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5 Hardest Countries for Americans to Get a Visa

By Andrew Lu on June 20, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

With adventure tours that take you to pretty much every country that you can imagine, the days of impressing your friends with a safari vacation in Africa or visiting the Coliseum in Rome are over.

Instead, average Joes are now starting to go to Antarctica, climb Mt. Everest, and rekindle their spirituality in Israel.

Still, not every door is open. There are some countries that make it very difficult for Americans to enter. Here is our list of the five hardest countries for Americans to get a tourist visa.

  1. Cuba. This country went from hip vacation spot decades ago, to forbidden neighbor, and is now slowly becoming hip vacation spot again. President Obama has lifted the ban on visiting Cuba; however, there are still many restrictions.

  2. Pakistan. Remember that you'll need permission to enter the country, as well as permission to return to the U.S. If you have friends or relatives in Pakistan, you may be able to get a visa to enter from the Pakistani Embassy or Consulate. But be prepared to explain to the U.S. authorities how you spent your time in Pakistan on your return trip home.

  3. Iran. Three American college students were infamously detained while accidentally hiking across the Iranian border. Get permission with a tourist visa before you enter, otherwise you may make the news too.

  4. Tibet. A country, or not a country? China recently banned all foreign visitors to Tibet. Regardless of what you believe of China's claim, you may be out of luck if you want to visit the home of the Dalai Lama.

  5. North Korea. You'll probably have a hard time convincing the North Korean government to let you in. And if somehow you're let in, there's no guarantee that you won't to be jailed for being a spy or some other reason.

These five countries may be very difficult to get a tourist visa to enter. While Americans enjoy very liberal travel privileges, there are still some countries that are relatively shut off.

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