Safety is a top consideration when traveling abroad, especially for solo travelers. Ideal vacation destinations are those which are safe and packed with tons of things to do. The following twelve countries have a wide variety of sights and activities, very low crime rates, and minimal occurrences of natural disasters, making them some of the safest vacation spots.
Top 12 Safest Places to Visit in 2018
Health and safety in Finland.
Violent crime rate in Finland is low: there were 1.6 homicides per 100,000 people reported in 2015. Petty crime is somewhat higher, but still low enough to keep Finland ranked among the twenty safest countries in the world according to The Telegraph. Healthcare in Finland is primarily controlled by the state, but there is a private sector.
Travelers from EU or EEA countries who hold a European Health Insurance Card are eligible to utilize Finland’s public health system. Residents of other countries who intend to self-pay or utilize travel insurance should arrange to see a private practitioner.
Things to do in Finland.
- No trip to Finland would be complete without taking at least one night to observe the Northern Lights, visible more than half the year.
- The capital of Helsinki offers lots of sights to see, including the National Museum of Finland and the Finnish Art Gallery.
- Finland also features many historical sites that are open to the public, such as Olavinlinna Castle in Savonlinna.
2. Hong Kong
Health and safety in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is among the safest places to travel on the planet. Crime of all types is virtually nonexistent, and the Hong Kong police force is renowned worldwide for its integrity and professionalism. Much like in Finland, both private and state-run medical facilities exist; although, the private sector is much stronger. Excellent care is available in the private sector at reasonable rates.
Things to do in Hong Kong.
- Night owls will undoubtedly want to visit Lan Kwai Fong, Hong Kong’s most popular dining and entertainment district.
- Hong Kong is also home to several amusement parks, including Ocean Park and Disneyland.
- The Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade features breathtaking views of the rest of the city, and is also where the Hong Kong Space Museum and the Hong Kong Cultural Center can be found.
Health and safety in Singapore.
Singapore routinely jumps around in the top 10 safest countries to visit in the world based on The Telegraph rating, with almost no crime at all. Foreign travelers have access to quality care at affordable prices within the private sector of Singapore’s hybrid healthcare system.
Things to do in Singapore.
- Nature lovers won’t want to miss the Singapore Botanic Gardens, which features six distinct garden areas.
- The Singapore Night Tour encompasses a 3.5 hour riverboat cruise, a light show, shopping and dining opportunities, and stunning vistas of the city from atop the Sands Skypark Observation Deck.
- The world-renowned Night Safari is a special zoo open only during the evening.
- Clarke Quay is a large shopping and dining district, one of the most popular in the country.
Health and safety in Norway.
Violent crime in Norway is generally low; however, Overseas Security Advisory Council’s report claims that the crime level has been rising for about the last ten years. Petty crime is a significant concern in some areas, especially in Oslo. Nonetheless, Norway is still generally ranked among the top twenty-five safest countries in the world.
Its healthcare system is almost entirely state-run, resulting in higher costs and lower quality of care than it can be found elsewhere. Non-citizens are encouraged to purchase adequate travel insurance and to ensure that their particular plan will reimburse them should they need to utilize Norway’s health system.
Things to do in Norway.
- Every visitor to Norway should make time to see the Arctic Cathedral, an architecturally stunning building situated near the Tromsø Sound.
- The Atlantic Ocean road has frequently been dubbed the most beautiful drive in the world; Trollkirka Cave, also known as Troll’s Church cave, can be found along the road and contains gorgeous underground rivers and waterfalls.
- Winter sports enthusiasts from around the globe flock to the Lyngen Alps every year, making it one of the most popular ski destinations in the world.
Health and safety in Switzerland.
Violent crime in Switzerland is lower than that of the U.S. and is comparable with many of its neighboring countries, but has been steadily rising in recent years; petty crime rates follow a similar trend. However, the Swiss police force is often recognized as one of the least corrupt in the world and is highly trusted by the public.
Things to do in Switzerland.
- Thrill seekers won’t be able to pass up the opportunity to go bungie jumping from the same dam featured in the 1995 film Goldeneye.
- Travelers who prefer relaxation over thrills will find lots to enjoy at the famous Seebad Enge mini-resort, which offers swimming in the lake in the summer and saunas in the winter. Yoga, massages, boating, and a bar are available year-round.
- The Freestyle Academy in Laax draws thousands of athletes every year and offers training spaces for snowboarders, skiers, and skateboarders.
- Zurich’s Wildnispark is a huge nature preserve with hiking trails and abundant wildlife.
Health and safety in Portugal.
Portugal experienced a surge in both petty and violent crime through the 90s and early 2000s, much of which was related to drug trafficking. However, since then Portugal has decriminalized nearly all drugs, which has led to a sharp decline in drug-related crime. Petty crime - mostly pickpocketing and theft from vehicles - is still a concern, particularly in Lisbon and Porto.
Portugal’s health system is a mixture of inadequate state-run facilities and stronger offerings in the private sector. Foreigners carrying adequate travel insurance should be able to obtain quality care if needed.
Things to do in Portugal.
- Often called the best aquarium in the world, the Oceanário de Lisboa is one of Lisbon’s main tourist draws.
- Every visitor to Portugal should stop by the Torre de Belem, one of the oldest and most historically significant military landmarks in the region.
- The Museu Calouste Gulbenkian houses a huge private art collection; the Founder’s Collection in particular is worth seeing.
- The Ria Formosa Natural Park, a unique coastal lagoon home to many forms of wildlife, has been called one of the “7 Natural Wonders of Portugal.”
7. New Zealand
Health and safety in New Zealand.
Crime in New Zealand was high during the 90s, but has steadily declined since then. It is generally concentrated in areas not frequently visited by travelers; the larger cities and main tourist attractions are considered to be very safe. Like many other countries on this list, healthcare in New Zealand is a mixture of public and private services.
Travelers are advised to carry adequate travel insurance and to seek care in the private sector when possible.
Things to do in New Zealand.
- Queenstown is the largest hub of tourist activity in New Zealand and has something for everyone, including nature preserves, extreme sports, and many shopping and dining options.
- Travelers with a penchant for natural beauty and relaxation will surely want to book a cruise or tour through Milford Sound.
- Nature lovers may also enjoy some whale watching at Kaikoura.
- The blockbuster Lord of the Rings film series was filmed in New Zealand, and it’s possible to visit nearly every location seen in the movies.
Health and safety in Sweden.
Petty crime in Sweden has remained low and relatively constant for several decades, but violent crime has increased in recent years, particularly in certain areas that are well known to police. Travelers should educate themselves about these areas and avoid them. Healthcare is highly centralized and regulated, resulting in long wait times and substandard care in the public sector, although true medical emergencies are given priority.
Foreigners generally receive better and more prompt care for non-emergency medical needs in the small but accessible private sector.
Things to do in Sweden.
- Legendary Swedish rock band ABBA has its own interactive museum in Stockholm and draws thousands of visitors each year.
- History and architecture buffs won’t want to miss a guided tour of Drottningholm Palace.
- Adventurous travelers seeking truly unique accommodations will love staying at the world-famous Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi.
- The Kolmarden Wildlife Park, a combination of an amusement park and a zoo, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of western Europe.
9. United Arab Emirates
Health and safety in UAE.
The United Arab Emirates experiences high rates of white-collar crime but ranks lower than global averages for most other types of crimes. It is by far the safest country in the Middle East. UAE citizens are covered under a state-funded healthcare system, but a far more advanced and robust private sector exists. The private sector was established largely to attract foreigners who expect a high standard of care.
Things to do in UAE.
- The Singing Sand Dunes of Liwa are truly a sight not to be missed - it’s best to read about them yourself.
- Dubai is home to the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world.
- The Dubai Miracle Garden is one of the most extravagant and comprehensive outdoor gardens in the world.
- Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Palace Hotel has an ATM in its lobby which dispenses pure gold in more than 300 forms, catering to everyone from serious gold investors to those who just want a small, affordable souvenir.
Health and safety in Iceland.
Violent crime in Iceland is virtually unheard of. For most of the 2000s, it had the lowest homicide rate on the planet. Petty crime is somewhat more common in areas frequented by tourists, as is the case anywhere, but is not considered a significant problem. There are few private hospitals in Iceland, and based on the resources published on National Center for Biotechnology Information state-run facilities are claimed to be inefficient.
Travelers planning to visit Iceland should be extra vigilant about preventing injury or illness, and may want to consider seeking care in neighboring countries in the event of a serious but non-emergent medical need.
Things to do in Iceland.
- Iceland is home to Hekla, one of the most active volcanoes in the world. It’s also a popular destination for hikers and sightseers.
- No visit to Scandinavia would be complete without a trip to the Viking World Museum, considered by some to be the best Viking exhibit in the region.
- The Leiðarendi lava caves are comprised of over 900 meters of subterranean lava tubes. Tours happen twice daily.
Health and safety in Austria.
In 2016, Austria had the second lowest homicide rate in the world, and other types of violent crime are only slightly more common. Petty crime and home invasions, however, are more of a concern, particularly in the larger metro areas.
Austria’s healthcare system is an unusual mixture of public and private, with the private sector offering superior care for which individuals are financially responsible. Wait times for non-emergent procedures are long, but emergency care is generally expedient, particularly, for non-residents who carry their own insurance.
Things to do in Austria.
- The small village of Hallstatt is one of the most photographed locations in the world, known for its natural beauty and local charm.
- Kitzbühel is one of the most popular skiing destinations in the world, featuring nearly 180 kilometers of slopes.
- Eisriesenwelt is a natural cavern made of limestone and ice - the largest such a cave on Earth, in fact. Over 200,000 visitors make the arduous climb to its highest point every year.
Health and safety in the Netherlands.
Historically, crime in the Netherlands has been low; although, offenses related to drug manufacture and trafficking in particular have climbed sharply in recent decades. While drug-related crimes generally pose a minimal direct threat to travelers, their existence should be noted.
Health insurance in the Netherlands is compulsory, even for tourists; as a result, quality of care and wait times are at least somewhat better than purely state-run alternatives in neighboring countries.
Things to do in the Netherlands.
- Similar to those found in Venice, the canals of Amsterdam consistently rank high among tourists’ favorite destinations. Boats transport visitors between many different historical and entertainment districts.
- Keukenhof, also known as the Garden of Europe, is the biggest flower garden in the world, spanning nearly 80 acres.
- The Anne Frank Museum, home of the eponymous World War II heroine, is located in Amsterdam and is open year-round.
- The Efteling amusement park is the largest in the country and is open all year.
General Safety Tips
No matter where you decide to travel, some safety strategies are universal. Make sure you protect yourself and your property by following some basic safety tips.
- Make a detailed itinerary of when and where you will be, and give this information to a friend or family member. Be sure to keep them updated on changes to your travel schedule.
- Keep your money and several copies of your travel documents in different places, and carry only small amounts of cash at a time.
- Educate yourself on common scam and crime tactics in order to immediately detect and avoid them.
- Create your own first aid kit, including any medications you may need.
- Know where your embassy or consulate offices are located, and don’t hesitate to use their services. These places exist primarily to assist you when traveling abroad, after all.
Most injuries, illnesses, or problems that arise during an international trip are the result of a lack of proactive planning. Consider travel safety issues you may have overlooked, heavily research your destination ahead of time, and familiarize yourself with local customs and laws. This is the single best way to increase your odds of a hassle-free trip.
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