The World’s 10 Hardest Countries To Visit
Travel4 Minutes Read

The World’s 10 Hardest Countries To Visit

October 11, 2023 Share

Strict visa requirements, poor infrastructure, political instability, limited access for tourists, and other reasons make these countries the 10 hardest ones to visit.

Lots of things can make visiting a country hard. Strict visa requirements, poor infrastructure, political instability, limited access… – you name it. These barriers can often deter even the most enthusiastic travelers from venturing into certain regions. But some places just take it to the next level when it comes to being the hardest countries to visit. We’re talking about countries that go above and beyond to make tourism nearly impossible. They roll out the red tape, keep the infrastructure in struggle mode, and seem wary of any wanderlust-stricken foreigner.

So for those who like a challenge, or just want to know which spots are true explorers’ nightmares, here are ten countries that rank among the hardest in the world to access. From political unrest to remote locales, these nations throw up some fierce barriers to entry. We’re breaking down the places that test the limits of even the most die-hard travelers out there. It’s a wild ride, so buckle up and get ready to navigate the most complex border crossings on the planet.

Eritrea

Image courtesy of Yosef Futsum

Located in the Horn of Africa along the Red Sea, Eritrea is one of the most isolated nations on Earth. It’s extremely difficult for tourists to gain access to the country, with visas granted sparingly. All travel in Eritrea must be pre-arranged by the government, and visitors are restricted to only a few areas, as security checkpoints are common during travel. Eritrea’s tense border disputes and compulsory military conscription further deter visitors.

North Korea

North Korea has virtually no tourism industry. Americans are unable to visit, and all visitors must book tours through approved travel agencies. An official state guide supervises travelers constantly, restricting spontaneous interactions and photography. The country’s poor infrastructure, limited healthcare, and potential safety risks add further challenges.

Syria

Image courtesy of Hosein Charbaghi

Once a popular Middle Eastern destination, Syria has been devastated by civil war since 2011. The violent conflict involving rebel forces and terror groups like ISIL make Syria extremely dangerous to visit. Destruction of cultural sites and a fragile security situation cause most Western governments to advise against travel to Syria. Strict visa requirements are further barriers for the few intrepid travelers.

Congo

Despite rich natural resources, the Democratic Republic of Congo in Central Africa remains politically unstable and underdeveloped. Ongoing conflicts between armed groups gravely affect safety, especially in the eastern regions. Traveling is restricted, requiring permits that are rarely approved for foreigners. Poor transportation options and violent crime target tourists.

Kiribati

This remote Pacific island nation has virtually no tourism infrastructure. Its 33 coral atolls are spread across a huge expanse of ocean, making transportation difficult and expensive. Only two islands have airports, and accommodations are extremely basic. Entry visas must be arranged well in advance, and visitors should be proficient in the indigenous language.

Bhutan

Image courtesy of Unma Desai

The isolated Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan tightly controls its tourism sector. All foreign visitors must book package tours through accredited agencies, adhering to fixed itineraries and guides. Solo travel is prohibited, and a daily fee of $250 is charged. Bhutan’s remoteness and lack of proper roads also restrict tourism.

Nauru

The tiny Micronesian island of Nauru sees almost no tourism activity. Its only airport has limited flights. Unique visas are required for entry. Facilities and activities for visitors are minimal, with little cultural heritage. A history of environmental devastation from phosphate mining has also made Nauru’s landscape rather barren.

Iran

Security concerns and strict visa rules make Iran a challenge to enter for Westerners. Visitors often require an authorized guide and cannot travel freely around the country. While Iranians are generally hospitable, the government is distrustful towards Americans and Brits. US citizens are prohibited unless traveling with a sanctioned tour group.

Angola

Emerging from years of civil war, Angola remains politically sensitive and unstable. Visas are difficult to obtain, taking months for approval. Once allowed entry, visitors face poor infrastructure, with limited accommodation options and bad roads. Weak emergency services, landmines, and petty crime pose safety risks. Malaria is another serious health concern.

Libya

Image courtesy of Jorge Sá Pinheiro

The past decade of violence has severely diminished Libya’s tourism potential, makeing it one of the hardest countries to visit. Ongoing conflict between rival militias has created no-go zones across the country, leading the US and UK to advise against all travel to Libya due to terrorism risks. Visas are highly selective, necessitating letters of invitation, and the destruction of Libyan cultural sites adds to the tragedy.

In conclusion, though these destinations pique curiosity, their current accessibility is hindered by various factors. From geo-political challenges to inadequate infrastructure, these 10 countries rank as the world’s most difficult to reach. It’s important to note that conditions can change over time. Many of these once-inaccessible places have a tendency to transform into popular tourist hubs. However, as of now, these nations persist as formidable obstacles for travelers seeking to explore and enter their borders.

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Author: Laura Scalco
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