You have probably seen movies like Turistas, Hostel, Wrong Turn and the similar ones. Movies about how a dream vacation can turn into a life-threatening terror. Of course these films are merely works of fiction, but that doesn’t mean they can’t happen in real life. Traveling has become more and more convenient these days, although not necessarily safer. It is always a great experience to get to go places and see new things. However, one should always keep in mind that when they visit a country far from home, they are guests that should respect the hosts and honor the custom of the place. Stay away from spots they ask you not to set foot upon.
Russia is one of the countries with extraordinary reputation of safety. Not all the things you have ever heard about the country are true, though. It can actually be really fun and rewarding to travel to Russia, but – by all means – look out for these 5 unsafe locations for tourists in Russia you had better stay off of:
Located in the North Caucasus region, Dagestan is Russia’s most heterogeneous republic with very large diversity of ethnicity. This region is considered unsafe for tourists because of its Islamic revolution. Separatism outbreaks and ethnic tension have been taking over the republic since 1990’s. The high occurrence of violence by the militant organization Shariat Jamaat makes Dagestan a least favorable location for tourism. The corrupt regional government was dissolved in 2018 and the republic has been under Russia’s direct control ever since.
2. Western Tuva
If you search around the internet for travel packages to Russia, Western Tuva would be one of the highlighted places that you should visit in the country. Once an independent nation, Tuva is now a republic under the Russian government. Lies in the Asian part Russia – in southern Siberia – and bordered with Mongolia, this region is famous with its rich culture and beautiful nature. You can go trekking here and get up, close and personal with the people’s nomadic culture. The whole of the republic offers you a great experience to get close with mother earth and refresh your body and mind. It all sounds perfect, so why is it called unsafe? The Tuvans are known for their bad reputation with alcohol. They love vodka and can be aggressive while drunk, not only with strangers but friends too. So tourists are not advised to roam the streets of Tuva on their own, especially at night. Also, it would be better to turn down locals’ invitations to drink with them for safety reasons.
Located in the North Caucasus region, Ingushetia is a republic under the Russian Federation and one of the poorest and most unstable regions in Russia. It has been troubled with corruption, high-profile crimes, anti-government protests, attacks on officers and rotting human rights situation. The violence has been subsiding in recent years, but the region is still far from ideal to welcome tourists. It would be highly unlikely that Ingushetia is included in any Russia tour itineraries.
Everything about this city in the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug is actually brilliant. The petroleum industry makes it one of the wealthiest cities in Russia. It can easily be reached and entered, quite a pleasant place for tourism. It is relatively safe, but visitors should take a note that the majority of people there are against LGBT and they would take harsh actions once they find out that the city is visited by some of them. This rule is also applied in some other cities in Russia.
According to a statistical report, Chechnya consumes the smallest amount of alcohol in Russia. This has a strong connection with its dominant religion which is Islam. A poll in 2010 says that 95% of Chechens practice this belief. Being a neighbor to Dagestan and Ingushetia, Chechnya also has its own problem with terrorism, separatism, and rebellion against the central government besides internal war between branches of the religion. The constant heat of the political situation makes Chechnya not an ideal place for foreigners to visit. This is quite a shame since the nature of the region offers so many beautiful sceneries to enjoy.
Although Russia is relatively a safe country to visit, the massive size of the land it covers make some of the places around the borders appear in a contrasting situation from the central big cities like Moscow or Saint Petersburg. Many countries release travel warnings for their citizens to pay attention to if they have an intention to travel to Russia. The 5 deemed unsafe locations for tourists above usually always make it to the list of the warnings.
There are several reasons why a location is not safe in Russia:
- Crime, which is quite obvious, that can be violent or petty (like pickpocketing, bag snatching, etc.) both are equally dangerous.
- Spiked food and drink, which can lead to another forms of crime.
- Discrimination against certain group of people.
When you decide to try and travel to countries with warnings, there are more things to prepare than just clothes to pack or map to carry. Please learn and find references about important places in the country; the do’s and don’ts, the regions or locations to stay away from, the recommended hotels, motels, and diners. Don’t hesitate to ask around in online forums where travelers unite and help each other. Find a reliable travel mate or contact a tour guide who can help you to go in a group. Be wise about choosing places to visit as a solo traveler because it can be a matter of life and death. Consult your embassy and don’t go to uncharted spots without letting anyone know about the plan. Remember; travelling is fun if you can keep it safe.