The Passport Index ranks the Australian passport as the eighth most powerful in the world. Aussies can travel to 151 countries without a visa, but there are a few countries that aren’t so keen on them. From the stubborn to the ridiculous, here is a list of countries that make it extremely difficult for Australian passport holders to get a visa.
Widely criticised for its human rights abuses, it’s perhaps not that surprising that this Central Asian country isn’t keen on visitors. In order to secure a tourist visa you will need to get an official letter of invitation. You can only secure one of these by going through an accredited tour guide and travel agent.
While you are free to explore the country on your own, unescorted, your tour operator will collect you at the airport and escort you to your destination.
Getting a tourist visa in Bhutan is not too difficult. The problem comes in where the government requires you to buy a “Minimum Daily Package”. If you’re travelling solo, this fee will set you back USD 240 – 290 per day. Those travelling as a couple will have to pay USD 270 – 320 per person.
The package includes three star accommodation, three meals a day and tour costs. You can choose to spend your time in more exclusive hotels and restaurants, but you will have to pay extra.
The cost of visiting this country is often cited as the reason why it is referred to as Asia’s most exclusive destination.
The Saudi kingdom simply does not have tourist visas. A wealth of oil money has made it easy for the House of Saud to close its borders to leisure tourists.
The only way you can get into the Kingdom, as a temporary visitor, is if you are Islamic and apply for a specific visa to visit Mecca on a pilgrimage.
If you’re not Saudi, you will only be allowed into the country on a business visa. Due to some intensely conservative laws, all female business travellers must be met at the airport by her male business partners. These partners must also escort the woman around town.
Special mention: North Korea
South Korea’s northern neighbour is never far from the headlines for its isolationism and fiery rhetoric. It’s not surprising to learn that the Democratic Republic of Korea has some of the strictest rules around visitor visa regulations.
What is surprising, however, is that if you play by the rules it’s not that difficult to get a tourist visa. The government, in need of the money that tourism brings in, has stated that it wants to have at least 2 million visitors by 2020.
Once you’re in the country, you will be escorted on a state-sanctioned tour through the city and the countryside. You will have to buy a comprehensive package from the state tourism department, and you will have to allow for at least two months for your application to be processed.