A trip to North Korea
CAN I VISIT NORTH KOREA AS A TOURIST?
Yes, North Korean authorities welcome the tourists and glad to see them. What's more, tourism development is one of the most important areas for this country. However you can not visit the country independently. Only authorized travel agencies can arrange a tour to North Korea. We can offer both group and individual tours, help you with the visa and transfer.
CAN I VISIT NORTH KOREA INDEPENDENTLY?
No, you will not be able to obtain a visa, buy air or train tickets and go to North Korea on your own. Only authorized travel agencies can arrange a tour to North Korea. One can apply for a visa only after buying a tour.
IS IT DANGEROUS TO VISIT NORTH KOREA?
No, North Korea is one of the safest countries for tourists in the world. During your stay in the country, you will be accompanied by two guides. The program is planned beforehand and agreed with the DPRK authorities. There are no crimes in North Korea.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CLASSICAL TOURS APART FROM THE NUMBER OF DAYS?
Classical tours differ only in the number of days and, consequently, the number of places you can visit. The places you visit during a 5-day tour are included in an 8-day tour as well. The more days the more places you can visit.
HOW MUCH MONEY SHOULD I TAKE TO NORTH KOREA?
There are no non-cash payments in North Korea for foreign tourists, so you will not need your credit card. There is no non-cash payment system in this country. Only cash.
For your extra expenses (accomodation, meals, and transfer are included into tour cost) you can take Euro, US dollars or Chinese yuan (we recommend Euro). You can spend your money on souvenirs and special dishes (soup with meat 5 Euro, ginseng stuffed chicken – 15 Euro). On average, tourists spend in North Korea not more than 200 Euro for 8 days. We highly recommend to have smaller denomination of banknotes to avoid any difficulties with change. The citizens of North Korea are very honest (unlike people in Egypt and Turkey) and they always give change. If they don’t have any change right now, they will find you later and give it to you. You should not worry about the exchange rate, people in north Korea can not cheat.
WHAT CITIES HAVE AIR COMMUNICATION WITH NORTH KOREA?
There are several countries with flight connections to DPRK. The most popular is Beijing (China). AirChina and AirKoryo offer several flights a week from Beijing to Pyongyang. There are regular flights from Vladivostok (Russia). Sometimes there are charter flights from other big cities such as Shanghai (China).
WHAT AIRLINE OFFERS A FLIGHT FROM VLADIVOSTOK TO PYONGYANG? WHAT ARE BAGGAGE REGULATIONS?
AirKoryo is a state-owned national airline of North Korea offering flights from Vladivostok to Pyongyang. (By the way! AirKoryo is the only airline in the world with Russian-made planes only in its fleet).
Hand baggage may weight no more than 8 kg (but it’s not critical). For economy-class, permitted weight of the baggage is 30 kg.
CAN I GET TO NORTH KOREA BY SHIP?
Since recently, one can get to North Korea from Vladivostok by cargo-and-passenger. However the ship arrives at port Radjin which is very far away from the capital of North Korea and its main sights. The ship is convenient for the citizens of North Korea who can save on the flights.
Visa to North Korea
DO I NEED A VISA TO COME TO NORTH KOREA?
Yes, the citizens from all countries need to obtain a visa to come to North Korea. There are rare exceptions, for example, people from Malaysia do not need a visa, however they have to buy a tour from an official travel agency. Russia also has a visa entry regime with North Korea.
WHAT DOCUMENTS MUST I PROVIDE TO GET A VISA?
More detailed information about a visa you can find on our site in the section VISA.
CAN I APPLY FOR A VISA MYSELF?
No, you can’t. One can obtain a visa only after an official tour agency confirms to the DPRK embassy all the information about a tourist.
WILL I HAVE ANY PROBLEMS ENTERING THE USA OR SOUTH KOREA AFTER VISITING NORTH KOREA?
We have no knowledge of any such cases. DPRK visa in your passport does not have any impact on obtaining visas for entering other countries (the USA, Schengen countries etc.) including South Korea. Many clients of our agency have visas of the USA and South Korea and they never faced any problems.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO OBTAIN A VISA TO NORTH KOREA?
The application for a visa is typically processed within 2 weeks. However we highly recommend you to book a tour beforehand to have enough time to obtain a visa.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO GET A VISA FROM NKOREAN?
We included visa fee into the cost of our tours. Standard visa fee is $40.
HOW LONG IS THE VALIDITY PERIOD OF A NORTH KOREA TOURIST VISA?
A visa is valid only during your stay in North Korea and you can use it strictly from the date it is issued until the date it expires.
MUST I GIVE YOU MY PASSPORT FOR THE PERIOD OF VISA PROCESSING?
No, you can give us the copy of your passport and the visa will be stamped in your passport after the confirmation of your application (it will take about 5 days).
ARE THERE ANY VISA RESTRICTIONS?
Tourist visa is not given to journalists. Journalists must be invited by the DPRK authorities and must obtain special accreditation. If you are a journalist, please, let us know beforehand and we will make a special request.
Staying in North Korea
HOW TO COMMUNICATE WITH THE OUTSIDE WORLD WHILE STAYING IN NORTH KOREA?
There is no mobile communication and Internet in North Korea (but we find it beneficial because you can get a little rest from social media). However in every hotel there is a phone and you can use them anytime you need. It costs 1-1.5 Euro a minute to call to Russia. In hotels, you will find Internet centers and you can send an important e-mail (it will cost you about $5 to send one e-mail).
WHAT SHOULD I TAKE TO NORTH KOREA?
As with any trip, we recommend taking medicines you need including medicines to combat digestive issues because your stomach can be too sensitive to unknown cuisine. Korean drug stores have a completely different choice of medicines and you risk not to find the medicine you need. It’s reasonable to take some light clothes for long bus rides. Tourists typically regret that they took too much clothes because they never wore all of it.
WHAT ITEMS ARE NOT ALLOWED TO BE TAKEN INTO NORTH KOREA?
It is strictly prohibited to bring literature and movies that can be considered propaganda. It is better not to take guidebooks because they are often taken away by Customs.
DO THEY TAKE AWAY PHONES AND COMPUTERS ON THE BOARDER?
No, since 2013 electronic gadgets are not taken away. However you should write it down in the form when you arrive in North Korea (there are forms in English, Russian and Chinese). You can take notebooks, phones, cameras, GoPro. It is allowed to watch movies and take pictures.
CAN I TAKE PICTURES IN NORTH KOREA?
Yes, you can. There are restrictions and prohibitions concerning military objects and nearby facilities. You will be asked to make proper photos of statues and pictures of Kim Jong-un and Kim Il-sung. Your guides may worry that the photos of their leaders can be spoiled by wires, trees or transport or photos can be slurred.
Is there any alcohol in DPRK?
Yes, there is alcohol. At the airport, you will find Duty Free shops selling Italian wines, cognacs, Russian vodka etc. In hotels, there are bars offering light and strong alcoholic beverages at reasonable prices. North Korea produce several types of beer and strong alcoholic drinks.
WHAT ABOUT MEALS IN NORTH KOREA?
You will have plenty of meals but the choice is a bit limited. In the morning, they offer buffet breakfast consisting of kimchi, rice, eggs, fried eggs, soybean sprouts, tofu etc. Lunch and dinner in national restaurants consist of three meals and a drink. You may not worry about healthy eating in North Korea! You will have plenty of it! Many tourists lose weight because they eat healthy food according to schedule and move a lot.
SHOULD I TAKE CIGARETTES AND SWEETS AS PRESENTS FOR GUIDES AND DRIVERS? (AS PEOPLE WRITE ABOUT IT ON FORUMS)
Cigarettes for drivers (not necessarily American cigarettes). We also recommend to take some sweets and gifts for children as you will have a visit to a children’s camp and pioneer center. At the end of your trip, you can make a gift to your guide (sweets or coffee, for example).