5 of the most Difficult or Dangerous Countries to Visit
While every traveler has their own unique motivation for visiting any part of the word, there are certain areas which no matter what the tourist appeal may be, are probably best avoided. While anytime you want to leave your homeland you’re most likely going to need a passport, several countries have additional requirements of entry. Some countries also carry conditions or costs for exit. In the case of these 5 nations, in addition to passports and visas, escorts, in some cases armed, may also be handy tools for travelers.
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea or North Korea
Travel Logistics: Up until January 2010, travel to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) was severely restricted for US citizens, and remains difficult, though not impossible for citizens of many countries. As it stands, North Korea can only be visited through organized tours or with escorts. Foreigners are not allowed to roam freely or use local currency around the country. There is no embassy for North Korea in Canada or the US and only a United Nations head quarters in New York City. Most people wishing to travel to North Korea must obtain their Visas in another country, most often China. As a result of tensions between North and South Korea, most travelers will need to pass through China before entering the DPRK anyway, making a Chinese Visa a necessity as well. Although since the visit there is not wasted. In addition to the standard forms, Chinese visas are bound for expiration the moment they are issued, meaning that one must apply for one as close to their date of departure as possible. In order to get a DRPK Visa in China one must arrive at least a day early, and send the Visa application and passport information at least 5 weeks ahead of time.
- The lack of a Canadian embassy in DRPK means that all Canadian travelers must instead seek assistance through the Swedish Embassy. Though, the Swedish embassy may not be able to offer much assistance in certain circumstances. The DRPK reserves the right to restrict consular access and little is known about the legal system in this nation.
- The lingering tensions between north and South Korea also pose challenges to a tourist. While the threat of attack is somewhat minimal, the activities of travelers may be highly monitored.
- Cellular phones are prohibited and will be confiscated if discovered. While computers may be allowed, internet access is not. Cameras are permitted but visitors may not take pictures of airports, train stations or government buildings.
- Only government sanctioned tours are allowed, and only to specifically sanctioned parts of the country. Politics remain a driving force in DRPK, making it necessary for any travelers to remain vigilant in their efforts to appear supportive of the Korean government. In fact, all tourist institutions are government owned making tourism dollars a source of government funding.
- Journalists are almost never granted Visas under any circumstances.
Democratic Republic of Congo
Travel Logistics: It takes some doing to visit the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Visas for the DRC mandate an application filled out in triplicate, 3 photos and 3 letters. Those letters are: one letter of Employment, one letter of reference and one letter of invitation. An itinerary, proof of financial support and a yellow fever vaccination will also be required. In most case travelers will also need a multi-entry pass, which can cost upwards of $300. Aside from the legal papers being expensive; some travelers also report having been asked by security personnel to pay “special fees” upon entry. On the way out, travelers will also be obligated to pay a departure fee called the “Redevance de Développement des Infrastructures Aéroportuaires” without paying this and receiving the accompanying “Go Pass” one would not allowed to board their returning flight.
- The general lawlessness in the DRC make this a highly unadvisable place to travel. A Canadian Embassy exists in Kinshasa but may be of limited assistance in some circumstances.
- Civil unrest among the country’s inhabitants combined with foreign interest in the DRC’s vast wealth of natural resources, have resulted in a country fraught with murder, rape, torture, kidnapping and war for the past few decades. Among these resources is Colton, a material used in mobile phones, computers and game consoles, the rapidly increasing demand for these products has only intensified the blood-shed in the DRC.
- Travelers may be exposed to random acts of violence or attacks at any time or place throughout the country even in “safer” areas such as Bukavu.
- Unannounced curfews, border closings and flight suspension may occur at any time.
- Multiple Humanitarian and Non Government Organization (NGO) workers have been victims of attacks, robbery extortion and sexual assault.
- Tourist facilities are limited and road travel can be difficult due to the lack of public transportation and established roads. On what remains of the roads, truck travel may be possible but impeded by fake “security personnel” attempting to extort money or valuables.
Logistics: In order to travel to Afghanistan, any traveler will need a Visa. An Afghanistan Visa is procurable through the Embassy of Afghanistan in Ottawa and Toronto. While the turn around time and expense of this Visa is reasonable extensive documentation may be required. It may be necessary to present proof of residence, travel itinerary or employment upon return. 2 identical photos with explicit specifications are also necessary. Failing to obtain a Visa prior to entry will likely result in detention or deportation and attempts to enter this country with an Israeli visa or passport stamp will probably end in refusal. Air Entry is the only viable option for security reasons and because roadways into the country are considered dangerous.
- While Canada does have an embassy in Afghanistan, the Canadian recommends that citizens avoid all travel.
- All buildings and public area remain at risk for terrorist attacks representing extreme danger to all travelers.
- In addition to attacks, there are landmines throughout the country and the Taliban has identified kidnapping foreigners as a primary goal.
- In addition, health care facilities in Afghanistan are unsanitary, creating severe risk of infection. Medical Evacuation is highly unlikely and certain remote areas of the country may be outside of consular assistance.
Logistics: Getting into Iraq my not be as impossible as entering this international war zone would seem. Visas can be obtained through Iraqi Embassies ahead of time, or like with the DRPK, entrance may be obtained from a neighboring country. The most popular places for border crossings are Turkey, Jordan and Iran, and producing an invitation for entry to Iraq may help expedite the process. Though at present time religious Visas are suspended, Iraqi visit Visas are remarkably inexpensive ranging from $30 – $100 for multiple entry Visas. Although, the wait times may be significant, and thorough documentation of identity must be presented. The logistical difficulty of visiting this country lies in the fact that all visitors must be cleared once they have arrived in Baghdad and entry may be denied even after a Visa has been issued. The length of stay is also an issue. Anyone staying in Iraq for more than 10 days must obtain a residency stamp, the procurement of which will require HIV test results in addition to other credentials. In order to leave Iraq visitors must also obtain an exit stamp.
- Iraq is at present in a state of war with extremely dangerous, and life threatening activities occurring in most regions.
- Travel by road, particularly at night, can be extremely dangerous and Railway travel is discouraged.
- A strict curfew is imposed at midnight and curfews may be enforced at any given time throughout the day.
- Security escorts should accompany all travelers due to the extremely high risk of danger and the high number of civilian deaths as a result of random acts of violence.
Logistics: While Visas are required for Somaliland and Puntland, visiting the majority of Somalia does not mandate obtaining a visa. Primarily because for the past 18 years Somalia has had a complete lack of government which has made the creation of an organized Visa issuing process nearly impossible. At present, the closest one can get to Somalia is Somaliland, and Visas to this small nation can only be obtained through the UK or Ethiopia. Even if one were to get into Somalia the sealed borders and frequent shutting down of the airport could prohibit departure. Here, a body guard, preferably armed, is more important than a Visa.
- This is another nation that comes with strenuous advisories of avoidance. The complete lawlessness and lack of a governing body makes for a highly dangerous environment.
- Guerilla attacks, pirating, explosives, and gunfire can be expected at any time in all places. Here, residents harbor extremely anti-western sentiments, representing a particular danger to US and Canadian citizens.
- Foreigners here are frequently kidnapped or assassinated.
- Land travel is difficult because road conditions are dangerous and made even more so by the threat of landmines and flash floods.
- There is no consulate aid available to any Canadians within these borders.
Article provided by Canadian Pardons Service – For Canadians who need help obtaining US Entry Waivers. – CanadianPardons.ca