You wouldn’t be wrong to assume the hardest part of traveling the world is saving up to cover the costs of flights. However, have you ever considered whether you can even get a visa or how time-consuming it will be? Some of the most epic journeys you can take, such as the Trans-Siberian Railway or walking the Great Wall of China, will mean navigating countries that have strict visa laws. If you are looking to take a longer trip or move or study abroad, then you will also have to pay extra attention to visa requirements. In this article, My Baggage covers the ten hardest visas to obtain and how you can get your hands on them!
10 Hardest Visas Around the World
We’ll start off with the elephant in the room – the hermit kingdom of North Korea. It might not surprise you to learn that there are harder countries to get a visa for. You cannot apply for a visa independently and can only get a tourist visa through the tour operator you are traveling with – and the tour operator must be registered with the State General Bureau of Tourist Guidance. Spend some time researching tour operators online to find one that is registered and has great reviews. Make sure you get in touch with them well ahead of when you are planning on traveling to ensure you have given yourself enough time to obtain the visa.
As a country with such a complicated history, North Korea is worth visiting for a number of reasons. First off, there’s the capital city Pyongyang, with sites such as the Juche Tower, Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, and Kim Il-Sung Square. There’s Heaven Lake, a crater lake on the border between North Korea and China. There’s Kaesong, a city near the border of South Korea where you can find Manwoldae Palace. Certain areas of North Korea, however, tourists aren’t allowed access to even with a visa and require prior approval from the North or United Nations command, such as the Demilitarized Zone.
Getting a visa to Russia has always been notoriously hard. If you are traveling via a tour, they will be able to assist with this. However, if you are traveling independently expect to deal with Russian bureaucracy at its finest. Russia has also recently introduced biometric applications, meaning you must give your fingerprints and facial image when applying so will need to apply at the embassy in person.
Before you even get to this stage it is essential that you have a letter of invitation which has been issued by a Russian travel agency that is registered with the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. If this sounds like a nightmare, you can get help from a private visa agency, as even one mistake on your application will result in it being denied.
Although it’s a long and difficult process, obtaining a visa to Russia will allow you to see many of the great cities and sights it has to offer. No trip to Russia is complete without visiting St Petersburg, the former capital, with the Mariinsky Theatre and the State Russian Museum. The current capital, Moscow, is also worth visiting, if anything just for the beautiful architecture, such as the impressive Saint Basil’s Cathedral. If you prefer nature to cities, then take a trip to the beautiful Lake Baikal, or head to the Kola Peninsula between August and April to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights.
If you are considering moving to Russia to study, there are some brilliant universities with exchange programs for English speakers – although it’s always a good idea to try to learn the language, even if it is just the basics. Read more…