If you’re open and willing, travel will make you an incredibly more well-rounded human being. And that’s really the goal, isn’t it?
All the challenges and opportunities travel lays at your feet help you discover who you are in a way that’s only possible on the road. The more you travel, the bigger the world seems to get, and the more you feel the insatiable need to keep moving, keep exploring and keep experiencing the great wide universe.
Travel blogger and enthusiast Henrik Jeppesen has visited every country in the world, flown more than 850 times, with more than 200 different airlines, stayed in more that 1000 world’s best hotels, shared a list of the 10 most difficult countries to visit.
Some of these tough destinations may surprise you:
Henrik has visited Syria in the midst of the civil war last year. After talking to Danish journalist Rasmus Tantholdt, who for many years reported from the country, he managed to get in contact with the Syrian ambassardor to North Korea.
“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.”
Although he cites Yemen as one of the “best countries in the world to travel”, political unrest meant that he had a difficult time getting in to the country. He managed to visit in 2014 with the help of a local airline and two tour operators before the war broke out.
“Today it is almost impossible to visit. Your best bet is to try and find a local fixer.”
3. Saudi Arabia
“There are no tourism visas for Saudi Arabia so unless you are a Muslim, you have to go for business purposes. Radisson Blu sponsored my visit, but it will be a big challenge for many to find a company to sponsor your visit.”
“Libya is high on my list of the world’s friendliest people”, Henrik said, but travelling there was still very difficult for him.
Despite contacting the Libyan embassies to get help with a visa, none of them were able to help him. Eventually, Tantholdt put him in touch with the foreign press in Libya. They helped him acquire a visa and arranged an airline ticket for him.
He also met the Prime Minister of Libya.
5. Equatorial Guinea
Henrik calls it a “beautiful country”, but difficult to get in for Europeans. After failing to get a visa at the country’s embassies in Pretoria and Libreville, he printed out an A4 page with information about himself, and traveled to the Consulate in Lagos, Nigeria. It was there the ambassador helped issue him with a visa.
Similar to Equatorial Guinea, he had a difficult time with getting a visa. However in this case Henrik found a loophole:
“Get a 5-day transit visa. While many think this is just for an overland travel, I managed to get a 5-day transit visa at their embassy in Sao Tome that allowed me to fly into Luanda, the capital of Angola, and then fly to a different destination within five days. I also visited the special region of Cabinda while in Angola and enjoyed my visit to one of the most expensive countries in the world.”
“This Central Asian country is an outstanding travel experience, but a difficult country to visit. You can’t easily get a tourist visa. You can get a 5-day transit visa, but that requires a visa to the country you’re coming from and the country you’re travelling to and only works over land.
Instead, I worked with a tour operator that allowed me to fly in and out on a tourist visa. Big potential for tourism, but they need to make it easier to visit to get the tourist money.”
This country has one of the worst press freedoms in the world, and after conducting extensive research Henrik found a local tour operator who was able to write a letter for him.
This letter allowed him obtain a visa upon arrival.
A country with few tourists, getting a visa can be difficult – you have to apply at one of four diplomatic missions: Bangkok, Brisbane, Suva or Taipei.
“There isn’t a whole lot to do in the small island nation of Nauru, and the flights are very expensive. I bet it is not on many travellers’ bucket list.”
According to Henrik, Sudan’s visa is notoriously difficult to get. After researching online, he found Egypt to be the easiest place to get one.
“It took two days and was way cheaper than having to get all the paperwork done back in Europe, only 50 dollars and I were ready to experience the country that was Africa’s biggest before the independence of South Sudan.”
One country surprisingly not on the list was North Korea. Why?
“North Korea is actually a very easy country to visit. Just get a double entry Chinese visa, and the tour operator will take care of the rest.”