How Safe is it?
Extremely safe! Despite what you may hear, North Korea is probably one of the safest places on Earth to visit. Tourism is very welcomed in North Korea, thus tourists are cherished and well taken care of. We have never felt suspicious or threatened at any time. In fact, North Korean’s are super friendly and accommodating, if you let them into your world. Even during tense political moments tourism to The DPRK is never affected.
Do I Need to be Vaccinated?
No. There aren’t any required vaccinations for travel to North Korea, but as always, it’s sensible to get checked out before your trip, and take any advice given by your doctor.
What if I Don’t Want to Travel in a Group?
Understandable. We offer independent tours, as well as group tours. Check out the tours page or get in touch for more details. We do, however, feel that group travel is most enjoyable for North Korea. It may get a little lonely if you’re spending your entire trip with just you and your Korean guides.
Can I Take Photos/Videos?
Of course you can, but some lenses can be restricted mostly professional long zoom lenses. There’s no real hard and fast rule anymore, but if you’re concerned send us a picture of the lens and we can give you advice. Rason and Namyang are exceptions lenses to those areas should be 150mm or less. When taking photos and videos your Korean guides will give you warning of the ‘no-no’ zones, and it’s crucial to follow their requests. For the most part, you are only unable to take pictures of military zones (aside from the D.M.Z), check points, or soldiers. It’s also suggested/courteous, to ask locals if you can take their picture. Other than these, or whatever else your guides deem unsuitable, shoot away! Another thing to be aware of is that we usually will not go back to the hotel during the day, if you plan to use your camera a lot you may want to bring your charger with you.
Am I Free to Wander?
No. You must be accompanied by a guide at all times, but this kind of adds to the mysticism of the country. If you stay in the Yanggakdo hotel, it is possible to stroll around the small island on which it’s located. If you see a place you’d like to visit you can ask your YPT guide or for independents your Korean guides, but please understand if the answer is no, it can’t be done.
I’m American. Is This a Problem?
Restrictions on Americans joining tours throughout the year have been lifted, U.S citizens are allowed to travel at any time. The only restrictions are the train- all Americans must fly in and out of the country and at Mt Chilbo, they can’t stay overnight in the homestay, though they can visit and enjoy a meal with the local families.
I am a Journalist. What’s the Story?
Journalists need a special visa and permission from the government to enter the DPRK. We do not have permission to bring in journalists. If you sneak in as a journalist you may stand to gain from it, but your Korean guides, and our company could get into a lot of trouble, so please don’t risk it.
I live in South Korea (Republic of Korea).. can I still visit the DPRK?
Absolutely! If you are living in South Korea with a Korean residency you are able to visit the DPRK. Unfortunately this excludes American, Japanese and South Korean passport holders.
What Currency Should I Bring?
Euro or RMB are the best currencies, personally we recommend RMB as it is much easier to get change for. In some areas USD are preferred, especially on the East coast, but we will advise you before the tour if USD will be useful. Prices are usually set in Euros and RMB. Credit cards (including American Express) are not accepted in the DPRK, nor are their ATM’s available so it’s best to bring more than you’ll need just in case.
How much money should I bring with me?
The amount you decide to bring is completely up to you, but once inside the DPRK the daily costs are minimal. You can buy drinks and food to take with you on your day trips, but mostly those who travel to the DPRK will spend the majority of their spending money on souvenirs. €200 should be sufficient for the ‘average’ traveler. (Not including tip Money, or certain seasonal expenses such as Mass Games ticket money)
Should I be Tipping?
YES! You need to tip your guides. If you want to get what you’ve paid for and then some, a tip goes a long way; as it does in any tipping culture. The male guides enjoy foreign cigarettes and liquor. This does not however, benefit the female guides. They’d prefer to receive chocolate, cosmetics, or any other fun feminine products. Cash is obviously well appreciated by all, and should be included in your “gift”, usually given at the end of your trip. We also strongly recommend giving an entrance gift when you first arrive at the hotel, and have a ‘sit down’ with your guides. This gives them a taste of what’s to come when you leave, and you will be very accommodated throughout your holiday. In general you are not required to tip service staff, though it has become accepted in Pyongyang but not expected. If you feel service staff have made a special effort you can quietly give them a tip if you wish. Keep in mind, that as in any service industry, the guides rely greatly on their tips, so be as generous as you like.
What if I Have Differing Opinions?
Well, you more than likely will, but refrain from having a debate with the guides. Remember, that their beliefs are important to them. Be respectful, don’t laugh, and keep your comments to yourself, until you’ve left. You can ask questions, but in a respectful manner. The guides will delicately let you know if they can’t answer. Everyone has read or seen lots on North Korea, this is your opportunity to listen to the other side. If you’re quiet and listen you’ll be surprised just how much you can learn about this unique culture.
What Plugs do the North Koreans use?
Electric plugs are 220 volts, and the plug sizes are the same ones used in Western Europe. If you have different plugs, your hotel can provide adaptors for you.
Can I Take my Cell Phone?
Cellphones are now allowed into the DPRK and this includes Rason. Sim cards can be rented or purchased with which you can use a 3g network and make international calls, however the price is expensive and local calls are still not allowed. Satellite phones are banned however.
What to wear to Kumsusan Palace of the sun?
The mausoleum is a very important place for North Koreans. It’s important that you show respect when visiting. ‘Smart casual’ is an easy description of the minimum dress code. You don’t have to wear a suit or formal dress, but definitely no jeans or sandals. Ties are not required, but your Korean guides will appreciate the effort. Pants with a shirt or blouse would be a perfect choice! You will not be allowed to bring anything inside the Mausoleum bar your wallet, so please leave your cameras, cigarettes etc on the bus. The same rules apply to the International Friendship exhibition in Mt Myohyang and the National Treasure house.
Not only do we arrange all of your tickets, but they are usually included in the price of your tour (NB flights out are often extra charge). Please keep in mind that particularly during peak season, train tickets can be quite difficult to get hold of, so the later you book the harder they are to get. YPT reserve the right to change, or provide a suitable transport solution should this occur.
What are DPRK customs like?
The experience at Sinuijiu or Pyongyang is pretty straightforward- at the airport they will scan your bags and ask to see your electronics. At Sinuijiu on the train they will check through your bags and ask to see your electronics they may fiddle around with them out of curiosity but will allow pretty much everything in.
At Namyang and Rason the experience is much more thorough they will go through everything including your laptops which will be taken to a separate building. Before arrival please put all your electronics including USB and SD cards in a separate bag or somewhere easy to locate and declare them in your customs form. Often books or publications will not be allowed into the country at these borders.
What facilities/services do the hotels have?
In the Deluxe hotels- The Yanggakdo and the Koryo hotel there is a wide range of services including Laundry, business services such as copying and faxes, and post. All hotels provide shampoo, body wash and toothbrushes/toothpaste. They also feature numerous entertainment facilities and services such as massage. For hotels outside Pyongyang services are a lot less encompassing. If you have any enquiries about your hotels, please contact us.
Do I need to apply for a Chinese visa if I’m only there for a few days just to visit North Korea?
China now offers a 72 hour transfer visa to most foreigners so you don’t need to purchase a Chinese visa. Please review the following link for more information; China transit visa.
Can I apply for a Chinese visa in North Korea?
If you are doing a Pyongyang or North East tour you can apply for a single or double entry visa. When you apply for the visa you will need to supply a flight itinerary (with your flight exiting China) and a hotel reservation document to successfully apply. There is no Chinese embassy in Rason so tourists will need to organise a Chinese visa beforehand. If you are doing an Ultra Budget tour with us you will not have enough time to apply for a Chinese visa.
But I Have so Many Other Questions!
If you have any more questions, drop us an e-mail, add us to msn, or give us a call. We are North Korea veterans. We’re able to answer most of your questions. Those of which we can’t, we’ll find out.