosted here in the past decade and there has never been a better time to visit.

Brazil still has problems with crime and tourists are advised to take safety precautions when visiting but the country is a lot safer than it has been in recent years.

Remember though a lot of the crime figures for Brazil are from locals against locals in favelas and places away from the tourist hotspots so when visiting as a tourist you should enjoy a crime free stay.

There are isolated instances of crime but you will find a large police presence in most public areas like train and bus stations and at major tourist centres and beaches.

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5. Zimbabwe

Lions Kruger National Park

Despite widespread poverty and massive financial problems since the Robert Mugabe regime came to power Zimbabwe is now a stable and safe country to visit as a tourist.

There are so many amazing reasons to visit Zimbabwe, you can see exotic wildlife and stunning tourist sights like Victoria Falls. There are still problems in Zimbabwe but if you travel responsibly or join a group tour or safari you should enjoy one of the experiences of your life in this country.

You can also book organised group volunteering programs in Zimbabwe where you can help wildlife and local people - not much compares to travelling and making a difference.

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and one more just, why not....


6. China

Must Visit Places in China - Zhangjiajie

China is really promoting tourism in the country since the high of the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and in the past decade millions of new tourists have flocked here.

You will generally find locals either staring at you with intrigue or smile than anything bad to happen to you. Even with the language barrier, it is very common for locals to invite tourists to stay at their houses or to visit for food.

There are also so many spectacular sights to be seen like the Great Wall and Terracotta Warriors!

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Plan Your Trip

Please note this article might be out of date at the time of reading, please always check travel and safety advice before departing abroad and always ask other travellers and locals for advice. View our worldwide travel destinations for trips all around the world or contact us if you need any help planning a break away.