The Safest (And Least Safe) Places To Travel As A Woman

This year, tourism in India has slumped by a quarter (and, for women travelers by 35 percent) in light of its recent high-profile sex attacks. In response, the Indian government has upped penalties for convicted rapists — but it's too early to tell if the country's female tourists are any less at risk. Millions of globetrotters travel through India each year, and most visits are, of course, trouble-free. That said, female travelers are still strongly advised to avoid isolated areas, respect dress codes, and to keep a low profile. Certain areas of India are also at severe risk of civil and foreign attack. Which begs the question: if you're a solo female traveller, where are the safest places to visit right now-- and what countries should you be avoiding like the plague? Click on for some answers... [Image: Getty Images]

Brazil: Watch Out For Kidnapping

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This tourist mecca is lush, economically thriving and facility-friendly, but solo travelers should proceed with caution. The Department of State advises that tourists heading Brazil-wards “exercise a high degree of caution,” especially since the country’s recorded rapes have risen by 150 percent in four years. Brazil also has one of the world’s highest homicide rates — quadruple that of the United States. Tourists are usually only victims of petty crime, but the ominously named “quicknapping” is probably the scariest practice to watch out for. Quicknapping is a short-term abduction, during which business and personal bank accounts are swiftly drained. If you go to Brazil, it’s recommended you carry copies of all personal documentation, and exercise caution with potentially unhelpful strangers. [Image: Getty Images]

Amsterdam: Debauchery, But Little Harassment

Oh, Amsterdam, you haven of anything-goes, you. Even with all the sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll popular in the capital city (don’t pretend you’re just keen for the architecture), the country remains safe, comfortable, and respectful. Amsterdam is a tightly-packed city, so pickpocketing is a concern, but women there report little sexual harassment. Crime rates are also low in the Netherlands, and English is spoken everywhere. [Image: Getty Images]

Northern Africa: Conflict Zones Not Advised

Africa offers a dazzling array of treasures, and some southern countries like Botswana and Madagascar have been given “reasonable” or “high” safety-stamps, which is the closest mark to “fingers crossed!” as the Department of State gives. But when it comes to travel into conflict zones, it’s a big no, as in no. “Avoid all travel,” the US government advises. That goes for Mali, Sudan, and quite a few other regions. [Image: Getty Images]

Japan: Have Fun, But Avoid Power Plants

The Department of State recommends you don’t go wanderin’ on down to the Fukushima power plant, but unless you’re very lost or eccentric, you probably weren’t planning on it anyway. Japan is, in general, very safe. Crime stats are well below America’s, though there have been robberies and date-rape incidents in a couple of Tokyo’s nightlife districts. Tourist facilities are widely available, though you’ll want to look into the local customs (like being on time and not showing anger) to ensure you don’t offend. [Image: Getty Images]

The Middle East: Know What You're Getting Into

No matter how brave you are, conflict zones continue are probably not your safest bet. Unsurprisingly, Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan are still on the Department of State’s red alert list, meaning that all travelers are at risk. As for the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco, and Israel: in short, you’ll probably be OK, but you really need to do your research. In many Islamic countries, standard-issue tourist visas are offered, but you might run into problems when you leave: women may need the permission of a husband to say goodbye to the country. It’s always a good practice to read up on local laws since U. S. law can’t protect you if you’re over the border — and make sure you dress appropriately (read: show as little skin as possible.) In many Islamic countries, it’s even recommended female travelers don’t look men straight in the eye. So you may be safe, just not exactly equal. [Image: Getty Images]

Australia: G'day, Mate!

Australia: sun, cities, and beaches. Why aren’t you there already? OK, all jokes aside: Australia does have reasonable levels of crime (it is a country founded by criminals, after all, so they have a reputation to keep up) but in its major cities, neither Americans nor women are specifically targeted, and the Department of State has green-lit the entire continent in terms of safety. You’re in for a long flight, but tourist facilities have popped up in all the major areas — not to mention, while we’re suffering through winter weather, they’re basking in the high point of their summer. Tourist advisories still suggest you don’t walk alone at night, drink too much, and should double-up on suntan lotion. No, but really. [Images: Getty Images]

Russia: Know The Customs

It’s hard to make generalizations about the world’s largest country, but if you’re a woman, the first thing you should do in Russia is slip a ring on your right wedding finger to avoid sexual harassment. (If it’s on your left ring finger, it’ll indicate you’re a widow.) Be careful with your normal mannerisms: in most former Soviet countries, smiling implies sexual interest — or that you’re just plain crazy. Don’t forget that minorities are unfortunately sometimes victims of random attacks in large crowds. And as you’d expect, there are 10 or so republics to flat-out avoid. A plus: The cold will allow you to go all Game of Thrones with fur and layers. [Image: Getty Images]

Ireland: Home To Friendly... And Much Beer

For the female sex in particular, Ireland is reportedly one of the safest places to go. Women are encouraged to participate in local customs — and, by “local customs,” we mostly mean “drinking” and “enjoying yourself.” Though the Department of State warns that peaceful protests can sometimes escalate, crime in general is low and there’s a family feel to the place. Locals are friendly, beer is plentiful (an understatement), and the countryside is startlingly postcard-esque.