Traveling can be stressful! Planning, packing and getting to the airport all on time are maddening at times but when you have to get visas and permissions to get into the country it can be made even worse. Most of the time it takes sending off a few forms and then just playing the waiting game but some places have stricter security than others.
Here we look at some of the most difficult countries to get into and ask why? We also take a peak at a country that you'd think was quite hard to get into but actually isn't.
A fairly obvious one on this one given the current circumstances the country finds itself in. Amidst a vicious, bloody and bitter civil war which has dragged international powers into it, you can get a visa to go to the country but immigration officers may currently have a problem believing you are visiting for tourism.
Worried that you may be going to join rebel fighting forces or to stir up further trouble, immigration officers may not be so inclined to stamp your passport regardless of your visa status.
Another middle-Eastern country that is struggling with war and internal political conflict, Yemen has few airlines or tour operators left in the country to help you out or, more to the point, in. Crossing the border is very hard work unless you have a local fixer to help you out and getting in now that there is a war on is practically impossible.
It's probably best to avoid the country now anyway as you don't want to be confused for a member of either side of the fighting.
3. Saudi Arabia
The city of Mecca is the final destination of millions of visitors each year as those making the religious pilgrimage to the holy sites of the city. With so many visiting it each year, you would have thought Saudi Arabia is, therefore, quite easy to get into but the country does not give out tourist visas.
As such, you have to either prove you are a Muslim pilgrim or are there for business, otherwise you are not getting in. You can get in if a company sponsors your visit but most will find this unlikely.
After the Arab spring and the deposing of General Gadaffi as the country's leader, Libya has had a bit of a tough time of it and fallen into disarray. Libyan embassies are still open and up and running but internal turmoil means visas are extremely hard to get verified even if you do get in contact with an embassy.
If you have foreign press connections in Libya, this may actually be a far better option than going through the standard routes.
5. Equatorial Guinea
Very hard for Westerners to get into, processing through the country's embassies can be slow, arduous and near impossible as they lack trust of the information offered to them and do not have many facilities to fact check them. As such, your best bet is heading to a nearby neighboring country like Nigeria.
Take information about yourself, job, nationality, citizenship status etc., to the embassy there and ask the local embassy for help and you may have more fruitful results.
With similar issues to that of Equatorial Guinea, Angola is not an easy country to get into by attaining a standard visa. That being said, a 5-day travel visa may well be your best bet. Although many think this is just for overland travel, you can get this visa and fly into Luanda, the capital of Angola before flying into another region of the country within 5 days.
That being said, Angola is one of the world's most expensive countries to visit so it may not be high on your priority list of places to go.
Not easy to get a visa via embassies, you will need to go through a tour operator who has the ability to help you out on this front. 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 traveling to and, unlike Angola, only works over land.
The country has massive potential for tourism and may well be moving towards opening this up in the near future.
Eritrea is a one-party state with one of the worst states of press freedoms in the world. Because of the party's determination to remain in power and wariness of receiving negative press, they rarely let outsiders into the country as they are suspicious of their intentions, recent wars with neighboring Ethiopia and Djibouti have done little to help this.
If you do find yourself wishing to travel there, contacting a tour operator who is prepared to write a letter to the authorities on your behalf is probably your best option.
A tiny island nation in Micronesia, the place is so small that there is not a lot to do there so it doesn't really expect tourists and as such isn't really set up for receiving them. Add on top of that that flights are very expensive and yu would expect that not many people go there at all but if ever in need of getting there you'll have to head to one of their embassies for a visa.
The trouble with this is that they only have embassies in Bangkok, Brisbane, Suva and Taipei.
A country that has seen war and revolution in recent years, Sudan lacks infrastructure, suffers from corruption and is wary of outside influence and as such, it is notoriously hard and expensive to get hold of a visa.
Should you want one, the best place to get one would be Egypt where it would cost about $50 to get all the necessary paperwork processed from.
What About North Korea?
Many assume North Korea is a very hard country to get into due to its frosty relations with the rest of the world, especially the West, and its private and secretive nature that has led it to be dubbed 'the hermit kingdom'. That being said, all you need to do is go via a tour operator. Get yourself a double entry Chinese visa and the tour operator will do the rest.
Not so hard to get into, North Korea is known as one of the worst violators of human rights and is not a fan of Americans who have been sentenced to hard labor and other torturous punishments for minor infringements so getting into the country may be easier than getting out.