• Ethan Nemeth

5 Of The Hardest Countries To Visit

Traveling can bring out some of the most amazing experiences anyone could imagine. The world is an incredible place, filled with culture and diversity that everyone should experience. One of my favorite quotes is "The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page." -Saint Augustine. That being said, there are roughly 197 countries out there, and the majority of American don't have a passport. However, there are many who travel far and wide and enjoy seeing what the many countries of the world have to offer.

Photo Credits to Passport Index

As a U.S. citizen, I can visit 165 countries visa-free or with a visa granted upon arrival. That is a lot of places! However, there are a little over 30 countries I cannot travel to without one. While the process of getting a visa can be relatively easy, (like Cambodia), or damn near impossible, (Yemen), many travelers go through crazy obstacles to gain access to a select number of off-limit countries. Below are some of the hardest countries to visit as a tourist.

5. Saudi Arabia (for non-muslims)

This desert kingdom is considered to be the most conservative country on earth, and for that reason is not keen on hosting foreigners. Up until recently, Saudi Arabia did not issue tourist visas and even discontinued transit visas. For those select travelers willing to work hard enough, (or who have good contacts), a business visa could be obtained. Recently Saudi Arabia announced they would start issuing tourist visas as part of their "2030" vision to incorporate tourism as a larger part of the national income. Their e-visa system was tested in December for the 2018 Saudi Ad Diryah E-Prix: Formula E Championship. Everything went smoothly and the kingdom is expected to start issuing tourist visas later this year.

4. Iran

This country can be a very difficult visa to obtain, but it is significantly more difficult to actually visit this country once you do have a visa. You'll need a letter of invitation from a government-approved company, and a hell of a lot of paperwork. If you do manage to get a visa, you will need a guide approved by the ministry of tourism to take you around. American tourists are now allowed to travel without a guide, so you will be accompanied at all times.

3. Libya

Libya is located in northern Africa and is unfortunately considered by many to be a failed state. The country is incredibly unsafe with no real form of security and a very unstable government. Anyone who has seen the movie and true story 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, knows that terrorist groups such as al-Qaida and other Salafi jihadists run many territories within the state. For those reasons, this is one of the most dangerous countries on the list. Libya does not officially issue tourists visas. However, a business visa can be arranged under certain conditions for a hefty price-tag. If you do end up securing a business visa, you will need to arrange armored transportation and a compound for housing.

2. Somalia

Just like its Africa brother Libya, Somalia is extremely dangerous. There are a couple of companies that can arrange security for your trip, (armed guards, armored cars, compound housing, etc.), but it isn't cheap and can still be very dangerous. Not that long ago Al Shabaab, a militant Islamic jihadist organization, stormed one of the largest compounds killing seven and injuring many more. This is the country also famous from Black Hawk Down, part of Operation Gothic Serpent in the early 90s. Arranging security alone makes Somalia one of the hardest countries in the world to visit.

1. North Korea

This country wouldn't have even been considered for this list prior to September 2017, when the United States Government effectively barred all U.S. citizens from traveling to the DPRK (North Korea). Prior to this year-long ban, (which was extended for another year in the latter part of 2018), you could travel there pretty easily. The condition was you must travel with an approved travel agency, such as Koryo Group. However, this was relatively simple. You would pay to join the tour group, your visa and travel accommodations were arranged and that was it! Recently there has been talk about Washington easing travel restrictions to the DPRK, and in the coming months, we might see this ban reversed. Until then, this remains the hardest country in the world to visit for the simple fact that well, you can't.

Those are, (in my opinion), five of the hardest countries to visit in the world. One thing I love is that no matter how hard it is to visit a country, someone always finds a way. There are many other countries that are nearly impossible to visit. There are about 100 people that have been to every country on earth, many of them have had to bribe officials or smuggle themselves across borders to get into those stubborn countries. All in all, it seems the places most people don't wish to visit are the ones that are hardest to see. Do you plan on ever going to one of these five countries?