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Tour of the Axis of Evil

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1. Posted by HafJafMark (Respected Member 291 posts) 10y

Am seriously considering visiting Iraq, Iran and North Korea for a year (not till bout 2007), maybe writing a book on it or something.
Has anyone been to any of these countries - Is it even possible to get into North Korea as a tourist?

Itll probably never happen, but you never know.

2. Posted by daveh (Travel Guru 1027 posts) 10y

A BBC journalist recently made a documentary about this. He visited North Korea and i seem to recall him saying they hand out about 150 tourist visas a year. Good luck staying alive long enough to write your book if you're going to Iraq.

3. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 10y

Yes, i've been to both Iraq and Iran, and North Korea is the number 1 place on my list to visit. It IS possible, although independent tourism is not allowed, the country is closed for winter, and the number of visitors is strictly controlled and you have to go in a strictly controlled group. Impossible for S Koreans and Very very hard for Americans. For everyone else, it's a game of patience, but the normal way is via a tour group from Beijing. But visas are tough, numbers very limited - not sure how many a year exactly, but i thought it was more than 150 - and tours subject to very late cancellation (sometimes even on the train from Beijing to Pyongyang)

4. Posted by wouterrr (Travel Guru 3379 posts) 10y

Quoting Gelli

Yes, i've been to both Iraq and Iran, and North Korea is the number 1 place on my list to visit.

When did you go to Iraq if I may ask? I can't imagine that you took a tourist sightseeing trough Baghdad

5. Posted by applegirl (Full Member 144 posts) 10y

Just curious; why is it interesting for you to visit these countries now?

Ever thought of becoming a war correspondent? That might be the best option for you to explore these countries at this point.

Btw, look up the Norwegian journalist ├ůsne Seierstad - she has already written a couple of books recently about her experiences in Iraq, Afghanistan (and Serbia)

6. Posted by james (Travel Guru 4136 posts) 10y

Personally, I couldn't think of anything more depressing than visiting these places.

But each to his own.

7. Posted by GregW (Travel Guru 2635 posts) 10y

Actually, I imagine North Korea must be quite a beautiful country. I imagine it as being heavily forested.

Iran I have seen travel shows on, and it provides a very interesting mix of geographies. Did you know, for instance, that there are ski resorts in the North of Iran?

And Iraq, of course, has some great acient sites. In fact, some have said that the garden of Eden was located in the marsh lands in Southern Iraq, though sadly they have mainly been drained. Garden of Eden.

Greg

8. Posted by Cupcake (Travel Guru 8468 posts) 10y

Why would anyone want to see those countries? I for one, am interested in seeing everything this planet has to offer! Good, Bad and everything in between!

9. Posted by nordantill (Budding Member 3 posts) 10y

Actually it's not impossible to go to Iraq at the moment. The kurdish part in the north is fairly safe, and both Erbil and Sulemaniya are supose to be beautiful (at least that's what my kurdish friends keep telling me). The rest of Iraq is, as I'm sure you know, extremly dangerous. Baghdad and the sunni triangle are pratty much the most dangerous places in the world today (together with the estern part of Congo- Kinshasa,Darfur in Sudan,Afghanistan, Somalia and the rural parts of the Central African Republic),while the south (shia dominated part) of the country is at least at bit safer. "A bit safer" in this case means that you, unlike the sunni triangle, won't be the direct target of sucicide bombers (if they kill you it will only be incidental).
Iran is way easier and a 100 times safer. My uncle has been there several times and without any difficulties. That biggest risk is actually traffic accidents which are common throughout the country (especially in the regions bordening Afghanistan). But travelling around is in general safe.
Finally there's North korea, a country where you won't risk being killed (if you don't happen to be a north korean of course), but instead will face buerocratic troubles. If you're an american I'd suggest you give up know. Unless you a diplomat, they won't let you in. I suggest you check out North Koreas official website www.kcckp.net/en/ which has a tourism section.
Anyway, good luck with your travelling and promise to write about your axis of evil tour.

10. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 10y

Personally, I couldn't think of anything more depressing than visiting these places.

Depends on your point of view I suppose. In all cases, if you avoid politics as much as humanly possible - and are not an American - there's no great risk. Iran (outside of Tehran, anyway. It's somehwhat different there) is the most amazing country. Actual foreign tourism - as opposed to business or poncey aid workers - is virtually unknown, but the people are so amazingly friendly and accomodating that it's unreal. The hardest part is actually to leave some of them behind. I would love to go back, and even live there out in the country somewhere.

North Korea has always fascinated me - I was too young to get behind the wall or to the Soviet Union, so i missed out on all the closed societies. And now, it's really the only one left. Even Libya is actively opening at a scary rate. And the think with NK is they took much to even greater extremes than virtually anybody else. I fully admit that the suffering, death etc. etc that have occured are horrendous, and I don't want to be supporting the regime, but if you essentially ignore the hostory and take it as it is (hard, I admit)as somewhere to visit, i think it would be one of the most incredible places on the planet. Stunningly beautiful, and just to see the scale of Pyongyang would be something else. But I also know full well that it's not going to be somewhere which appeals to many people.

Annd Wouterrr, as to Iraq, i've been three times and (long story, but we won't go into it) twice was completely by accident. I was first there in about 98 and then again in 2003. Your right about the Baghdad tourism thing though, as i've only ever been in the Northern and Western parts of the country and never near Baghdad.