Traveling to another country can be exciting and fun. Whether it’s for work, a study-abroad program, or simple leisure, there are many reasons people find themselves venturing overseas and exploring places they have never been before. Spending time in a different country can also be a little strange—unsettling, even. You are in a place far from home and with that, naturally, often comes some uncomfortableness. Sometimes it’s simply the food or language that takes you out of your comfort zone and takes a little getting used to. Other times, though, you’ll find yourself in situations or circumstances that are more than just unfamiliar; they’re downright creepy.
No matter who you are, where you’re coming from, or where you’re going, traveling can usually offer an interesting experience (at best) or an altogether nightmare (at worst). Just take it from these travelers, who have shared their creepiest experiences in a different country.
35. Last Minute U-Turn
I went to visit Ukraine with my parents because they wanted to see the small villages where their parents were born. We have no family in the area so we hired a guide to take us around since the country can be a bit corrupt. As we were driving around on a highway we suddenly were stopped in traffic (literally middle of nowhere). The guide gets out of the car and takes a look, then quickly jumps back into the car, does a U-Turn and drives off telling my mom we can’t go to her mom’s village. We ask why and he says that was some kind of Russian millitant roadblock. This was during the whole Crimea thing.
34. Talked About Screwed
1992 I was walking up the stairs to the ticket booths in the Warsaw, Poland central train station. All of a sudden this dude is falling down the stairs coming to rest a few stairs above where I was standing. Dude had a long screwdriver sticking out of his abdomen.
33. Bound in Budapest
Last summer me and my friends interrailed across Europe and during our short stay in Budapest, I ended up being kidnapped and tied up to a wall. Escaped by running shouldering one of them when they untied me to take me back into the car.
32. A Traumatic Taxi Ride
I was traveling in Nicaragua several years ago when I got lost and ended up having to take a taxi at 9:30pm back to my hostel. When the taxi pulled up to the curb, the taxi driver locked the taxi doors and told me that I had misunderstood the fare. He claimed I owed him $100 USD which was several times more than we had agreed upon. I tried to pry the doors open from the inside but was completely trapped. Thankfully, he let me out of the taxi after taking all the money I had on me.
The hostel workers told me I was incredibly lucky. A few days earlier, a taxi driver had kidnapped another young female, assaulted her, then dumped her barely conscious body in a field outside town thinking that she was dead. A few local schoolchildren found her on their way to school in the morning.
31. Pickpocketed in Paris
Got pickpocketed by a group of 3 on a Paris metro. I’m paranoid of losing my wallet, so I’m always checking myself. When I realized it was missing, I made a bigger scene than the pickpockets were making (they shoved me into their friend and were trying to convince people I knocked him down). I stopped the train from leaving the station. One of the other passengers left to get got conductor and security. I guess that didn’t sit well with the pickpockets, so they gave me back my wallet and took off running.
This event still freaks my wife out.
30. Unusual Turbulence
Was on a flight once going into Orlando that hit some unexpected turbulence. This was no ordinary turbulence. We went from 0 to 100 in an instant. People literally flew out of their seats, luggage fell from the overhead bins, people screamed like they were going to die. There were several sudden drops in elevation strong enough that people’s arms flew up in the air and my butt came out of the seat. I’ve flown quite a bit and sometimes it gets bumpy. This was the first time I seriously thought something bad was going to happen.
29. Outsmarting a Stalker
I was stalked by a guy while walking through the Tiergarten in Berlin. I was walking a path, enjoying the park alone. I saw this guy standing on the edge of the walkway just looking off into the distance. I passed him and when I was about twenty feet away, he turned and followed after me, keeping pace. I started to take a very meandering path, even leaving the park and entering again. The guy stuck with me the whole way. Eventually I got to a place with some sharp turns and heavy greenery. I was able to lose the line of sight and put myself up against a corner. I’d just been in Switzerland and had bought a pocket knife, so I opened the blade and held it inside my jacket pocket. I stood there, waiting, and then this guy comes walking out of the path confused and obviously trying to see where I went. When he finally spotted me, he jolted and since I had the drop on him, he played it cool and continued walking as if he hadn’t followed me there. He stopped a little ways ahead, and I kept watching him. I wanted to confront him to find out why he’d followed me, but since I was a visitor in the country, I thought better of it. Instead, I waited until I saw a big group of people leaving and fell in with them. He started to follow me, but I finally lost him outside the garden. It unsettled me because to this day I have no idea why he was following me. I’m a guy and at the time I was in my early twenties, pretty fit, and had a sour disposition, so I didn’t seem like a prime mugging target. But, maybe he thought otherwise.
28. Staring While Sleeping
I was staying in a weird hostel by myself in Barcelona, woke up to a man staring at me while I slept. He was looking over one of those wood dividing screens that the shared room had. I pretend to still be asleep because I was afraid of what he would do if I move or confronted him and I didn’t know if there was anyone else in the room. He stared for like 2 hours until finally, my alarm rang cause I had to take an early train, so I put all my stuff in my bag and left the room. As I left I told the owner, but I was really in a hurry and didn’t ask what he was going to do with the guy.
27. Crazy Cow on Campsite
Hiking in Huaraz Peru, has been told to watch our gear as locals (and apparently foxes) might make off with items left around the campsite. So we made sure to clean the campsite extra well, packing all our gear in the tent and inside the fly. And after a long day hiking, off to bed. Middle of the night our tent starts shaking like crazy, I wake up freaking out thinking we were getting robbed, I started yelling and screaming. Part of the tent pushes in really far. I manage to get outside to start swinging and come face to face with the cow that had wandered into the tent ropes and got startled. Pretty lucky that it didn’t step down into the tent and hit us.
26. A Bus To Be Worried About
In India our bus rounded a corner in the mountains and another bus was on the other side of the curve. Both busses skid to a stop about 1 foot from one another. Both drivers started laughing and poking fun at each other. We saw a bus from the ’80s that fell down the mountain about 15 minutes later. Hella intense.
25. Barely Missing The Mindfield
We went on a family trip to Croatia and on our way to the Beach we pulled over to the side of a road for a pee break. So we opened the car door and like always our dog jumps out first. He ran into the field right next to the Street. Then suddenly my mother starts screaming the name of our dog, because 10meters away from our car was sign that said: Stay Away, old minefield. Thankfully nothing happened
24. Saved By A Sizeable Friend
I was traveling by van through the mountains in the Philippines with a friend that is a really big guy. We came up on a checkpoint with soldiers searching cars. The guys we’re all wearing mismatched clothes and did not have any insignias on their uniforms or trucks. They searched all of our bags and we’re asking questions of the driver in Tagalog, which we did not speak. We heard them say American and we we’re the only two Americans on the bus. They talked for a little while and finally waved us through. Later we told the story to another American and he said we had gone through a Guerrilla controlled area where Americans had been kidnapped for ransom lately. They all agreed they did not take us because of the size of my friend. I think we got really lucky that day.
23. Creepy Curb Crawlers
I was working in a poor community in a small village in Romania (helping to build a small extension to a school), at around dusk I decided to go for a short walk to the local shop for some water when a car drove past me. They suddenly braked and reversed down the road and stopped besides me, telling me to get into their car as they want to show me their cool things (radios, cars, knives) they kept slowly curb crawling me and demanding I got in the car until I got back to my group whereby they sped off. For the next couple of days the same car (I believe) kept driving past and stopping outside where we were staying (for 30 minute intervals several times a day) and I was staying a good hour away from the village.
Creepy as all hell and I still believe it could have gone badly.
22. The Frightening Malaysia Flight
My buddy and I were flying into Malaysia from Vietnam on the day that MH370 went missing. We were at the gate watching the whole thing unfold about it going missing. It was playing on virtually all the TV’s in the airport. We were flying Malaysia Airlines. The tickets were expensive (for a backpacker’s budget) and they weren’t offering any refunds. Told ourselves that maybe they’d be extra cautious now so we’re actually more safe. Definitely puckered up for 2 hours until we touched down.
21. Deadly Domestic Dispute
Was checking into an AirBnB/Apartment Complex in London. The guy said don’t mind the police, there was a murder the night before, but not to worry, it was only due to a domestic dispute.
20. A Tragic Trip
It was my first time visiting New York City. My aunt and uncle who both work in FiDi (Financial District) took the whole week off to show me and my family around Manhattan. It was a beautiful Tuesday morning and we just had our photos taken around Wall Street when the first plane crashed into the WTC
19. Almost Pushed Off The Train
On a train in Athens traveling alone, a group of men tried to push me off the train with them at a stop. Three women started yelling at them and pulled me back. It happened so fast I didn’t know until the one that spoke English explained they were trying to take me. They made sure I made it back to the hostel and told me not to wear what I was wearing ( shorts and a tank) while alone.
18. A False Alarm
Was traveling in France with my family shortly after the London Transport Bombings (2005) and in the airport on the day of departure, there was a bomb scare. Very militarised police showed up along with bomb squad as they rushed to get everyone out – turned out just to be unattended baggage.
17. The Toothless Hairdresser
I fell asleep on a long-distance bus in Greece and woke to a toothless old woman running her fingers through my hair. She kept repeating something in Greek over and over; other riders found it hilarious but wouldn’t tell me what she was saying. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get off the bus, so I had to make her get away from me, and then sat there pissed off and embarrassed for the remaining 90 minutes of the trip
16. Just Missed The Explosive
I was in a bar in Athens in 1985 when someone left an explosive device there. Of the 50 plus people injured, I was luckily not one of them. My ears rang for a couple days and I spilled my beer but that was it.
15. Down to the Bone
I got jumped coming out of a pub in London. Got a seven-inch long gash in my face, down to the bone. It was the first night of my first International trip, ever, and I was traveling alone.
14. Booking It Off The Bus
I boarded a bus in Hue, Vietnam for a trip to Vientiane, Laos to celebrate Loa New Year. The bus I ended up on was smuggling heroin and I sat in the back while the driver and his buddy in the passenger seat argued about whether or not to kill my girlfriend and me. Drug trafficking in Laos is punishable by death, so, ya know, better safe than sorry. It was a very long bus ride. Eventually, they pulled in to a house on the outskirts of town and the one who was arguing for our release opened up the garage door open 3 feet, threw our backpacks under it, and said, “you go now!” We booked it out of there.
13. The Good Mugger
Got mugged in Bogota. My friend and I took a wrong turn on our way to a museum, and were looking at a map to try to find the way (hot tip: try not to look as much like tourists as we did). All of a sudden I was against a wall with a knife at my throat. They took everything we had on us, but for some reason one of them went through my wallet and gave me back all my credit cards, ID, and passport. Good guy mugger?
12. Dream of Drowning
I was in Iceland and was driving around the ring road with a friend. We stopped for the night at a big cabin called the “Lambafell Hotel.” I had a horrible nightmare while staying here that I was being pulled underwater in some weird, Icelandic lake. It was one of those really realistic dreams that caused me to jump up gasping for breath. Anyway, we continued the drive the next day but my friend insisted on stopping and hiking up a beautiful waterfall called Systrafoss. We pulled over and hiked up to its water source which was a lake exactly like the one in my nightmare. I mentioned that I had a terrible dream about this same lake. We got close to the water’s edge and saw a sign that told the history of the lake. It told how a medieval monastery used to be there and was moved after nuns kept going missing in the lake as they bathed. An eye witness of the time said she saw a hand offering golden shoes to the nuns and would pull them under once they got close enough. The lake was called Systravatn. I had the same exact nightmare again at the next stop. I just wanted to get as far away from that island as possible after that.
11. Field of Dogs
I took a tropical field biology trip through the Costa Rican Rainforest. This was through Braulio Carillo Park, not open to the public. We ran across a group of men with guns and dogs one day. There were a few tense moments since we had a park ranger with us (they were obviously poachers). In the end they pretended to be lost and we “helpfully” pointed out the way to the park boundary.
Side story: we found one of their dogs a couple days later and it stayed with us the rest of the trip.
10. Forced To Shelter
Was in Israel for 3 weeks. The first week was great but then the rockets started coming. Every hour, sometimes less, the sirens would sound and you had to find shelter.
9. The Heroic Train Inspector
I was on a train in Rome and the ticket inspector came round checking tickets, as they do. He took my ticket and kept insisting that it was wrong and I needed to come with him because I had the wrong ticket and it was really wrong. I knew it wasn’t but eventually I went with him because I couldn’t seem to get through to him. He then informed me that the men in the carriage with me were known pickpockets and had been known to get violent when caught.
8. Fatal Gassing
A friend of mine went on a trip to Thaïland, staying at a relatively inexpensive hostel. In the middle of the night, my friend was violently woken up by hotel staff and moved to a different floor.
Turns out the hotel was gassing the rooms on that floor to deal with a bed bug issue. The hotel accidentally gave guests rooms on the floor they were gassing, and didn’t notice until they killed a couple.
7. Mountain Monkey
My sister got dragged down a mountain by a gorilla, so that’s a thing.
6. Woman In Mirror
When I was in Ireland I walked into my hotel room and saw a woman in the mirror above the beds. Scared me so bad I turned and ran down the hall to my boyfriend’s room but I actually entered a complete stranger’s room while sobbing and scared the hell out of them. I was 17.
5. A Worrisome Warning
I was in France with my best friend and her mom (who grew up there). I was 16 at the time. We went to Paris for a day and decided to take the train. As we were planning out where to get off, some old guy came up to her mom and pointed at us…
“DO NOT get off at this stop. Your daughters won’t be safe there.”
4. Creepy Bridge Crossing
I was crossing a small footbridge in Vietnam, in a big city but a non touristy part of town. There were a group of women and children, sitting on the ground and huddled together under blankets, and a couple of guys that looked like they were “guarding” them and another couple guys at the front of the bridge. I have never felt my stomach do so many flips and turns.
3. Not-So-Nice-Gesture After All
Whilst in Morocco I was accosted by some guy at the bus terminal who was trying to get me to pay him to carry my bags to the bus. After refusing numerous times he became aggressive and threatened to plant hash in my luggage and call the police. Luckily I got away unscathed.
2. The Beach Watcher
I was traveling in Iceland, pretty far away from the nearest town and decided to take a nap on the beach. I woke up pretty disoriented and had a feeling of being watched. I looked over my shoulder and there was a man standing 5 feet away, staring at me… He says “gotcha!” And then runs off into his car and drives away. I was completely spooked!!
1. Making Sure Beds Are Made
I had a pack of wild dogs chase me from my bus stop to my hotel at 3 am in Kosovo. I also had an old woman yell at me in Russian about not making my bed right on the train and then watched over my shoulder til it was to her satisfaction when I was on my way back to Bucharest from Moldova