With 195 countries scattered across the globe, the world is your playground offering endless opportunities for exploration. Some countries beg for your attention, with endless recommendations from reliable sources (like us!).

We travel to open our minds and “find ourselves”. But sometimes, we end up finding a big, steaming heap of shit instead. 

At The Broke Backpacker, we’ve ended up at some of the most unexpected, worst countries to visit. They left us empty, hoodwinked, and perplexed. It’s not because they’re necessarily “bad” or dangerous countries, it’s just that they don’t always match the postcard-perfect image we’ve been sold.

In the midst of it all, trying to figure out the gems from the duds is a skill I’m yet to fully master. Usually, the only way to know is to hit the road and see for yourself.

Or… I ask my team mates 😉 Which is the worst country to travel in the world? Because we’ve had our fair share of terrible travel destinations – and they were quick to answer with some hard truths. 

In the end, you’ll have two options:

  • Option one: ignore all of us and do you, baby.
  • Option two: make like Forrest Gump and RUN. 

Whatever path you choose, I’ve warned you.

Mount Rinjani Joe
Time for some pessimism 🙂
Photo: @joemiddlehurst

The Broke Backpacker is supported by you. Clicking through our links may earn us a small affiliate commission, and that's what allows us to keep producing free content 🙂 Learn more.

1. Morocco

‘Magical, mysterious Morocco’ has been a stalwart of the backpacking and indie-traveller scene for almost a century now.

As far back as the 1940s, Beat Generation writers like William Burroughs would spend extended sabbaticals in the pretty but gritty port city of Tangier (writing poetry and taking full advantage of the region’s laissez-faire attitude towards sex tourism). Then, of course, the first-wave hippies were quick to ride on the Marrakesh Express.

Men outside a mechanic stop in Marrakech, Morocco.
A casual scene with a Moroccan stamp.
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

Morocco is entry-level North Africa for many budget backpackers seeking a taste of an Aladdin fairy tale. Each year, millions are tempted by promises of abundant hashish, surreal landscapes, and ancient Moor and Berber cities.

But what I found in Morocco was relentless, punishing heat, and some of the worst people I have ever encountered in all my travels.

Let’s start with Marrakech. As a foreigner, you will not be left alone. Ever. Aggressive and rude shopkeepers, panhandlers, beggars, con artists and drug-pushers will plague you every time you step outside your Riad.

A busy souk in Morocco
A photo you can actually smell…
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

And while Marrakech is the worst example, it doesn’t end there. I had panhandlers trying to hard-sell pieces of utter tat on hiking trails and even inside the plunge pool of a fucking waterfall.

And yet some people love travelling to Morocco. Romantic Essaouira was the slaver city of Astador in Game of Thrones, the hash IS good, and there are plenty of lovely street cats.

photo of Aiden Freeborn, member of The Broke Backpacker team

Aiden: Gear Manager & Senior Editor

As a connoisseur of vintage cinema, I was excited to visit Casablanca but was of course totally disappointed by the squalid, dirty, and sad shithole that I found. I even sought out ‘Rick’s Cafe’ and was served an overpriced, tepid beer which made me ill.

Do You Want to Travel FOREVER??

Pop your email in below to get a FREE copy of ‘How to Travel the World on $10 a Day!’.

    2. Dubai, UAE

    I’m going to start this with a quote from a fitting meme: “you can tell a lot about a person by how they feel about Dubai.”

    Now I’m not judging… Ok fuck it, I kinda am. Most of the people I’ve met who love travelling to Dubai are dicks.

    Yet I am an eternal optimist when it comes to travel. So in fact, it was quite hard to come up with somewhere I hated. I didn’t hate Dubai: I found it interesting to observe the excesses of capitalism gone wild from an outside perspective.

    Though, I felt like an outsider who couldn’t get below the surface of the city – because it felt like it didn’t go any deeper. Everything about Dubai felt “top show”. There were no pavements to wander and to get lost in the rhythm of footsteps.

    Is that a real city or a cardboard cutout behind me!?
    Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

    Instead, it was a battle against traffic consisting of as many supercars as taxis. Even the cultural areas of the city felt fake like a Disneyland version of the Arab world made palatable for Western suitabilities.

    Gone are the busy, hot, dirty, and lively souks with locals flogging tanned leather goods and exotic ingredients. Instead replaced by an outdoor museum for the benefit of the tourists. 

    Journey further out and you find the other side of relentless development of mega-cities. Impoverished immigrants live in poor conditions, tempted here by the prospect of riches and rewards, only to end up trapped thousands of miles away from home working in terribly dangerous environments. 

    A playground where the rich try to outdo each other by building a new fuck-off skyscraper, diamond-encrusted Rolex, or gas-guzzling vehicle. All at the expense of the environment and immigrants filled with false hope.

    photo of Nic Hilditch-Short, member of The Broke Backpacker team

    Nic: Editor & Roaming Renegade

    Dubai is sickening, fake and everything that the world shouldn’t be. Although, yeah, it’s one of the worst places to travel in my opinion, it’s still interesting to see.

    3. India

    A multicoloured land of incredible scenery and colourful traditions, India had long captured my imagination as a child. I yearned to visit the Taj Mahal, to bask in the ancient power of fallen civilisations, and to feast upon spiced meat of questionable origin.

    A whirling juxtaposition of teeming metropolises and empty, vast landscapes, India would keep me guessing. I spent two years wandering dusty roads, camping out in dilapidated train stations and relying on the kindness of the Couchsurfing community to shave my scraggly beard and mend my tattered clothes.

    I met incredible, amazing, generous, horrible, disgusting, and dishonest people during my journey – and India left a deep, lasting impression on me.

    young will hatton at taj mahal
    Get your photo and RUN!
    Photo: @willhatton__

    In truth, India remains one of my favourite countries. And yet, the country as it stands is in a freaking shambles – it’s one of the worst places to travel. With corrupt politicians pilfering the poor and everybody out to fuck everybody else over, I found it difficult to connect with people.

    India, in fact, turned me into a bit of an asshole. I found myself increasingly turning to aggression to shake the touts who, (wrongly) assumed I had money. There are only so many times one can be grabbed on the street, or shaken rudely awake, as some motherfucker gazes upon thee with the three immortal India questions…

    “What country you from?”

    “You want look at my shop?”

    And, of course…

    “Are you married?” and if not “why?”

    Shirtless will sitting on top of a cliff taking in a breathtaking view of India.
    Everything the light touches is stressful.
    Photo: @willhatton__

    India stretched my patience, but it also stretched my cash and gave me incredible personal development. Whilst shouting at folks to “get the fuck out of my face”, I felt myself grow in confidence and wisdom.

    photo of Will Hatton on a motorbike, founder of The Broke Backpacker site

    Will: Founder & Chief Adventurer

    India is an absolute gem, uniquely beautiful and horrible at the same time. If you’re broke and in search of adventure, go. If you don’t want to share personal space with human excrement, don’t.

    Is This the Best Backpack EVER???
    Aether Backpack

    We’ve tested countless backpacks over the years, but there’s one that has always been the best and remains the best buy for adventurers: the broke backpacker-approved Osprey Aether and Ariel series.

    Want more deetz on why these packs are so damn perfect? Then read our comprehensive review for the inside scoop!

    View on Osprey View on REI

    4. Vietnam

    After endless recommendations and a lifetime of dreams, I was pumped to visit Vietnam. Young sprites talk about the cheap, life-changing voyage that always tops backpackers’ favourite destinations. 

    What I was not expecting was the inordinate intensity of Vietnam.

    From the moment I landed in Ho Chi Minh, I was greeted by extraordinary heat and humidity mixed with a waft of rotting food. Then there’s the locals – who can’t bring themselves to muster even a hint of a smile at any point in the day.

    It’ll change after I get out of Ho Chi Minh – I told myself. 

    oh, how naive of me.

    The sheer amount of people is insanely overwhelming and the bikes… fuck me. Even I got road rage and I wasn’t even driving.

    It seemed that my mere presence on the streets at any point pissed off any and every local, and I ended up adopting the same passive-aggressive attitude that 90% of people I crossed seemed to have.

    Laura smiling painfully in the wet steets of hanoi in front of motorbikes and restaurants
    Hanoi is a messy, wet fart of a city.
    Photo: @Lauramcblonde

    Don’t get me wrong: Vietnam is still a fan favourite with many backpackers. If you’re a keen (and extremely confident) motorbiker, I’m assured the driving the Ha-Giang Loop is a must-do for you. Even most of the other Broke Backpacker team members have a deep passion for this country. 

    So don’t just take my word for it. But if you’re looking for a relaxing, welcoming, easy-going country, Vietnam is one of the worst places to visit in the world.

    Meet the Team

    Laura: Senior Editor & Chill Goddess

    I spent six long, stressful weeks travelling North to Hanoi. It was rainy season too, so all my stuff was humid for the entire trip and I spent Christmas day trying to dry out my backpack (that was growing its own fungus farm at this time) with a hairdryer.

    5. Costa Rica

    Many people swear by Costa Rica being their favourite backpacking spots, and I can see why. The nature is stunning, the pura vida lifestyle is incredibly infectious and the geography of the country is just magnificent.

    The cultural cocktail of volcanoes, jungles, and Pacific and Caribbean vibes here is phenomenal. Sounds idyllic, right?

    I want to make one thing clear… I did (kinda) enjoy my trip to Costa Rica. HOWEVER, my time there was forcibly extremely brief.

    Beach in Costa Rica. Caribbean Coast.
    I wish I saw the red flags earlier.
    Photo: @joemiddlehurst


    Well because no one warned me how expensive Costa Rica is!

    I spent 5 months backpacking Central America in 2023. Whilst Costa Rica was beautiful, it was more of the same and about triple the price when compared to neighbouring countries such as Nicaragua. Costa Rica ran through my budget like Usain Bolt. 

    In comparison to the rest of Latin America, it is far from the most dangerous of countries. Yet, I can confidently say it’s an overrated Instagram-hyped destination full of American tourists on “vacation”.

    Joe: Editor & Lover of Life

    Don’t get me wrong, Costa Rica is gorgeous. I will come back one day. But, some advice for my fellow budget backpackers: guys… give this one a miss.

    6. Bali – Indonesia

    When you hear someone say “That’s so Bali”, they are usually talking about lush clothes shops, bangin’ brunch spots, or beautiful yoga studios.

    Canggu is the pinnacle of this. Sexy Aussies roam the streets, HUGE billboards tower from above, and scooters zoom around playing Tetris on the roads.

    There is a reason why everyone is backpacking in Bali; it’s got it all. Whatever you dream of, you can have it here. And the cherry on top, it’s at a fraction of the cost you’d pay at home. 

    Sounds bloody fantastic, right? 

    Well, unfortunately, the desire to experience Balinese culture and get off the beaten track often gets lost on the sidelines. 

    woman wearing a green robe in a pool washing her face with water pouring from a spout
    Worst thing to do with Bali belly.
    Photo: @danielle_wyatt

    I’m not going to lie, I had a great time eating mind-blowing food and getting 10x hotter at the un-airconditioned gyms. But did I get to experience local culture and nature here? Hell no. 

    The hubs of Canggu, Ubud, and Uluwatu are brimming with bustling streets, wild traffic, and locals trying to sell you penis bottle openers to take home to gift ya mum. It’s just not a bad place to visit as a tourist right now. I encourage you to venture out of these swarms of tourists and ex-pats into nature and local Balinese life. 

    Where are these hidden gems in Bali, you ask? The good news is, you don’t have to travel far to find them. If you drive just 10 minutes out of the madness, you will be rewarded with magical, lush landscapes that fill your soul with happiness. 

    To dive into the good stuff; head up north. Experience the magic of Amed, Munduk, or Sideman. Get off the beaten track, climb a mountain, marvel at vibrant coral reefs, or splash around in the waterfalls. 

    Bali can be FUCKING AMAZING; if you let it show you what it’s got. 

    bio pic for Danielle Wyatt

    Dani: Junior Editor & Oceanic Explorer

    An abundance of rice paddy fields, majestic temples, and authentic local warungs (restaurants) packed with friendly faces await. You’ll feel the true Bali that lives underneath all its shiny, gentrified layers.

    7. Honduras

    To be fair, my 72 hours in Honduras were very experimental. I went in with high hopes despite the HORROR stories of violence, I gave it a chance.

    The first red flag was the look on the immigration officer’s face as I handed over my passport. His first comment was “You sure you aren’t going to Nicaragua?” I had a pit in my stomach, but I pushed my doubts to the side and embodied the badass female solo traveller persona. 

    Woman smiling on a bus sat next to a young Hondurian girl smiling to her side
    Highlight of my trip was making this sweet friend!
    Photo: @amandaadraper

    As I crossed the physical border, I was overwhelmed with unwanted attention. In Spanish, we call it “Mal de Ojo” Or Evil eye. As me and my friend boarded a bus, all eyes were on us, in the worst of ways. 

    My Intuition was literally screaming “ ABORT ABORT” so I did. I found shelter in a hotel and took the next bus to Nicaragua. To be fair, I’ve also heard lots of amazing stories about Utila and Roatan, the best diving spots in Central America.

    Amanda: Junior Editor & Senior Dreamer

    If I could go back, I would definitely plan a bit better, hire a car, and travel with locals. Honduras Is INCREDIBLE, I just had a shit start to my experience.

    Travel with peace of mind. Travel WITH a security belt.
    Active Roots Security Belt

    Stash your cash safely with this money belt. It will keep your valuables safely concealed, no matter where you go.

    It looks exactly like a normal belt except for a SECRET interior pocket perfectly designed to hide a wad of cash, a passport photocopy or anything else you may wish to hide. Never get caught with your pants down again! (Unless you want to…)

    Hide Yo’ Money!

    8. Japan

    Japan is a country that is on almost every traveller’s bucket list, it’s one of those dream destinations to visit. It’s a place that stands proud of its uniqueness, travellers here will often find themselves mumbling the words “only in Japan” and shaking their heads in utter culture shock.

    From snow-capped mountaintops to world-class scuba diving, from ancient villages to futuristic cities, Japan truly has got it all.

    Whilst I am extremely grateful that I got to experience this extraordinary country, travelling here I never really felt like I could relax, take a breath, and connect to the people around me. Japan is INTENSE… 

    The Japanese culture is one that I found difficult to relate to. There is an epidemic of loneliness in Japan, which has led to high suicide rates and a rapidly declining population.

    A girl stands amongst cardboard cutouts of anime characters in Kyoto, Japan.
     A photo of me and all the friends I made in Japan!
    Photo: @audyscala

    In my greatest attempts to learn the language, and immerse myself in the culture, I was often met with smiling faces – yet a withdrawn and uninterested attitude.

    In Tokyo, the metros were often packed shoulder to shoulder yet so quiet you could hear a pen drop, in the world’s largest city, I felt so surrounded by humanity yet so utterly alone. Japan is truly gorgeous but for many backpackers, it isn’t the most friendly or welcoming country and it can be hard to connect here with others and even to stay in touch with yourself!

    Audy: Junior Editor & Hitchiking Hero

    Whilst I found parts of Japan to be utterly magical, ultimately, I found it one of the loneliest places I have ever visited. It’s important to note that Japan had an isolationist policy for hundreds of years and that this is a country where most people ONLY speak their native tongue.

    9. Bahrain

    Have you ever been hit in the face with an invisible brick wall? 

    If your answer is no, then I’m just going to assume you haven’t yet been to Bahrain… I’m here to inform you of all the things you haven’t missed out on.

    My visit to this minuscule Middle Eastern nation was the last stop on an otherwise glorious European summer that also took me to Oman. Though in Bahrain’s neighbourhood, Oman wowed with turquoise wadis, salty days in the Arabian Sea, and other magical moments that still have me yearning to return. 

    But Bahrain… well… it may just be one of the most boring places I’ve ever visited in my life. In my books, THAT alone makes it the worst travel destination.

    And it is absolutely ranked firmly as the hottest.

    Bahrain World Trade Center, Manama, Bahrain

    Even as I type this, the moment of stepping outside of a deep air-conditioned home to be smacked by heat so thick and all-consuming it felt like an assault rushes back in. If you think Bali’s hot, or another Asian, African, or South American country… rest assured that this tiny Kingdom has got it beat. 

    But still: I tried. I visited the famous souq, spent a (admittedly nice) fiery sunset at a historical fort, and even popped into the desert for a bit. And even though I wasn’t too experienced of a traveller at the time, I couldn’t help but feel a distinct lack of life.

    Natural beauty was all but non-existent, and any semblance of cultural exchange seemed to be out of reach. Perhaps the closest I came was while visiting the Al Fateh Grand Mosque, which is decked from top to bottom in creamy marble and despite being one of the largest mosques in the world, was still devoid of character that I’ve found in the dozens of places of worship I’ve visited in the years since then.

    Though I spotted some apparent locals in the souqs, nearly everyone actually working appeared to be from somewhere else. There was nothing akin to the colourful Omani hats and distinct local vibe I’d seen just a few hundred miles away. To be brutally honest: I quite frankly felt like I was in a colony on the moon.

    If culture, local life, and natural scenery call you the way it does me – Bahrain won’t be your cup of tea. But if you somehow find yourself there the way I did, you can visit the Sultanate of Oman, just an hour’s flight away. 

    Samantha: Travel Writer & Adventure Expert

    Though I’d love to round Bahrain up with a positive, I’m on the struggle bus trying to find one.

    10. Bolivia

    Many say that Bolivia is the destination that separates comfortable backpackers from the adventurous. Cheap food, unique landscapes (like the famous Salar de Uyuni), colourful markets, and the best-preserved native culture in Latin America.

    This was my first backpacking trip – hoping to have new experiences. And mate, did I have them.

    Group of travelers in Uyuni flat salt tour on top of the truck.
    Which way is out?
    Photo: @Sebagvivas

    After crossing the border from Argentina into Bolivia, I could feel the gazes of the locals. The energy as a whole isn’t welcoming, yet understandable if you consider the context of Bolivian history. At first glance, the street seemed like a vision of the past, as if technological advances had not reached this country.

    The open-air markets, with questionable hygienic conditions (I’m talking about the heads dead animals hanging in the open air with flies dancing happily around them), give off a smell of rotting food.

    You’ll face long lines of shouting sellers harassing you to buy goods – to the point of being almost aggressive. And something as common as drinking water is scarce.

    It’s one of the worst places I’ve travelled as a tourist in 10 years.

    I spend 3 weeks exploring Bolivia, and the transportation (oh my god, the transportation), it’s literally a pain in the ass with bused slamming down as we trudged across these routes with huge potholes. Long trips on packed, uncomfortable buses, with a cocktail of local food vendors, unbathed humans, heat and dust. You get the picture: at the very least – it’s the worst place to visit in South America, in my opinion.

    But not everything is bad. As soon as you leave the tourist route, you’ll find places where time stops and smiles welcome you – because they rarely see a person from another country. You can contemplate what simple life is like, people know, talk, and help each other. 

    bio pic for Sebastian Garcia Vivas

    Seba: Digital Wizard & Latino Legend

    Bolivia will give you a large dose of grounding and humility. After travelling for 10 years, my perception would be very different and I think I would love to return.

    Get Insured Before Your Travels

    Even some top travel destinations can become some of the most dangerous countries in the world if you’re not well prepared. Solid travel insurance should be the first thing on your list when you’re jetting off for any adventure.

    ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.

    They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

    SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

    Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

    Final Thoughts on the Worst Countries to Visit

    Look, in the opinion of The Broke Backpacker, most of the worst countries in the world to travel aren’t what you’d expect. Actually, we even had some pretty hard debates between us when we put this list together. 

    Sometimes, it just comes down to the fact that it’s waaaay more expensive than our poor budgets can afford. Other times, it’s just because of how lonely and isolated we felt when we were solo travelling there. Though often, giving a country another chance can completely flip your perspective too – so there’s hope for Vietnam yet. 

    Through it all, I believe the biggest takeaway is for you is to trust your gut and embrace the opportunity to explore. Think of how much Nic discovered about life in Dubai: each experience teaches you something valuable.

    But yeah, if you still desperately want to visit Dubai – I’m probably going to think you’re a bit of a dick. 

    Have you got a different opinion about some of the worst places you’ve visited? Let us know in the comments!

    guy with a rain jacket on in south east asia
    Yep, all good here.
    Photo: @danielle_wyatt
    Looking for more inspo on travel destinations?