Many of you globetrotters might have proudly shared a map of the world on social media which shows all the countries you have visited. There are 193 United Nations-recognized states, but that number can be 197 if you include countries with a somewhat embattled status. If you come from a developed nation, of course, you have a better chance of seeing more of the world.
But then if you look at U.S. state department statistics you can see that 64 percent of Americans don’t even own a passport. Still, if you’re from Europe, it’s easy just popping over the border for most people.
We are told that Queen Elizabeth II has visited 120 nations, but you can find news reports about people who claim to have visited every country in the world. That’s some feat, and not easy, as many places are just very difficult to visit. We might add that it depends on what passport you are carrying, but some places are not exactly welcoming to many citizens of the world.
If you don’t believe us, ask a man called Henrik Jeppesen, someone who like a few others these days, says he has visited every country. So, where did he have problems?
He mentions Syria.
This is what he said, “Having a visa isn’t always enough to get into the country. I flew into Beirut where my contact picked me up and took me to the border. The immigration officer wouldn’t believe I was in Syria as a tourist, but eventually, they decided to stamp me in.”
According to the website The Unusual Traveler, it’s much easier to get into Syria now than it was just a couple of years back. Not long ago it would take 10-12 weeks for your visa application, but these days it’s not even close to that. Although we are told, it takes longer for Brits and Americans than most other nationalities.
You might also be told you must have a guide and go on a tour, but you can wing your trip, too, it just might be harder to get the visa if you want to do it that way. You don’t have too many options as to how to get in, as you can only fly in on small airlines from nearby countries, and many of its borders with other countries are not open.
Your best bet is to travel from Beirut in Lebanon to the Syrian border. From what we can see, this is how most other western travelers did it. So, it’s by no means easy, but not impossible. You might also find trouble if you have an Israel stamp in your passport, and if you are American, well, maybe your jaunt in the Middle East might mean a red flag, but we can’t be sure about that.
Visiting Yemen can also cause you a great, big headache, and at the same time, you won’t find many governments telling their citizens it’s safe to go. One guy that claims to have visited every place in the world, an Irishman called Johnny Ward that started off his travels teaching English in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and then made a small fortune with his travel blog, said Yemen certainly was hard to get into.
He wrote this, “Saudi has imposed a no-fly zone through Yemeni airspace, there are no commercial flights due to the war, visas are hard to come by and take a local fishing boat is treacherous due to the pirates, terrorists, war and immigration from both the Omani coast, and then again on the Yemeni side.” He tried bribing officials at land borders, tried a cargo boat, and then a charter flight, but all those failed.
That was in 2016, is it any easier now? Not really, because you need a visa, and if you are American, you won’t get a Yemeni visa in the U.S. The Canadian government tells us, “Yemeni authorities do not issue visas at ports of entry.” Hmm, so you must apply, but as we said, some countries just won’t issue you a visa.
Well, some people do get lucky. We found this post on the Lonely Planet website, “I went to the Yemen border with Oman yesterday and paid $100 US for a visa. I hired a local guy to help me do this trip to Yemen. I’m an American and I have attempted three other trips to Yemen and all failed.” It seems others have also crossed from Oman for 100 bucks, so again, not impossible, but very hard.
This island country in the South Pacific Ocean is tiny and only gets about 150-200 tourists a year. There aren’t many places to stay if you’re a tourist, so you’ll need to book well in advance, pay a lot of money, and you might even need a letter from a local sponsor.
You will also have to apply for a visa unless you are from a handful of nations. Don’t think once you’ve arrived on the one airline that you’ll just be able to get a taxi, there is very little public transport or infrastructure for that matter.
What we are trying to say is this trip takes a lot of planning, months before you go, will cost you an arm and a leg, but will likely be worth all the cost and hassle.
We are told visiting this northeast African country is not easy as it’s not always welcoming to foreigners. You’ll need a visa, and from what we can see online, many people just get refused.
Foreign journalists are certainly not always given the red carpet as politically the country is quite secretive. If you do get the visa you’ll need more permits to visit anywhere outside of the capita One permit for each place, or site, which could mean applying for tons of permits.
Sometimes called “The North Korea of Africa”, that website The Unusual Traveler says it has to be in the top five for the hardest places to get into in the world. The website says what others said, in that it is very likely you will be refused the visa on your application.
But the writer got in, saying, “I found Eritrea to be the most fascinating and the underrated country in all of Africa.”The visa application itself can take months as you’ll have to be approved by the government in Eritrea.
The good news is that there are some flights right in from a number of nations, but the bad news is that if you don’t have those permits you won’t be getting on any public transportation that can take you outside of the capital. “When visiting Eritrea, you will experience a bureaucratic permit nightmare like nowhere else in the world,” said one writer.
Recent information posted online tells us getting a visa to Libya is incredibly difficult, too, and if you are not invited to do business, are on some kind of diplomatic mission, there is every chance your visa will not be issued. If you’re American, you can get a tourist visa, but we are told that if you don’t have a sponsor or a letter from someone with some clout inside Libya, you are almost guaranteed to fail.
“Tourist visas are often rejected at all embassies without being a part of a tour or applied for on behalf of a Libyan tour operator,” said one travel website. Another travel blogger said the same thing, but he also said that he found a travel company inside the country that would help him get his visa.
The only problem with that is you will have to go everywhere with that company, to only the places on the tour, and it will cost you a lot of money. The good news is that flying it isn’t much of a problem if indeed you are allowed in.
6. Saudi Arabia
This is a place that has made some huge changes in the last few years, in that Saudi Arabia was not long ago pretty much closed to anyone just wanting to visit not on some kind of business. That has changed, but we should still say that you will only be issued a tourist visa for certain events inside the country.
Lots of expats work in the nation, but you still won’t find many tourists just going anywhere they want in Saudi. You might also do well to remember to follow local laws, lest a bottle of beer lead to your backside being flogged. We should also add that if you are a woman under 25 it might be hard, or impossible, to get a visa, if you are not going with a husband or at least a male chaperone.
7. South Sudan
We found a journalist online who said that getting a tourist visa for this place is very hard. He got a press visa and so was lucky, but he needed a letter from an employer inside the country. As a visitor, you might get yourself a visa if you also have a letter from someone inside, but it seems without an invite you might have problems.
We are not sure if this is an exaggeration, but one well-known travel website said that this area of the world is so violent that visiting is incredibly stupid. U.S. embassy staff travel in armored vehicles and never go out on the streets alone. Just about all governments of developed nations say just don’t go here. And we can find hardly any information written by people who have been there.
One guy called Ramblin’ Randy did just that, writing on his blog, “I was shocked to see three or four gringos and a couple of Asians on my flight into Juba. What were they going to South Sudan for?” He said he had not been able to find a guide or a fixer before going but was told by a hotel manager that he would be taken care of once he arrived.
He managed to see a lot of things, but he was always with a local person and it sounds like he wouldn’t have done much alone. It seems the country will give you a visa if travel plans are booked ahead, but once there you best follow some rules, and those include not taking photographs.
8. North Korea
This is the last place on our list, but believe it or not, it’s actually not that hard to visit compared to some of the paces on this list. And it is by no means dangerous if you don’t break any laws. We’ve included it only because everyone is fascinated with this country and you probably want to know how to get inside it.
So, you can get in, but there are catches, lots of catches. First of all, you will have to book your trip through a travel company that works with the North Korean tourism ministry. Ok, step one done. What this means is that your entire trip will be a tour. And don’t think you can just say see ya to your guides and go and explore for yourself.
You’ll probably have two of these guides with you throughout your trip. The good news is that your visa will probably be issued, but it might take anywhere from one week to six weeks. As the website World Nomads tells us, “If you choose not to travel with a tour group, you will still need the services of a local guide. And won’t be able to leave your hotel, sightsee or travel on public transport without one.
Defying these regulations will result in punishment for you and your guide.” The good news is that the world’s most secretive nation will let you surf the net, take photos, make phone calls. The bad news is that the U.S. just extended a ban on its citizens visiting the country. Most people, however, can get the visa, go to China, and then on to North Korea.