Hardest Countries to Visit in the World

What are the hardest countries to visit in the world? 

Here is our list of 10 countries that are the most difficult to travel to. This is due to either remote location, accessibility, safety or security, or their difficult visa process. A popular question we’ve received on our journey to visit every country in the world is “what is the toughest country to visit?”. It’s been challenging to travel to many places along the way, but our toughest countries to visit are mentioned here.

Post Updated, Oct 2022

Iran

Iran is definitely not one of the hardest countries to get to when comparing it with the rest of the countries on this list, however, it depends on your nationality.

US citizens, Canadians, and UK citizens have to jump a few more hoops to get their letter of invitation from the Ministry of Foreign affairs to be able to apply for their visa next. Sometimes their application is simply rejected.

Of course, if you have a European or Australian passport the visa process is much easier. In fact, you can even obtain your visa on arrival at the airport.

Why go? Iran is by far one of the best countries we have been to. These are the things we loved most about travelling in Iran. The genuine hospitality of the Iranian people is simply the number one reason to visit. The food is exceptional!

If you can get an invite for a home-cooked meal, you will be blown away. The cities and sights will keep you wanting to return for more. Here are 20 Photos of Iran that will change the way you see it.

Hardest Countries to visit - Iran

Iran might be one of the hardest countries to visit but you will be rewarded with seeing places like this: Nasir-ol-molk Mosque in Shiraz.

Turkmenistan

This might be the least famous of all the “Stans” and with 7000 annual visitors, there is no surprise! The visa process requires a letter of invitation and you must be accompanied by a tour guide during your stay in Turkmenistan.

There is another option. You can get a transit visa if you are entering Turkmenistan via a land border and continuing on to another country. This is what we did.

Why visit? Well, Turkmenistan is one of the strangest places to see. For example, the capital city of Ashgabat is spotless and built mostly from white marble. There are huge buildings hovering above empty clean streets and you will ask yourself a question: Where are all the people?

Most importantly, the weirdest sight is the Darvaza Gas Crater also known as Gates of Hell. It’s a natural gas field set on fire back in the ’70s and yes it is still burning… Sounds crazy? This tour to visit the Darvaza Crater is highly recommended.

Yes, Turkmenistan is one of the hardest countries to visit, but if you get in, it is full of surprises. 

Hardest country to visit - Turkmenistan

The hardest countries to visit: The empty streets of Ashgabat, the capital city of Turkmenistan. For US citizens, this the toughest country to visit.

North Korea

North Korea is the country most of us would think of as the hardest country to visit in the world. So it might surprise you, that it’s actually easy enough to get in if you hold a certain passport.

Yes, independent travel is not allowed so you must join an organised tour with local guides and with a set itinerary. We recommend Young Pioneer Tours.

However, when it comes to your visa, it’s all done by your travel agency. Simply turn up to have a glimpse into the everyday life of the most secretive regime. And please follow the rules. Entry to North Korea is currently not possible for US and South Korean passport holders.

Unfortunately, both North Korea and Turkmenistan are the toughest countries to visit in the world for citizens of the USA.

Why go? As a traveller, there will always be the desire to travel somewhere so distinctively different from our own home country. North Korea is just that. If you are not sure if you should visit North Korea, read this article Should you visit North Korea? Is it Unethical? 

You may be interested in reading about these 7 Myths about North Korea. And, ever wondered what the food in North Korea is like? Here are 10 Popular Dishes.

10 Hardest countries to visit in the world North Korea

10 Hardest countries to visit in the world: North Korea

Libya

If you ask anyone in the travel world about Libya, you will get a blank stare. The years of unrest and conflict in the country are usually the only thing that comes to mind. Tourism was limited during the time of Gaddafi, but after the Arab Spring in 2011, it has been paralyzed by the ongoing conflict.

As of late 2022, the ongoing conflict in Libya and the instability of the government means Libya is really only suitable for experienced travellers. 

If this is something that interests you, there is very little information on how to visit Libya as a tourist. 

Passports and visas are required for entry into Libya for all nationalities except nationals of Algeria, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia, and Turkey. As Libya does not currently issue a tourist visa, the only option is to apply for a business visa.

For this, you will likely need the help of an agency. We cover this process in more detail, as we visited Libya in 2022. Read our post – How to Visit Libya – Everything you need to know.

This country has some incredible sights to offer, especially the Roman Cities of Sabratha and Leptis Magna, but it remains one of the least visited countries for tourism. This is our experience visiting Libya – one of the least visited Countries in the world.

And for those who are interested, these are the 10 Most Popular Foods in Libya.

toughest countries to visit Libya flag

Libya was definitely one of the toughest countries to visit for us on our journey to visit them all.

Angola

Angola is not on everyone one’s bucket list for a reason. Years of civil war and political unrest have seen only a few keen travellers making their way here. Also the capital Luanda has been nominated as the most expensive city in the world.

The visa process for Angola can take several weeks and any nationalities are required to apply in their home country. You’ll need a letter of invitation and proof of hotel booking to apply and then it’s still anyone’s guess. 

Updated: As of 2020, Evisa for Angola is now available.

Eritrea

Eritrea is a small unknown African country located on the banks of the Red Sea. To clarify, it has been called the North Korea of Africa as only a few people visit. And it’s mostly known for being the last on the list World Press Freedom Index.

There is no guarantee you will get a visa. Some applicants may only succeed after multiple attempts at obtaining one. So your best option is to join an organised tour and hope your travel agency will be able to apply for your visas on your behalf.

You can technically get a visa on arrival if there is no embassy in your home country. But you will need a visa approval letter from the government which can take weeks or months so technically still one of the hardest countries to visit in the world.

Equatorial Guinea 

This small country in Africa was a real headache for many travellers, including us. The reason why this is one of the hardest countries to visit in the world is its location and a really difficult visa.

In fact, there are only a few embassies in the world that can issue visas for Equatorial Guinea! So if you need a visa (and almost all nationalities do), your best option is to get it in Cameroon or Gabon. These countries border Equatorial Guinea, but you are not allowed to cross the mainland border as a foreigner! Let me explain:

Equatorial Guinea consists of two parts: the mainland region Rio Muni and the island part of Bioko. If you secure your visa somehow, you will have to fly to the capital Malabo. Oh, and it will cost you a fortune. The 45 minutes flight from Douala in Cameroon to Malabo in EG can cost up to $500. Ouch!

10 Hardest Countries to Visit in the world - Equatorial Guinea

10 Hardest Countries to Visit in the world – Equatorial Guinea

Yemen

Yemen has been a country of limits since the civil war broke out in 2015. And due to ongoing armed conflict and the extremely high threat of terrorism and kidnapping, most governments advise citizens against traveling to Yemen. 

There are a few trusted local agencies on the ground that can arrange a visit to mainland Yemen for persistent travelers. They can arrange help arrange your visa, guide, driver, logistics, hotel, and safety while you’re on the ground.

Expect to pay quite a lot of money for it. Essentially though, you’re paying a high price to ensure your safety in Yemen. 

While many travellers stay away, there is a place that seems to attract the most adventurous. The island of Socotra is located just off the coast of the horn of Africa and this is a paradise for nature lovers. Known for its biodiversity, over 700 endemic species, and unique dragon blood trees, this is an untouched gem. 

dragon blood tree socotra

Yes, mainland Yemen is one of the toughest countries in the world to visit. However, the island of Socotra is like travelling to another planet.

Want to learn more about Socotra?

Read more in our detailed post about How to Visit Socotra Island. And we explain in this post What It’s Really Like To Visit Socotra, The Unique Island in Yemen.

Kiribati

Kiribati (pronunciation of ‘Kiribati‘ is ‘Kiribas’) is a remote island nation in the Central Pacific close to the Dateline. It’s, therefore, one of the world’s least-visited as well as hardest countries to get to.

If you are an EU passport holder you are very lucky and can get your visa on arrival. Other nationalities must apply for a visa at one of very few Kiribati embassies.

The reason to go? Amazing beaches, fishing, snorkelling and the ability to be on the island that starts each day first in the whole world.

Nauru

Nauru is officially the least visited country in the world. Both, the remote location in the Pacific and limited scheduled flights make this country one of the hardest to visit. The strict visa regulations add to it. Here is a helpful article on how to get your visa to Nauru.

Most nationalities need to obtain a visa beforehand at of the 4 embassies in the world! Nauru is also the site of Australia’s notorious refugee detention centre that has sparked controversy in recent years.

Why go? Well, there are not many countries you can cover in just a day. And you might actually be the only tourist here at that time!

10 Hardest Countries to Visit in the world - Nauru

10 Hardest Countries to Visit in the world – Nauru from above

Runner-up for the hardest countries in the world to visit: Somalia.

Be aware that most of these countries are difficult to visit for a reason. If you choose to travel to any of these places, be sure to check your latest government advice.

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