30 Places Americans Can’t (or Shouldn't) Visit main image
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30 Places Americans Can’t (or Shouldn't) Visit

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia

Not only is it nearly impossible to get a Saudi visa, once you have one, you still might not be able to step foot on their soil. If you are a woman, it is even more difficult. You will need a local sponsor who will meet you at the airport. Before you leave Saudi Arabia to come home, you will need the permission of both the sponsor and your husband.

Traveling to a place like Saudi Arabia requires immense and careful planning. Finding a trust-worthy sponsor requires months of communication and careful consideration of previous visitors who traveled with that sponsor. Tying yourself to the wrong sponsor could put you in a sticky situation, or at least ruin your vacation.

Cuba

Cuba

There has been a recent shift in the relationship between the United States and Cuba. American travelers to Cuba must fall into one of the following categories: “people-to-people travel” or “travel for the transmission of informational materials.” Then, you have to get a visa through the Cuban government. While travel isn't expressly forbidden, it is a little trickier than just purchasing a plane ticket.

(image via budellison, CC)

Obtaining the correct documents and permissions to visit Cuba can take months. We all know waiting for the government to send you information and documents moves at a snail’s pace, let alone dealing with two different governments at once. There’s still a lot of regulation from both ends around traveling to Cuba, hopefully in the future America and Cuba can sort out their differences so people can visit this beautiful island.

Algeria

Algeria

After you get a certificate of accommodation from the Algerian government, book a hotel room, and get your hands on a letter of invitation from a travel agency inside the country. Even then, it is still not likely that you will be approved. If you do make it over, kidnapping is incredibly high in the country.

In countries like this, phony travel agencies can scam you or even worse. Like other countries who require a sponsor or insider invitation to visit, months of communication and careful consideration must take place to ensure your safety. Relying on someone else for your safe arrival and time in another country can be nerve racking.

Iraq

Iraq

There are many American citizens in Iraq, but you might not want to go through what they did to get there. The war efforts have made it even more difficult to get to the Middle East than it was before. If you were able to go there, you may be shocked at the state of things.

Decades of war have done a number on the entire country. There are still places that have been untouched, however the displacement of people and lives have had serious impacts on the country’s urban areas. The instability in the area also puts you at risk for unexpected changes to your trip, so stay on your toes if you do go.

Somalia

Somalia

There are so many hurdles to face when trying to visit Somalia. Because of an intense presence of pirates in the area, it can be difficult to even get to Somalia. To go there, you need both a sponsor and invitation letter from someone in the country. It’s no wonder why Somalia is literally the second-least visited country on the planet.

(image via rjones0856, CC)

Let’s say you do actually get into Somalia, the crime in the country is such an issue, your time there will mostly be spent by looking over your shoulder. This is another case of careful preparation and planning. You may even consider traveling in a large group to make sure you have plenty of support while your visiting.

Iran

Iran

Since there isn’t an Iranian Embassy in the United States, you’ll have to use the Pakistani Embassy in Washington. From there, you will only be able to visit the country in a guided group tour. If you have been to Israel before, then they probably won’t let you get a travel visa due to political tensions.

The political struggle over land between Iran and Israel has tainted the entire area. Tourism in the area is extremely regulated and controlled. While traveling, people really want to go and see exactly what they want to see. However, in areas like Iran, that’s just not the case. It’s very important to remain safe in these areas, so it’s for your own good to stay with a guide.

Syria

Syria

When you are taking your religious journey, you will have to skip this section of the Holy Land. Getting a visa from Syria has no definite time frame, so it could take years if they do accept your application. You will already need to have purchased your plane ticket, even though you won’t know whether or not you will be able to actually use it.

Many people who lived in Syria have since been displaced, fleeing the area from the ongoing war in the middle east. At this point in time, we’re not sure why someone would want to visit Syria, unless you were a journalist or government entity. But, if for some reason you did decide to go there, be prepared for the unexpected.

Afghanistan

Afghanistan

Once again, you can visit Afghanistan… but you’ll need to enlist in the military to go. Afghanistan is another country very effected by the war in the middle east. Most of Afghanistan is under military control and they are full of ongoing firefight. Probably not the best place to plan a relaxing vacation

(image via ninara, CC)

 We would skip Afghanistan for now, maybe one day we can see what’s left of it. The area is full of ancient monuments, temples and history. However, we won’t have an opportunity to see much of it until the middle east settles down long enough for peace to be returned to the country.

Angola

Angola

Before knowing whether or not you will be able to go to Angola, you will need a $450 letter of invitation, an Algerian visa, an airline ticket, and a hotel room booked in advance. This in no way guarantees that you will get into the country, though.

(image via davidstanleytravel, CC)

Angola is located in South Africa. It's known for its varying landscapes consisting of lush tropical beaches and sub-Saharan desert areas. But other than it’s scenery it’s a hot spot for both malaria and yellow fever! The amount of work needed to obtain access to the country may outweigh the payoff of the visit.

North Korea

North Korea

It actually is possible to visit North Korea, but only technically. You aren’t likely to be admitted, but if you are, you have to buy a package tour. This means that you have to book all of your meals before your trip. Like some of the others on this list, there is no North Korean Embassy in the States, so your visa would have to go through another country.

(image via shining75)

Sending off paperwork overseas for approval is a lengthy process that may or may not happen. It’s no secret that North Korea has its problems with corruption and very strict laws. Let’s say you do get your golden ticket; you may think twice about visiting because if you break any laws while there the punishment is substantial and unwavering.

Russia

Russia

While there's nothing outright blocking Americans from visiting Russia, the country makes things as hard as possible for visitors from the USA. Because Russian tourism is growing, you can expect long waits for visa approvals. And, Americans must answer an invasive 40-question form as part of the approval process--unlike the rest of the world, who only has to answer 21 questions. 

We’re not saying that Russia is as bad as some other places on this list to visit, it’s just that with current political tensions and societal differences between other countries and Russia, tourists there tend to stick out like a sore thumb. Which is a bad thing in Russia. There is little tolerance for disrespect of customs and traditions. So if you go, be well versed in their customs and pick up a few common phrases before arriving.

(Image via Pinterest)

India

India

India is not a particularly difficult country to visit, but it will take some careful planning. Depending on the nature of your visit, obtaining a visa can take months at a time. Additionally, rising violence in the country and neighboring countries means you should stay alert at all times if you do visit. 

India has its fair share of problems, the sheer amount of people in India means that it’s tough for government influence to reach everyone. India is notorious for pickpocketing and tourist traps. It’s very easy to spot a tourist there, and scammers take advantage of that; scamming people into “Secret” tourist locations that only they know about, and then taking all your money.

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Nauru

Nauru

Nauru is a small island in Micronesia that many Americans probably haven't heart of, but if you want to visit, you're going to have to jump through a lot of hoops. You've got to have your visa sorted out before you arrive, and you'll also need proof of a hotel booking or other lodging arrangements.

When you think of tropical islands in the middle of Oceana, Nauru isn’t the dream you’re thinking of. The country has been stripped of several natural resources such as phosphate in supply to Australia. Although the island is surrounded by coral reefs, the island is rocky with limited beaches and swimming locations.

(Image via Pinterest)

Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan

You're not getting into Turkmenistan without an invite, which means you first need to secure an official one from the government. On top of that, you'll have to obtain a visa as well, and those have been known to be rejected even when applicants had all of their ducks in a row. 

Although Turkmenistan is extremely difficult to get into, it is a relatively safe place to visit. The country ranks 116 out of 163 countries in regard to safety and peace. The problem is, it costs a considerable amount of time, money, and effort to even be considered for access to the country, and there are way easier places to get to.

(Image via Pinterest)

Bhutan

Bhutan

Bhutan is a country that has literally no diplomatic ties with the United States, which already makes it more difficult than most places for Americans to enter. However, visiting the country also involves paying super high tariffs, which is more than enough to scare a lot of potential visitors away. 

If you haven’t heard of Bhutan before, it’s a country in south Asia at the foot of the eastern edge of the Himalaya’s. It’s known for its extreme landscapes ranging from plains, mountain ranges, to valleys. The area is full of Buddhist temples and monasteries. It’s a beautiful place, but not worth the work to get in to.

(Image via Pinterest)

Libya

Libya

Americans can technically visit Libya, but the government strongly advises against it. Because of violence in the region, the US Embassy closed shop in 2014 and hasn't reopened since. And when it comes to visas, you're on your own again--the government can't help you obtain one, and it's probably for good reason. 

Libya is located in northern Africa directly to the west of Egypt bordered by the Mediterranean Sea. Like many countries in that region of the world, Libya is victim to political instability and war. The political unrest has made it a dangerous place to be, so we would advice all people (especially Americans) to avoid visiting.

(Image via Pinterest)

Yemen

Yemen

The US State Department says that Yemen has a “high security threat level posed by ongoing conflict and terrorist activities” Additionally, the embassy has stopped issuing visas for the country, which makes it completely unavailable for visiting by legal means at this current point in time. The country counties in a constant state of strife, attempting to uproot Iranian influence and reinstate Hadi’s government influence.

The Republic of Yemen is located at the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. It’s also the second largest Arab sovereign state in the area. As recently as 2020, the country has been recognized as one of the Arab world’s poorest countries, completely riddled with civil war due to political strife.

(Image via Pinterest)

Eritrea

Eritrea

No one, American or otherwise is getting in the small African country of Eritrea without some serious effort--they prevent all foreigners from entering, even for tourism. Additionally, the US has no embassy in or diplomatic ties with the country, which means you're on your own if you find yourself in trouble there. 

Eritrea is in northeast Africa on the coast of the red sea. The capital city, Asmara of the country serves as a port with a colorful history full of influence. Asmara is known for it’s Italian, Egyptian and Turkish architecture that reflect the areas rich trade history. All of this sounds enticing, but without an embassy it’s hard to travel to and from.

(Image via Pinterest)

Burundi

Burundi

Political violence in the region is the number one reason that the State Department doesn't recommend visiting Burundi any time soon. Considering the country's history of the 1972 Burundian Genocide and numerous human rights violations, it's probably best to just stay away from this country... even if you could travel there. 

Burundi is victim to ongoing political tension in the area, which causes widespread instances of grenade attacks, terrorism, and assassination. While western people aren’t the usual targets for these attacks, getting wrapped up in the middle of one of those could put your life in jeopardy. Better safe than sorry.

(Image via Pinterest)

Honduras

Honduras

Honduras as a whole can be a dangerous place to visit--with the State Department warning of thing like gang activity and drug trafficking. However, the Gracias a Dios region is considered particularly dangerous. Because of its remote location, it can be difficult for the government to find and help citizens in need. 

Honduras is infamous for crimes against tourists. Pickpocketing, kidnapping, and assault happens in tourist spots frequently. Traveling here requires you to be vigilant about your location. There are also shocking levels of HIV and AIDS in Honduras, so it’s important to be mindful of medical equipment and other risky activities while traveling here.

(Image via Pinterest)

Chad

Chad

Ongoing violence in Chad and its surrounding neighbors has led the State Department to strongly caution anyone visiting the African country. In addition to the violence warnings, they also note that there are many undetonated mines in the region. So, all this means that visiting the region literally means walking a minefield.

The Republic of Chad is a north-central African country riddled by the decades of political strife in the middle east. Maybe one day Chad will return to normal, and tourism can once again take place, but for now it’s probably best for you to forget about visiting. If you’re dying to visit the area, go to Nigeria or Egypt.

(Image via Pinterest)

Nicaragua

Nicaragua

In addition to the frequent violence in the region, officials have other reasons for warning Americans about visiting Nicaragua. There are also reports of civilians posing as police officers and blocking roads and resources from reaching their intended destinations. This causes major disruption of traffic, leaving tourists vulnerable to robberies and kidnapping.

Nicaragua has recently become a hot spot for American “Mission Trips.” However, it’s probably one of the last places in the world a bus load of churchgoers needs to be. If you don’t know, Nicaragua is located in Central America above Costa Rica and below Honduras. Despite the dangers of tourism here, the landscape is beautiful; dotted with volcanoes and beaches.

(Image via Pinterest)

Democratic Republic of Congo

Democratic Republic of Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo is frequently the site of dangerous armed conflict and kidnapping, making it a dangerous place for a person of any country to visit. Additionally, a substantial resurgence of the Ebola virus in the region since 2018 makes visiting a health hazard as well as a risk for kidnapping. 

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is one of the largest countries in Africa, as well as one of the top 20 in the entire world with a population of over 86.79 million people. Despite this however, it is also one of the poorest countries in the world. Its constant political upheaval causes immense poverty. This place just isn’t a good fit for tourism.

(Image via Pinterest)

Lebanon

Lebanon

Lebanon is probably the worst location of the world when it comes to violent conflict--Syria sits to its east, while Israel is just south of the country. Constant political tensions with neighboring countries means that travel here should be avoided if at all possible, it's just not a safe place for tourists. 

It’s bad enough that people who actually live in the area are fleeing due to the constant bombardment of air raids. The uncertainty surrounding the future of this area means that the infostructure for tourism just isn’t there. It’s a shame that such a beautiful and culturally significant part of the world is off-limits.

(Image via Pinterest)

Pakistan

Pakistan

Because of large-scale terrorist attacks in the country, the State Department strongly encourages Americans to avoid traveling in Pakistan. Additionally, the US consulate in Pakistan is unable to provide any services to American citizens at this time. Which means traveling to this country is a one man show where you're on your own. 

If you get in trouble there, the U.S. does not have an entity to help you get back to the states. With kidnapping of American citizens being such a possibility when traveling to foreign countries, having an agency in the region to investigate means there is at least a chance someone finds you, but here you’re left to your own survival skills.

(Image via Pinterest)

Turkey

Turkey

The State Department currently warns of the possibility of both terrorism and arbitrary detention in Turkey.  So if you manage to avoid an attack, there's always the chance that you'll be unjustly accused of helping orchestrate that attack. Additionally, criticism of the Turkish government on social media can get you arrested there. 

Visiting this country requires a tourist to be well versed in tricky laws and customs, which we all know people don’t always pay enough attention to. Turkey is situated right between Southeast Europe and Western Asia, meaning it sits in one of the most politically charged places in the world.

(Image via Pinterest)

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka may have breathtaking views, but it's also a region plagued by terrorism of all kinds. It's so bad there that the government ordered the departure of all school-aged US citizens and their families from the country in 2019. You know it’s bad when a country admits that tourists need to leave.

It’s a shame that the country is so dangerous, because it is one of the most culturally stunning places in the world. Sri Lanka has a dense history in Buddhism and it’s position along the Silk Road. Societies of people throughout time have used Sri Lanka as a major trading hub, giving the region it’s own unique point of view.

(Image via Pinterest)

Sudan

Sudan

You can technically get into Sudan, but you're likely to encounter lots of delays by police and/or the run of the mill terrorist demonstration. If you want to leave the capital city of Khartoum you'll need to obtain an additional permit on top of your visa, making it very difficult to get in to. 

The Republic of the Sudan is located in Northeast Africa on the coast of the Red Sea. Sudan is directly to the south of Egypt and East of Chad, positioning this country directly in the midst of the turmoil of the middle east. The ancient history in the area makes this country a tempting location for travel, however the dangers of terrorism make it off limits.

(Image via Pinterest)

Central African Republic

Central African Republic

The United States, as well as most other Western countries, highly discourage travel to the Central African Republic. An internal religious civil war and ongoing  violence from neighboring countries makes this an extremely dangerous place to visit for multiple reasons! The worst part is, foreigners are especially targeted for these attacks.

Currently, the Central African Republic is subject to nationwide state of emergencies, meaning airspace above the country is completely prohibited. Law enforcement in the country cannot guarantee your safety, and they are advising everyone to leave the country if you can. Government agencies warn that bandit groups will target groups of foreigners to steal their equipment and resources.

(Image via Pinterest)

Niger

Niger

In addition to violence within the country itself, visitors to Niger should also be aware of violent conflict in the surrounding countries as well. The United States is only able to provide very limited emergency services for citizens visiting the area, so don't depend on the government to assist you in a time of need. 

Terrorist groups commonly target foreigners for attacks and kidnappings at hotels, restaurants, and cafes. Government agencies advise that groups of crime rings frequently clash in the streets at night, and that scams are extremely common. All in all, this is probably one of the worst places to visit as an American.

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