Where are the safest places to travel in 2023? It depends on how you define ‘safe’

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From contracting Covid-19 to getting caught in a snow storm, traveling these days can be a risky business.

But how risky often depends on the destination – and how you define the risks.

Safest Cities: People’s Perceptions

A report published by UK-based insurance company William Russell ranked the “safest cities in the world”, according to people’s perceptions.

On this list, which was based on observed crime rates in the global database Numbeo, Asia and Europe dominated the ranking of ‘safest’ cities.

Taiwan’s Taipei scored the highest, according to the report, while Buenos Aires, Argentina, scored the lowest (score: 36.7).

Safest Cities: Health and Politics

But the top five places for “health and safety” in Euromonitor International’s “Top 100 City Destinations Index 2022” are different.

That ranking, published in December, analyzed “political stability and social security”, which includes the impact of Covid-19 (such as the total number of cases, death rates and vaccination rates), as well as traffic accidents, government corruption and terrorism statistics.

Cities in the Middle East and Asia came out on top here.

  1. Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
  2. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  3. Doha, Qatar
  4. Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
  5. Singapore, Singapore
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Paris topped market research firm Euromonitor International’s “Top 100 City Destinations” for 2022, but the United Arab Emirates’ Sharjah, shown here, ranked highest in terms of health and safety.

Stefan Tomic | E+ | Getty Images

“The Middle East… takes the top four positions,” says Vitalij Vladykin, senior research manager at Euromonitor International, while “Singapore takes the top spot in terms of the political stability category in 2019-2022.”

“Health and safety” is one of the six factors used by Euromonitor International to compile its annual city destination index.

Safest Places: Medical Risks

A report from travel security company International SOS analyzes not only infectious disease risks, but also factors that can affect medical care, such as quality of specialist and emergency services, availability of medicines and language barriers.

The 2023 Travel Risk Map shows that much of North America and Western Europe – as well as places like Turkey, Israel, Japan, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates – have “low” medical risks.

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Medical risks by country.

International SOS

The map shows that Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea and parts of Africa have “very high” medical risks, which International SOS defines as “almost non-existent or severely overstretched” healthcare systems.

The countries colored in purple have “considerable variation” in medical risks, which can lead to differences in levels of care between cities and rural areas, according to the report.

This map does not reflect the Covid-19 outbreak currently happening in China, said Dr. Irene Lai, medical director at International SOS. Rather than showing specific disease outbreaks, the map focuses on background medical situations in countries around the world, she said.

Safest Places: Security Risks

International SOS’s Travel Risk Map also assesses security risks, including crime and political violence such as terrorism and war, social unrest and susceptibility to natural disasters, the company said.

International SOS security director Sally Llewellyn said some 25 places around the world have “insignificant” security risks: American Samoa, Andorra, Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Cape Verde, Cayman Islands, Cook Islands, Denmark, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Kiribati , Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Marshall Islands, Monaco, Nauru, Norway, San Marino, Seychelles, Slovenia, Switzerland, Turks and Caicos Islands, Tuvalu and Wallis and Futuna.

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Some countries have different levels of risk within their borders. For example, the map shows that most of Egypt has “high” security risks, but the risks are lower in Cairo and areas east of the Nile River.

Mexico has a combination of “medium” and “high” risks on the map, while Thailand’s borders with Myanmar, Malaysia and Cambodia are considered riskier than the rest of the country according to the map.

International SOS said security risks have increased this year in several places, including Ukraine, Colombia and the Sahel.

The Sahel is a region in North Africa that includes parts of Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad, Sudan, and other countries. According to the map, the region has a mix of “high” and “extreme” security risks.

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