OK I know Iraq is utterly totally off the vast majority of people's itineraries for the immediate future.

But I am pretty sure I have heard of some extreme adventurous types going there and following the "ask the locals which parts really should be avoided" rule when they get there.

For instance most people wouldn't go to Pakistan or Colombia now either for safety reasons, yet following this rule many adventurous travellers go to these destinations and have an amazing time.

So what I want to know is if you are even tougher than those guys and know what you are doing is it possible to visit any parts of Iraq at all, or is it strictly a case of "join the army" if you want to go.

Please don't submit answers not aimed specifically at extreme travellers.

  • I don't know much about Iraq, but I hear from veterans as well as middle easterners from other countries that the Iraqi people are the most kind and generous people in the region. As for Colombia, I (an American) have visited three separate occasions fro, in 2006, 2008, and 2009. I never even felt uneasy.
    – user4571
    Commented Feb 20, 2013 at 23:34

3 Answers 3


You can cross the Turkey-Iraq border at Silopi-Zakho and travel throughout Kurdish Iraq without any problems. In the past (before 2008), the border was a bit more difficult as the Turks and Iraqi border guards were much more suspicious of non-locals crossing, but now they don't even look twice.

You'll get a 10-day visa on arrival at the border although it is only valid in Kurdish controlled areas.

There are plenty of hotels in Dohuk, Erbil and Suleimaniyah (and smaller towns) of all levels of quality and you can move about easily by shared taxis. You can usually find someone who speaks English in the big cities, and Turkish is also widely spoken in addition to the local Kurdish and Arabic.

Security for Western travellers has not been an issue in Kurdistan for some time. At the worst, you might get hung up at one of the check points while the police go over your documents and inevitably let you through. Just don't leave the three safe provinces, so don't go to Nineveh (Mosul), Kerkuk or anything further south!

  • I'd be happy to expand my answer if there is anything in particular I can help with. Commented May 10, 2012 at 17:12
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    Very good answer, thank you. I hitchhiked through Iraq from Turkey to Iran, crossing near Halebce. Stayed 9 days inside, had great experience in Hewrel (Arbil), Suly, and Halebce (Halabja). Good places to visit :-)
    – rozwal
    Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 11:23

Chris Guillebeau, author of The Art of Non-Conformity blog, has an article on how he managed to get there.

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    This trip was done in the first half of 2008, three and a half years ago. Things may have changed. Commented Dec 29, 2011 at 21:35

It is possible to go to Iraq. Business people travel there regularly, although they normally travel with security.

There's a pretty good summary of the area here. Kurdistan seems to be one of the more stable areas, and the border with Iran seems to be pretty scary.

I would be afraid to travel in Iraq, but then I'm also afraid to go to Colombia, which is reasonably safe.

  • I would not hesitate to go to Colombia but I am hesitating to go to Pakistan, which is something I'm ashamed of. Commented Sep 16, 2011 at 19:03
  • Pakistan is actually pretty safe on the ground according to friends who worked as journalists there for six months this year. Commented Sep 17, 2011 at 10:20
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    Colombia is cool, just avoid the NW and it's all good ;) Bogota is a very vibrant and interesting city.
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Sep 20, 2011 at 23:05

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