Entering Closed Countries

Yesterday American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee were released and brought home after being detained in a North Korean prison for the past month. The two prisoners had “wandered” across the Chinese border and been arrested by North Korean military. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton made a surprise visit to the isolated country by way of a private jet in order to bring the Current TV employees back to the States. The negotiations went accordingly and the journalists were released in a diplomatic fashion.

Former President Clinton Landing in North Korea

It is key to note that the former president did not enter North Korea through the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone); the border between North and South Korea. The zone is heavily locked down in order to keep out any outside visitors. Very isolated, North Korea is infamous for being the most difficult country to enter under any circumstance. This lead us to thinking, what other countries in the world make it very difficult for tourists or even journalists to enter?

Burma (Myanmar) – Burma is an isolated nation located on the Indochina peninsula. Oppose to Thailand Vietnam and Laos, Burma has chosen to stay secluded from the western world during the second half of the 20th century. The country has been under heavy military rule since a coup-d’etat in 1962. Although not a violent or pro-war country, it is very hard to obtain a visa or sneak into the country undetected.

Shwedagon Temple in Yangoon (“Ran-goon”) Burma

Kuwait – Remember that country the U.S. defended in the Persian Gulf? Kuwait does not grant tourist visas, even to Americans. Although if traveling for business, a hotel can grant visas to your company and allow you in. Like many middle eastern countries, business visas are encouraged but tourism is not high on the list of goals.

Cuba – Although there is an embargo the U.S. has sanctioned upon the socialist nation, it actually is not difficult to enter this unique island of the Caribbean. However, if you are a U.S. citizen, getting back into the states after you have visited Cuba is a different story. Many American citizens have been taken to court with infractions due to vacationing in Havana.

Because we have had to enter certain countries to rate all the hotels made available by hotelreservations.com, we have found ways around these barriers. But remember these regulations are against tourist visas, in most cases journalists and government/business officials can easily obtain a visa. Furthermore, many of these countries just make travelers jump through hoops in the hopes that the tourist will get discouraged and pick another country to visit. So if you do have a yearning to see the temples of Burma or visit a war-torn country that can’t protect you from being kidnapped, you can make it happen. Just remember once you’re there, you’re playing by their rules.