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 or their difficult visa process.

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. 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.

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 hover 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? Yup, 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

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. 

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.

Why go? As a traveller, there will always be the desire to travel somewhere so distinctively different to 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?

And you might also find out more about the  7 Myths about North Korea.

10 Hardest countries to visit in the world North Korea

10 Hardest countries to visit in the world: North Korea

Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan is finally changing its approach to tourism to seduce more foreigners to visit. Many nationalities still need an official letter of invitation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. You can then apply for a visa at the closest Uzbek Embassy. (In the case of Australians, the closest embassy is in Singapore!).

The good news? You can get a visa on arrival at the airport now and there is a talk of an E-visa!

The ancient cities of Samarkand and Bukhara are true highlights for anyone interested in the Silk Road. Their currency, however, is another thing to get used to. For a few $100 you get a backpack worth of cash in Uzbekistani Som.

Hardest Countries to visit - Uzbekistan

Being a millionaire in Uzbekistan is not hard, you will need 130USD in Uzbekistani Som to be one. You also need a bag not a wallet to carry your money…

Angola

Angola is not on everyone one’s bucket list for a reason. Years of civil war and political unrest has 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 Africa 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 Duala in Cameroon to Malabo in EG can cost up to $500. 

10 Hardest Countries to Visit in the world - Equatorial Guinea

10 Hardest Countries to Visit in the world – Equatorial Guinea

Bhutan

Bhutan is the happiest country in the world, so it seems odd to also be one of the hardest countries to visit.

Well, you can get a slice of their happiness!

But only if you book a pre-organised tour that includes a hefty daily tourist fee of USD250. Almost all nationalities require a visa. This is organised by your travel agency, usually with no problems. Limited flights connect Bhutan from Nepal, India or Thailand, so a bit of planning is required.

Bhutan is a magical Himalayan kingdom dubbed the last “The Last Shangri La” at least 60% of the country must, by law, remain forested, making it the world’s only carbon sink, as it absorbs more greenhouses gases than it emits.

Hardest Countries to visit - Bhutan

Bhutan can be considered one of the hardest countries to visit as no independent travel is allowed. In the photo is the famous Tiger’s Nest in Bhutan.

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’s 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: Saudi ArabiaLibya, Somalia, Yemen and Syria.

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.

Don’t leave home without getting covered with the best travel insurance policy available. We use and recommend World Nomads Travel Insurance.