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Have you stumbled upon a scary, strange, or weird experience when visiting a foreign country? Well, you’re not alone! We asked our friends on Reddit to tell us their most alarming stories of traveling internationally. These 12 scary and unsettling stories will make you think twice about visiting the country. Do you also have something crazy to share? Let us know in the comments!
1. Witnessing a Beheading
One user commented, “A beheading in the public market square in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.”
A second person replied, “I honestly don’t understand why anyone would want to visit countries like that.”
Another commenter added, “Um, I was going to say aggressive behavior from locals, but this is a whole different level.”
2. Lost and Unable to Communicate
“I got lost in an underground city in Tukey as a child. I stepped away from my parents and group to look at something, and when I turned around, they were all gone. I couldn’t find anyone who spoke English for a while until finally a man who spoke a little English helped me find my way back to the surface to wait for my parents to come back out.
“Thankfully, one of the women from our group was already there because she had gotten claustrophobic. Being ‘lost’ was scary enough, but not being able to communicate terrified me. Then, when my parents came up, they didn’t even realize I had been lost. So that became the scariest thing, realizing I wasn’t exactly ‘safe’ with my parents’ inattentiveness,” one user shared.
Another user replied, “For anyone who finds themselves in this situation, just stay where you are and wait for the other people to come back and find you. They will start their search at the last place they saw you, not at the entrance. It’s hard to remember in the moment, but this is the best advice in most cases.”
3. Almost Kidnapped by Locals
One person shared, “When I was in Turkey, my friend and I (F23 and F28) were walking through a small market just browsing. We stopped next to one shop to take a look on something. Owner immediately jumped in trying to persuade us to buy (which is normal) or for my friend (and only her) to go with him upstairs to see more goods. When we refused and turned to walk away he grabbed my friend by upper arm and hauled her to the stairs. We both were screaming and hitting him but he only let go when I twisted his thumb making him loosen his hold. My friend had huge bruise on her arm for the rest of vacation.”
“That’s terrifying. Well done fighting back,” someone replied.
“I’m Australian. I was seeing a Turkish man, and he was leaving to go back home. My parents asked if I was going back with him. I simply said I’ll prolly be stoned on the first day and left it at that. In all fairness he even admitted I’d most likely be shunned by his family and the women would most likely beat me. So there’s that, make of it as you will,” the third added.
4. Being Detained Without a Passport
One person stated, “Detained on the border of Romania and Hungary by Romanian police, put into jail for a few hours and my passport confiscated. When they led me through the darkness to lock me up in some dingy back room jail cell I genuinely thought I was going to be hostel’ed.”
“I took an overnight train from Hungary to Romania once in my early-20s. I had been assured that lots of tourists took this train, but it was virtually empty and I was a young woman traveling alone. It was around 3am when we crossed into Romania, and while my passport had been processed onboard on the Hungarian side, the officials in Romania took it off the train but left me (and the other passengers) onboard.
“I was fully convinced something like this was about to happen to me and I would be totally helpless to do anything without my ID or anyway to contact anyone. Another woman on the train noticed me freaking out and assured me this was normal and everything would be fine, and without her I think I would have completely spiraled in that moment. I can’t imagine how scared I would have been if they’d actually detained me,” shared another.
5. Strangers Breaking into your Room
One user shared, “Taking an overnight ferry during a People to People program in the summer with a bunch of high schooler’s. Overnight from Italy to Sicily. Bunch of younger to middle aged dudes not in the group were constantly hitting on the girls and were trying to proposition them back to their cabins on the ship. A few of us saw some trying to follow us back to our own rooms and a male teacher had to intervene.
“Later that night, when in the room with the three other girls, we heard our door being tested to see if locked. I was fully prepared to claw the eyes out of [anybody] who successfully got in but it was a [very] scary sleepless night.”
“When I was at uni, I must have been around 19/20, me and some friends went surfing down south. We stayed in a hostel. One night we’d all crashed out and a bunch of guys used their key card and broke into our room. I woke up long enough to tell them to get lost, watch the door close and went back to sleep. Another night another group of guys tried to break in. I was out cold and my friends were terrified. The girls and the guys split into two rooms, but we should have just stayed in one big one,” the second person replied.
6. Girl went Missing from a Tour Group
“Girl went missing from our tour group in Scotland. We were pub hopping with a few of us and most of us wanted to go back but she wanted to continue and wouldn’t take no for an answer so she took off on her own. She wasn’t in her room in the morning and forgot her phone and passport in her room. We were tweaking out most the day and almost got the embassy involved when she finally contacted someone.
“Apparently, she got lost going back and ‘stayed’ with a random guy. He was nice enough to pay her way to catch up with the tour group. She apologized to the tour group, so they decided against shipping her back but they did blacklist her from using their agency again,” shared one person.
7. Hearing Howler Monkeys Scream
One user commented, “I was in Costa Rica a few months ago for a volunteer project to clean up plastics from the local area around Jaco Beach. I stayed in the Punta Leona resort as a worker (since they have a contract with the volunteer program), and on the first night when we all went to our dorms to sleep. Roughly 30 minutes into our sleep, there was an ear-splitting shriek outside of the dorm that was so loud it made the whole house rumble.
“I have sensitive hearing so I was up instantly and so were the other girls but they were more annoyed than scared. ‘What was that?!’ I looked to the girl that I had been talking to the most earlier and she waved her hand ‘Howler monkeys do that sometimes. Just ignore it.’ That scream will forever stay in my mind. It was the only time I heard it while I was there but easily the most terrifying thing I’ve ever experienced in a foreign country.”
“I think the closest thing to that you’ll hear in the states is a mountain lion in heat. No joke—in certain parts of the US, if you hear what sounds like a woman being murdered in the woods, DO NOT go and help her. Because that is not a person,” another person shared.
Finally, the third added, “Foxes will also do that. They often freak out newcomers to areas with populations by either screaming like a woman being murdered or laughing like a small child. Also, mountain lions will also shriek like humans, but they like to hunt and eat them. Please be aware of your local wildlife.”
8. Finding Things in your Apartment
Someone recalled their weird and scary experience, “I used to teach English in Japan. I didn’t get off most nights until 9 pm, so it was close to 10 by the time I made it to the train stop near my apartment.
“One night I’m walking home and the street is dead, except for this elementary school boy walking towards me and whistling. In Japan, whistling at night is said to attract demons so I was a bit unsettled by his behavior. The kid just kept whistling. I hurried home, demon free.
“I also used to find long, thick black hair in my apartment in places I’d recently cleaned. I don’t have thick black hair, my hair is fine and red, so that was weird. I also didn’t have guests with hair like that so, who knows!”
9. Street Scammer in Egypt
“In Egypt, as I was leaving, an official guy in uniform came over and asked to see my passport and put it straight into his pocket and said I was being detained. Walked me over to a side office and told me to wait inside.
I didn’t go in and told him (maybe stupidly) that I was about to miss my flight and he said, he could ‘make the process faster’ if I paid the ‘administrative fee’. Fine—a bribe whatever. Wasn’t the first time on this trip. I take out the literal last of my cash and hand it to him, he puts it straight into his pocket and says ‘not enough.’
“I’m explaining that it’s literally all of the money I have and this woman, not in any kind of uniform, walks over to the guy, says something to him quite quietly (like speaking into his ear) and he looks petrified. Just absolutely terrified. Immediately gives me back my passport and not just the cash I gave him but some more that I guess he got from someone else before me and starts apologising to me profusely and even offered to escort me to my gate. She just smiled at me and told me to have a nice flight,” one person stated.
Someone replied, “If there’s one thing I’ve learned from reading travel stories and my own experiences—stay out of Egypt if you want to have a good time.”
10. Locals Insist on Taking Pictures
One person commented, “When I was in my senior year of high school, we went on a field trip to India we were gonna write our senior projects at an orphanage where our teacher knew the owner, I went to a certified U.N school, whatever that means. Anyway, we were on our way to this giant temple and we stopped at a smaller one for a break and snacks. There were people everywhere and since all of us are white, except one dude, we got a lot of weird looks from the locals and a lot of giggles.
“I was talking to four other girls when the security guard asked if he could take a picture with us, that’s when all hell broke loose, everyone wanted to take pictures with us. So when I started walking back to the car, this dad followed me and kept hounding me for a picture and said that I [was very rude] for not taking pictures with his children… We left shortly after.”
Another one shared, “I have heard that there’s a similar phenomenon in rural Japan. Since it’s 99% Japanese, the people in rural Japan may not have ever seen a non-Japanese person before. So if they see a foreigner, sometimes they just do an open-mouthed stare. I heard one person describe the look on their faces as if they just saw a unicorn walk into the room.
“Same person described an incident where she was riding a bike on a narrow path next to a rice paddy, and saw two Japanese girls on bikes approaching her. Normally in this situation the people going in different directions go in single file so that they can easily pass each other without falling into the rice paddy. Well, these girls were so in shock about seeing a white person, they didn’t move into a single file line, knocked her right into the rice paddy, and on top of that one of their bikes sliced into her hand…”
11. Driving Around Costa Rica
One person stated, “Not creepy but different—Driving in Costa Rica. Amazing place full of super nice people. Some of the roads were paved or hard packed dirt. Most were ancient and in really bad shape. Biggest pot holes that I have ever seen in my life. I am not kidding when I say there were plenty of pot holes two feet deep. I was advised to get an SUV with full insurance, which I did and was thankful for.
Other interesting things—very religious country. Shrines all over the place with lights on them—in stores, on corners in the middle of nowhere. First time I saw an entire family ride on a Vespa type scooter. Really impressive, especially on those roads. They also sold some form of moon shine on the side of the road in reused plastic bottles. 10/10 would go back.”
“Another person shared, “Wife is from Costa Rica. The stop signs are more like yield signs. Taxi drivers are insane. Ghetto is… depressing. The people are lovely in general and very open and idealistic. Family is everything to them. You really do marry the family, not just the spouse. I wish they could be more monetarily wealthy in addition to their pura vida. Weird combination of catholicism and [being sensual]. Very open to discussing [physical] topics but very judgmental of certain things. Like my wife and her sister openly discussed my [body parts] in front of me, but the topic of [being gay] wasn’t to be discussed. I haven’t heard of the moonshine and have not yet visited their forests, unfortunately.”
Original Reddit thread here.
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