If you've got a travel bucket list, then some countries might be harder to check off than others. Although it'd be great to be able to travel freely, that isn't always the case. Many countries don't have the same attitude when it comes to tourism. Also, many governments across the globe require intense visa requirements, while some airlines don't always fly out to certain places. Even the ones that we are able to get a visa to, or don't even require, may not have direct flights, or even an easy route to get there. It really puts these places lower and lower on our bucket-list, purely because of how much of a hassle they are to visit.
Furthermore, certain counties might be a current high-risk zone that refrains travelers from visiting at all. Whilst geographical impracticalities and drawn-out applications might be a reason not to book that trip, this does not stop even some of the most die-hard travelers out there. If that includes you, then behold these 15 countries that make it hard for anyone to visit and the 10 that will let you in with open arms.
This beautiful country just off the eastern edge of the Himalaya's offers gorgeous views and sights from monasteries, fortresses, and landscapes that will blow you away. Bhutan, a Buddhist kingdom, provides a range of subtropical plains, valleys and steep mountains, however, it isn't always the easiest to visit.
Bhutan requires all travelers to pay for their entire trip in advance.
When we say you have to pay in advance, we aren't just talking about your plane ticket, and possible accommodation, we're talking about the all-inclusive aspect Bhutan offers.
The trip needs to be paid out to a Bhutanese travel agent, via money transfer, that will cover the duration of your stay. This not only makes it a hassle to plan your itinerary, which has to follow your all-inclusive package, but that means you got to dish out the cash right away. Many travelers will pay a trip off afterward, or as they go, but in this case, you need to have the money before even stepping onto that plane. Not the most convenient destination, but still worth it if you're into the beautiful views and culture the country has to offer.
Kiribati is an island in the Central Pacific that is made up of 33 beautiful coral atolls and isles that expands across the equator. With crystal blue water and white sand beaches, this makes it a gorgeous destination for anyone looking for a bit of paradise. As great as that may sound, Kiribati is quite far out. International flights land in the capital Tarawa and Kiritimati only twice a week!
The country is quite remote, which is why it stands as the 4th least visited country in the world.
Although its remoteness is a contributing factor for the lack of tourism, the country holds some strict visa requirements that allow tourists from only 60 countries to enter. Not only does that impede the chances of traveling to Kiribati, but it also makes it difficult to schedule a trip to the islands considering flights head out only twice a week.
Nauru is an island country in Micronesia, northeast of Australia that features gorgeous views of coral reef and white-sand beaches. The island, although tiny, offers an array of tropical vegetation and lagoons that are very easy on the eyes. As lovely a visit may be, getting there might be a challenge.
Only one airline, Our Airline, serves Nauru, and it does not fly out every day, so catching a flight to the tropical island won't be easy.
The flight option also does not appear in a flight ticket search engine, having it be forgotten by many tourists out there. If the lack of flights weren't enough, Nauru requires a visa to enter, and how many Nauru embassies or consulates have you seen? A visa isn't quite accessible, and nor is a plane ticket, so this island might be tricky to get into.
Ah, Russia. The world's largest nation, with landscapes that range from tundra, forests to subtropical beaches. Although many immediately think of Vodka and riding bears, there's more to Russia than what the Internet leads us to believe. With a vast history, an immense amount of culture, and an array of attractions to explore, Russia is a must-see, that is if you can get in.
Russia remains one of the few countries that require an invitation to get into the country, although a simple letter from your hotel would be alright in most cases.
In addition, your visa application needs to be filled in with the utmost caution, because a simple mistake can lead you to reapply and that takes hours upon hours to do. Bureaucracy is huge in Russia, so they don't just let anyone in. If you do get a chance to visit Russia, enjoy every bit! It is quite a beautiful country with much to offer.
Uzbekistan, located in Central Asia, is a former Soviet republic, that has a massive history of ancient trade. It is most known for its mosques, mausoleums, and sites tied to the Silk Road, which is a trade route between China and the Mediterranean. As great as that may seem, Uzbekistan, like Russia, requires an invitation to enter.
An invite from an Uzbekistan citizen, hotel, or government worker will do and must be submitted along with your visa application.
If that weren't enough, any visit longer than three days to Uzbekistan requires the invited tourist to register with the Local Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Talk about a lot of work! Although the hassle is real, it's worth it if you can get your hands on an invite, and are prepared to fill out some lengthy paperwork.
20 North Korea
Next on the list, North Korea! Many have their preconceived notions of this country, however, North Korea has made their process of entering the country much easier over time. Access into the country is very much possible, as long as you aren't South Korean. Let's spare the history lesson, but South Korean's cannot enter North Korea without permission from both governments, which often times, is denied.
As for tourists other than South Korea, a visit to North Korea requires you to obtain a visa that is processed within a week or two, and often times require you to hire a guide to stay with you at all times.
The cost of hiring a private tour guide during your stay can add up, which is a price not everyone is willing to pay. If you've got the cash, and the time, then by all means, go! The experience of flying into North Korea is said to be quite an experience.
Libya, situated in North Africa, is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea, which alone, is a reason to visit. The neighboring country to Egypt, Sudan, Chad, Algeria, and Tunisia, is immersed deep in Middle Eastern culture and tradition. With music, food and a rich history, Libya is a spot many wish to travel to, however, you should not hold your breath. Tourism itself was tightly controlled under the Gaddafi regime, and getting a visa was nearly impossible at the time.
Many said that your chances of getting a visa was a little like "betting on fruit machines", which obviously doesn't play out well for anyone.
Although there is still a chance of having a visa application accepted, it will take not only time but a lot of money. In addition, the current visa situation is by no means transparent, so buckle up if you want to head to Libya, cause it won't be easy.
Afghanistan officially called the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a country located within the south of the Middle East. The scenery in large parts of the country are unreal and offer breathtaking views of mountains, and various terrains that one wouldn't expect to find in Afghanistan. And if you weren't aware, Afghanistan was one of the most modern countries in the world in the early 70's, thriving with rich culture and tradition that had anyone and everyone wanting to visit. However, times have definitely changed.
A visa from an Afghan embassy is required to even think about entering the country, and these are often times only provided to press and military personnel.
In addition, Afghanistan has many safety and danger risks, and various advisories suggest tourist from keeping it off the travel list for now. We're sure a time will come where Afghanistan will be easier to access, but for right now, your best bet is to look elsewhere.
17 Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia, a desert country that encompasses most of the Arabian Peninsula is referred to as the birthplace of Islam. With a capital city covered in skyscrapers and views of the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf, they obviously don't disappoint with the views. However, not just anyone can see them.
Getting your hands on a tourist visa is nearly impossible at times, you can count yourself lucky if you do.
On top of that, Saudi Arabia has many strict rules that require those to act in a very conservative way. Women will often time find it a hassle to travel to Saudi Arabia as well, and cannot enter the country without their husband, son, or another male family member.
16 Equatorial Guinea
This Central African country is home to up to 5 volcanic offshore islands and has an array of Spanish colonial inspired architecture and a prosperous oil industry. Although it may appear to be a country to check off that list, you might want to put the pencil down for a second.
Equatorial Guinea is tied up in several political issues that make the country a risk for tourists at the moment.
The requirement to enter the country is a visa, which is not easily accessible and provided to just any tourist from any country. The country is also ruled by a dictatorship, which creates a lot of rules on who can enter the country, and who can leave. For the time being, although the country may have many beautiful sights to see, you might have to wait to get a shot of them for right now.
Eritrea is a northeast African country on the Red Sea coast, sharing borders with Ethiopia, Sudan, and Djibouti. The capital city is known for its Italian colonial buildings and various art deco structures that are Instagram worthy, but you're followers are gonna have to wait a bit for those posts.
A visa application is often times returned, and denied, not even allowing press or government personnel from other countries in.
The process alone to apply for a visa takes 6- 8 weeks, and you will not know if you are accepted or not for some time. It is believed that this level of uncertainty regarding a tourist visa, stops people from even applying to begin with. Give it a go if you're dying to see Eritrea, you may be an exception and get approved, it's worth a shot.
Next on the list, Angola! This southern African nation encompasses tropical beaches, rivers and Sub-Saharan desert that extends all the way to Namibia. The country has a Portuguese-influenced cuisine, and a rich culture, tradition, and music. But another thing they are known for is their strict laws on entering the country as a tourist.
The visa regime is very harsh, particularly from letting unemployed tourists from several European countries from entering.
Not only do you have to prove you have a job prior to entering Angola, but the chance of being accepted is also quite slim. We wouldn't completely knock it though, it's still worth a shot at applying, especially if you're an employed tourist, which most of us are, considering how expensive travel can be!
Turkmenistan is a must see! With countless archeological ruins, monuments, and views of the Caspian Sea, it makes for quite a beautiful country. In addition to the Karakum Desert, and history of ancient trade, the country also has some rules before entering.
Much like Bhutan, Turkmenistan requires you to pay for your trip in advance prior to visiting.
The application process to obtain a tourist visa is known to be quite standard, but as for the trip itself, you must go through an agency and have a hired guide with you throughout the entire trip. This obligation can not only take a lot of time to hash out but can cost a lot to do! With travel being expensive already, we can only imagine the cost of having a private guide and pre-paying for the trip months in advance. Not the best idea for any travelers on a budget wanting to visit Turkmenistan anytime soon!
Somalia, officially known as the Federal Republic of Somalia, is a sovereign state located in the Horn of Africa. It borders many African countries including Ethiopia, Kenya, and Djibouti. With various sites to see, and a deep-rooted African culture, Somalia remains on the wish-list for many, but that wish-list might turn into a wait-list.
There are several challenges when it comes to Somalian government and infrastructure.
The situation has improved immensely in recent years, and tourism has even picked up, however, it remains a hassle to get approved and even find your way to Somalia. Finding an embassy alone can be tricky, and airlines don't often fly into Somalia. Turkish Airlines is one of few that do, and only fly out to Mogadishu three times a week.
Last, but certainly not least on the list is Syria! The Syrian Arab Republic has a massive Middle Eastern culture, bordering Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan among others; has a rich history and stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea. As beautiful as it may be, the country has been a risk for many tourists since the emergence of the civil war.
The possibility of airports shutting down is one thing, and the challenge of entering the country during such a crisis is yet another. Apart from the views, landscapes, and fine Middle Eastern cuisine, we'd wait it out a little longer for things to settle down, considering it's worth a visit, just not at your own risk.
10 Countries that will accept you with open arms!
Now that we've covered the 15 countries that make it hard for anyone to visit, it's time to share the 10 countries that will gladly receive you with the utmost pleasure. If you're looking to travel easy and hassle-free, look no further, because we've got the best countries for you to head to that will not only appease your taste for beauty, but food, culture, music, and adventure galore!
"Oh, Canada! Our home and native land!" It doesn't get any nicer than it does in Canada, eh? Rumour has it if you search up the word "nice", a photo of Canada pops up! Locals are known for their politeness, and that goes for the laws to visit this beautiful country as well. A passport is a lot of the time all it takes to get in, and you will be welcomed with a warm hello, and a hot cup of Tim Horton's coffee.
The second largest nation offers landscapes far and wide, from the Rocky Mountains, the Great Lakes, Niagara Falls and a taste of the French culture within the province of Quebec, Canada really does have it all. Canada is a year-round destination and considering all it takes is a plane and a passport to get here, why wait any longer?
Finland, located in Europe, is a country that is known for its gorgeous sights of the Northern Lights, various activities from dog sledding, skiing, and ice fishing. The visa requirements for Finland are quite limited and does not pose any issue on any country within Europe and the Americas. Many tourists claim Finland has a sense of purity and tranquility that is perfect for any traveler looking to find their inner peace.
With the Arctic wilderness, the vibrancy of the country's capital, Helsinki, and the friendly people, Finland should definitely be at the top of your list if you are looking to get away somewhere nice with a great dose of quirkiness all in one. You'll especially drink well in Finland, too! That is always a plus.
Fiji is a perfect destination if you want a hassle-free paradise vacation! It is not only a great place to travel solo, or with your partner in crime, but as a family too! Fijians love kids, so it's the perfect place to go to if you've got little ones of your own. The tropical paradise is an island nation filled with palm fronds, white-sand beaches and warm waters around, making it the best spot to just sit back and relax.
With relaxed vibes, come relaxed laws! Entering Fiji is as easy as 1,2,3. Book that ticket, get a stamp on your passport and you are good to go. The island has resorts that will satisfy any traveler, or rural and urban areas in towns and local villages, where you backpackers can get a real feel for the vibrant country. If you are looking for some peace of mind, then Fiji should be at the top of your list.
Denmark! This Scandinavian country contains various islands and the Jutland Peninsula and is linked to its neighboring country, Sweden. The country does require a visa to enter, but one that is easy and simple to obtain for a stay shorter than 3 months. Denmark is known to be quite safe and friendly and deemed as the birthplace of "hygge", which is a concept that encompasses a cozy way of life.
Danish people tend to be well-dressed, and attractive, so you might want to visit just to admire their beauty. With lovely castles and a Lego-theme park, Denmark has something to offer anyone. With both modern and traditional architecture, any history fiend will fall in love with the historic sites Denmark provides. Danish people are considered to be some of the happiest on Earth, so why not be amongst them?
6 New Zealand
Everyone loves New Zealand! This country offers views like you would not believe. Get your camera's ready because everywhere you look is picture perfect. The friendly country welcomes people from all over the world, with daily flights flying into New Zealand's vibrant city, Auckland, you can be sure to catch one at any time. Although the country is notorious for being the filming location of the renowned films, 'The Hobbit', and 'Lord Of The Rings', there is so much more!
You can dive into adrenaline-indusive activities in Queenstown, or go for a rad hike around Milford Sound. In addition, you can embrace the Māori cultural experience and language that really makes New Zealand a unique travel destination. Get your passports ready, because if you're looking for beautiful views, great people, and a taste of Māori culture, then New Zealand is the place to be.
Top of the morning to ya! Ireland is next up on the list, and rightfully so. Although Ireland is notorious for its friendly pub culture, there is more to the beautiful country than just Guinness. With rugged coastlines, small villages and quaint towns to visit, any traveler would fall in love with the charming and vibrant feel Ireland gives off. Most EU and Schengen passport users can visit the country with no problem, while other countries require a tourist visa that is as easy to get as ordering a pizza.
The best part of Ireland from what we've heard is, the people. You will not only be welcomed with open arms, but with an array of culture, and tradition native to the Irish. You can visit the Blarney Stone, explore the wilderness of Donegal and even tour the Guinness factory in Dublin; you'll definitely be bowned for a great time and the ease of knowing you're in good hands. They don't call it the luck of the Irish for nothing!
The hills truly are alive with the sound of music! Austria. This stunning country, like many other EU countries, allows those with an EU or Schengen passport to travel freely to and from Austria, while a tourist visa is incredibly accessible to all others. Once you're there, indulge in fine-dining Austria has to offer, and the classical music performances they are known for.
The picturesque landscapes of snowy mountains and charming towns, anyone will be able to fall in love with this country. Austria is worth a visit all year round, where both summer and winter activities are great fun. The country has an immense history, culture, and tradition that will satisfy any traveler heading to Austria. If that isn't reason enough, Austria is also home of high culture and a low crime rate, making it a very safe country to visit.
Japan! We couldn't leave at Japan on this list. Japan offers tourists with an array of sights to see, and ones you do not want to miss out on. In order to enter Japan, all you need is a valid passport and a return ticket, that's all! Crime is practically unheard of in Japan, making it as safe as can be, and is a country where everything works efficiently and predictably. In addition, Japanese citizens are polite and well mannered more than any other country worldwide. The good manners of Japan is a reason alone to visit the glorious country.
With yummy cuisine, gorgeous cherry blossoms, and traditions that go back before we could even remember, Japan truly has it all. Although the city can get quite overwhelming due to the large numbers of people, getting lost is not an issue if you follow the easy and simple street signs and directions that make it easy for tourists to navigate the busy streets of cities like Tokyo. Get packing!
Singapore pops up next on our list! Most US, Canadian and European citizens do not require a visa to enter Singapore for business and social visits, a valid passport is all you really need. Like many countries previously mentioned, Singapore has a zero tolerance for robbery and is amongst the safest in all of Asia. Pickpockets are a huge issue for travelers across the globe, but that is one thing you don't have to worry about here. In fact, the island nation reported 135 days without a single crime!
This country offers countless places to explore! From excellent museums, gardens, islands and the main city, you'll be sure to find something that peaks your interest. The country is also a vibrant and growing one that continues to modernize all while holding on to its historic traditions. You can't go wrong with a visit to Singapore during any season, although their summers can get quite hot and humid.
Switzerland! Of course, we could not leave them off the list. From the people, landscapes and towering mountains that make Switzerland so beautiful, this is one place you definitely should not pass on. Just as other European countries, EU and Schengen passport holders do not require a visa, nor do US and Canadian citizens. A valid passport is all you need to enjoy the spectacular views and the kind Swiss people.
The country holds a natural beauty unlike any other and is picture perfect beyond belief. With a country that declined to take sides during the Second World War, you can't go wrong with them when it comes to "staying out of it". This neutral country offers an array of summer and winter time activities that will fulfill any adventure seeking traveler. Don't waste any more time, get to Switzerland!
references: Lonelyplanet.com ; bbc.co.uk