But there are countries that are really difficult and even almost impossible to get into. The matter may be both in the design of the visas themselves, and the remoteness of these territories. We have collected five points on the map, which only the most stubborn travelers can reach.
North Korea (DPRK)
North Korea is known for its “special” course, which was set by the country’s leadership. As a result, the DPRK was almost completely isolated. Citizens of the United States, Israel and Japan are virtually excluded from entry, and for residents of the CIS and several other countries, the border is open.
You cannot travel alone – only as part of a tourist group. Tourists there will be inextricably accompanied by two guides. Earlier, before entering North Korea, cell phones were taken from tourists, but now they don’t. There is no sense from mobile phones anyway: roaming does not work, as well as the Internet. Bank cards are not accepted. We need euros, dollars or Chinese yuan – purchases can only be made in special tourist shops. If you have only Russian rubles in your wallet, then it is better to first exchange them for one of these currencies. Cameras and laptops are allowed, but there will be problems with taking photographs – much cannot be removed.
Guides everywhere follow you on the heels, and even from the hotel, you can’t just go for a walk. You will either be caught by the police and returned to the hotel, or the guide will find out where you left and for what purpose. You never know, suddenly spy. By the way, such guardianship on the part of the guides has a positive moment. Upon entering the country, all tourists are taken away their passports and returned only before departure. To get lost in a country with such orders without a passport and knowledge of the language is the right way to find yourself in a difficult and dangerous situation. Therefore, usually tourists themselves make sure that they do not move far from the group – it is safer. In addition, keep in mind that breaking the rules will most likely get away with you – after all, you are a guest of a prosperous country and do not know all the subtleties. But the guide, who did not follow you, can get from the regulatory authorities.
As for the cultural program, you should definitely go to one of the grandiose productions that many saw only on YouTube. For example, at the musical and gymnastic show “Ariran”, which is included in the Guinness Book of Records as the most ambitious festival of its kind. About one hundred thousand people take part in the performance, and the action takes place at a stadium with a capacity of one hundred and fifty thousand spectators. Often, tourists come to the DPRK precisely for the sake of Arran.
Several places are included in the UNESCO World Heritage Fund – historical monuments and objects of the city of Keson and the complex of tombs of Goguryeo with ancient murals on stone slabs. Still, in the country, there are many sanatoriums with hot springs, where North Koreans themselves also have a rest.
To get into the kingdom is not easy, especially alone, without a tourist group. Saudi Arabia does not issue tourist visas: entry into the country is allowed mainly for work purposes, but there is a small loophole – visiting sacred places. It is extremely difficult for a single tourist to be in the country, so the best option is to travel as a group. If your passport contains an Israeli visa, there is no chance of visiting Saudi Arabia.
The country lives according to Sharia law, and there will be no warnings for their initial violation – the punishment will immediately follow. This is one of the few countries where the death penalty is still regularly used, and not through a humane injection of poison, but by chopping off the head or stoning. Tourists are better in no case to offend religious feelings and not violate the current way of life. Men have more indulgences, while women are forbidden to wear short skirts, appear in public without a scarf on their heads and unaccompanied by men, swim in open bathing suits, drive a car. Compliance with the rules is monitored by the religious police.
Among the places of interest to visit is the National Museum of Saudi Arabia, the zoo in the capital of Riyadh, King Abdullah Park and the world’s largest mosque, al-Haram, which is located in Mecca.
One of the few post-Soviet countries to visit which a Russian citizen is not easy to obtain a visa. The procedure is more like a lottery: the principles by which embassies make decisions on issuing a visa are completely incomprehensible. There were times when people tried to get to Turkmenistan several times, but to no avail, and then they were suddenly allowed to travel. An invitation from relatives or acquaintances also does not greatly increase your chances. There are few accredited travel agencies, and a guide will be assigned to a group of travelers, as well as to the DPRK.
Turkmenistan is an amazingly beautiful country, and it is annoying that getting into it is so difficult; there are almost no tourist reports and travel stories. Some experienced travelers argue that Turkmenistan is a much more closed state than the DPRK. Here, too, there is a cult of the president’s personality, and even the “Arch of Neutrality” was installed with a statue of the former head of state Saparmurat Niyazov, who turns after the sun.
Among other attractions – the National Museum of Turkmen Carpet, which presents more than two thousand works; many of them are unique. You can watch rare animals in the recently opened National Museum of Wildlife of Turkmenistan, where there are more than 250 species of birds and animals.
Be sure to visit the Dinosaur Plateau – this is a large limestone slab on which dinosaurs walked millions of years ago. On the plateau, there are more than two thousand fingerprints of traces of various shapes and sizes. There is also information about the traces found there, similar to human ones, how they ended up there is a mystery. Another tourist attraction is the grim name “Gates of Hell.” Turkmenistan is rich in natural gas. In the early seventies, geologists, having discovered an underground cavity, decided to set fire to the gas accumulated there in order to protect the territory. They did not suspect the real volume of deposits – the fire has not been extinguished for the past forty-five years. At night, the “Gates of Hell” look really ominous.
This territory formally belongs to the UK, but it is unlikely that the British themselves know anything about Pitcairn and its inhabitants. The islands, of which only one is inhabited, are located in the Pacific Ocean and it is incredibly difficult to reach them. Citizens of Russia have two ways to get there: either to issue a visa-free trip for up to 14 days with entry-departure on one ship or to obtain a visa for the island’s representation in New Zealand Auckland. The route also causes difficulties – Pitcairn can be reached only by water, and the trip will take about a day and a half. There are several cargo and passenger ships that take tourists on board. But the ship still needs to be reached. To do this, get ready to fly to Tahiti, and then from the small islands of French Polynesia, you can sail to Pitcairn by ship. In total, the journey from Moscow to the island will take about three days.
Oddly enough, there is absolutely nothing to watch on the island; it is more interesting for its amazing story, which you hardly believe at first. In the first half of the nineteenth century, part of the crew of the British bounty ship rebelled, captured a ship and headed for Tahiti; reaching the island, the sailors sailed on, taking with them local girls and several Tahitian male slaves. The rebels knew about the uninhabited Pitcairn islands, which were discovered in 1767 and named after the son of a sailor who noticed these lands; there they sought.
They settled down quite well on the island, kept house, leaving the slaves dirty work, and even learned how to drive alcohol. Everything went well until a conflict occurred between the sailors and the slaves, as a result of which the Tahitians were killed, and only John Adams and Edward Young survived from the white men. The latter died in 1800. John Adams ruled the community until 1829 when he passed away. Nine years later, Pitcairn became a British colony. Some of the residents gradually moved to New Zealand and Norfolk, but not everyone wanted to leave the island. At the moment, about fifty people live there, most of them are descendants of John Adams and the rest of the sailors.
Those few tourists who get to Pitcairn annually bring the island 80% of the income. There are no hotels, no embassies, no visa centers, but local residents are happy to welcome tourists to their homes and provide guests with everything they need. There are several buildings built specifically for visitors. Pitcairn is a must-see island for all travelers who crave real trials and want to visit a truly exotic place.
Perhaps only Antarctica can compete with the Pitcairn Islands in terms of travel complexity. Firstly, the cost of travel is very high. Secondly, there are only a few companies in the world that organize flights to this continent. The easiest way, if the word “just” is generally applied to a trip to Antarctica, is a flight from Chile or South Africa. Separately reported on sea cruises from New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa. In addition to penguins, you can see the geographic and ceremonial South Pole. The first one does not look very presentable: just a plate, and next to it is a pole with a tip, which is changed annually to another. The ceremonial pole is a chrome ball surrounded by the flags of the countries participating in the study of Antarctica. On the continent, by the way, exclusively scientific activity is allowed. No visas or permits are required to get here.