Wish you were here?


This week, a top insurance company charted the world’s most dangerous places to do business. Unsurprisingly, regions like Iraq, India and Russia were shaded brown on the “risk map”, marking them as at severe risk from terrorism.

But while most countries were classified as “guarded” risk or above, by Aon, the world’s second-largest insurance broker, it also highlighted, in a calming sage-green, a handful of states dotted round the globe which remain unaffected by the seemingly ever-present terror threat. So where could you go for a relatively risk-free holiday?


It might not be top of the White House’s favourite countries list, but for travellers North Korea is judged to be as safe as houses. Locals, however, have other problems to keep them occupied.

Amnesty International recently documented that the people of this country, which it called one of the most isolated on earth, have been suffering from acute food shortages and famine for the better part of a decade.

Let’s Go travel guides are written by Harvard University students but you don’t need a diploma from that august institution to know that access to the country – described as a festival of weirdness by a Let’s Go competitor – is extremely limited.

South Korean and US citizens can’t even obtain visas, and the UK Foreign Office seems to advise against visiting – without actually saying don’t do it. But like Aon, who gave it a safe rating, the FCO does point out that crime is extremely low and the likelihood of a terrorist attack is also pretty remote.

The British government does, however, recommend extensive travel and health insurance, and tells UK visitors to register with the embassy in the capital city of Pyongyang. It also warns that there has been an outbreak of avian flu.

If that doesn’t put off the most intrepid traveller, there’s this: “Perceived insults to, or jokes about, (North Korea’s) political system and its leadership are severely frowned upon. Foreigners have very occasionally found themselves caught up in criminal cases for not paying what is deemed to be sufficient levels of respect.”

“Oh, I so want to go there,” says travel writer Claire Boobbyer, who documented Vietnam – another very safe country as determined by Aon – for Footprint Travel Guides. “I just love communist countries. I like the fact that it’s so closed, and I’d love to see all the communist memorials, the memorials to the dear leader. It’s just the most closed society on earth, and that appeals to my curiosity.”


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