If you are a US citizen that feels like they are well-travelled, and you’re feeling like a new challenge, why not try gaining access to one of the countries that are notoriously hard for Americans to get into. After all, by now you’re probably sick of all the loud, obnoxious tourists you have to encounter every time you land in some that is swamped with resorts and theme parks. The following destinations are for the hardcore traveller.
An old relic of the old world, one of the last remaining communist countries, North Korea seems too far out of reach for an American, but it’s definitely possible. If you had of tried 3 or more years ago, you would have been out of luck, since United States citizens were denied visas up until 2010.
Americans are not allowed to travel into North Korea by train or car, so the only option is to fly. You can choose to fly with Air China, a Chinese operator, or Air Koryo, North Korea’s national carrier.
Nearly every visit to North Korea is going to require to assistance of a tour operator. And for the most part, you will be confined to a tour group, where you are told what you can see and do, while being educated by the tour guide.
If you’re expecting to be able to explore this closed in country at your own whim, you will be disappointed by the reality of North Korean tourism as it stands today.
Ever since the Iran Hostage Crisis from 1979 until 1981, tensions between the US and Iran have remained high. Like North Korea, an American will not be able to move freely throughout Iran, instead having to be accompanied by a tour guide the entire time.
The first step would be to start planning an itinerary with an iranian travel agency to set up a guided itinerary. Once approved, you can begin to make your application for a visa, which should take around a week. Since the US does not have an Iranian Embassy, you will have to lodge your visa application at the ‘iranian Interest Section’ in the Pakistani Embassy in Washington.
There is no shortage of flights to Tehran, and many other cities in Iran. Although you can’t fly direct from the US; popular places to grab a connecting flight include Istanbul, Dubai and Kuala Lumpur.
Since Fidel Castro took power in 1959, relations between Cuba and the United States have been terminated. This does make it a little harder to go to Cuba, but it’s still very much on the cards for the adventurous traveller. Americans can travel to Cuba, but there is a decent amount of paperwork involved, as the trip must involve cross-cultural exchange, which is decided to be worthy or not according to The U.S. Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control.
Flights can be a little tricky. If you have organised the trip through a special travel agent that has one of the licenses awarded by The US Government, then you will be able to jump on one of the very few flights that goes from Miami to Cuba.
A more convenient way to travel, would be to go via Canada, Mexico other Caribbean islands. By not going through the US, you might even be able to skip out on the paperwork (sneakily).