This map is part of my series about mapping different countries and comparing them with each other against different aspects, from the perspective of a person who has visited them all (188/196 to be precise). After creating the most beautiful countries map, the best food in the world map or even the best quality price countries, this map focuses on the easiest and hardest countries to travel to and to explore as a regular or a budget backpacker. This is a question that I often get from travelers and comparing them to each other will give you valuable information about what to expect.
In This Article...
The Map of the Hardest Countries to Travel to
So from dark red (the most difficult to travel) to dark green (the easiest to travel), here is the map in question. I provide details on my choices in the other sections below.
The Top Tiers: The Easiest
It’s not a secret that the easiest countries to travel should be around North America and Western Europe. This is usually a trip where most people starting to travel can do and where you don’t really need to be a long-term dedicated traveler to venture in a week or 2 weeks holiday. With little to no experience, one can easily get around most of these countries. I myself started with the usual trips in the US when I was around 14 and then my first trip to Europe at 17. Nowadays with cheap airlines and cheap accommodation, Europeans have an easy time to go pretty much all over their continent with ease. The downside is that they can be expensive if you are not careful and this is where one should learn tips and tricks on how to travel under 50$ a day in these countries. Central European countries are not as travel-friendly as Western Europe but they are quickly catching up and they can already be included on a first time trip to Europe. Australia and New-Zealand are also great options as they are safe and very developed. Overall, Traveling in these countries is simple, booking a hotel or hostel is easily made online, and transportation is a no-brainer, as most cities are easily connected with excellent transport ranging from trains to buses to flights.
The Middle Tiers
In this section, I included countries that travelers will need a little more experience than the usual first-time traveler. Anybody traveling to a handful of the countries in this section can be considered a good traveler and will quickly understand the tricks to get around safely and economically. Latin America is one of those part of the world where travel can be rated easy to challenging, but with extreme reward. It is also cheap to travel but can also be dangerous as crime is high, especially in Central America and Brazil. Visas are easy to obtain for most nations, and overall, they are just a joy to be in. It’s no secret that it is one of my favorite part of the world. Eastern Europe and Russia can also be included in this section as travel infrastructure are not optimal and some countries will need visas that can be hard to get, like in Belarus and Russia. South-East Asia is also easy to get around, cheap and amazingly beautiful. But security is always a concern and must be approached carefully. Overall, countries in this section are good for a third trip onwards and only need a little more preparation to tackle them.
The Hardest Countries
The hardest countries to travel to are usually the ones who are experiencing political instability and wars, which makes security a real concern. Afghanistan and Iraq, for example, are high on this list because of what they are going through at the moment. Other countries that I have been to that are definitely out of bounds for most travelers include South Sudan, Somalia, the Congo DRC or North Korea. Venezuela is also a No GO zone right now and I’m happy I’ve been there before it crashed into political Kaos after the death of Hugo Chavez. Saudi Arabia is almost impossible to travel to as tourist visas are not issued. But there is news that this will change in a near future.
Other than that, you will notice a Big Red spot in the middle of the map. Yes, all in Africa! Ahhh this beautiful continent, yet so challenging and not ready for mass tourism. In general, Africa is not as dangerous as people think, but the reason they rank so high on this list is because in most countries they don’t have almost any travel oriented infrastructure. I have been traveling extensively in West Africa in 2015 on public transport, which consisted in some countries in packing 9 people in a small car (with an extra 2 people traveling on the roof) making it extremely uncomfortable. East Africa is definitely rapidly improving in the tourism sector, but it’s still not to the point it should be to attract mass tourism. The Malaria concerns are also not helping… Exceptions to the rule are Morocco, South Africa, and Namibia, which have almost identical standards as Europe (except for security in South Africa). Egypt is also an exception to some extent.
So here it is, my map of the most difficult countries to travel. Please keep in mind that situations in some countries are changing rapidly and that as of 2018 when I created this map, this is what I believe represents world travel as best I could. Always check travel advisories before venturing into some areas, and always watch out for local event like Elections, which can easily change a peaceful country into Hell!
So what do you think? Does this represent your idea of world travel? What experiences have you had on your own travels and how does it compare to this map? Please let me know in the comments below so we can continue the discussion.
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I have been to 106 countries including all of West Africa and most of Central Africa (including a miserable time crossing part of Central African Republic last summer).
This is a great map!
I try to explain to people how different Central Africa is compared to the rest of the world. So incredibly difficult. People ask me “are you visiting this places for fun”. I could say I am, but in reality they are often downright miserable. Best memories though.
Thanks for the post and accurate map!
Yes. I absolutely agree. Travelling in Central Africa could never be considered a holiday. Its pure adventure and requires a lot of effort and mental strongness to go through all the hoops along the way.
Thanks for your feedback on the map. Seems like only hardcore travellers will see the effort put in it.
stay tuned as I’m about to post a new map about the most welcoming countries to travel to. Meanwhile, you can find all of the ones I have made right here: https://www.thedigitalglobetrotter.com/cat/world-maps/
Hah I’ve been looking for this! If you google hardest countries to travel in you mostly just get stuff about countries where it’s hard to get VISAs. Thanks. Some surprises though, I’m not travelled enough to question your reasoning – just curious. Ghana is usually regarded as “Africa for beginners” but it’s listed here as hard as all Africa’s really hard countries? Nepal two jumps harder than India and as hard as Mongolia? And what on earth is going on with Denmark?