North Korea Tour FAQs

Is travelling in North Korea safe?TOP

Absolutely yes! Despite what the majority might have heard or pictured about North Korea, the fact is North Korea is probably one of the world's safest countries to visit. Tourism is organized by one of several state-owned travel companies and the itinerary of your visit is strictly conducted by the book. You will always be accompanied by two Korean guides who are responsible for your safety. Moreover, North Korean welcomes you to visit their country. So, as long as you follow rules and respect customs, you will have a fun and safe journey in North Korea.

Can I travel to North Korea By Myself? TOP

No. Tourists are not permitted to travel on their own to North Korea. You can visit the country by joining a guided tour organized by a registered tour company. On the tours you will always be accompanied by two Korean guides and one driver.

What do your tour costs include? What does a tour include?TOP

The tours we offer cover virtually all the costs in North Korea, including:

  • transportation in and out of the DPRK (either by air or by train);
  • all meals on the tour;
  • hotel accommodation;
  • all transfers within the DPRK between airports or railway stations, hotels and scenic spots;
  • two Korean tour guides, and a driver (except tips or gratuities);
  • admission fees for attractions specified in the itinerary.
Can I bring my cellphone, tablet and laptop into North Korea?TOP

Yes, it's OK to bring these devices into North Korea, but it is unlikely that you will be able to connect to their internet as you require special authorisation from the government. Which means you will be virtually cut off from the world during the tour. It's possible to use your cellphone, but you will have to purchase a local SIM card (which costs around €50) in Pyongyang Airport or certain hotels in DPRK. Please note the SIM card only provides access for international calls. You will be unable to make local calls and calls to South Korean numbers.

Am I allowed to take photos and videos?TOP

Of course you can take pictures. It is important to remember that there are certain areas in North Korea where photographs are strictly prohibited, particularly if the military is involved (aside from the D.M.Z) and anything that might cast the DPRK in a bad light. Your guides will point out the exact places on your trip, and it's better to comply with what they are saying or ask their advice before photographing.

Digital cameras/ Video cameras are allowed to be taken into North Korea, but there are some restrictions on cameras with GPS or cameras with a lens of more than 150mm. If you leave the country by train, your cameras are generally checked by a North Korean officer. They may delete some questionable images you have taken, but the rule is rarely enforced.

What currency should I bring? And how much money should I bring with me?TOP

Euro and Chinese Yuan (RMB) are recommended, but Chinese Yuan is preferred as most shops or souvenir stores have RMB for change. Some areas in North Korea also accept US Dollars, and we will advise you of that before your departure. Please understand that foreign tourists are not allowed to use any local currency in North Korea. It's not necessary to exchange Korean Won.

In North Korea, all transactions are made in cash. You CANNOT use credit cards, and ATMS are not available. As the majority of the travelling expenses, such as hotels, meals and guides, have already been included in the tour cost, you only need to bring small change to cover the extra expenses you spend on food, bottled water and souvenirs. Generally, €250 or 2500RMB will be sufficient.

What plugs can I use in North Korea?TOP

Electric voltage in DPRK is 220V/50Hz and the plugs are usually the same type as Western Europe. We highly recommend bringing a universal adapter on the trip with you. These can be hired at each hotel if necessary.

How can I get a DPRK Visa and How Long Does It Take?TOP

Please note as a tourist you CANNOT apply for a DPRK visa by yourself. Application must be made by a registered tour operator and will be included in the packaged tour you booked with them. It generally takes about 4 weeks for the visa to be granted.

Usually there are two options to apply for a DPRK visa.

  • You can get your visa issued in Beijing, China by sending us your photo and passport copy and required supporting documents. It has to be collected in Beijing at least one day before your departure to North Korea. Also, the visa issued here is a separate paper document called a Tourist Card, and will not be stamped in your passport.
  • Your visa can also be arranged in your country of residence if a DPRK embassy is available there. In this case, you will have a North Korean visa stamped in your passport. If you chose this option then you don't need to send us your passport, but you will have to make a lot of arrangements with the embassy on your own, including making an appointment to pick up your visa.
Do I need a Chinese visa if I’m only visiting North Korea for a few days? TOP

This depends. Usually, a double-entry Chinese visa is required for your entry into China before and after the trip to North Korea. However, it's now possible to transit via China without visas, provided that your stay in Beijing does not exceed 72 hours. Please note the visa exemption is not applicable if you arrive or leave China by train. There are many other restrictions, to find out more requirements about Visa-free Transit, you may refer to our China Visa webpage, or ask us about it.

Will visiting North Korea impact Me Travelling to Other Countries?TOP

No. Traveling to North Korea is not illegal, and most countries, including the US, do not prohibit visiting there. Most importantly, your DPRK visa is a separate piece of paper and never stamped in your passport, which means people of other countries won't find any records of your trip to DPRK. Therefore you have no problems at all to travel to other countries after your visit the DPRK.

What is the luggage allowance for Air Koryo?TOP

Air Koryo allows all passengers to carry one piece of hand luggage that weighs no more than 8kg. The included luggage allowance, which varies according to the class of your air ticket, is 20kg for Economy and 30kg for Business.

Can I talk to local people?TOP

There is no law in DPRK that bans foreign tourists from talking to local people. You can certainly chat with them, but it would be difficult unless you're good at Korean (majority of Koreans cannot speak English). You will get many chances to meet locals on your trip. Being very conservative people with limited access to the outside world, however, North Koreans are very shy and may be quite wary of making contact with foreigners. If possible, you could schedule your visit around their national holidays, when locals are more willing to interact with foreigners in a cheerful atmosphere. You will be most likely be invited to join in the fun of dancing and singing with them.

Can I Go Wherever I Want?TOP

No. Aside from the hotels where you have the freedom to roam around, the Korean guides and driver will escort you at all times to guarantee your safety there and also make sure you only visit the tourist areas approved by the DPRK government. If you want to leave the hotel and visit a place outside, you should ask your guides first.

Is the water safe to drink?TOP

It is recommended that the tap water is not used to drink in North Korea because, in most cases, it is inappropriately treated and therefore a potential risk even after boiling. Tourists typically drink bottled water, which can be purchased anywhere at a very reasonable price.

What are the hotels like in North Korea?TOP

Tourists to North Korea don't have many options on where to stay (hotel types are very limited in North Korea), but generally they enjoy the best facilities in the country. The hotel we use for our tour groups in Pyongyang is the deluxe-class Koryo hotel. It is equivalent to a 4 star hotel in China. Rooms are spacious, comfortable and come with modern basics like air conditioning, refrigerator, safe, hot water, IDD telephone and several international TV channels including BBC. The hotel provides a range of entertainment facilities including bars, swimming pool, karaoke, billiards, bowling alley, several souvenir shops and even a casino. Generally the hotels in Pyongyang offer the best conditions, while the hotels in other cities have limited facilities and services.

I have a South Korean stamp in my passport - will this cause a problem?TOP

Absolutely no! Tourists who have visited South Korea are totally welcome to travel to North Korea.

Should I be tipping?TOP

Yes, you should tip your Korean guides and driver during your tour. We recommend a tip of 7 euros per day per tourist. It is a great way to show your appreciation for their job, and in return reward you with better quality service. Generally you don't tip service staff, nor do they expect it but if you are really pleased with their service, tip them privately. Please note those who provide services only receive a minimum salary and are greatly dependent on tips. They would be grateful for any tips you give.

We also suggest you bring some gifts/presents from your country. This helps to develop a good relationship between you and your guides and ensure you will be taken good care of during the trip. There is no need for you to buy something expensive. Men usually prefer cigarettes and women like cosmetics. Gifts from America or South Korea are also preferred by North Koreans.

I Am A Journalist, Can I Visit North Korea? TOP

Journalists are not allowed to visit North Korea on tourist visas. You have to apply for a special visa issued by the DPRK government. Currently, we are not able to bring journalists into the country. Do not risk submitting false information in order to sneak into North Korea as this will incur serious consequences for our tour company and yourself.

For Americans or South Koreans, is there any problem visiting DPRK? TOP

Americans are free to visit North Korea any time of the year. The only restriction is that they must fly in and out of the country, instead of taking the international trains. Americans are not allowed to stay overnight in the homestay at Mt. Chilbo.

Citizens of South Korea are normally not permitted to travel to North Korea.

I’m an ex/ current military personnel, can I go to DPRK?TOP

There is no problem for ex-military personnel, including those who have served in the US Army, to visit North Korea as a tourist. For current military personnel, you are required to provide us the details of your duty, rank, fighting army, etc. and then we will see if it is possible.

What can I wear to Kumsusan Palace of the Sun?TOP

When visiting the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, tourists need to be dressed properly and respectfully. Jeans, sandals, shorts and mini-skirts are definitely NOT permitted. Pants with a shirt or blouse would be a perfect choice, but it would be appreciated if you wear a suit with a tie or formal dress. To enter the palace, you will go through a strict security check. You are only allowed to bring your wallet inside the mausoleum; other belongings, including your camera, have to be left in the bus or the checkroom within the building.

What is DPRK customs like? TOP

The customs procedure in Sinuijiu or Pyongyang is usually simple and straightforward. At Sinuijiu, customs officers will board the train to check through your luggage. If you take the train to the airport, customs officers may order to see your pictures taken in North Korea. Your bags will be X-rayed and electronics may be examined.

If you are travelling to the extreme North East of the country or Rason city, expect to go through a thorough check of your bags. Electronics including USB drivers, CDs, mobile phones, tablets and laptops will be carefully inspected in a separate building to ensure you don't bring any inappropriate images, videos, etc. into the country.

What is the food like in North Korea? TOP

All your meals in North Korea are generally provided for on the tour. Most of the meals will be served in local featured restaurants so that you have the chance to sample a variety of traditional Korean flavors. Vegetarians or other specific food requirements can be catered for, but please note the dining options will be rather limited in such cases. Fruit is scarce in North Korea, and the price can be extremely high. We recommend you bring some with you from Beijing if needed.

What if I have different opinions than the tour guides? TOP

It's pretty normal that you may hold a different opinion from your guides, but there is no need to let the disagreement escalate into an open debate. Before trying to change their viewpoints, remember that they come from a different background. It's important to show respect to their culture, religion and common beliefs. Keep your opinion to yourself, and actually listen to what they are saying. This will help you get to know and learn more about this mysterious country.

Note: Always ask your guides first if you are not sure about anything when visiting North Korea. Whenever possible, avoid mentioning the word ‘North Korea' during your visit in Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Citizens of the country are very sensitive to these words. You can refer to the country as DPRK.

If you have any further questions about travelling to North Korea, please feel free to contact us via email. We will do our best to assist you.

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